Battlefield 3: Back to Karkand DLC
AMD Radeon HD 6950
I'm going to start this review by admitting something that may cause offence. I've never played Battlefield 2. Okay okay...I've never played a Battlefield game pre-Bad Company. There I said it. So this review will have no comparisons to the maps original forms.
Back to Karkand (B2K) is the first expansion for 2011's hit shooter, Battlefield 3, and was made available for free for those who purchased the Limited Edition copy of BF3.
As you can guess from the intro to this review, the 4 maps that make up the Back to Karkand expansion are remakes of Battlefield 2 maps: Wake Island, Gulf of Oman, Strike at Karkand and Sharqi Peninsula.
With its, strange, horse-shoe shape, Wake Island is far more F-35 friendly than it is to infantry. Large open spaces and its almost, 'linear', feel make it a very difficult map for those who prefer using their feet than a vehicle. Wake is also 1 of 2 maps that allow the use of one of the new vehicles included with this expansion, the VTOL (Vertical Take Off and Landing). A powerful new jet who's 'hover mode', combined with the map's wide open spaces, can be used to devastating effect, but at the same time, leave the VTOL open to a well placed SMAW hit. Wake Island is a nice addition but can be frustrating to those who prefer on foot combat.
Running headfirst into battle
Gulf of Oman mixes up all the best aspects of infantry, land and air vehicle combat. A sprawling beach section can become a playground for tanks and BTRs/LAVs, all the while dog fights ensue above. Large built up sections in land allow for some intense infantry firefights that can be brought to an abrupt halt from a well placed sniper round from one of the many vantage points. To be perfectly honest, it's a recon's paradise. Towering buildings and leering cranes allow for an abundance of long-ranged 'pewpew'.
Strike at Karkand in particular has been voiced as one of the best maps in Battlefield history, so the news of it coming to BF3 was a pretty big thing for fans of BF2. Well, I can see why. Strike is a fantastic map. Offering more infantry combat than Wake and Gulf, but still leaves plenty of room to really get stuck in with a couple of tanks. No aircraft on this map, but due to it's more, enclosed, urban setting, it just makes sense. Narrow alley ways, several sniper vantage points and the risk of an up close and personal encounter with a monsterous M1A2 Abrams, make for some truly frantic and intense battles.
Jim'll fix it
Lastly, we have Sharqi Peninsula. Personally, I find Sharqi to be quite a dull map. It's the smallest of the bunch and just lacks any real personality that the others have. The two main areas are the construction site and the TV station which houses a heli on the roof. Battles range from close quarters to long range sniper/tank rounds, neither of which really feel very intense nor memorable. It could be that this reviewer prefers a more open battlefield, but it does feel that Sharqi lacks any real charisma.
All of the maps have their pros and indeed cons, but as the first batch of new maps, overall, B2K has impressed and actually made me neglect the 'out of the box' maps! Strike at Karkand is easily one of the better maps, its urban setting really let's the Frostbite engine show off. The map starts off a dusty city section and ends with buildings levelled and streets littered with debris and bodies.
The maps aren't the only things that got the remake treatment. 3 vehicles and 10 weapons are also present. As well as the game mode Conquest Assault, which was first introduced in BF 1942.
As for brand new content (not from BF2): 1 new vehicle; 5 unique Dogtags; new rewards; 10 assignments; and enhanced destruction, which improves on the already incredible Frostbite 2 engine.
As the first of 5 expansions for Battlefield 3, Back to Karkand has kicked off the DLC flow with a massive bang. Some incredible maps and a decent amount of additional content really add to an already impressive game.
- 3 outta 4 ain't bad: Strike, Gulf and Wake - all very impressive maps
- Even more BOOM: Enhanced destruction creates more chaos...and tears
- A new lick of paint: New vehicles don't really feel any different to the out of the box vehicles (apart from the VTOL)
- There's always one: Sharqi is a pretty dull map when compared to the others included in this expansion