|Game Name:||Battlefield 3|
|Platforms:||PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3|
|Developer(s):||EA Digital Illusions CE (DICE)|
|Genre(s):||First-Person Shooter, Military|
|Release Date:||October 25, 2011|
|Big Ups:||Fantastic Gameplay, Great Multiplayer Component, Fun Vehicular Combat, Very Good Multiplayer Balance|
|Big Downs:||Server Instability, Weak Single Player Component|
The battle of the big Fall releases has started and EA and DICE’s behemoth Battlefield 3 has finally hit stores. Battlefield 3 is the latest iteration of the extremely popular multiplayer centric Battlefield series. Battlefield 3 is a modern military shooter that also focuses mainly on its multiplayer component, which is probably a good thing because the single player is one of the worst I’ve seen this year. The gameplay and graphics are great. The new Frostbite 2 engine makes sure that the game looks and plays better than pretty much everything on the market.
As I mentioned earlier, the single player experience in Battlefield 3 is pretty mediocre. It sort of feels like DICE decided they’d rather show off the Frostbite 2 engine instead of making a campaign with focus and a good story. There are a lot of really epic set pieces, and the sections where players use vehicles are all pretty cool (granted the jet section was a little annoying). It has all the parts to make a great campaign, but instead it has a weak plot and mission-to-mission gameplay that jumps all around the game’s timeline. You play through one “operation” 4 different times; once as a jet pilot, once as a Russian dude, and twice as the American soldier. What you do is a little different in each section obviously, but it just seems to randomly jump you around. The game even picks a time to randomly backtrack in the timeline, it only does this once and it really messes with the focus. One of the game’s major plot points is spoiled by the game itself during one of the Call of Duty: Black Ops like interrogation sequences that the game uses between missions which just seems like poor writing. Overall the single player component just seems like a jumbled up mess and more of a demo for Frostbite 2 than the fantastic campaign it could have been with a little more effort.
The multiplayer is where the game shines, and probably where the majority of the development team’s focus was. Large scale battles take place on huge maps and in a couple of different gametypes. Conquer is a capture-point gametype similar to Call of Duty’s Domination gametype. Rush is a gametype where one team attacks the enemy team and tries to plant bombs on specific points. Each Rush map has 3 different stages. An attacking team has to destroy all enemy points in a stage in order to push the map to the next one. Lastly, Battlefield 3 has your standard Team Deathmatch gametype.
Battlefield’s signature vehicles are back and just as fun to use as ever. Jumping in a tank, rolling into the enemy’s base, and blowing them away just feels awesome, but they don’t feel as invincible as they did in previous Battlefield titles. It seems some extra focus was put into balancing the vehicles so that players not in vehicles wouldn’t get too frustrated by them. Focused infantry can easily dispatch most vehicles in just a few rockets. Probably the best part of vehicle warfare in the game is dogfighting jets though. The jets are a little difficult to get used to, but once players figure them out, they’ll be engaging in some awesome aerial shoot-outs. Helicopters are still a pain to fly, but they’re also very powerful air-to-ground vehicles. They don’t fair too well against other vehicles, but they can do wonders at cleaning out infantry in order to get to a point. A coordinated team of infantry can easily destroy one, though.
Speaking of infantry, the infantry gun fights in the multiplayer are just as fun as the vehicles. There are plenty of spots on every map that allow for some awesome shoot outs. None of the guns appear to be super powerful and blow all the rest out of the water, though some guys are certainly better than others. None of the infantry specific equipment appears overpowered either. Every class with the exception of recon gets some sort of explosive that helps to take out enemy vehicles and infantry. The recon class gets a way to scout the battlefield and spot enemy locations. One of the coolest mechanics added to the game for infantry combat is the suppression mechanic. Suppression fire in most games doesn’t really do too much, in Battlefield 3 however, suppression fire will slowly blur the screen of the person being fired at. Aside from the obvious advantage of blurring an enemy’s screen, suppression fire rewards players with extra experience if the target they were firing at is killed while being suppressed. This is an amazing mechanic that more military shooters should adopt. When everything works right and the pace of the game isn’t turned super slow by everyone camping, Battlefield 3 has some of the best multiplayer gameplay this year.
Notice I said “when everything works right.” After the launch of Battlefield 3, server stability has been a huge issue for the console versions of the game. Constant server crashes or severe lag plagued the first week of the game’s release, and there was even a few days where the “quick match” function didn’t work properly or at all. That wasn’t a huge deal, because the game has a server browser even in the console version, but not being able to just jump into matchmaking was inconvenient. On top of the server crashes and such, it is often extremely difficult to get a squad (party of 3 players) into the same game and on the same team. Players are sometimes put on separate teams, or separate squads, or even put in separate games than the rest of their squad. These annoyances are very frustrating and can quickly ruin the experience.
Battlefield 3 offers some of the best military shooter gameplay I’ve ever experienced. The gameplay is slower than most shooters, but it leads to much more tactical and strategic battles. Maps also promote a type of tactical gameplay by giving players a lot of ways to approach an objective. There are often quite a few ways to flank enemies and get into points quickly while the enemy team is focused elsewhere. One squad can be blasting down the front door with a tank, while another is flanking behind to try to catch the enemy off-guard. There is a lot of heavy tactical gameplay that you don’t find in most shooters. On occasion the slow pace of the game does cause some multiplayer matches to get really boring though when both teams decide to try to camp it out. It normally doesn’t happen, but some games can become a frustrating campfest.
Graphically the game is beautiful. Definitely one of the best looking games to hit consoles this year. The Frostbite 2 engine pulls its weight. Frostbite 2 makes sure the visual experience of the game is rivaled by few, if any. A lot of time was spent on making sure that the game’s graphics were smooth and fantastic. DICE easily pulled that off, Frostbite 2 is one of the best looking engines out there, and Battlefield 3 is one of the best looking games out right now as a result.
Battlefield 3 is a great multiplayer title. It offers some of the best military shooter gameplay in the first-person shooter genre and is one of the few military shooters with really fun vehicular gameplay. It is wrapped in the amazing graphics and smoothness of the Frostbite 2 engine. However, the game does have a couple of weakness. Server stability is still a huge issue with the game, and the single player component to the game is hardly worth mentioning. Overall, the game is great despite its few annoyances and any fan of shooters will probably enjoy it.