And here we are – the first of the big-name modern military shooters for the Fall Season has arrived. Released on October 25th, EA’s Battlefield 3 already had a MASSIVE following on the Internet which almost trivializes the point of this review. For that reason, I’m going to focus my thoughts primarily on the single-player portion of the game, as those that are truly interested in multiplayer, likely already know the features, played the beta, or outright own the game already. If you’re looking for the best information and strategies revolving around the multiplayer portion, I’d recommend you to head on over to Next Gen Tactics, as those guys know their shit!
Despite the Modern Military First Person Shooter stigma that a single player campaign is just tacked on as an afterthought, I actually really enjoyed the campaign of Battlefield 3; the developers created a great sense of immersion from the very beginning. The story overall is pretty cliché and it’s nothing we haven’t seen before, but the sound effects, visuals and background voice actors really drew me in.
The story revolves around two ignorant American Government assholes interrogating Sergeant Henry Blackburn as he relives a series of events through flashbacks. You’ll relive these events through the eyes of Blackburn, F/A 18 Pilot Jennifer Hawkins, bad-ass tank operator Jonathan Miller and Russian GRU operative Dimitry Mayakovsky. Of course some “terrorists” have gotten their hands on some nukes and are ready to blow the shit out of New York, and you’ve got to stop them. While not a unique approach to the storytelling, I enjoyed how all of the fragments came together in the end to tell what’s really going on and the final emotional cut-scene really portrays the crap that many of today’s soldiers have to deal with.
Battlefield’s 12 missions took me 6 hours to complete on the normal difficulty. Overall, I found there to be a great balance of game-play mechanics as you mix in stealth night missions with intense and near-hopeless front-line battles with riding in jets, tanks and jeeps. I did die a few times to some challenging enemies, but a great checkpoint system is built in that ensures you’ll never lose much progress. While the short length of the story is on par with the most modern shooters, I thought that the pacing felt right and was to the point. Anything else that would have been tacked on would have just been fluff.
While I realize that the PC graphics of this title in particular are significantly better than their console counterparts, I thought that the 360 version looked great, especially once the 1.5gb High Def Texture Pack was installed to the hard drive. This is something to consider if you own a 360 without a hard drive though, as you will have more of a standard def-looking game if you don’t have the necessary hard drive space. This is nothing new to the Playstation though; they’ve been doing this for years.
With the great graphics, the game ran great with only a few minor hiccups here and there. There is a little bit of screen tearing here and there but it’s nothing that ruined my overall game-play experience. I noticed a few significant drops in frames during the campaign, but they were scarce and never occurred during multiplayer.
A series of co-op missions are also included that are separate from the campaign and may be played with others online. The first mission I played bugged out and we had to kill ourselves before we could complete it and the second mission involved flying a helicopter without a tutorial to teach you to fly the damn thing before hand. This wouldn’t be an issue if it didn’t take so long to start the mission up each time you crash the chopper 30 seconds into the game. Regardless to say, the co-op missions left a pretty sour taste in my mouth.
As far as mechanics go, it’s pretty much your standard shooter with things you’d expect, but there were a couple things I’d like to comment on. A suppressive fire mechanic actually blurs the vision of those under fire without actually damaging them. I thought this was a really cool way to implement suppressive fire and I’ve not personally seen something like that before and always wondered how someone would put it in a game. There is also no cover system beyond crouch and prone which I found to be odd considering your squad mates constantly have nice cover and peek around corners while you can’t. The firefight and go style of game-play found in the campaign absolutely supports this mechanic, so I’m surprised it wasn’t implemented.
Now, it’s been roughly 6 months since I’ve played a shooter like this and I was certainly rusty once I hopped online, so needless to say I got my poop pushed in a few times early on. There are several game-modes supported including a territories-type game, an attack and defend mode, and a few variations of team deathmatch. Like most recent EA games, an Online Pass is required to hop online and PC players will have to suffer through the Origin interface, which is the primary reason I purchased this for the 360.
The multiplayer games support Assault, Support, Engineer and Recon classes, all with unique abilities and gear. As you play your games, each of these classes will level up unlocking new gear. Your weapons and vehicles will also level up, unlocking attachments the more that you use them. Finally your overall rank will level up granting you perks and additional camouflage options.
I played online for several hours last night and had a wonderful time. I can’t get into the specifics as to whether the game is balanced or how competitive the atmosphere will be, but for the time I spent, I thoroughly enjoyed myself and am actually quite anxious to get back at it. As an entire product, I feel that this is certainly worth your money if you’re looking for the potential next best shooter. The single player campaign was immersive and the multiplayer is bound to get your blood pumping.
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Platform: Xbox 360, PS3, PC (Origin)
Release Date: October 25, 2011
Watch commentated game-play here: http://www.youtube.com/ZGRWhyUDead
Review Video: http://www.youtube.com/ZeitgeistReview
Follow me on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/ZeitgeistReview
Follow me on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ZeitgeistGameReview/
Don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE!