Review: Battlefield 3
Since the release of the Battlefield 1942 in 2002, the franchise has covered various periods of war; World War II, Vietnam, modern combat, and even a futuristic war in 2142. Each installment early in the series was primarily focused on multiplayer, and single player was the same multiplayer maps, only with bots. While BF3 is not the first Battlefield game with a single player story, it does achieve more than a “just training for multiplayer” feel.
Opening in a fight through a subway train, the unknown hero fights his way through various subway cars, dispatching enemies in close quarter gun battles. Upon reaching the end of the train, the character is knocked down, and a gun is thrust into his face. We are then brought back in time to eight hours earlier, and are introduced to Sgt. Blackburn. The story unfolds through the interrogation of Sgt. Blackburn by two Homeland Security agents, each cut scene in the room making way for a new chapter in which the player is put in control of Sgt. Blackburn, an F-18 weapons officer, a tank commander, and a Spetznas operative by the name of Dima. Each perspective adds to the overall story, with Dima being another key player in the storyline, but the other two, while adding to the background story, feel as if they were tacked on for multiplayer vehicle training. Of these two parts, the tank chapter flows more smoothly in the chapter and leads to a moment eerily similar to the fates of some of the US service members captured by the Taliban in Afghanistan. While adding to the realism of what happens in modern wars, I sincerely hope that EA/Dice was not simply adding the scene to create controversy and the publicity that comes with it.
Overall, the single player campaign plays out like a Tom Clancy novel, if not quite so over the top. Enjoyable, but one play through is all the average player will need unless driven to earn every achievement or attempt to write a review.
The graphics in this game are quite simply amazing. The world looks real; trees sway in the wind or topple over when hit by heavy cannon fire. Finding cover during a firefight becomes a not so easy task. The indestructible bunkers of 1942 are gone, as cars explode when they take to many rounds, pillars are shot apart, and bullets pass through wooden fences. In one online moment, I chose to hide on the roof of a gas station to hide from an enemy tank while reloading my SMAW. The tank shot the gas station, causing the roof to collapse and spill my lifeless body into the rubble. I was desperately wishing for a 1942 era bunker at that point I must confess. Lighting is spot on with the sun creating an inconvenient glare if you happen to be facing it during a firefight. Some enemies have flashlights or laser sights equipped to their weapons, which are blinding when they fire at you and make targeting difficult.
Sound makes the grade as well, intense firefights, jets screaming overhead, add to the confusion that a battle must be, while the music kicks in at key scenes, when you get knifed by an AI, and as a multiplayer round is about to end. Very well done, and highly recommended in stereo or with a set of earphones.
At last we come to multiplayer, the meat and potatoes of the BF franchise. Four classes can be chosen from are Assault, Recon, Engineer, and Support. Assault has the med kits and defibrillators added in for those players who choose to be medics. A nice addition in BF3, though I am not sure about other BF console titles, is that when revived with the defibrillator, the player receiving can choose whether or not to accept the revive. From my time in BF2, it was a never ending annoyance to be shelled down by a tank, only to have a player revive me, then promptly be shelled again; this time adding my would be savior into the mix. Support class adds heavy machine guns as well as ammo resupplies for squad members. Recon class is for the lone wolf sniper, along with a few nice toys added in as unlocks. The Engineer class for anti armor, anti air, along with the ever famous repair tool to keep the war machine going. Each class has unlocks as a player progresses, and can be tweaked to fit a players individual preference, even between spawns if the situation dictates.
Within multiplayer, there is TDM, Conquest, and Rush. TDM is standard kill the other team first before they kill you. Spawn points in TDM are quite random; the beginning of one match had me spawning around the corner of a building and an enemy at the other corner. It was an unpleasant surprise when we ran into each other, first for me, then for the other player when my squad mate finished him off. During the match I would find myself spawning in the middle of an enemy squad and be gunned down before taking two steps. Conquest has teams capturing control points, which serve two purposes; the first is the team with the majority bleeds the other side of tickets; the second is each control point serves as a spawn which can get you closer to the action. Rush has one team defending and one team attacking the M-COM. The defenders goal is to kill 100 enemy attackers and the attacker’s goal is to destroy each M-COM.
Vehicles play a major role in BF3, as most maps are large and walking isn’t always considered a good plan. Tanks, helicopters, jets, and jeeps make up some of the vehicles a player is given the opportunity to control.
Each of these elements is in place to make a nice, balanced battle between teams with each class supporting the other and vehicles coming in to support infantry. In theory, it is a great idea. Once logged in to a game, it can be complete chaos with one team dominating the other or both teams running around like idiots. The game design is not at fault for this; rather, it is simply the way of online gaming. When both sides are matched evenly, utilizing squads, vehicles, or proper map strategy, battles can become quite close with one team emerging victorious with few tickets to spare.
Battlefield 3 provides some good entertainment through the single player campaign with a decent story, and some fierce firefights. The real replay value comes in multiplayer, with the different modes, classes, and option of vehicles, BF3 earns its keep and keeps it a contender in the FPS wars.