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Review: Battlefield 3

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Electronic Arts released one of the biggest and most-anticipated games last week in the form of Battlefield 3. From all the exciting trailers and highly-detailed screenshots, players knew that they were going to be in for a treat – but sadly it’s only the multiplayer that is shining.

A screenshot of Electronic Arts' Battlefield 3 (image: EA)

Developer DICE decided to include a single player campaign for the third game, which was missing from the original Battlefield and Battlefield 2. It wasn’t a very clever move as it feels like it was only slapped on in afterthought.

Although it had a lot of potential, it’s lost between the sticky controls, faulty hit detection and superbly bad graphics at certain points.

In terms of plot, there is definitely a whiff of Call of Duty Black Ops in there. The player is also interrogated by unknown people, forced to explain what happened in the past and then gamers will replay those revelations in the form of single player missions.

The Battlefield games are also known for their vast array of vehicles, but in the single player those are strangely missing. Gamers will get to fire the rockets of a jet – but not fly it directly- and mow down enemies in one mission with a driveable tank.

Throughout the majority of the missions, players are being treated like just another soldier with a commanding officer, instead of letting the player take the lead and have soldiers follow them. DICE did include a female character into the single player as well, but one would never know she is female unless players look it up on the internet.

With that said, the jet mission is a very good example of what the graphics are capable of, as the cockpit is highly-detailed and cloud have definition. Even the cockpit in the tank is a great reproduction of the real thing and the cut scenes between missions view like a movie, which is great and exciting.

But the DICE drops the ball on small details which bring the entire experience down. It is recommended that players install the 1.5GB HD Texture Pack before they start playing, but there are instances where gamers won’t be able to tell of the pack is installed or not.

Standing close to road signs or street cars, there are clear pixilation of the edges and even entire in-game signs and posters. It’s almost as if the textures only load halfway and decide to stop. Under other circumstances it would have been forgivable, but not if gamers have to install the texture pack.

But with that said, although the single player has a mediocre plot and some graphical issues, it will keep players busy for a good couple of hours – but it definitely won’t be the reason why games flock but to Battlefield.

The most important reason, which is also the best part, is the multiplayer. While the single player is very much a forgettable experience, the multiplayer will be the reason why gamers keep coming back.

As with all things in life, players will start at the bottom of the pile and will have to fight their way up the ranks. Each rank comes with a number of unlocks, which will be specific to each gun. In previous Battlefield titles, unlocks weren’t weapon-specific, but players will now find themselves unlocking the bipod for the US guns and well as the Russian weapons in separate upgrade trees.

The multiplayer features a number of modes, but Conquest and Rush are by far the most popular among the players. Getting into a game is a bit of an issue, but since it’s still the early stages of the game’s lifecycle, DICE will be forgiven, although the servers did undergo “maintenance” on the weekend following its release. But if a server is full, players have the option to go into a queue and wait for a spot to free up, but there is no guarantee on how long that will take.

The multiplayer is fast and furious, and most of the maps have ground and airborne vehicles. Although the controls for the tanks have slightly been changed, players will find flying the helicopters and jets a daunting task at first.

The nine maps on offer make for a good selection, but naturally there will be one or two that can do with some tweaking. But in general, the majority has been laid out in such a way that it will drive the battle and make sure that everyone is part of the action – depending on the game’s mode.

The graphics are also strangely enough much better than in the single player. There are still a number of bugs and glitches, but that is to be expected. Except that Battlefield 3 had a day-one console patch of over 160MB, which is not a good thing.

But players wanting an immersive and highly-addictive multiplayer game, won’t go wrong with Battlefield 3. The menu system has been upgrades and the inclusion of Battlefeed, it’s easy to keep track of what a player’s friend recently unlocked.

As a multiplayer title, it’s brilliant, but combined with the mediocre single player campaign; it will raise a few confused eyebrows. There are definitely worse titles on the market, and Battlefield 3 is one of the best multiplayer games out this year. It’s got everything any gamer could ask for – great graphics (in some respect), easy controls and a lot of action.

Our rating: 8/10

Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor

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