Read past the link for my review on one of the latest and most impressive shooters this year, Battlefield 3. What are you waiting for?
Shooting people, both online and off is all the rage. It seems every other game coming out lately is a first person shooter set in some vaguely familiar location with plots more absurd than a cigar smoking, monocle wearing, talking cat wrapped with set pieces and a tag on multiplayer. A little known title by the name of Call of Duty seems to lead the pack forward in their quest to strip us of all our money. It is easy to see that Battlefield 3 and Call of Duty are throwing everything they have at each other to come out on top.
Everyone compares any FPS shooter to the previous best one – so it’s only natural to compare Battlefield 3 and Modern Warfare 3. If you were looking for a review which would compare the two, then you have come to the wrong place – Battlefield 3 will be getting its own moment to shine from here on in.
Even before the game was released, it was easy to see that it was going to be a good looking game, while the pre-release footage was mainly on PC (usually the better looking platform), it translates well to the consoles. Although, in this case it is definitely crisper on the PS3 compared with the 360. While the 360 may have come out with the ‘worst’ graphics of the three, I use that term lightly, it is still a great looking game across all platforms – smoke, fire and dust clouds are made even more realistic by the complex lighting engine that they have in place. Even in intense firefights, the frame rate hardly drops.
The Frostbite 2 engine completely overhauled most of the graphical elements from Battlefield Bad Company 2, Battlefield 3’s spiritual predecessor. The most noticeable thing, however, is the animations – they have been completely reworked and employ a system used in Fifa to create a realistic weight, feel and look to the character, allowing you to feel every footstep and dive to the ground. One of the main draws of the game is of course the destruction, dust clouds billow out of the buildings as they collapse realistically and, often, with deadly consequences.
Absolutely everything you do in Battlefield 3 leads to a satisfying and ultimately fun experience, both online and offline. The game allows you to carve a path of preferred resistance through each campaign section, letting you choose not only your weapons but also giving you the option to ‘go in loud’ or sneak around and perform swift and silent takedowns. The maps online also allow you to do this, you can quite easily swap between rolls too – one second laying down covering fire or creating a distraction and with a quick kit change you could be sneaking around the back of a tank to plant a few C4.
While the Battlefield series traditionally has been a multiplayer only experience, their first shot at a serious Battlefield campaign has been a successful one. While it is not particularly down to earth, it leaves you feeling like it is actually vaguely believable in some alternate universe, this is in most part due to the brilliant script work which had outside help from renowned author and SAS operative Andy McNab, writer of the award selling book Bravo Two Zero.
The campaign starts at the end, using flash backs during an interview to portray the fuller picture. Each consecutive level lets you understand slightly more of what happened in the first level, slowly growing the picture until you know what is actually happening. Personally I like this style of storytelling, getting you hooked straight away with full on action level and yet questioning why you’re running around with handcuffs on – meaning you have to play until the very end. Only a brilliant piece of writing can show you the ending and still have you questioning what you know on the journey.
Going back to online play, there is a co-op mode, also structured with a campaign that follows different groups of soldiers and how they take on the war and how they helped to try to stop the vicious terrorist attacks on various countries around the world. As you would expect, the experience points you gain from these missions do go towards weapon unlocks which you can use in the competitive multiplayer modes.
Unfortunately, these six co-op missions do not involve any splitscreen options and are quite dull. Their basic promise is to fight off enemy waves, pushing forward and sometimes retreating. It’s just a boring shooting gallery after a while, once you’ve worked out where the enemy will pop up they generally follow a pattern; it would give it much more playability if there were randomised entrance points and tactics for your foes to use. Ultimately, the co-op feels like a last minute addition.
As you have probably come to expect from Dice competitive multiplayer – you get very few different online game types: Rush, Conquest and Team deathmatch – most of which you can play on a smaller scale 4 vs. 4 “squad” mode. The life of the game is mainly in the multiplayer – even with the decent singleplayer offering the multiplayer just keeps enticing you back for more – always wanting you to unlock the next weapon or item for your soldier.
Each mode is nothing new to look at, however we see for the first time ever in a Battlefield game; jets on console. Now you have jets and helicopters to wreak havoc on the enemy factions, a deadly combination if you have the correct skills.
Having skills is indeed an accomplishment on the jets, while you don’t start out with much on either the helicopter or jets, the helicopter is, by far, the easier to get a foothold in. I don’t quite understand the logic behind only giving you a gun when you first fly. You do not even get any missile countermeasures. It’s an incredibly, and unnecessarily, hard job to get any fun out of the jets. The other vehicles, in my opinion, are great to master – proving a great force in the right hands.
What most impresses me about the game is not the graphics, physics, or gameplay. Weirdly, it’s the sound – each gunshot, grenade and crunch of metal is reinforced by a realistic barrage of sound effects. Personally, I find the sound to me a deal breaker in immersion more often than any other problem, which can range from bad voice acting to overpowering music. The voice acting in this is particularly good, and even the small effects from the panting after running and the ‘clunk’ when changing a clip really transports you into their world.
Overall, the game is of an extremely high quality, as you should expect. Almost every aspect is so satisfying in this title, there are only a few areas that I could pick up on – the first being the Co-op with its dull gameplay with the jets following behind. The last is the theme music; it does sound like a rushed throw-it-together piece composed on a cheap novelty soundboard, certainly not comparable to one of Hans Zimmer’s compositions.