Game Review

Battlefield 3 Review

Battlefield 3 suffers from an identity crisis. <br/><br/>It delivers scorching multiplayer, fitting of its decade-long pedigree of famously expansive big-team battles, but stumbles over a generic single-player campaign that feels like a different game. <br/><br/>While DICE may not deliver a memorable story here, it doesn't need to when Battlefield 3's online warfare raises every bar imaginable, delivering one of the best multiplayer experiences of the year. I doubt Battlefield purists will complain much about the campaign, honestly; I know you're enlisting in this battle to bring down entire armies online.<br/><br/><i>Editor's Note: <a target="_blank" href="http://pc.ign.com/articles/121/1210387p1.html" target="_blank">Click here for the PC review</a>.</i><br/><br/><img src="http://xbox360media.ign.com/xbox360/image/article/121/1210004/battlefield-3ddd_1318956879.jpg" /><br/><br/><br/><br/><br/>From the beaches of Kharg Island to the hills of Damavand Peak, Battlefield 3's multiplayer maps provide an immediate sense of scale. Everything about their design screams size, personalization, and the need to take creative initiative to succeed. Choose to pop headshots from the prone position, spin barrel rolls in a jet outfitted with personal unlocks, or see how many dog tags you can knife from your opponents; Battlefield 3's multiplayer is about the freedom of choice.<br/><br/>The online fight feels like a geography lesson (in a good way). Depending on the game mode, each map utilizes a different area or shifts wider and wider as gameplay progresses. You might not see half of a map like Caspian Border or Seine Crossing during your first few Rush matches. To accommodate PS3's 24-player cap, each map has been modified slightly -- mainly by drawing spawn points closer to the action and limiting Conquest-match points to three (as opposed to PC's five). Where many online shooters teach you the nooks and crannies of every map, Battlefield 3 is a wide sandbox that encourages variety and exploration. Also, the in-game server browser is a great addition to console matchmaking as players can easily find the exact game-type they're looking for.<br/><br/><img src="http://ps3media.ign.com/ps3/image/article/120/1200928/BF3-beta-stats_1318919101.jpg" /><br/><br/><br/><br/><br/>Is the gameplay balanced? Battlefield 3's online teeter-totter comes down to personal preference. I've been pinned down at my spawn point in Operation Metro by a dozen, well-stocked snipers and I've taken over an entire conquest map single-handedly. I'm no Maverick in a jet, so I learned to rain down hellfire from a chopper. For any class or tactic that doesn't work, like a painter's palette, Battlefield 3 offers alternatives. All four streamlined classes (Soldier, Engineer, Assault, and Recon) get their own problem-solving unlocks, so leveling each one is paramount to sitting on top of the leaderboards.<br/><br/>Battlefield 3's rewards and progression will keep you coming back to its online rumble for a long time. From adding heat-seeking missiles to an Anti-Aircraft Tank to simply changing camouflage, there's always a carrot dangling just out of reach -- if you can wrangle the score to earn it. While the newly implemented Team Deathmatch modes encourage high kills and low deaths, Battlefield remains a team-based game where you can sit atop the scoreboard no matter how many times you've died. Heal an injured teammate, resupply a sniper, or make sure a tank gets fixed up, Battlefield is about working towards the greater good. <br/><br/><pagebreak>Battlefield 3's Frostbite 2 engine delivers great visuals. It doesn't evolve as far beyond Battlefield: Bad Company 2 as its PC cousin does, but the use of light and dark, smoke, fire, and smudged lens flares consistently impresses. The facial features of your fellow soldiers during campaign, the ocean surging around an aircraft carrier, the fluorescent-lights of nighttime cities, and the wrecked debris of entire buildings brought down all look great. Certain textures take a moment or two until they smooth over, but overall Battlefield 3 performs admirably.<br/><br/><img src="http://pcmedia.ign.com/pc/image/article/116/1161565/battlefield-2-20050428043848010_1302669360.jpg" /><br/>Battlefield 2. Still great looking.<br/><br/><br/><br/>The engine isn't perfect by any means. I encountered prone legs jutting through walls, tears flickering across solid surfaces, saw snipers half-buried in mountainsides, and bits of green flashing across the screen. I've seen trees planted in midair, noticed AI soldiers in their shooting position long after death. These glitches are annoying, but they don't break the game.<br/><br/>While longtime fans know Battlefield as a multiplayer experience, its campaign and cooperative experiences can't be ignored. For those of you more interested in the single-player campaign than multiplayer, definitely take note. Whereas both Battlefield: Bad Company games added a story underwritten with humor, Battlefield 3 takes a more serious path. Its tale of global threats reads like twenty years of military fiction thrown in a blender and turned into a checklist. WMDs? Check. Russians? Uh huh. Insurgents tucked into Middle Eastern alleyways? Yup. It's all there and woven into levels through the recollections of Sergeant James Blackburn during an interrogation (didn't we see this in Call of Duty: Black Ops?). There's inherent tension in the threat of a terrorist attack, but Battlefield 3's campaign feels like well-trodden ground.<br/><br/><img src="http://pcmedia.ign.com/pc/image/article/116/1161565/battlefield-bad-company-20070905104907805_1302671693.jpg" /><br/><br/><br/><br/><br/>Battlefield 3's campaign does hit some memorable moments (skydiving, explosions, and entire buildings crumbling), but as a whole it's trite and frustrating. The campaign jams Battlefield 3's multiplayer into a linear box where freedom of choice gets thrown out a non-destructible window. There are only a few buildings to blow holes in, barely any vehicles to take the wheel of, and quicktime events adorn enemy encounters in almost every level. While you can literally crash a helicopter on an opponent's head while parachuting to safety if you so choose in multiplayer, campaign makes you hit X at just the right moment to avoid getting punched -- they're two different games. <br/><br/>The co-op missions surround the events of the campaign, yet feel more enjoyable as individual levels. Working with a teammate leads to more creative approaches of attacks, though the same AI frustrations are in place. While opening doors and during other set animations, AI enemies gain invulnerability. They also have an uncanny ability to pick you out of the crowd. Even while using an AI teammate as cover -- not standard operating procedure, I know -- enemies still find you. <br/><br/><!-- Start IGN Guide promo --><LINK REL="stylesheet" HREF="http://guidesmedia.ign.com/guides/uni/IGNE_style.css" TYPE="text/css"><DIV CLASS="IGNE_promo_box"><a target="_blank" HREF="http://www.ign.com/wikis/battlefield-3" CLASS="IGNE_promo_header" omni_link="IGNE_promo_guide_header">Battlefield 3 Wiki Guide</A><a target="_blank" HREF="http://www.ign.com/wikis/battlefield-3/Multiplayer" CLASS="IGNE_promo_link" omni_link="IGNE_promo_guide_link">Multiplayer Guide</A><a target="_blank" HREF="http://www.ign.com/wikis/battlefield-3/Weapons" CLASS="IGNE_promo_link" omni_link="IGNE_promo_guide_link">Weapons Stats</A><a target="_blank" HREF="http://www.ign.com/wikis/battlefield-3/Basic_Bonuses?objectid=82318" CLASS="IGNE_promo_link" omni_link="IGNE_promo_guide_link">Experience Bonuses Chart</A><a target="_blank" HREF="http://www.ign.com/wikis/battlefield-3/Campaign_Walkthrough" CLASS="IGNE_promo_link" omni_link="IGNE_promo_guide_link">Campaign Walkthrough</A><img src="http://pcmedia.ign.com/pc/image/article/119/1194776/battlefield-3-20110915071951530.jpg" /><br/>Could Black Box help make the vehicle physics more sophisticated for DICE's next title?<br/><br/><img src="http://xbox360media.ign.com/xbox360/image/article/119/1197676/bf1_1317530107.jpg" /><br/><br/><br/></A><a target="_blank" HREF="http://cheats.ign.com/sendcheats.html" TARGET="_new" CLASS="IGNE_promo_submit" omni_link="IGNE_promo_guide_submit">Send us your tips &raquo;</A><a target="_blank" HREF="http://twitter.com/?status=@IGNguides%20%23igncheats%20" TARGET="_new" CLASS="IGNE_promo_submittweet" omni_link="IGNE_promo_guide_submittweet">Tweet us your tips &raquo;</A></DIV><!-- End IGN Guide promo -->Additionally, most levels feature a bottleneck where death hits out of the blue. Whether it's a grenade exploding without an indicator, a blast from an unseen enemy, or late-game quicktime event that introduces a new button, the campaign and co-op levels are a minefield of frustration -- especially when cranking the difficulty up to hard. All told, it's a brief affair -- I burned through the single-player portion in under six hours, the co-op content adds another two or three.<br/><br/>&#169;2011-10-25, IGN Entertainment, Inc. All Rights Reserved
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