Bombastic, beautiful, and occasionally boring
Battlefield 3 has been a long time coming. The last true Battlefield game was released six years ago and since then DICE has tried its hands at some twists on the formula. 2142 tried a future setting and in some aspects succeeded. Then they changed the feel of Battlefield entirely and made it for consoles with the Bad Company games, which in terms of multiplayer, succeeded greatly. Now, after six games and six years, DICE has unleashed Battlefield 3, but does it live up to the hype?
For the most part Battlefield 3 is a great success. Aspects of the game are weak, but the parts that needed to be strong are still unmatched by any other game out there. Battlefield 3’s biggest problem is the part of the game that is not multiplayer. With the Bad Company series DICE did some experimenting in the single player front, while all of their previous Battlefield games had been multiplayer exclusively. While both of the Bad Company games’ campaigns were nothing spectacular, they focused on typical military clichés, they had style. The characters were silly and their reactions to the clichéd story were playful and mildly self-aware. While the campaigns were nothing inspiring, they did have something to call their own. Unfortunately, Battlefield 3’s campaign doesn’t have all that much to call its own. The story follows a marine how uncovers a nuclear threat to America and you know the rest from there. What follows is a fairly disjointed 7 hours of shooting AI in the face that looks incredible, sounds remarkable, is decently fun, and pretty boring. I say it is fun because the gunplay of Battlefield 3 is great and making your way through these gorgeous environments is, for the most part, fairly enjoyable. However, every encounter in the game, with the exception of a jet mission and a tank mission, involves you sitting in one spot and shooting an unfathomable amount of enemies that seemingly come out of nowhere. It gets very old, very quickly because the AI, both friendly and enemy, is not too bright. Everyone just sits in the same spot and attempts to shoot each other while you just pick them off from a distance.
Where Bad Company had stupidity on its side and the Modern Warfare games have utter ridiculousness spewing from every second of the games, Battlefield 3’s campaign is far to self-serious and contains maybe 5 moments that stood out as impressive, but only because it was so incredible to look at and listen too. The campaign fails because it doesn’t play to what makes Battlefield great, and that is scale, vehicles, and mayhem. It’s by no means a bad campaign, but it just didn’t do anything that made me ever want to go back to it, unless it was to look and listen.
Oh, I forgot to mention, Battlefield 3 looks truly incredible on a PC. Some of the aspects that stand out most prominently are the lighting effects, the quality of all animations, whether it be facial or body, is above and beyond just about everything out there. On top of that, Battlefield 3 has some of, if not the best sound design in video game history. Every single sound in the game, which the exception of some of the voice actors is incredible. If you have a powerful PC and some surround sound headset, you are in for one of the most impressive audio/visual experiences you will ever have.
In addition to its meh campaign is a fairly wasted co-op mode. While I did not play every single co-op mission, the three that I did play all involved you and your partner doing the same thing in one area for about 15 minutes. The first mission involves you sitting in one spot and shooting waves of enemies, the second involves you sitting in a helicopter and shooting lots of enemies, and the third involves you sitting in a Humvee and shooting lots of enemies. It’s a shame because there could have been some realty impressive co-op mission, and maybe there will be in the future, but after those three I had no interest in playing anymore of the games co-op mode.
Thus far, it sound like I hate Battlefield 3, but what Battlefield has always been, and will always be, is a multiplayer game. Battlefield 2 established the formula of lots of players, tons of vehicles, all spread across a massive environment. Virtually every time, these three things made for wonderful, fantastic, ludicrous shenanigans. While Bad Company 1 and 2 had many aspects of this, it was toned down a notch or two. Thankfully, Battlefield 3 ramps everything up to eleven. The PC multiplayer consists of massive 64 player matches that take place on enormous, stunning environments. With this many players and this many vehicles all in play at once, every game is enjoyable. I have yet to play a single match in Battlefield 3 where something great and cool looking didn’t happen. Helicopters crash, jets pull of unthinkable maneuvers, and shit is exploding left, right, and center. For me, this is what multiplayer should be like. Yes, you can take it seriously if you want to, but it’s a video game, and video games are silly, and should be played for fun, and Battlefield 3’s multiplayer is damn fun.
The game continues the trend of unlocking weapons, attachments, and specializations as you rank up and boy is there a lot to unlock. With virtually every game played you are hitting another milestone that unlocks you something new to play with whether it is a machine gun or a flashlight. There is also a bunch of new customization options that let you choose what attachments you have one your weapons and what type of camouflage your character will wear in a match. With ranks going farther then the eye can see, you will be able to play this game for a long, long time.
One thing that really has impressed me so far is that there is literally something for everyone to do in the multiplayer. You can rush in a jeep and capture points, go hard-core in a jet, support the team by repairing, resupplying, or healing, or just try and blow up every enemy vehicle you see, something I love to do. I think there is fun to be had by just about everyone.
It’s a bit of a shame that there is basically no in game menu system and that all modes and matches have to be launched from EA’s new Battlelog service, but it is not as bad once you get used to it. While it is tedious to launch Origin, to launch a web page, to then get into a game, the site offers a huge variety of stat tracking that updates seemingly upon the instant of a match completion. I would have preferred an actual menu system, but the website does what it has to and it does so sufficiently.
While campaign and co-op modes left me wanting more, the multiplayer provides an experience that is still unmatched by any other game out there. That reminds me, it is so strange to me that EA did so much marketing that put this game up against Call of Duty because Battlefield 3 and the Modern Warfare games have so little in common. Sure they are both modern military first person shooters, but in terms of multiplayer, they couldn’t be more different.
If you have ever enjoyed a Battlefield game, and especially if you have a competent PC, you need to get this game. While it does almost nothing new in the multiplayer front, it does everything exceedingly well. It’s beautiful to a point of absurdity, it sounds unlike anything else out there, and it’s some of the most fun you will have playing multiplayer, period.