Author Note: This review will be covering the console version of the game. The PC version differs too much in graphics and gameplay to judge them equally. Things like map size and player are all effected.
One of the biggest rivalries in the video game industry has begun. Battlefield and Call of Duty have been fighting for modern war supremacy for years. Call of duty is consistently the winner, but the battlefield games have gained quite a bit of ground. This year, Battlefield 3 will square off directly With Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. Battlefield 3 has landed the first punch. The Swedish developer of the Battlefield series (DICE) hopes to win consumers over with grander battles and vehicle gameplay (absent in its Call of Duty counterpart). Call of Duty still has a lot of followers, but it will be the first game Infinity Ward has made since the massive firing/departures. DICE is hoping between that and their growing fan base, Battlefield will finally take the crown this holiday as the best-selling war game.
Battlefield’s single player campaign lets you drive tanks, ride in jets, and do some good old fashion shooting. The story starts out on an exciting subway highjack. After about five or ten minutes of gameplay, you are shot back in to the past in order to explain the events leading up to it. Two suits are interrogating a soldier from the front lines. Our soldier in custody recounts stories to answer questions that turn into the missions you play. The interrogation is happening to find out where a group of terrorists are hiding a nuke that will go off in New York City. Yeah. It’s pretty much as generic as it sounds. The narrative is bland and offers nothing interesting. There isn’t one character you’ll care about or any sequence that will really get your heart pumping. There are a few cool set pieces and scripted moments, but not nearly as much as you would see in any modern single player campaign.
In other words, the single player is very underwhelming. However, the majority of consumers buying this game probably won’t mind. Most Shooter fans probably won’t even realize there’s a single player option. Unfortunately, it does degrade the overall value of the product. If you look at any other quality shooter from the past ten years, every single one has a memorable story mode worth playing over and over again in different difficulties and in co-op. The Story even rips plot points and dialogue directly from the last Modern Warfare game, proving DICE relies on its competitors to figure out how to do single player. It’s a shame. Considering some of the crazy moments that happen during multiplayer, a good Battlefield campaign has so much potential. You just won’t see it this time around. For now, the Single player is essentially one huge training mission for multiplayer.
The meat of the game is built in the battles you’ll fight online. 24 players can duke it out in a single match (64 on the PC version). Everything found in war can be found here. Tanks. Jets. Guns. Defibrillator packs. Health Packs. Backpacks! Yeah. Shit gets crazy online. You can fight in a few different modes across nine maps. Every mode is recycled from other games in the series. The two main modes you’ll be selecting the most are Conquest and Rush. Rush is a classic attack-and-defend mode where one team defends two pieces of electronic equipment, while the other team tries to blow them up. Conquest is a mode that’s been around since the first Battlefield. Each team attempts to capture and hold areas on the map for victory (much like Territories in other shooters).
If you’re worried about getting tired of playing the same modes over and over again, don’t be. Every match has so many close calls and crazy “holy shit!” moments, boredom is not issue. Part of this is because of how much is at your disposal. As I mentioned earlier, there’s a ton of vehicles to explore and items to unlock. This allows every player to fight the war in any way they want. You could play entire matches without firing a bullet if you’d like. There’s a place for people who want to just repair vehicles, revive teammates, or supply ammo for squads. Best of all, the game will still reward you handsomely for all these non-combative alternatives. Every action earns you points. Every point Earns you rewards. This makes for an extremely addictive multiplayer that can be played for ages without getting stale. Also, if you have a 5.1 system, crank it up. This is what you bought it for.
Unfortunately the multiplayer experience isn’t all peaches. Server issues and glitches have been plaguing the game since launch. In the first few days, the Xbox 360 servers were down completely, reducing our copies of Battlefield 3 to a paperweight. Connection issues are still ruining the experience a week and a half after launch with frequent disconnects and a temperamental Quick Match option. Any high selling game might have a few issues during the first week, but this beyond anything else I’ve seen. It is such a shame that I’ve been stuck having a few horrible experiences simply trying to play the game, and it has nothing to do with the gameplay. DICE crafted one of the best multiplayer experiences this year, and simultaneously ruined it for everyone.
This was a tough game to score. I would feel awkward telling people it’s a must-have when the servers aren’t active all the time. When they are, it isn’t exactly what I would call “fully operational.” This is a game that would get an A in my book were it not for the troubles I had trying to play it. A month or two from now, after they come out with a patch or two, I’m sure they’ll sand away the issues and leave behind the gooey filled center of an amazing game. Unfortunately, none of us knows when that will happen. If you’re already done with Gears and desperate for a new shooter, go for it. If you can wait until Modern Warfare 3 launches, find out if any of the Battlefield issues have been fixed by then. If not, you might want to look into our Modern Warfare 3 review.