by Christopher Coke
reviewed on PC
Fourth in a powerful series of expansions
An earthquake has hit Tehran and the streets are a cracked, debris-ridden mess. Thankfully there are lots of dudes to shoot to make matters even messier. That's the setting for Battlefield 3's latest downloadable content, Aftermath, and it works well. Aftermath is the fourth in a powerful series of expansions which have broadened the game beyond what many early adopters and Call of Duty converts ever imagined. Coming from the vehicle-scarred expanses of Armored Kill, Aftermath is a welcome return to form for this military first-person shooter, blending the series best aspects with tight, well considered map design.
If you are one of the few Battlefield fans who played through the campaign, the four maps Aftermath brings to the fold should be familiar to you. They are themed after the events of the story and, thankfully, that is as far as campaign connections go. The result, however, is a map pack that blends the best of what the previous expansions have offered. The urban setting feels like a nod to Back to Karkand while the narrow passageways and through-puts are reminiscent of Close Quarters. Each map also features many distant sight points, so playing a sniper is a viable if not overpowering choice.
The Maps That Make The Pack
Battlefield 3 is at its best when death can come from any side and the map design in Aftermath embraces this quality in full form. You will scan open terrain with a wary eye, spamming the Spot button on every window, every rooftop, every pile of rubble, and every split in the asphalt. The range of movement is one of this expansion's strongest qualities. Channeled flanking paths are a dominant attribute, some less narrow than others, but rest assured that there is always a way to “one up” your enemy. Unlike the empty expanses of Armored Kill, it is entirely possible to move unnoticed across Aftermath's four maps. It is a wonderfully satisfying feeling to sneak up behind the very group of enemies who had just been suppressing you under their fire. Line of sight breaks are prominent, so playing these maps involves constant awareness of your surroundings. It is a bit unnerving at times but also allows a single soldier to have an impact on the sway of battle.
The four maps added to the game are well varied and intense. Azadi Palace creates a maze of corridors circulating around a marketplace with wide roads for covered mid- to long-distance fire. Epicentre takes place at ground zero. It is larger with wide expanses which are great for assault rifles and sniper play but perilous to traverse. Playing the map often finds players funneling towards the center, through alleyways and stairwells, forcing conflict.
Talah Market is my favorite of the bunch but also the most confined. It places teams in a Tehrani township of sand-washed apartments and rust streaked fountains. Rooftops and awnings are navigable adding verticality and range to corridors and short expanses of the ground floor. Markaz Monolith is the most generic of the bunch featuring deep gouges in the roadway, obviously placed cover points, and multilevel buildings. It has all the features that make this an engaging and worthwhile expansion but the overall impression is less than memorable.
Great map design, lots of verticality and flanking routes, satisfying crossbows, fun Scavenger mode.
Disappointing vehicles, questionable longevity for Scavenger, generic Markaz Monolith.