Battlefield 3

Last month, Dunk and I got our eager mitts on Battlefield 3 for the first time. You’ve read our initial thoughts: now’s the time for our verdict.

Battlefield 3’s story mode starts off promisingly enough. Through some excellently rendered cutscenes, you’re introduced to Sergeant Blackburn, a soldier being interrogated by the CIA regarding his claim that the city of New York is in grave danger. The action is fitted around these scenes, flashing back to important events in the story from the point of view of several characters, including Blackburn himself.

The first mission sees you fighting the Peoples’ Liberation and Resistance, an Iranian insurgent group bent on pushing American forces out of the country. What follows is your standard storyline of making your way into the city with your squad and defending it to the end. It’s good enough…

And then a building falls on you.

It’s from this point onwards that you begin to wonder if DICE has been following the Call of Duty template of storytelling a little too closely. Huge, spectacular events happen on a regular basis, each character you play as remains mute for the entirety of the mission — even if they’d been speaking in a cutscene previously —  and there are levels where you control tanks and aircraft. It feels like we’ve played it all before, especially the stealth-based sniper mission. Shouldn’t Battlefield be carving its own path, rather than following the one Call of Duty has already laid down?

It’s not just this similarity to its main competitor that dulls the single-player experience. You’ll come across irritating game mechanics on a regular basis: it’s sometimes hard to see enemies and gauge whether you’re actually hitting them or not, you’ll be laying down fire for your squad, only to discover that the enemy force is constantly respawning; quicktime events where you have to beat up enemies by pressing buttons at the right moment pop up constantly; you need to wait for the AI to catch up with you before you can open certain doors and so on. What is this, a title from 2007?

There are some good points about the campaign, such as an intriguing story that becomes more interesting the further you get into it and some genuinely stunning vistas, but the long, arbitrary waits between action sequences, the huge similarity to other shooters’ mechanics, plots and locations and some frankly boring set-pieces — such as the aforementioned jet mission — serve to make the first half rate only above average. Thankfully, it picks up about the halfway point, but don’t expect one of the greatest stories ever told in video game form.

Again following in the vein of Call of Duty’s Special Ops, Battlefield 3, like most games nowadays, features a co-op mode where two players are thrust into a mission together. Essentially mini-missions adapted from levels found in the campaign. They can be good fun, but they’re tough. If one of you dies, that’s it, you’ll need to start again from scratch. Players will require nerves of steel and a lot of patience if they want to get through all the levels.  They can be good fun, though, despite their difficult moments and are a worthwhile addition to the game.

Then there’s the meat of the title: the multiplayer. Battlefield has always prided itself on its online mode, putting teamwork ahead of one’s own desire to kill, so it’s strange that the most played mode seems to be Team Deathmatch. Here, maps are closed off to just a small area and the respawn timer is greatly reduced, meaning that you’re never far from a firefight.  This mentality completely nullifies everything that Battlefield stands for: there are no medics handing out health, soldiers dishing out ammo or people working together as a team. Once again, it just feels like you’re playing another Call of Duty clone.

Rush and Conquest modes fare better. Here you’re more reliant on your squaddies (as are they of you) and it’s in these gametypes that Battlefield truly shines. If you have a capable squad that knows when to resupply, heal and repair, it’s a joy to play to outwit the enemy team and strive towards your objective. If, however, you’re playing with randoms, be prepared to be aggravated by people who don’t play the game properly, mindlessly exterminating the enemy without care for the actual objective. It’s in this haze of anger that your frustration with some of the weapons’ aiming and accuracy come to the fore of your mind. Sometimes it feels like you’re just playing for the sake of it, rather than enjoyment.







2 responses to “Battlefield 3”

  1. H3LL P4TROL avatar

    Battlefield 3 has been my biggest disappointment this year, I had high hopes for this game after all the hype. It was supposed to be a ‘COD killer’ and after playing it I was gutted i’d bought it. Campaign was pants!

  2. […] Originally published on Ready Up on 12th November 2011. […]

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