Game: Battlefield 3
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Available on: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC (Reviewed on Xbox 360 and PC)
To say the rivalry has grown between Battlefield 3 and Call of Duty would be quite the understatement. There has been a fair bit of sniping between the publishers of both games as to which will come out on top. Both of the trailers for either game had some definitive wow moments, with MW3 having some intense action sequences, and Battlefield 3 showing off its new Frostbite 2 engine to frankly staggering effects. We have been waiting patiently, with a certain desperation to play these brilliant sounding titles with promises of action, excitement, beautiful cities and open areas to blow the crap out of each other.
DICE and EA have now laid down their final hand and released Battlefield 3 for us to play, but have they stunned their opponents with a dead man’s hand? Or have they gone all in on a high card? Lets load our weapons, mount our vehicles and go to war my friends!
STORY: The events of Battlefield 3 start when an unknown man who is clearly on the run from the law jumps onto a train from a bridge. Strangely, this train just happens to be overrun by terrorists that happen to have quite a lot of bombs on board. Quite an intense start! From here the story cuts back to eight hours earlier where the game’s protagonist Sgt. Blackburn is being interrogated by two men from an unknown agency who have suspicions that Blackburn is a traitor to the state. Events of the game are then played out via this interrogation with tales of double crossing, terrorist activity, nuclear weapons and buckets of warfare! Is Sgt. Blackburn a traitor? Or is he taking the blame for events that are out of his control? Can he save the day? Get playing and you will most definitely find out.
The storytelling is well thought out and executed brilliantly, although you could say that it is quite similar to Call of Duty: Black Ops. Even with this in mind, the story does stand out on its own and is genuinely quite gripping, with the character acting played out flawlessly. If there was any criticism to give, it is that the story does seem to end quite abruptly. The culmination of all the events that take place are set up brilliantly and lead you to believe that there is going to be an absolutely epic ending and even though it is very good and well thought out, it does leave you with a “is that it?” feeling, which is a shame as most stories in First Person Shooters can be a little lacklustre, but this was shaping up to be something great. Maybe not the best but something altogether worthy. But in the end, it is a pretty good story that needs that little bit more to make it something brilliant.
GRAPHICS: Everyone has seen all of the trailers that were released for this title and will be expecting something outstanding. Well you will not be disappointed because Battlefield 3 looks sensational! The bulk of this review took place on the Xbox 360 (downloading the HD content was maybe a tad annoying but well worth it) and the graphics are obviously even more outstanding on the PC, but even on Xbox 360 the Frostbite 2 engine is something to behold. The textures and detail are of an extremely high standard and the use of light is nothing short of phenomenal. When the light reflects off windows or you try looking up at a building with the sun there, the Frostbite 2 engine does exactly what you would expect to in real life.
The detail of the areas that you are patrolling are extremely well thought out and designed. You could just get absolutely lost exploring the area that you are inhabiting if it wasn’t for the fact that there are some extremely pissed off terrorists, hell bent on splattering your brains against the nearest building. However if you do choose to look very closely you may notice a few shoddy things like a garage door or a dirty old mattress, but then usually the texture will pop in.
The destruction aspects of this new Frostbite 2 engine are also first class. You can guarantee that shooting walls or cover that the enemy inhabit will slowly get blasted away and that also goes for the cover you are using, making the game quite intense. The scene that you have all seen in the trailer with that building in front of you is just as good as it looked. Not only that, the explosions that occur frequently in the game are designed brilliantly and definitely add to the intensity that this game can give you. The character animations for the majority are excellent, with the interrogation scenes appearing almost photo realistic. You can see every line and blemish in their faces and when they talk and give facial impressions they are so realistic that it is scary that a game can do this. In-game the facial graphics are pretty damn good and you can see the expressions they give off, although sometimes they do seem to have a thousand yard stare when talking normally. They probably would with some of the things that they witness but it seems odd when they are just shooting the shit.
Graphically, Battlefield 3 has set the bar extremely high and is now the game to beat. It is absolutely wondrous and a massive technical achievement for the developers. It is now up to everyone else in the industry to try and beat it.
SOUND: The music of Battlefield 3 encapsulates the mood of the game very well, almost gearing you up ready for war. The mini title sequence will excite you and then to have that familiar musical sting they used in the trailer, it will almost gives you a fist pump moment. With regards to the sound effects, every gunshot, explosion, building collapsing, overhead low flying aircraft (I could go on, there is that much!) sounds perfect and just what you would expect from a warzone. The character voice acting is on the ball and acted very well as well as being believable, with some intense and tear jerking moments to some funny and somewhat strange moments. Just remember, dreaming of vanilla milkshake may be hazardous to your health.
The only problems I found with the majority of Battlefield 3 is that there were a fair few sound bugs. On occasions the lip sync was way out, and on one occasion after hearing the introduction talk during the start of a level, the last six seconds of this talk kept repeating itself over and over during the first five minutes of the level, which happened to be an intense firefight and kind of distracted me, leading to my death. You would’ve hoped that after reloading that this would’ve gone away but sadly this wasn’t the case as it kept repeating itself. It wasn’t until the next checkpoint that was reached that it finally stopped. This may be a little slack from the developers, but you would’ve thought it would’ve been spotted during the quality assurance phase but sadly this wasn’t the case. Hopefully an update in the future will rectify this, but it gave off the feeling that they started to rush this game out near the end.
GAMEPLAY: As First Person Shooters go, Battlefield 3 is top class. The accuracy when shooting is so good you can put every bullet where you want and the fact that over greater distances the trajectory of the round arcs instead of going in a straight line goes to show how much detail the developers have researched into the weapons (which are real life weapons) and physics of firing a weapon. Another great aspect is the amount of vehicles that are available to operate. From tanks and armoured personnel carriers to helicopters and planes, there is definitely more than one way to skin a cat in this title. Melee wise instead of the quick stab you do when sneaking up on an enemy you get a more realistic stealth kill, although it does take a little time which can be annoying as it leaves you defenseless to other enemies firing at you.
Your enemies however can be bullet sponges at times. Yes you can say that they are wearing body armour and granted it is only a video game, but at times it seems only the majority of a magazine takes an enemy down. This can lead to some frustration especially if you have the drop on someone and they somehow kill you first. Even though the aiming is accurate, it can be hard to get a head shot when you are an engineer/support/medic class as everything moves so fast. Once you get used to the speed of the game however, you will undoubtedly improve especially in the multiplayer modes, which gives new meaning to the military phrase “slick drills, quick kills”. As mentioned previously, the Frostbite 2 engine’s destruction capability adds to the gameplay, as the cover that you or your enemy use can be destroyed, making you have to think fast to ensure you don’t get taken out. The fact that you can destroy most buildings in-game as well comes in extremely handy when trying to take out a series of enemies that are hiding inside, and with enough firepower you can simply just trash the building, or at least open it up like a tin of sardines and commence with the slaughter.
Battlefield 3 plays like a dream and apart from a few niggles, it is an extremely enjoyable experience – for the majority you will not be disappointed. It’s a fast, accurate, highly detailed and satisfying way to spend some quality gaming hours.
MULTIPLAYER: Just like its predecessor, Battlefield 3 has four multiplayer modes but this time it also has an online co-op mode. The first of these four multiplayer modes is Rush, where two teams take it in turns as attackers and defenders to take two objectives, or M-COM stations. Should the attackers succeed, the map then opens up more with two new M-COM stations. This keeps happening until you take all of the stations or the defenders take out all of their opponents reinforcements. Conquest is simply a capture the flag style game where two teams duke it out to control three flag points. Whoever controls it the longest and can wipe out the opposition’s reinforcements wins the game. The other two multiplayer modes are Team Deathmatch, which is simply two teams battling for the first to a set amount of kills, and Squad Deathmatch which is similar to Team Deathmatch, but this time you have four teams fighting for the win. The co-op mode is interesting as well as, as you and friends can take part in a series of missions, whether it be in defending and attacking the enemy with your weapons or taking to the skies in a helicopter as air support for a squad. The missions are very intense and will most definitely keep you on your toes as surprises are lurking around every corner.
Battlefield 3 delivers a superb multiplayer experience with genuinely fun modes. It is not without problems however, as you can be killed the second you spawn which can be extremely frustrating as it will have been clearly a lucky shot if you are spawning on a teammate. There is a small amount of lag as well, which to be honest is pretty good as previous big online titles have suffered from serious lag from the get go, whereas this is quite bearable, but you will notice it. The only other problem is that the maps can be a little too big, and you may find yourself wandering around looking for some action and probably in a smiling sniper’s scope, so make sure you use cover and the ground to your advantage. Otherwise it is a top notch series of modes.
LONGEVITY: The campaign for Battlefield 3 will take you from anywhere between 6-10 hours to complete, depending on player skill and difficulty which is a decent length for a game of this style but as previously mentioned, if the ending was a little better or slightly longer, the experience would’ve been excellent. The co-op will happily keep you occupied for a decent amount of time as well but the main action and the main replay draw for this title is most definitely the multiplayer modes, which are excellent fun and makes putting down the controller an arduous task.
Battlefield 3 is most definitely a keeper, as you could spend months playing the multiplayer, getting your stats up and obtaining more cool weapons and add-ons and with the prospect of future DLC, you could be definitely be coming back to this a lot.
VERDICT: Battlefield 3 is a massive improvement for an already great series. It is a graphical marvel to behold with its new engine, and it’ll be interesting to Frostbite 2 in other titles. It is also a solid and action packed shooter, with slick and easy to use controls and a screaming fast pace that gives you extreme satisfaction, especially if you are slaughtering everyone on the multiplayer, which is also a well designed and excellent addition to the title.
It may have a few minor bugs and niggles, but the game as a whole is truly a grade A title that should be in your collection and has definitely threatened the title that the Call of Duty series currently holds. It remains to be seen if Modern Warfare 3 can be the best shooter, but be sure about this: Battlefield 3 is so far the best FPS of the year and is winning the battle.