Battlefield 3 Review
An enthralling, dynamic multiplayer experience with the visual and audio package to match
Posted by Ben Thomas (nutcrackr) on Nov 5, 2011 - 7:55pm EST (Nov 5, 2011 19:55)
Battlefield 3 is a satisfying, brutal multiplayer shooter developed by DICE. It brings back some great features from Battlefield 2 and draws heavy inspiration from Bad Company 2. Rendered on the astounding Frostbite 2 engine, it wages war with 64 players on large maps. Bonus material, like the solid campaign and co-op missions, add some meat for those ticking boxes at home.
Few games genuinely make you feel like you are part of a grand battle and BF3 puts you there every second. You might be storming a beach with your squad, covered in plumes of smoke, to emerge disorientated in the blinding sun. Shadows of jets pass overhead as an enemy tank turns its turret in your direction. Then you realise that you are playing the greatest multiplayer experience of the year.
Battlefield 3 sticks true to the franchise’s formula we have seen over the years. Large teams made up of smaller squads vie for control of checkpoints or attack m-com stations. Vehicles raise the threat level and bring the flight or fight response into action. Weapon and vehicle unlocks along with medals and ribbons reward committed players. Four character classes promote teamwork by supplying health, ammo, repairing vehicles or providing long range support. In the moments when everything goes to plan, there are few multiplayer games that match the intensity. Maps are important for any multiplayer game and thankfully BF3 has great variety.
The pacing changes when moving from the infantry focused alleyways in Grand Bazaar to the wide open desert of Operation Firestorm. Even each checkpoint will feel different with the dense forest strongly contrasting with the explosive gas station in Caspian Border. There are plenty of opportunities to set up defensive positions in buildings, although the walls can be destroyed by rockets. The largest maps are no match for some of the BF2 monsters but they are bigger than anything you saw in BC2. All the maps support all the modes, so you can pick and choose what mode and map you enjoy the most. Not all the maps make a successful transition to their unintended modes
Some maps are clearly designed for one mode. Operation Metro and Damavand Peak do not make the transition to Conquest well. The first is a train station underneath Paris and the second is a huge tunnel cut through a mountain. They are too linear and constricted with poor flag placements creating chokepoints where neither side can penetrate. Instead of the entire range of flags being in a state of flux it’s usually just one centre flag with limited opportunity to flank. Once a team sets up a defensive position the attackers might as well give up. On the upside these maps work well in their native modes, creating a steady push toward the objectives.
Some Rush maps are hard to penetrate. Attackers starting from an aircraft carrier are greatly disadvantaged. As they make the journey via boat or helicopter they become easy targets for defenders. It’s a shame that you rarely see some of the excitement in the later M-com stations unless the teams are unbalanced. Other maps fair better in Rush, allowing you to flank across the open desert as you hear bullets fly past your ear. The level choice is good and you can tailor your experience. All the maps feature some destruction even if it is less pronounced than BC2.
Destruction is important even if it has toned back from Bad Company 2. You can destroy walls that infantry hide behind and open shortcuts. Buildings collapse but you won’t see three storey homes crash to the ground. Cars and gas storage containers explode in the streets and trees fall in the woods exposing hidden players. Many lights can be shot out and visual cover protects for a short while. Some walls crumble in alleyways to provide extra cover or camping spots for the shameless. After playing for more than a dozen hours you will realise that there is more than enough destruction throughout the maps.