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Battlefield 3 is a First Person Shooter developed by DICE (Digital Illusions CE) and published by EA (Electronic Arts). It has been discussed for some time now, usually along side Call of Duty. Yes, Battlefield has had a few games out since Battlefield 2, but they were considered spin-offs by DICE and EA. Battlefield 3 is the official sequel to Battlefield 2 and has a pretty big name to live up to.
This monster of a game has three game modes. I say monster because it’s so big, it requires two discs for Xbox 360. There is the single player story mode (Campaign), two player online only Co-Op Mode, and the online Multiplayer. Let’s start with the Campaign mode first.
Battlefield 3’s Campaign tries a serious approach with a pretty well thought out story and setting. Some may say it’s average, and it kind of is, but the story doesn’t stay in a perfectly straight boring line. If you don’t pay attention, you may not even understand what’s going on. It mainly follows a US Soldier while he re-tells a few events from his past with his squad while being detained by the US Government. You also take the role of a Russian Soldier at several parts of the Campaign. The cut scenes at the beginning of each mission are skip-able, but the cut scenes during the missions are not. Instead, there are quick time events. For those that don’t know what quick time events are, it’s when a button pops up on the screen which you must press to get past the scene. If you press the wrong button, you may die or fail the mission.
Unfortunately the Campaign’s game play is pretty linear, like most first person shooter campaigns. It seems Battlefield ditched the large maps for single player after Bad Company 1. You fight along side a few soldiers in your squad until you reach the objective on each mission. There are endless waves of enemies at some parts of some missions, so you may have to push up against the waves of enemies instead of eliminating them first. Most of the missions are basic infantry combat, but there is one mission which allows you to control a tank and one mission which allows you to be the gunner in a jet. I should note that you cannot actually fly the jet, so it’s basically a rail shooter.
Yes, the Campaign is probably the worst part of Battlefield 3, but since when does someone buy a First Person Shooter video game for the single player Campaign? And I want to stress that the Campaign isn’t horrible, it just may be boring for some people. There aren’t a billion enemies at a time with explosions going off at every second, even on the hard difficulty. On Hard, the enemies will lock on to you a bit quicker and take you down with 3-4 shots.
Co-Op is the second feature in Battlefield 3. Co-Op allows you to play six different missions on easy, medium, or hard difficulties with a friend online. You can only play Co-Op online, but you can choose a partner on your friends list or search for a partner in a public game. Each mission has it’s own setting and objective. One allows you to fly a helicopter while your partner guns it, and another mission requires total stealth to find and escort a VIP to safety. There’s a sniper mission and a defensive mission. Each has it’s own feel. In my own opinion, these missions are truly Co-Op based, especially on Hard difficulty. You can fail the mission without being killed! If one of your partners is killed, he’ll be put into a “Man Down” state. This gives your partner a pistol and a few seconds to live. You must get to your partner and revive him before he bleeds out and ends the mission.
If you’re a fan of Co-Op, you should love these missions, but they won’t last you for too long, even with the Achievements / Trophies. DICE tried to prolong the experience by adding a score system. After collecting a total of 410,000 Co-Op Score, you can unlock seven different guns for Online Multiplayer. Each complete mission gives you around 10,000 Points, so you’ll have to play the missions about 41 times to unlock all weapons.
If you picked up Battlefield 3 on the 360, Co-Op and Multiplayer will be on the first disc. It’s the first disc because even DICE knows that Multiplayer is the main attraction to this game. Battlefield 3’s Multiplayer definitely doesn’t disappoint Battlefield fans, but it may not be for everyone. DICE tries to appeal to all fans by adding several game modes: Conquest, Rush, Squad Rush, Squad Deathmatch, and Team Deathmatch. Conquest is the go to game mode for all Battlefield fans. It gives you big maps with wide open spaces to get your game on. Rush also has big maps, but they’re separated into smaller sections for each set of objectives. Those are the only two game modes that allow a wide variety of Vehicles for use at any time. There are tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, helicopters, jets, jeeps, and even anti-aircraft vehicles. You will not be disappointed with the amount of vehicle warfare in this game!
If you’re not a huge vehicle fan, there’s still other game modes with no vehicles in them. Squad Rush is a smaller, squad-based version of Rush, while Squad Deathmatch is a squad-based match where people kill each other for the win. I should note that Squad Deathmatch places one infantry fighting vehicle on the map for the sixteen players to fight over. Team Deathmatch returns to Battlefield, but it’s infantry only game play on small maps. This game mode is definitely for the players coming from all other first person shooters.
Like the other Battlefield games, Battlefield 3 allows you to choose from one of several kits in multiplayer. Each kit plays it’s own role in the online multiplayer. The Assault Kit is the squad’s medic, the Engineer Kit is the squad’s vehicle engineer, the Support Kit is the squad’s fire support, and the Recon Kit is the squad’s recon sniper. Each kit not only plays it’s own role in the game by giving you select gadgets to play with, but each kit only allows you select guns to use. Use each gun to rank it up and unlock new weapon accessories for that particular weapon.
Battlefield 3 extends the ranking up process and customization to give you more to do throughout your online experience. Battlefield 3 allows you to rank up each kit, each weapon, and each vehicle class to unlock tons of features and items while your overall rank increases. There’s so many unlocks in the game, they allow you to place three weapon accessories on each weapon and three items on each vehicle (Gadgets, Upgrades, and Weapons). You are also given special rewards like ribbons, medals, and service stars for completing tasks in the game.
Dedicated servers return for Battlefield 3, but they’ve been undergoing a bit of maintenance these past few weeks. DICE claims they weren’t ready for the massive amount of players that came to Battlefield 3. Yes, there were about three million pre-orders of the game, but they sold over five million in the week of their launch. Many people have had a hard time playing on the servers, I can’t claim I’ve had any problems, but it’s not nearly as bad as it was with Bad Company 2. I know that doesn’t make up for the problems, but the game was still running strong for many people.
Players have the option of choosing a quick match (any map and any game mode) or browsing through the servers with much more options including a server in your area of the world or US.
Now lets get down to the nitty gritty – the actual specs of the game. You may have heard that the PC version of Battlefield 3 is superior to the console (PS3 and 360) versions of the game. This is only partially true. It is true that the PC allows you to play with a max of 64 players on some game modes online, meanwhile consoles only allow a max of 24 players. It is also true that PC has better graphics than consoles, if your PC can handle the graphics that is. That is really the only difference between the two versions. Now with that out of the way, here’s the break down of the game.
First thing anyone sees is the graphics, and boy are they beautiful. Even the console versions of Battlefield 3 has amazing graphics. If you’re playing on the Xbox 360, you’ll have to instal a 1.5 GB Texture Pack to your HDD to upgrade the graphics to a more HD looking game. The Texture Pack can be found on the first disc of the game. Battlefield 3 still runs at 30 frames per second on consoles, but you honestly won’t be able to tell unless you look very hard.
The game uses the Frostbite 2 Engine, upgraded from Frostbite 1.5. Lighting and textures look far better, even destruction looks all crumbly! Unfortunately, destruction has been limited a bit from Bad Company 2. You can no longer take down entire buildings by destroying the outside shell. Some areas can’t even be destroyed which upset many Battlefield fans. The first expansion pack (free to all who bought the limited edition of the game) is said to have even more destruction than the original maps. Perhaps they’ll bring the full destruction back?
Back to the visuals. Although the game looks great, you can still tell how many parts are flat with nice pictures on them. No, not all of the game is like this, but quite a few parts. Many games use tricks like this to get the best out of what little they can work with. The light sources in the game are excellent, but the shadows are pretty sketchy. On the consoles, the shadows look almost like cross hatches or pixelated smoke. It can be very distracting when the rest of the game looks so great.
Yes the visuals are great, but the audio of Battlefield 3 doesn’t disappoint. If you go into the options, you can change the audio to headphones, home cinema, or war tapes. Headphones are best for headphones obviously, but home cinema may not be best for players with surround sound. Most people enjoy war tapes because there isn’t as much base in the audio, making it sound slightly compressed. That’s just the basics, though. DICE have revamped the audio in the frostbite engine as well. There are a ton of different sounds for different bullets flying past your head. Then there’s the shell shock effect when things blow up near you. You can hear every little click of the weapon and every foot step near you. Battlefield 3 supports Dolby Digital Audio. On the other hand, the weapon firing sounds aren’t too spectacular. It’s hard to find a first person shooter that has that bang sound when firing a weapon. Overall, the sound is still amazing. The perfect fit for the great visuals.
Even the actual in game mechanics have taken another step up from the last Battlefield game. There is still bullet drop for all weapons firing at long distances, but now you can select different fire modes for many of the weapons. Some weapons support full auto, semi auto, and burst fire modes in one weapon! This is a highly sought after feature for the biggest shooter fans. Switching from full auto to semi auto is very useful for increased accuracy at long distances on these huge maps.
If you don’t know what bullet drop is, let me explain it to the people new to Battlefield. Each weapon has a certain range it can travel. The higher the range, the longer it can travel before hitting the ground. Sniper Rifles have the longest range, while pistols have the shortest range. Adding suppressors to the weapon will reduce the bullets range, causing the bullet to drop sooner than normal. You may have to compensate for the lack of range by aiming above the enemy’s head. This whole bullet travel is a great feature to shooting games. Not only will the bullet drop over long distances, but it will take some time to reach the target, so you may need to aim in front of your enemy as well as above.
Those aren’t the only great features for weapons and bullets in Battlefield 3. This time they added a new suppression ability. When you fire your weapon at an enemy, their screen will begin to blur, causing them to lose accuracy. This works with any weapon, but it’s best with light machine guns since you can lay down a massive amount of fire. There’s also new specializations to increase your own or decrease your enemy’s suppressive power. It definitely changes up the game.
Vehicles have even changed in Battlefield 3! You no longer have to keep repairing the vehicle after every little hit, nor can you keep rampaging until your vehicle blows up. This time your vehicles health will regenerate as long as it’s above 50%. If it goes below, your vehicle becomes disabled and gradually loses health until it explodes. You can still operate the weapons, but it’s extremely hard to control. If you have an engineer near by, have him repair it above 50% health to enable it once more.
In conclusion, this game is indeed an official sequel to Battlefield 2, but it’s very similar to Bad Company 2. I don’t say this in a bad way, but in a very good way. It took most of the great features from Bad Company 2 and improved on them. So yes, the base game feels quite a bit like Bad Company 2, but so much has been improved upon to bring you back for more. They went for a realistic approach in some aspects while keeping the game balanced and fun.
The audio is fantastic and the visuals are spectacular for the most part. Still, the core game mechanics is the steak while all the other stuff is just the sizzle. All the unlocks and rewards in multiplayer will help keep your boredom at bay.
I easily give this game five stars. What more can a shooter or war gamer ask for that DICE doesn’t deliver in this game? As many other have said, DICE has truly raised the bar. They used all they could (and then some) of the consoles to play this game.