Battlefield 3 Xbox 360 Review
|Genre:||First Person Shooter|
|Release Date:||October 25th, 2011 (UK)|
|Reviewer:||Andy Hemphill (Bandit)|
It's somewhat telling that three days before I finally got my paws on Battlefield 3, my friends and I had been playing Battlefield Bad Company 2 - and indeed had been playing it since it was first released, way back in March 2010.
Needless to say, we bought Battlefield 3 in the week of release - and haven't looked back. This game kicks ass.
The formula is incredibly simple - space and freedom. The space to go where you want, approach targets how you want - or fly a jet headfirst into a building full of enemies. The freedom to play how you want, be alone or with friends, to sneak or charge - it's up to you. It's a formula that DICE and EA have perfected in Battlefield 3 - this is the sort of game that you can lose hours to - and never get bored.
Following this simple method, DICE have crafted one of the best multiplayer shooters of all time, pairing vehicular combat with close-up, brutal firefights and teamwork, weaving these parts into a convincing whole which (now that the matchmaking has finally been fixed - it was rushed and broken in week one) keeps you coming back time and time again.
But, before I jump into the multiplayer with both feet, I should cover the singleplayer campaign. Let's face it, if you bought BF3, you probably logged immediately on to the multiplayer, and only gave the singleplayer campaign a chance after a goodly amount of time spent blowing up your friends across the world. But that's not to say that BF3 doesn't include a decent - if predictable and stilted - campaign to enjoy.
Placing the gamer primarily in the size 11 combat boots of Staff Sergeant Henry "Black" Blackburn - a US Marine involved in the latest US invasion (Iran, this time...) - the plot is a Tom Clancy-esque espionage thriller, which sadly falls short of the mark due to bad storytelling - and assuming the gamer bought Andy McNab's book 'The Russian', which fills in a lot of the gaping plotholes.
Taking place through a series of flashback missions as Black is probed by a pair of suits (if this sounds familiar, that's because Treyarch want their plot device back...), the campaign is a short but enjoyable blast through close-in combat, tank-based mayhem, hand-to-hand brawling and even a mission where you act as an F-18 fighter's weapons guy.
It's all very compelling stuff, and though the linear nature of the campaign is often restricting after the vast open battlefields of the multiplayer, it's all very enjoyable in the long run - though the over-use of quick-time events quickly began to grate on me - there's only so many times you want to punch a guy in the face with right trigger.
Aside from the singleplayer, the game also comes with a suite of co-op missions, which add to the longevity of the game - as well as keep you on your toes, as they're bloody hard!
These are wound into the singleplayer plot, further helping the spotty storytelling, and are brilliant fun with a friend along for the ride, offering a variety of situations to tackle - my favourite being the helicopter support mission.
Now - to the meat of the game, the multiplayer.
If you've played a Battlefield game before, you'll feel instantly comfortable here - the basic dynamics are unchanged from Bad Company, and indeed the titles before. The two basic and most popular modes - Rush and Conquest - either see you defending or assaulting fixed objectives (Rush), or battling for control of three or four locations as you whittle down enemy numbers (Conquest).
To do this, you must choose one of four classes (assault, support, engineer and recon) and and blast your way through the objectives, unlocking weapons and gadgets for these classes and the vehicles available for your use. To do this, you must choose one of four classes (assault, support, engineer and recon) and and blast your way through the objectives, unlocking weapons and gadgets for these classes and the vehicles available for your use.
Although the fighter and helicopter controls are difficult to tackle at first - leading to many a cry of "Noob!" as you slam the jet into the floor for the second time - once you've got the hang of it vertical dog fighting is a cinch, and great fun to boot.
The maps on offer range from a huge, Middle Eastern bazaar in the middle of monsoon season, to the cramped undergound of Paris' Metro system, to the border crossing over the Seine, to battles in the skies over the Caspian oil pipeline.
While the maps are varied enough to keep you going, and the wide-open spaces allow a wily gamer any number of ways to sneak around, sniping or shooting or laying mines, the maps, at times, seem too big. I personally feel this is a result of the maps being designed for the PC version, which offers a vastly larger number of players on each team, as opposed to 12.
Aside from this, however, the multiplayer - the core tenet of the game - is sturdy stuff, capable of rendering 24 gamers in huge battles, with jets soaring overhead, tanks exploding and mortars raining down around you - it's intense stuff, and different every time, depending on how you play - and how good the enemy team are.
The squad-based gameplay also makes a welcome return, allowing you and three friends to team up and, handily, use each other as mobile spawn points. This aids teamwork - the essential part of Battlefield 3 - and makes everything a hell of a lot more fun.
Graphically, the game is stunning.
Rendering dusty plains, rolling fields and Tube tunnels alike, as well as coping with the huge number of rounds crisscrossing the air, the jets overhead and the tanks rolling through, the engine does a great job in handles it all brilliantly.
While there are a few occasional bugs, like dodgy textures and - my personal favourite - rogue 'ghosts' which wander the map, showing the actions a friendly or enemy soldier took a few minutes ago - on the whole the game is stable and enthralling.
The facial modelling is also excellent, allowing you to relate to the various names in play - including that guy whose in everything but is never a lead role - 24's Glenn Morshower (Agent Pierce) - who plays a fantastic role in the singleplayer.
The sound effects are also top-notch, with the various weapons on offer all sounding different, making the long battle to unlock better and better gadgets all the more fun.
The score, while subtle, is also excellent, weaving the familiar six-beat Battlefield theme into the action with ease, while not being too overly dramatic - despite the singleplayer campaign's many set-piece moments.
Overall, Battlefield 3 was everything I wanted it to be, and more. Combining a brilliant, updated DICE multiplayer experience with a solid, if predictable, singleplayer campaign and some great co-op missions, there's a lot in the box on this one. And though if you buy second-hand you'll have to pay to unlock some aspects of the multiplayer experience, it's a price you should be willing to pay. I expect I'll be playing this one for a very long time to come.
- Fantastic multiplayer
- Solid singleplayer and co-op
- Excellent visual and aural effects
- Addictive gameplay
Not so good stuff
- Odd graphical bugs
- Short, predictable, stilted singleplayer
- Matchmaking needs work
- Stupid 'pay to play' if you buy second-hand