Platform PC, Xbox360, PS3
Release Date 28.10.2011
Battlefield 3 is very much a game of two halves on one side you have this epic multiplayer game with tanks, helicopter, destructible environments and all out mayhem. On the other side you have a lacklustre single player campaign that is one of the biggest disappointments of the year. I must point out only the PS3 version has been reviewed we will have to wait to test the Xbox and PC versions.
I know the first thing everyone will say is that Battlefield is all about the multiplayer? But it’s not good enough to just brush the campaign mode away like that. I was really looking forward to playing this stunning looking ultra-realistic shooter, and from looking back to how good Medal of Honor was and looking at the promo video’s I was sure that Dice would create something in a similar vein.
But what we get is something on par with the mindless nonsense that was Black ops, with a ridiculous, often boring and extremely liner story mode, in the first few hours I think my vehicle was blown up by an RPG 3 times and I had a building fall on me yet managed to survive it all. It fell into the same trap of trying to recreate “moments” rather than a “game”. Large sections of cut scenes or QTE break up the gun play and this just takes you out of the experience.
What makes this even more disappointing is when you see the effort that has gone into the game. The sound is incredible, the way it changes when you put on a helmet getting into a jet fighter or entering a tunnel, even the ping from your spent cartridges hitting the floor is amazing. Every single sound is perfect. The tanks feel like huge tanks when they come crushing through a wall. One section did have some lip sync issues but that’s very minor.
A huge part of the build up to it release was down to the incredible graphics the new Frostbite 2 engine could produce and BF3 has its high and low moments. The first time you get into the jet fighter or see the rain soaked road gleam it really is a thing of beauty. But as with so much of this game it is very hit and miss. One section can look amazing then two seconds later you can see something very off putting. It is very noticeable when looking at anything in the distance, jagged lines, flickering screen tear and blurring all come into play. Dice really shot themselves in the foot show casing the PC footage for so long it was always going to be a let down on console. Even more so after ID proved that with a lot of extra work you can make console games look amazing too.
The gameplay again is hit and miss. The gunplay is very solid, and it really comes down to the simple things they got wrong. For example as you work your way through the game it becomes clear there are very obvious invisible point you have to hit to load the next section. While running across the street under a hail of gunfire you would think you should be able to smash through a door way and get into cover quickly but can’t, you must stand and wait for your counterpart to catch up and kick the door for you! These can take a few seconds for the game to realise it need to load the next section and got help you if it crashes, which it will do.
Quick time events and on rail sections are over used and pretty much reduce the game to pressing two buttons for large sections. When you get shot because you are locked into a stupid QTE and can’t fire back its pretty unforgiveable. The jet fighters mission is absolutely stunning looking but also incredible boring. As I got into the jet I was expecting this incredible moment, I thought here we go the game is going to pick up now but it didn’t. You don’t even get to control the jet all you do is look around and press fire when you lock onto a target.
Even more issues, the controls can be unresponsive especially when trying to go prone, holding the R3 button should make your character hit the dirt, yet more often than not he won’t react, this often results in needing a second press and then the character will then hit the deck, but jump straight back up again! In the middle of a fire fight it’s pretty annoying.
It’s also very difficult to see what is going on, not because the enemy are hiding but you just have way too much crap on screen. Between your own team mates running in front of you, a ridiculous amount of icons on screen and the enemy being ridiculously small the whole game is a chore to get through and that just should not be the case it not hard to make a basic enjoyable 8 hour campaign.
Now this is a totally different ball game, still not without its issues including graphical glitches, unresponsive controls and having even more bright icons on screen to block even more of the enemy from your sight. Believe me when you lose an enemy because he ran behind a big letter C its bloody annoying.
But it is such a blast you can forgive the indiscretions. Team work is key, you can still go it alone but you are quickly outnumbered and if there is one thing Battlefield does get spot on it’s the balance. A single player will not be able to last long on his own, you will quickly notice that its squads that win matches not players.
Battlefield is all about the vehicles, BF3 has lots of vehicles to choose from boats, Jeeps, APC’s, Tanks, Jet fighters and a few different types of helicopters and thankfully they are all quite nicely balanced. At the start of every match there is a rush to the vehicles which usually leads to a pile up of them all in the middle of the map 30 seconds later. But get in a good squad that is balanced and work with you vehicles properly and BF3 is an absolute joy to play.
The maps are brilliant, they have been modified slightly compared to the PC version to make it more suited to the reduced numbers but you still have lots of space to work in, and lots of cover so the snipers are not as big an issue as in BC2.
Multiplayer is brilliant and its balanced really well, for a long time in BC2 it felt like half the team was snipers and the other half just drove around in tanks so if you were an infantry unit on the ground you quickly got picked off. But BF3 is enjoyable on so many levels. On foot you can still stop a tank with the right rocket launcher. You can hide in around the many blind corners and get the important kills. If you take to the road the tanks and other vehicles pack a real punch but are not invulnerable. Taking to the air is by far the trickiest of all, mastering the controls of a Little bird helicopter allowing you to fly and shoot is a genuine test of skill. You can also just be a pilot and ferry troops to drop points. If you don’t fancy flying yourself then strap in as a side gunner and pick up easy kills (as long as the pilot doesn’t crash into the first building he sees)
You have a number of game modes to choose from my current favourite being 4 way Squad death matches, which pit 4 teams against each other. Also included are the stable team death matches, conquest and rush.
Multiplayer overall : Online BF3 really is a brilliant game, even the shrunken down console version is still brilliant fun. I am disappointed that Dice didn’t push the console version a bit more, while lots of fun it is still full of issues and only having 24 players online is quite small. Hopefully the issues it is having settles down in the few days after release even though it does come with a day 1 229mb update already. But the good far outweighs the bad there is so much to do in each round that you will never get bored.
Single player : overall very disappointing, after all the hype it was a huge let down, the graphics look amazing but I’m not really impressed by good looking background graphics that you never interact with anymore God of War did that years ago I need a bit more now.
The missions are incredible liner often resulting in limiting the side of the road you have to walk down! To get through the game it was hard work, battling to see what is going on, battling with PS3 crashes, battling graphical issues and dumb AI. I expected a furious battle I just thought it would be within the game not with the game itself.
Final comment : The score is perhaps lower than others have given BF3 but we felt we had to review the full package and not just the online. The fairest way to do that is to average the scores between the two.
Single player Score 6/10
Overall Score 7.5/10