by Quinn Levandoski
reviewed on PC
Action Packed Year
While 2011 has been, and will continue to be, a year absolutely packed to the brim with amazing games, none of them came surrounded with quite the same type of hype has DICE’s Battlefield 3, the latest title in a franchise that has enjoyed popularity since the 2002 Windows launch of Battlefield 1942. A lot was riding on Battlefield 3 leading up to its release. Dice and EA had promised so much, claiming it be the Call of Duty killer and the next step in the evolution of online shooters, that anything less than amazing would make both groups seem quite the fools. So, does Battlefield 3 live up to its almost insurmountable hype? Well, it depends on how you look at it. The game is absolutely brilliant in some areas, and quite lacking in others. As I’ll explain below, this made it extremely difficult for me to review. That being the case, in this review even more that others, I highly encourage you to not just look at my score and judge the game. Read my points, judge for yourself if my praises and criticisms align with your own wants in the game and then make an assessment; otherwise, you may find yourself disappointed.
As I said, Battlefield 3 does a lot of thing very right, and a few things disappointingly wrong. Let’s start out with the things I wasn’t too keen on, before moving on to the good stuff. My entire complaint about Battlefield 3 is with its campaign. It’s not that it’s horrible, as you may have heard some people say. I merely think that it’s average, which seems like a failure compared with the level of amazing found elsewhere else in the title. Judging by the seemingly high value placed on the campaign in promotional material and demos shown by EA, I was expecting this to be the Battlefield game to finally balance the power of its single-player with it’s hugely popular multiplayer. The story is about as generic they come. The United States is yet again butting heads with Russia and the Middle East, and things get ugly fast. There’s a bit more too it than that, but by the end you’ll most likely have forgotten why you’re doing what you’re doing and simply go through the motions.
Even worse than the mundane story is the fact that you really don’t feel active in it at all. Not every skirmish or set piece is like this, but in many cases the game either pushes you through so concretely that you can’t fail if you try, or it throws a set of rules at you so rigid that doing something as seemingly trivial moving at a different speed than the games wants you to results in immediate death. In fact, sometimes the game is scripted down to the point of your allies taking cover. Instead of reacting to the player and enemies and finding a somewhat sensical place to shoot from, they will go to one spot and one spot only. Can the enemy see them there? Doesn’t matter. Is the player already there? Tough luck, your allies will literally push you out of cover so they can take it. First person shooter campaigns have often times fallen into this trap throughout the years and I was hoping that this would be a the game to step out of this comfort zone and give me epic battlefields full of choice and possibilities to progress the narrative. This is not the case.
My last big beef with the single-player campaign is the fact that hiding or attempting any sort of stealth/misdirection is completely impossible. In many instances in the campaign you’ll have to kill off a few waves of enemies that succeed each other in. That being the case, one would assume that finding a good place to take cover to set up an ambush for the unsuspecting next group would be a good idea. Unfortunately, this isn’t possible, as the new group of enemies almost immediately knows where you are, regardless of them actually being able to see you. This is incredibly frustrating, and largely takes away the point of trying anything too strategic.
It may seem like I think Battlefield 3's campaign is completely worthless, but that isn’t the case. Most of its problems are common among games, it’s just that I went into this particular one expecting more. There are highlights as well. For one, the games visuals are quite stunning and really add a lot to the atmosphere and feel of the game (just make sure if your playing on the 360 to install the graphics booster. Without it, the game almost looks last-gen). Whether you’re looking out into the open sands of the Middle East, or running through dark and dingy shadows, DICE’s new Frostbite engine really does live up to the hype. Raw shooting is also worthy of mention. While many shooters suffer from weapons that feel like toys when you shoot them, Battlefield makes you feel like you’re really shooting something. Guns sounds great, and I love the fact that they kick enough to make “spraying and praying” an impractical option. If you go into the campaign just looking for some mindless action to pass the time, there are things that can entertain. It’s just a matter of knowing what you’ve signed up for before jumping in. If I were scoring this game on campaign alone, I would probably give it something in the low 7s.
The amazing thing about Battlefield 3 is the fact that despite the campaign, I still managed to absolutely fall in love with the game. I’ve used a lot of real estate telling you why the game disappoints, so let me continue on and explain why, despite its flaws, this is still a game I don’t think anyone should pass up. To put it briefly, Battlefield’s multiplayer is a masterpiece, delivering on every promise that was made about it and more. I really do think that it sets a new bar, and creates a new standard that modern shooters will be compared to.
Great atmospheric graphics and unmatched multiplayer.
Uninspired campaign which hurts the overall package.