AMD Radeon HD 6950
Six years after Battlefield 2 and nine years after Battlefield 1942, finally comes a sequel to two games that changed the face of multiplayer FPS games forever. Is this a worthy sequel however, or is it closer to Bad Company 3 than Battlefield 3?
First, a history lesson, as well as a few issues I need to state before continuing this review. Battlefield 2 was one of my favourite games, ever, to play online. Up until this point, I had played Call of Duty 1 and 2 to death, even played competitively in tournaments. Yet the spectacle of 64 players on a server with jets, jeeps, helicopters, tanks and conquest mode made Battlefield 2 a standout multiplayer title for me. Along with four friends, we would play it for hours. One driving the jeep, one manning the gun, one firing out back while the fourth would repair us, spanner in hand. We would zoom from point to point, often behind enemy lines, capturing points for our team. I still consider that the hay day of my gaming life so far.
So when Battlefield 3 was announced I could not wait. Finally, a full sequel to a game I hold in high regard. Not only that it would be using a new version of the fantastic Frostbite engine, one that promised an unparalleled level of destructibility, as it’s a sequel to Battlefield 2. 64 man servers would make a comeback, as well as the ability to fly jets once again and lay prone, options which had been missing from the Bad Company series.
Get ready for take off
So why this strange introduction to the article? Well first I wanted to show you that I’ve played both the Battlefield and Call of Duty series, played the hell out of both of them, as comparisons are bound to be drawn between the two franchises. But secondly, I also wanted to state, beforehand, that Battlefield 3 is a mixed bag. On the one hand, it has this incredible multiplayer portion, that really shows the games pedigree. But also, for some strange reason, they decided to give the players a singleplayer campaign as well, ala Bad Company. Not just any singleplayer either, but a bland uninspired singleplayer. Yet the two halves of this beast are so different, that I find this game so hard to review. So, as a cop out, I’m going the review both portions separately before my overall conclusion.
Let’s start on a high. If you bought into the hype, and know about DICE’s previous Battlefield titles, you are no doubt buying the game for the multiplayer portion of the game. Anything else that comes with it, whether it’s co-op or singleplayer, is a bonus. In a word, Battlefield 3s multiplayer is spectacular.
Frostbite 2 is a beautiful looking engine. One of the best in the industry at the moment. The lighting (minus the crazy amount of bloom) is stunning, the level of destruction is amazing and puts Bad Company 2’s already stellar destruction to shame. Grenades, mortars, explosives, tanks, jets and helicopters, all the things that go boom and blow holes in nearly all structures in the game, allowing for a forever shifting, evolving battlefield. The animations are smooth, physics realistic and lots of DX11 treats for rigs powerful enough to use them. Along with tessellation and 3D support, Battlefield 3 is at the forefront of visuals in gaming. The audio, too, is spectacular, which gives my sub-woofer an orgasm every time a tank fires past my characters ears. If you haven’t already, by turning your audio quality to War-Tapes in the options, doing so makes every bullet sound like it’s being fired from in the room you are in.
Look your enemy straight into his eyes...and then stab him
Battlefield 3, like the Bad Company series, has had a juggle with the roles of the classes and which unlocks they have. Battlefield Bad Company 2 merged the Assault class with the Support class, allowing for a grenade launcher and assault rifle, who can dish out ammo to friends or themselves, which is what happened more often than not. The Support class was then removed entirely. Now, however, it’s the Medic class which disappears from the classes. Instead they have been merged with the Assault class, allowing for assault weapon, grenade launcher firing medics. The Support class returns and comes with their LMG weapons once again. Elsewhere the Engineer stays unchanged - used to repair friendly vehicles and damage enemy vehicles. The Recon, again, stays unchanged from previous outings, although stripped of their C4 explosives, which made them notorious in Bad Company 2 and which is instead an unlock for the Support class.
Battlefield 3 has 9 maps altogether. All of which can be played on all game modes, such as Conquest, Rush, Team Deathmatch and a Squad version of each. The maps are varied in size and feel. From the smaller maps such as Operation Metro or Grand Bazaar, to the wide open giants such as Caspian Border and Operation Firestorm. All of them are a joy to play, yet not all of them suit every game mode. Operation Metro and Damavand Peak are terrible on Conquest. Both maps are long and narrow with points spaced from left to right with both teams spawning at either end. What happens is the US take points A and B, the Russians take points D and E, then you have a 32 vs 32 grenade and RPG spam for point C. With little to no room for squads to flank their enemies, the maps get tiring quickly. Switch those maps over to the Rush game mode however and they are a lot more fun to play.
Battlefield 3’s sheer scale, of being such a small cog in a much larger machine, is what makes it so enjoyable. It often feels like a collection of smaller mini games in one much larger game. One game I spent with a Stinger rocket launcher only hunting jets and helicopters. The next game I was sat atop a hill, raining shells down from my tank. The following game I was raining down mortars a few streets back from the action. The next I would lay on top of cranes and silos of a industrial complex, sniping enemies from hundreds of meters away. The next I was issuing first aid and revives at the front lines of battle. You get the idea.
That’s what battlefield is all about – massive battles with loads of people
In an attempt to tick all boxes, Battlefield 3 comes with its own Co-op mode. It has 6 missions you must work through, with a friend, against AI opponents. If you go into the co-op straight from the single-player you should be okay, as you will already be used to the AI’s insane accuracy. The missions are meant to be taken slowly, making use of cover and working as a team. Some standout missions include one player taking the role of a helicopter pilot, while his teammate fires from within, naturally a decent chopper pilot helps no end, and another which sees both players provide sniper support for a SWAT team. The missions themselves do a good job of promoting co-op play, whether it’s simply providing cover for a friend, while advancing through the city streets, or having one player mark enemies while the other takes them out. Players can also revive each other when they go down, though the process usually takes a bit longer than you’d like. Luckily, a downed player can crawl backwards towards their friend, or into cover for revival.
With only six missions to play however, each taking around 10-15 minutes to complete, you’ll be done with the co-op mode in no time. The game does tempt players to play through them however, offering three difficulty levels and a scoring system to encourage replays, as well as 9 unique unlocks only available through the co-op.
- Multiplayer: A tactical, deep multiplayer, that offers so much variety and will have you begging for more
- Visuals: One of the best looking games to date, as long as your rig can support it
- Audio: Some of the best audio in gaming currently
- Co-op: A short, yet solid, co-op experience, that rewards players and encourages replaying
- DRM: Requires Origin and a web browser to launch but you can see your stats easily that way
- Singleplayer: A generic, forgettable singleplayer