I absolutely love Battlefield, and have been an avid fan ever since it came to consoles. Before then, I saw it very much as the preserve of the PC gamer, and never really touched it. This, then, is the first ‘proper’ Battlefield I have ever played in any particularly interested way. This combination of factors probably doesn’t make me the best person in the world to review this, but here goes.
It goes without saying that I pretty much despise CoD, and having played upwards of 800 hours over the space of the console versions of the Battlefield franchise (Modern Combat, Bad Company and Bad Company 2), you could say I’m something of a fanboy. Battlefield 3 is absolutely brilliant. It’s a title that will have me glued to my screen pretty much every night for the next three or four months. Fundamentally, it’s one of the best games ever produced, and I can’t really give it anything less than a full 10/10, with a special award for awesome packaging.
What makes it such a work of pure genius is that it offers you some of the most complete gameplay you’ve ever played. Remember a few years ago, when you might have been playing an FPS, and you saw jets flying overhead, or gigantic explosions happening around you, and you might have thought something like, “Wouldn’t it be great to control those jets?” or “I wish that weren’t a set piece explosion.” Battlefield condenses all these sorts of videogame aspirations we had, and throws them full in your face. In Battlefield 3, you can pretty much do anything, however you want.
I’m talking here about the multiplayer, because I honestly don’t believe that anyone is interested in a frankly weedy campaign mode that offers nothing worthwhile bar a few extra hours of gameplay. Split into 3 main modes: Team Deathmatch, Rush and Conquest, (with associated squad versions) the multiplayer modes are more than enough to keep you happy for years. Indeed, to this day, I am still a huge fan of the meagre two modes included with Bad Company 2. The addition of Deathmatch seems to be something included for the sake of the CoD deserters, and while I’m not particularly interested in it myself, you can certainly understand the decision to put it in.
Then there is Co-op mode, which is a two-player campaign mode of sorts that allows you to team up and tackle some rather difficult challenges, and earn upgrades along the way. In many ways it’s like Bad Company 2’s onslaught mode, but with the added benefit of offering you goodies for completing missions. While they are difficult, I consider them a genuinely positive addition to the mix. But, let’s face it, multiplayer is where it’s at with Battlefield; it always has been, and this package exceeds my expectations. It’s not often I say that, as so much of the hype around videogames is nonsense, pure and simple.
An excellent example of the where this iteration exceeds expectations is with the new vehicles. Sure, they take a lot of getting used to, and are probably a fair degree easier with a mouse and keyboard setup, but you can’t help getting excited about how much more interesting they make your multiplayer experience. Included at launch (there will almost certainly be more with the DLC content to come) are choppers – both attack and scout varieties – jeeps and buggies, APCs, tanks and jets. The APCs for example, carry six troopers and some of them are amphibious. Obviously, they’re a lot slower in the water, and aren’t exactly speed machines on land, but a mixture of high armour ratings and the flexibility to cross land and water makes them an interesting prospect, once the general populous gets to grips with these new maps and gameplay mechanics.
Similarly, the jets are useless at this point, as they’re a real bugger to fly. However, in six months or so, there will be some spectacular aerial battles to watch as you’re blowing the enemy apart on the ground. It’s this kind of specialisation, more than the explicit kind – namely assault, support, engineer and recon – that will determine your experience with the game. There is so much to find and learn, that even for someone half as fanboyish as me, there’s a good 50-80 hours in there before you’ve unlocked everything.
I think it’s worth noting that this is not really a standalone package. It’s a good start – nay, an excellent start. DICE is incredibly good at releasing innovative and high-quality DLC, which offers a genuine bargain, given how much gameplay they offer. In terms of recommendations, I simply can’t sing its praises high enough. There are a couple of technical issues, but with DICE’s attitude toward creating exemplary content, I can’t see these lasting that much longer. I can’t really comment from a CoD point of view, but it’s easy to see how DICE has tailored the maps an environments to make it a little more acceptable to those looking for more depth in their shooters. In many ways, that’s my biggest gripe, if I could legitimately be said to have a gripe at all. The urban locales and generally more up-close fighting is something of a departure from Bad Company 2. I have faith in DICE that this will change as the game develops, because to make it any closer would be pandering a little too much to those coming from CoD.
As I said, I’m probably not a great person to review this title, as I love it so much. However, if you’re a fan, and for some reason don’t already have it, Battlefield 3 exceeded my greatest expectations, and I suspect it will exceed yours too.
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