When we saw the preview a few months ago of DICE's Battlefield 3 we were admittedly blown away. Was this finally going to be the COD-killer of all COD-killers? There had been a lot of speculation about every military shooter coming down the pike being able to dethrone Call of Duty, but it looked like Battlefield 3 might actually do it. Let's take a look at whether or not this game lives up to all the hype and whether you should put your copy of Call of Duty: Black Ops on the shelf for a while.
The Obligatory Single Player
Yes, yes, we know - you don't care about the single player. You're all about the multiplayer! DICE (and just about any other developer of such games) will readily admit that the multiplayer aspect forms the majority of their fan base, but eliminating a single player mode takes a chunk out of sales, to be a total cynic, so it's included as always. To be fair though, it doesn't feel like an add-on.
The story is a derivative tale of Sergeant James Blackburn relating his past missions while being interrogated. Sound familiar? It should if you've played Black Ops. Alas, it works with the source material. So you relive his missions, from Paris, Iran, New York, and everywhere in between. It all looks great, though we've been here before. It's all about searching for some loose nukes or something. There always has to be WMDs looming in the background, dontcha know.
Snark aside, the single player is a lot of fun, though it is short. You'll only spend about 5 hours or so playing through the single player experience and then you're done. There is a co-op experience thrown in for the heck of it, and you can earn multiplayer awards by playing it so it is worth a shot. In co-op, you are essentially playing variations on the single player missions with a buddy. I always love co-op, but I wish there was more here.
The gameplay is solid and DICE has managed to pull through on the set pieces. Buildings fall apart, destructible environments abound, and you really feel immersed. That said, there are some quick time events (oh, how I hate thee!), on-rail events, and infinite spawn points where you'll feel pulled out of the game's flow. Such mechanics feel a bit dated in this day and age and I for one don't understand the appeal. All you can do is trudge through and keep moving forward when you feel like you've hit an endless supply of baddies emerging from a doorway. Once you touch a certain stone or blade of grass an alarm sounds that tells the baddies to stop coming, I suppose. Despite these quibbles, you'll have fun with Battlefield 3's single player and co-op experiences. DICE's Frostbite 2 engine delivers what it set out to do and captures the mood of the game.
Multiplayer Is Where It's At!
Developers of the Battlefield series have always pushed the concept of "Battlefield moments" in their games. What this means is that the game is immersing you into a BATTLEFIELD. Instead of the every-man-for-himself type of game you get with many other multiplayer shooters, Battlefield seeks to make you feel like you're part of a squad or platoon (24 players maximum) in a real battle. So you get unique entry points, vehicles, objectives, and so on. Battlefield 3 manages to pull this off quite beautifully. You can BASE jump onto objectives, take part in amphibious assaults, and the like. Such things are completely missing from most shooters. I found this refreshing.
To amp up the teamwork aspect of the multiplayer game (which requires an online pass to play), Battlefield 3 offers four classes: Assault, Engineer, Support, and Recon. They are all fairly self-explanatory, but here (unlike in previous versions) the Assault class has the ability to heal squadmates. One great thing about this set-up is that if you play your role well you can end up at the top of your team, no matter your kill count. In other words, you earn points for achieving the objectives of the game mode and the objectives of your class. This sort of team-based thinking is absent from a lot of multiplayer games and it's certainly a welcome addition.
About game modes - you have the standard Team Deathmatch (which has been absent in the series for a while), Squad Deathmatch, Squad Rush, and Conquest. Rush involves a team of Attackers and a team of Defenders vying for MCOM stations and really shines as a game mode. Conquest is a lot of fun as well. The other modes hold up, but often fail to really utilize the gigantic maps and vehicles (which are strangely almost entirely absent in single player) that Battlefield 3 offers.
Leveling is handled pretty much like Call of Duty, but DICE has taken steps to ensure that you won't come in as a noob and get totally pwned by those who've been playing since day one. To be certain, though, that will still happen. Progression has been slowed down, but starting out with iron sights versus a team full of guys using holographic sights is no fun and still present. If you've been out of the loop in multiplayer for just a week you'll be behind the curve. There have also been instances of annoying team killing in an effort to get a precious fighter jet (many of which end up wrecked because the team killer doesn't know how to properly fly it), but I haven't encountered that yet. Look for DICE patch it if it continues to be a problem.
All in All, a Solid Addition to Your Collection
I'm not the biggest fan of military shooters (they all feel a bit trite to me at this point), but no one can deny the fun you have playing Battlefield 3. It may or may not be the COD-killer some want it to be, but that's not the point. It's an immersive shooter that pushes the boundaries of what can be done with the genre and the PS3 platform.
Article by - Brett Huffman