So here it is. After months of hype Battlefield 3 finally comes to consoles and PC and delivers sandbox multiplayer battles in abundance. The Battlefield games have always been first-and-foremost about playing with and against real people but this time they’ve included a fully fleshed out single player campaign as well that’s bound to draw comparisons with the Call of Duty franchise. Have DICE succeeded in taking CoD’s crown? Well, based on previous Battlefield games, it’s a bit of a mixed bag.
Let’s start with the best thing DICE do and that’s multiplayer. You can play over a variety of maps from the confines of a Parisian Metro to the open world of Caspian Border.
Conquest Mode is the classic mode where you must hold and defend areas in order to reduce the tickets of the other team and ultimately win but you can also play Rush and Team Deathmatch among others that offer slightly different challenges. As usual you’re encouraged to work as a team, spawning on squad members to join the fray and earning new gadgets, ribbons and medals as you go for work in the field, whether it’s healing team-mates, spotting enemies, providing ammo or fixing vehicles. Killing isn’t the only way to score points here.
The Frostbite 2 engine has been much publicised and rightfully so. The game looks and sounds beautiful and the destruction really changes the game – hiding behind a wall will only work until someone blasts away your cover with an RPG! Thanks to the ANT technology borrowed from FIFA, you also feel like you have a body as you mantle over objects and slide into cover. This isn’t just a case of a camera moving about a 3D world. Tanks, jets and helicopters are also great fun to pilot and as you’d expect there’s a steep learning curve when taking to the air but if you put the effort in your support could prove invaluable.
The single campaign is another story though. It’s told through a series of flashbacks as a disgraced soldier is interrogated (non-violently of course) by his superiors. After Black Ops used a similar way of telling the story you’d think DICE would have steered clear in order not to draw comparisons. You play the viewpoints of a variety of soldiers and allies as you try to find some missing WMDs. Your journey takes you through war torn streets, across the desert in tanks, to the skies in a jet and through gas-filled office apartments. Once again the game looks and sounds fantastic but without the humour of Bad Company and not quite the same bombastic Hollywood appeal as Call of Duty, it just falls a bit flat. There were moments during dogfights, in the tank and sniping enemies I was just bored and wanted the mission to end which isn’t a great sign.
There’s also co-op thrown in there for good measure which will provide a tougher challenge for you and a friend.
It’s not really fair to draw direct comparisons with Battlefield 3 and Modern Warfare 3 as Activision’s game isn’t out yet. There’s no doubt that the latter will sell more copies but if you like your game to be gorgeous to look at with destruction and a bit more tactical play, then Battlefield 3 is the game for you. The single player campaign may fall just short but to be honest, it’s all about the multiplayer which the game pulls off to much aplomb. It’s a technical masterpiece so it gets 9 out of 10.
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