The one thing I felt throughout all my experiences of playing Battlefield 3 was that it wasn’t quite sure what game it wanted to be. Rugged multiplayer, huge team battles, and one of the most impressive visual and audio engines in recent time were let down by a generic and half baked single-player campaign dotted with clichés and rehashed storytelling
The story within Battlefield 3 takes a more serious and gritty feel. The narrative of Sergeant James Blackburn is filled with storytelling devices we saw in Call of Duty: Black Ops, almost to the point where it ruins the immersion. WMDs? Yeah. Questionable Russian ally? Yeah. Dimly lit interrogation room? Umm, yes. While there’s definitely a palpable sense of tension throughout the whole single-player element, it’s nothing we haven’t seen before.
Admittedly the campaign does have some memorable scenes, namely the whole “Comrades” mission, it should not be seen as anything more than an interactive tutorial into the real Battlefield experience; which is arguably one of the best multiplayer experiences of all time.
From the tracer rounds arcing into the sky in Tehran City to the bullet riddled and echo filled subways of Operation Metro, Battlefield 3’s multiplayer does not run out of jaw dropping moments or fail to show you new tricks. Depending on the game type you play, each map has a select amount of area it will encompass, and this frontline changes throughout the course of your mission. A traditionally huge Conquest map like Caspian Border might only be a quarter of the size during Rush, and vice versa.
The sense of scale in these large and wide open sandbox maps promotes not only exploration, but also variety. Approach the hillside on Caspian Border from the creek, stealthily skulking in the shadows, or this time will you rush up the road in a jeep while your buddy lays suppression fire? You might play each map 100 times but I assure you that each play through will never be the same.
The biggest part of this constant refreshing feel is Battlefield 3’s in-depth progression system. Yes, we’ve seen ranking up to new guns and attachments countless times now, but Battlefield 3 really nails the rate at which you gain access to new weapons.
Soldiers, tanks, helicopters, jets, and even boats have their own unique unlock tier that you’ll always be trying to unlock “one more” piece on. It’s enjoyable, simple, and above all else easy thanks to the ever present team orientated nature of the Battlefield games. Reviving a fallen comrade nets you points, resupplying that Support gunner laying down suppressive fire will net you points, defending flags will net you points. Battlefield caters to how you want to play, and rewards you for doing what you enjoy most.
All of this is made even more amazing by Battlefield 3’s much marketed and anticipated Frostbite 2.0 engine. The lighting effects afforded by this are simply beautiful, and you will never see something else like this somewhere else. While it looks amazing on Ultra PC settings, DICE has also done an impressive job of scaling performance down for console hardware.
From the marvellous vistas to the sparks flying off your vehicle’s hull as bullets impact it, you’ll be visually impressed at every corner. Night-time environments also make an appearance and offer a barren contrast to the more vibrant and animated daytime missions as you fight under dim fluorescent light.
Although I’ve heaped praise amongst Battlefield 3, it’s not without its impurities or glitches, most of which arise with the new engine. Legs clipping through walls, characters rising off the ground and floating, soldiers running across water, and even bouncing hundreds of meters into the air upon death. While these are hilarious to look at, it’s far from the sense of realism and authenticity I’m looking for.
They cause frustration, blame, and most importantly ruin the sense of immersion developers often strive so hard to achieve.
Battlefield 3 is the ultimate first-person shooter and gift of love to Battlefield fans. When you put aside the easily forgettable watered down narrative and occasional glitches, Battlefield 3 offers a top-level multiplayer experience that will not only excite shooter fans, but also keep them happy for years to come.