The time has come. For many, about a year’s wait. For many more, a 6 year wait. The countdowns are no more. Battlefield 3 is here. Developed by DICE and published under EA, Battlefield 3 is a combination and spiritual successor of its older brothers, Bad Company 2 and Battlefield 2. The modern warfare….war has officially begun. Many see it as becoming the new norm for first person gaming. With its hyped over the top graphics, gameplay, action sequences, physics engine and overall multiplayer, does it accomplish the mission of millions?
“Above and Beyond the Call.” Them’s be fightin’ words. Battlefield 3 has been without a doubt my most anticipated title of this year. The same could probably be said for almost the entire AUN staff. Hell, a good amount of us were in the cities of Karkand and Mashtuur a good six years ago. We were ready. We were even more ready when this was actually announced. By the time we had seen the 30 minute preview behind closed doors at PAX East, it was all over. Point being, it’s here. How do WE, the Battlefield veterans, like it?
Welp, for one, let’s start with the campaign. I was honestly more excited for the campaign than the multiplayer. Not necessarily because I’m not a multiplayer guy, but because I think games have the ability to show off more jaw dropping moments when there isn’t a bunch of other actual humans trying to fill you with bullets. Everything I was shown at PAX East had me pumped. The rocket hitting the hotel, the ground cracking and the skyscraper toppling. Those are all there. To be honest, when I thought of campaign I didn’t really think of any other moments because none were really shown. Going into the actual campaign made me excited. It does deliver, it really does. While the game does have “generic modern warfare plot” involving WMDs, familiar cities under attack, betrayals, and of course BOATLOADS of Russians, it still excited me. It’s definitely more linear than Bad Company 2 since it takes a serious turn as opposed to smiley faced death comedy. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It does this in order to show you all the jaw dropping moments you WANT to see. The graphics are amazing, along with DICE’s Frostbite 2 engine, you’re blown away. The lighting is phenomenal, and makes use of anything involving light, playing with it in a unique manner. For example, a rocket flying down a dark tunnel lights up the tunnel as it soars over you. The clouds of smoke generated from colorful explosions etc. are thick and realistic. Playing the campaign on PC with everything set to ultra, I had to force myself to blink at how beautiful it all is. For example, sure, you can’t fly that jet early on in the campaign, but it sure is hell of a crazy time spinning around the skies launching heat seekers at enemies as you dash through the clouds or watching that several hundred foot tall antenna tip over in the background as you battle Russians on a highway. Still, playing it on consoles as well, it looks gorgeous. One thing that did annoy me, however, was the excessive use of the dubsteppy Battlefield 2 remixed theme song. Yeah, I get it’s a theme song, but this isn’t the movie, “Delta Squad,” and I don’t need to hear it every time I successfully do something. It’s in multiplayer too. Overall, the campaign is done very well. It could be a bit longer, but for a series that has always put campaign on the back burner, DICE definitely dressed to impress. Missions are exciting and you do feel as though you have an obligation to complete your objectives. Maybe it’s because the two assholes interrogating you throughout most of the game really make you want to stick it to them. To be fair, the game does minorly sample from Black Ops in terms of presentation in its story, but it’s definitely a good time nonetheless. By the end of it, I was satisfied. And like Bad Company 2, it was time to move on to my original and first love, my specialty, Battlefield multiplayer.
Before I even start it, I just need to say it. Battlefield multiplayer is phenomenal. It always has been, and in my opinion will be, the best FPS multiplayer franchise out there. Needless to say, my expectations were set pretty high. Before we get to it though, let’s detail some of the upgrades to this entry in the franchise. The biggest being the addition of Battlelog. Battlelog is Battlefield’s new way of tracking every stat about you. Building off of the always great stat tracking system from previous games, DICE has very much outdone themselves in terms of how they decided to go about it. Whether it’s PC, Xbox 360 or PS3, you have a Battlelog account. You access it through your favorite web browser, which was a great idea overall. From here you can add friends, make a clan (platoon) or just track literally any statistic involving your soldier from your battles. Whether it be your wins/losses, to your next unlock, to how many kills do you have with a specific weapon, it is all provided for you. This is very handy because you’re not running around trying to figure out what you need to work on next if you’re trying to unlock something for a specific class. You bet your ass AUN has their own clan, and we absolutely run train every single game. Thanks to Battlelog, we can back it up.
Finally we get to the multiplayer. PC has 64 players, console has 24 players per game. While the AUN staff all plays together on Xbox 360, I have it on PC. That being said, both are equally intense in their own right. While the sheer size of PC matches is intimidating, the console does hold it’s own. That first time spawning on a map in a full 64 man match was intense. Two sides of 32 fighting in a small tunnel on Damavand Peak, medics providing health and revives, support providing ammo and laying down cover fire. I was home. I was pleasantly happy to jump into a console match, which has 40 less players maximum, to find that it is equally intense. The formula is very positive for both, and I could not be more relieved. On both, the games are always balanced. The draw for me to the Battlefield franchise has always been the necessity of teamwork. “Forced teamwork,” if you will. This is due to the successful squad and spawn system. Battlefield 3 never changes up the formula to its predecessors, why should it? It always works. We have all been playing it almost nonstop the entire week. The multiplayer is just too addicting. The need to unlock just one more thing, to complete the objective, to be a good squad leader and back up your buddies. Whatever your draw is, you’ll find it done best in Battlefield 3. The addition of rush mode is a welcomed one, although conquest will always be my personal preference. There’s also a team deathmatch mode, but with all due respect, this isn’t Call of Duty. The need for actual human communication is a must in Battlefield. DICE knows this and continues to successfully capitalize on the reason alone.
Another awesome addition to the formula is the Frostbite 2 engine. Snipers hide in buildings all over maps. Before, that was a big problem. Thanks to the engine, simply pull out a RPG and launch it at said building. The entire wall will crumble to the ground. Not only does this change the overall battlefield and look awesome, but it’s one of the many little things that make the multiplayer experience great and continuously exciting. Not only will that same wall crumble to the ground, but the debris stays there, giving you more cover for defending the objective. Another great small addition is when you jump over things. While this is standard, it shows your body sliding over an object. Perhaps borrowing a page out of EA’s own Mirror’s Edge? I recall one instance where I hopped over a fence only to have a rocket shoot under me at that exact second. I watched in amazement as the rocket actually flew under my legs, almost ending my life. I sprinted behind fallen debris from a wall that had been blown off a few stories above me and went prone (which, thank god, was brought back and changes EVERYTHING) to collect myself while the game’s stunning sound had me in a never ending, addictive daze that is the multiplayer. Something else that is new is vehicles can be disabled. This gives you a chance to either book it or get out and repair instead of instantly blowing up, although you still can blow up quite easily with so many people using rockets in multiplayer. From the ground or a rival jet, it’s awesome to be shooting at a jet or helicopter only to have “vehicle disabled” pop up on your screen as you watch it spin wildly out of control, crashing to Earth. As a pretty damned good pilot, however, it can be frustrating. This is countered by obtaining unlocks of IR flares and the like for your jets/copters. The maps are all amazing and enormous. The game shipped with 9 and besides the upcoming BF2 loaded, “Return to Karkand,” more are on the way. Still, it shows how far a game can go with great art design and execution when you don’t care or notice you’re cycling through only nine different maps because of how big they are, and how much fun you’re having. Cinematic multiplayer moments, such as Damavand Peak, where you and your team must all jump off a 500 ft cliff to parachute to the objective to try and capture it is amazing no matter how many times you do it. The same level holds the intense tunnel warfare I encountered at launch. All are unique in their own way, and instantly become familiar. This is good for a game that lets you go so in depth with your weapon loadouts, out or in a match. Because the game capitalizes so much on teamwork, I feel as though it provides an overall better experience. Forming squads with your best friends as you capture objectives together, heal each other, watch out for each other, and work together just provides a better sense of unity in and out of the game. It just becomes a whole experience when you need to work together. I still can recall several awesome moments I had with my buddies playing in BF2 squads and DICE knows this. I’m sure the same will be said a few years from now. It’s been a week and the stories are already in the dozens. Overall, the Battlefield experience has always been unique and continues to be. It goes beyond my expectations. I missed it, and I couldn’t be happier it has returned.
Battlefield 3 accomplished its mission. Easily. I waited 6 years for this game, and I could not be more pleased. It improved on everything I have loved about this series for years and blew me away. Whether it’s the sound and graphics mixed with crazy physics impressing me in the campaign or shaping our squad into the absolute pros the AUN staff is as one unit, I’m never not having fun with it. This isn’t a game I would ever consider trading in, solely based off of how addicting it is. It’s never cookie cutter, it’s never repetitive. Something different always changes the course of the fight. Be it vehicles, a sniper, a building collapsing, and you just want to keep going whether it’s to prove how much your squad dominates or how well you want to show you can come back down 100 points. While many reviews have trashed the campaign for not being as open world as Bad Company 2, one has to remember this is going for a more realistic approach. The game doesn’t want you blowing off walls and running through buildings trying to flank because it always wants to show you something amazing. While Call of Duty has always had good multiplayer and teams, it never actually capitalizes on teamwork the way the Battlefield franchise does, and I think that’s why this is so much more successful. You need, and want, to work together. It isn’t every man for himself. While there are a few clipping issues in the campaign and the EA servers are still a little shaky, these things don’t break the game and can be patched. It could use a longer campaign. Also a bit more variety when first starting out in the multiplayer since you only gain unlocks based on what team you’re on, but it does eventually branch out. Battlefield 3 has not only brought me back to the addictive multiplayer I played for years in the form of Battlefield 2, it has improved on it in every way. By a combination of constant excitement mixed with domination through communication with my best friends in a single squad, Battlefield 3 is officially my favorite multiplayer game ever to be released. Go get it immediately.
*The entire AUN staff submitted their own score and we averaged them together. We are a platoon after all!*