Battlefield 3 Review: A great game let down by EA
Unfortunately, this year's "Game Of The Year" comes with a few bad surprises..
When a 5.56mm NATO round impacts at high velocity and yaws in tissue, fragmentation creates a rapid transfer of energy which can result in dramatic wounding effects....
Remember this because that’s what parts of Battlefield 3 feel like. But the rest of it is without a doubt, the most amazing, visceral and incredibly fun experience I’ve had in any modern shooter. The entire audiovisual experience is something beyond what normal games can achieve, to find a worthy comparative you have to look beyond our beloved medium: we have to venture into the world of film. There are so many parts in the game, set pieces and battles alike, that fit just right in a film like Hurt Locker or Black Hawk Down and not because of amazing narrative or a great story, Battlefield 3 doesn’t have either of those, it just has raw action; explosions, bullets zinging, marines yelling and tank engines rumbling. When you take the Battlefield experience of old and then serve it with an engine that will often have you wondering how long it’s going to be before photo realistic graphics take over our games, you get something truly incredible, something DICE definitely should be proud of.
Let’s talk campaign for a while, that experience of a gentleman or lady exploring an imagination via some sort of input device. Many of you are about to skip this paragraph because you don’t care, to be honest I don’t blame you, Battlefield 3’s campaign is nothing you’ll lose sleep over if you don’t play it. What it is though is a whole lot of eye and ear candy. I can’t stress enough how DICE have managed to enthrall the player into an experience that is incredibly life like. Nothing is skimped on from the sound effects being different based on the environment you’re in (wide open fields, tight corridor's) right down to the amazingly fluid animation. However where DICE fail isn’t in the technical aspect but rather in the creativity. The story is action packed that’s for sure, but lacks substance and character. It uses an interview with flashbacks to tell a story, except this isn’t The Usual Suspects, it’s an attempt to create a story to show off some flashy graphics. Many other reviewers say that Battlefield 3 often has players confused as what it is exactly you’re supposed to do, which is completely untrue, big flashing symbols show you what to do, accompanied with some unnecessary but cool quicktime events, the objectives of the game are pretty simple and easy to complete, it’s just that the drive to do so really isn’t there. SPOILER The story is based on the premise that some dude is framing Russia with blowing up a Nuke in Paris and then trying to nuke New York, now here’s the tricky bit, as a US soldier who meets a Russian operative, you shoot your Commanding Officer in order to let the Russian help save the world. Spoiler Ends
The story is interesting, but there just isn’t any emotion or character in the narration, the main role is played out by a voice actor who just sounds bored to be honest, if anything it’s your marine buddies who have the most fire in them. Blaring out blue language and Military acronyms is pretty standard in military shooters but it’s the radio chit chat and small talk as you play through that really breathes life into them. This brings us back to what this campaign seemed to me: just an incredible playing experience let down with lack of fervour and animation in it’s story, which the game play certainly doesn’t lack. Sure it’s repetitive at times, but when you are put into a cockpit of a fighter jet that makes Black Op’s Blackbird mission look and feel like a retro arcade game, who cares?
Battlefield has always been about delivering an amazing experience, where there are certain moments that will stick in your head for weeks to come: Battlefield Moments. Most of these moments you are going to find in multiplayer. I’ve always been a massive fan of Battlefield multiplayer, because of it’s diversity and sheer fun factor, but Battlefield 3 manages to bring something more special to the board. This something isn’t really anything I can show you, or describe to you, you’ll just have to play the game to feel it. What it does though is give you everything that the singleplayer lacks: drive, passion and focus. You are constantly reminded that this is a team game, for example my team mates are always happily throwing out medpacks and ammo when I request it, but maybe that’s more because my squad is a tight group of gaming friends of mine, but isn’t that what most of us do anyway? I rarely venture into team games without going in with a team I trust. However even if you do jump in on your own, the Battlefield community aren’t a bunch of twitchy 360 jumping no scopers, they're intelligent people most of the time and know that helping you is helping them (they got hella points for doing so). In this day and age of online gaming, Battlefield delivers something that really has to be played to be believed. There’s no better feeling than taking out a jet with a tank just for the chance to type in ”haha ironic pwnage” in chat.
You see, that’s what Battlefield has always been about, the multiplayer experience, the rock paper scissors of Battlefield 2 is back and it’s better than ever with shiny graphics other tweaks. But there’s one thing that has let down the entire experience, for the last 3 Battlefield launches: EA and DICE both F@#ed up, again. I don’t know or care, but why did they use Battlelog and Origin for this game? Battlelog is really good for the small things, stats and progression, combined stats for your platoon, but it let’s every one down to the extent where I couldn’t be bothered with it and read a book instead: actually launching Battlefield 3. For years PC gamers like myself have been sued to clicking an icon or more recently,launching through Steam and then selecting a game. Instead EA decide to use their so called Beta software: Origin, but not only that, DICE decide the best way for us to browse servers and invite friends to join us is through Battlelog, a webpage. What results is Battlefield 3 crashing because Origin doesn’t want to play nice and broken invite system. What’s worse is that some anti-virus programmes such as Avast actually actively block invites, so if you’re having trouble, disable the web shield. If only EA just released it on Steam and let us all be happy.
After all the effort that DICE put into a magnificently fun game, it’s let down by a lack of a true story and a terrible spluttering launch to a game that is easily the best of this year. It’s the community that will keep Battlefield 3 alive for years to come, because at heart this is an actually enjoyable online experience when it works, but hey it can only get better right? They’ll release patches for Origin and improve Battlelog so stability will come over time. To sum up in one sentence what Battlefield 3 is to me: there is no need to buy another Call of Duty game for a very long time.
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