Battlefield 3 Review

Battlefield 3

In a genre filled with arcade style, the Battlefield series has always done its best to stick to realism when it comes to combat. The series’ latest installment, Battlefield 3, brings that battle authenticity to the next level, with flaws. An incredible online experience, stunning visuals, and convincing sound design are bogged down by technical glitches and a disappointing campaign. These misfires prevent the game from becoming an absolute pinnacle of excellence for the FPS genre, though the game is still a lot of fun to play.

It’s easy to say that no matter what players’ initial intentions are upon picking up Battlefield 3, they are going to spend the majority of their time in the game’s multiplayer, and as well they should. Not only is its system deep and varied, but it caters to a true teamwork environment. All classes have helpful functionality to aide teammates, so it’s easy to earn points by making sure allies are in the best suited position to keep the fight going strong. It’s something carried over and expanded on from Battlefield: Bad Company 2, and it allows for gamers to play the game their way rather than stress over their kill/death ratio.

Though players will choose from one of four classes (Assault, Engineer, Support, Recon), it doesn’t mean they’ll be shoehorned into a set, static loadout. As kills, captures, defenses, vehicle destructions, and more successes are accrued, points will accumulate to level up those classes. This will give the player access to new weapons and gadgets to utilize in their specific role. The customization doesn’t stop with just the classes, as general and vehicle leveling will grant access to even more weapons, loadout specializations, and abilities for tanks, helicopters, jets, and transports. This creates a diversification that goes unrivaled amongst first-person shooters. With some maps being so massive in scale, catering to several different strategic approaches to the game, there’s a good chance that not a single player on a team will be doing the same thing with the same loadout. That’s quite an accomplishment given that the game supports up to 64 players (32 on consoles) per game.

Speaking of size, the old mantra of “the bigger, the better” rings true here. Though there are smaller maps to appeal towards those wanting a more intimate kill-fest, it’s the larger maps for Conquest and Rush that show off the action in all its glory. As infantry scatter from cover to cover, helicopters and jets rain fire from the sky, anti-aircraft guns try to bring down metal birds, and tanks rip through buildings. The frenzy it creates is nothing short of pure chaotic splendor. Players can take on several sessions of Rush and never witness the full scale theater of war.

Battlefield 3

Something else that the Battlefield series does so well is create an ever-changing environment within their maps thanks to its destruction engine, now evolved with Frostbite 2.0. Though the technology hasn’t reached the point of total destruction, it’s getting close. It may be unnerving to know an explosion can take away your concrete roadblock and leave you exposed, but it’s downright terrifying (in the best of ways) to stare down a tank behind a building’s wall or atop a gas silo knowing that it can tear the whole thing down and you along with it.

One of the biggest advantages that comes with a game session in Battlefield 3 is the opportunity to take to the skies and fight it out in helicopters and fighter jets. They are the first vehicles nabbed by eager players wanting to bring a barrage of machine gun fire and rockets upon their grounded opponents, but they are by no means easy to handle. Flying a jet could be one of the most frustrating and aggravating things in the Battlefield 3 multiplayer, for good reasons. It’s not that the controls are poorly designed or that the physics are over-exaggerated; flying is a skill that takes some time to learn and even more to master. Players will crash and burn several times over before they get things under control. This means that practice will make perfect, and to stay the heck away from anyone on your team who hasn’t already proven they won’t slam their aircraft into a mountain just after takeoff.

As impressive and unique as the game’s multiplayer proves to be, the campaign is a different story. What initially seems like a story along the line of films like “Saving Private Ryan” turns out to be another unoriginal tale that looks like it came straight out of a Tom Clancy novel. Complete with espionage, terrorism, WMDs, military coups, Middle-East conflicts, and Russians, players will see the twists coming a mile away. Add in cutscenes of a soldier being interviewed by government suits, and the Black Ops comparisons come flooding in.

Battlefield 3

The single-player offering has a few more issues to pile on top of the disappointing narrative. Technical glitches sneak their way in on rare occasions and can be either annoying or hilarious. Instances that I encountered included my entire squad going through a door before breaching it, one squad-mate walking into and then teleporting up to the halfway point of a staircase simply to walk back to his place of origin, a dead Russian sliding across the map, and another Russian launching into the air after I nailed him with a headshot.

Though the narrative suffers from a lack of originality and a sense of authenticity, it’s still enjoyable, and the combat carries over the realistic theme from the multiplayer. While it comes in several forms different from the online experience, ranging from large-scale conflicts between infantry and tanks to small ambushes, it all feels like something straight out of a warzone. Things like tactics, military chatter, rifle fire, eerie smoke plumes, and the sounds of other battles in the distance add to the ambiance. Even the game’s one-on-one quick-time events, though out of left field, give the player a taste of the intense and startling intimate encounters of life and death that can occur between soldiers on the opposite sides of a conflict.

Visually, Battlefield 3 is nothing short of astonishing. EA and DICE lauded the game for its graphics and they didn’t disappoint. One glaring example comes from the campaign, where the chipped teeth of an enemy were clearly visible as he was questioned. Other intricate details such as property lines from aboard an aircraft, gleaming sunlight, and blinking lights of background cityscapes are little things the title does that separate it from merely “good looking” games. It’s an attention to detail that few games pay toward their aesthetics.

The expectations for a more realistic first-person shooter were both met and missed by Battlefield 3. It’s combat alone, done well in single-player, enhanced in multiplayer, gives a tremendous feeling of being right in the thick of a modern battle. Unfortunately, the game’s story falls upsettingly short of doing the same, feeding players the same far-fetched war story they’ve seen in various forms of media for years. Some glitches also break the experience, and though funny, yank gamers right out of the realism the game had worked so hard to immerse them in. Though the campaign may just be an average six-hour romp, the multiplayer is one of the deepest, most well-rounded, and addictive online experiences to date. Shooter fans are sure to have a blast with Battlefield 3.


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Author: Mike Murphy View all posts by
Mike has been playing games for over two decades. His earliest memories are of shooting ducks and stomping goombas on NES, and over the years, the hobby became one of his biggest passions. Mike has worked with GamerNode as a writer and editor since 2009, giving you news, reviews, previews, a voice on the VS Node Podcast, and much more.

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