2011-11-03

Battlefield 3 – Amazing Multiplayer, Ho-hum Everything Else

by Yo Snyder

My first introduction to the Battlefield series was actually the spin-offs; Bad Company.
I enjoyed the A-Team-esque dynamics of the characters, thought the
story was pretty fun and entertaining, loved all the vehicles and
destruction elements, and became a devoted fan of the multiplayer. In
fact, it was really one of the first times I devoted any sort of serious
time playing a shooter online, and it emboldened me to try others like
Call of Duty and Halo. Yet, I kept coming back to Bad Company and
it’s sequel because of the copious amount of destruction, the fun
vehicles, the great squad play, and the fact that I could do more to
gain experience than just be fast on the trigger. So when the next true
sequel in the Battlefield series was announced, I figured it couldn’t be
all that different from what I’ve grown to love with Bad Company and
was eager to jump on board. And, all of my expectations were met…for
the most part.

Let just get this out of the way right from that
start; the campaign isn’t the star of this game and doesn’t compare to
the fun of the Bad Company series. Whereas those games often made me
laugh out loud and had endearing, quirky characters, Battlefield 3‘s
campaign plays it straight and serious. Many say it feels too much like
CoD, and I can see that, but in truth I kept flashing back to EA’s Black more than any other game. The story structure and presentation felt far more similar to that than Black Ops.
That isn’t to say the solo campaign is bad, it has some fun set pieces
and highlights, but over all it’s just nothing new, and lacks that
distinct Battlefield flair. Truthfully, it doesn’t much matter, because
that’s not the reason why people are going to buy this game (a fact EA
is plainly aware of by the fact that disc one is the multiplayer disc
and disc two is where you find the single player content).

Co-op
is more enjoyable because it’s always more fun to play with a friend.
It’s also more of a challenge than the solo campaign, and it’s the only
place in the game where you can practice flying a helicopter outside of
the online multiplayer. It doesn’t quite have the fun and flair of CoD’s
spec-ops, but it’s an enjoyable diversion if you’re interested in just
playing with a friend to perfect some of your skills. Again, it’s a nice
addition, but it’s not what people think of when they think
Battlefield.

The multiplayer is the main draw for this game, and
it’s every bit worthy of its reputation as an elite online shooter. It’s
here where everything I loved about the Bad Company series showed up
with comfortable familiarity while at the same time upping the ante.
There are so many ways to gain experience and score points in
multiplayer that it’s always a satisfying experience. I’m not a
sharpshooter or a quick shot, but that’s okay, because there are lots of
other ways to score in this game. From just having teammates spawn on
you to sharing health packs and ammo packs to repairing vehicles or
spotting enemies as a sniper, there are so many ways to help your team
out and score experience and points as well. Then there’s that steady
“dopamine drip” (as another review over at 1UP very aptly phrased it) of
new gear, weapons, equipment and perks that allow you outfit each class
to they way you want to play them. In fact, this is probably one of the
most “personable” shooters around as you can get the gear, accessories
and perks that perfectly suit your style of play, which is great because
that helps me really feel like I know what I’m doing. I’m not a great
pilot, but I’m a force to be reckoned with on the ground in combat
vehicles and using mines and RPGs to cause untold destruction. I’m also a
pretty decent assault soldier (which takes the place of the medic),
keeping the troops healthy and alive. 

That’s the other aspect I really enjoy in Battlefield 3;
the squad play. Get some friends together, form a squad and go dominate
the field. When you have players who can fulfill each of the different
roles well and work together as a team; that’s pretty hard to beat.
Having players working together using their different skills and talents
to successfully attain a common goal is just so satisfying, and to be
honest, something I wish happened more in the Church. There’s a lot of
talk about unity in the Church these days, but more often than not that
really means “uniformity” than actual unity. Everyone needs to be
exactly the same – worship the same, have all the same interpretations
and beliefs and traditions and structure – and if not, well, they can’t
work together. That’s kind of ironic because the Bible has so much to
say about that very subject; just look at what Paul says in 1
Corinthians 12:12 for instance, “The body is a unit, though it is made
up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one
body.” Maybe more people in the Church need to play Battlefield so they
can see how using different talents, skills, and approaches in a unified
effort can produce some amazing success; and how everyone running off
and doing their own thing or everyone trying to do the exact same thing
may look like it’s working, but when the final tally is made, proves to
be much less successful.

One other item worth mentioning before I
wrap this up, it’s worth the space and time to install the HD content.
You can run the game without it, but the textures will be blurry and
muddy and things just won’t look nearly as good. Installing the HD
content helps this game shine graphically with impressive lighting and
destruction. There’s still some clipping and other issues, so it’s not
perfect, but it still looks far better with that HD content installed on
your hard drive. The consoles don’t quite measure up to what a good PC
can do with this game, but it’s still in the top tier of HD console
graphics.

People buy Battlefield for the multiplayer, and EA and
DICE obviously know that. The solo campaign was a nice effort and is a
fun diversion, and the co-op is certainly welcome, but many won’t ever
even touch them. That’s okay, because the huge battles you can wage in
the multiplayer with all the different customizing and personalization
options in multiplayer is where the real fun is at, and it’s well worth
the price of admission. Toss in some social media aspects with Battlelog
(join our platoon, by the way; The Five-Oh-Five. Just log in to battlelog.battlefield.com
and do a search for it) just adds to the team aspects of the game.
Personally, I think Battlefield and Call of Duty are two completely
different experiences, and there’s plenty of room for them to co-exist. I
think Modern Warfare 3 is going to be a great game with some fun
multiplayer, but at the end of the day, the squad-based teamwork, the
vehicles, the destruction and many ways to score, get XP and level up
are what will keep me coming back to the battlefield many months after
answering the call of duty has faded.

Score out of 7:

Graphics:
6 – Install the HD content; you’ll be glad you did. There are some
amazing lighting effects and fantastic destruction in the game.
Character models look great and move fluidly. Occasional clipping and
texture pop-in, but nothing game-breaking.

Sound: 7 – Do yourself
a favor; go into the options, set the sound to War Tapes, and then
crank up the surround sound. This is one of those rare games where the
sound design exceeds the graphics. Everything has a crisp punch to it
and there’s a delightful clarity to even the smallest of sounds.

Controls:
6 – Solid, responsive, intuitive, accurate; pretty much everything you
expect. Flying controls are tricky, but they’re supposed to be (who said
it should be easy to fly?).

Gameplay: 5 – The campaign is
forgettable but not terrible, the co-op is enjoyable, but the
multiplayer is THE reason to buy this game. So much to do, unlock, and
experience. Add some social media with Battlelog, and you have one of
the defining games when it comes to online shooters.

Story: 4 –
Meh. Terrorists. Weapons of mass destruction. Conspiracies. Soldiers
caught up in the middle of it all. Blah. Blah. Blah. 

Content: 3 –
LOTS of language in the single player, and some even in the multiplayer
and co-op. Also, it’s a war game, so it’s violent. Not in a
graphically, gory manner. There are splashes of blood here and there,
but the action is constant and intense.

Final: 6 – Keeping in mind that you need to take the M rating seriously, I really love Battlefield 3.
The multiplayer is just too much fun to pass up on, and even if you’re
brand new to the series, there are so many ways to score and earn XP
you’ll always have a satisfying sense of progression. The solo campaign
and co-op missions are there, and that’s nice, but they’re really just
diversions. Get it. Get online and get on the battlefield; you’ll be
glad you did.