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Battlefield 3 review

AT A GLANCE
  • The best, deepest, most epic multiplayer around
  • Genuinely stunning visuals, even on console
  • Some really cool moments in co-op
  • Campaign is tired, unoriginal and utterly robotic
  • Having to install the graphics
  • Possibly not being able to install the graphics on a 4Gb 360

That’s what Battlefield is like. It’s not just two collections of players slogging away at each other until the time runs out or a kill-count is hit. It’s a living, breathing ecosystem. Playing a Battlefield match provides a very similar feeling to playing something like Oblivion. You’ll go in with a single, simple objective, but along the way you’ll get sidetracked by comrades in trouble, and new objectives within objectives born out of the chaos of the sprawling warzone.

You might stick with a newfound pack of friends you ran into while randomly drawn together by the need to spontaneously defend an objective. You might jump in a jeep together and spin off to a brand new adventure God knows where. A stricken plane might fall out of the sky and pound you to death with wreckage. Or it might hit the enemy, or provide new cover just when you need it most. It’s pure, emergent gameplay at its best, and it’s happening on a vast scale all the time.

Battlefield isn’t really about who wins or loses. The class-specific assist skills mean that you’ll level up regardless, as long as you really get involved. No, it’s really about a bunch of people coming together to dynamically choreograph the biggest, most ostentatiously epic war movie imaginable. And it happens every time you spawn in.

New stuff this time round? There are a few tweaks. Most obviously, the Rush and Conquest modes (concerned with progressively destroying bases and the taking of a map-wide spread of control points, respectively) are now joined by Bad Company 2’s Squad Deathmatch and a more generic new Team Deathmatch. The latter is obviously rather vacuous compared to the objective-based games, essentially consisting of close-quarters run-and-gun and demanding little in the way of class support skills like healing or vehicle repair. But it is rather fun on its own terms. It’s certainly the fastest, most brutal TDM I’ve played in a long time, possibly ever if we’re just talking about military shooters. There’s also the option to play infantry only, cutting out the vehicles altogether. Again, doing so feels a bit like taking the Battlefield out of Battlefield to me, but the option is there if you want it.

In contrast to the Bad Company games, you can now go fully prone when in combat. Don’t worry about this unbalancing things though. A good counter-sniper will still be able to flush out a prone camper, and the ability to spot enemies for team-mates means of course that even fleeting glances from afar can be ultimately deadly. And besides, going prone also makes you more visible from above, and with jets joining helicopters this time, the chances of death from the skies is doubled.

The only new thing I’m currently unsure about is the Tactical Light, a torch attachment for firearms which dazzles any opponent looking directly at you. At the moment it feels a bit over-powered – even moreso given that it seems just as effective in broad daylight as it is indoors – but it can technically be worked around with strong co-operative play and tight squad communication.

If I was going to review multiplayer on its own? It would be a straight 10/10.

And speaking of co-op play, it’s worth mentioning the separate two-player co-op missions too. Because they’re not bad. Little 20 minute vignettes with a particular angle or theme, they often provide little slices of what the solo campaign could and should have been. Frustrating, but at least it means that there’s a remnant of non-multiplayer quality here. They range from Horde-like defence missions to intense siege escapes over branching open-plan routes, with both players providing covering fire for each other. There’s even a rather brilliant free-roaming level, in which a pilot and a gunner must provide air support for a ground-based mission, with full control over one of Battlefield’s fiddly but rewarding attack choppers.

It’s also possible to unlock multiplayer weapons through scoring more points with better performances in co-op. That does rather feel like a bit of a carrot-dangle though. Because for their intermittent high points, I find it debatable how much replay value the co-op missions would have in and of themselves.

Is it better than?

Battlefield: Bad Company 2? Yes. Both Battlefield games' have campaigns which are overshadowed by their multiplayer to the point of playing a tiny second fiddle made out of matchsticks. Both have staggeringly involving multiplayer with mind-boggling scope. But BF3's additional vehicles, features, map variety and game modes make it the definitive version.
 
 
 

Call of Duty: Black Ops? Yes. In terms of campaign, some of the same criticisms can be levelled at both games, though while I found Black Ops campaign duller than BF3's, I also found it less irritating. But Battlefield's multiplayer is on a whole different level.
 
 
 
 

Medal of Honor? Yes. MoH as in many ways EA's dry-run for its attempt at taking CoD's crown with Battlefield 3. Both are military shooters in which - again - multiplayer is the star, thanks to DICE's involvement. But while MoH's online is a decent but stripped down version of the Battlefield model, BF3 is the full-size, full-fat genuine article.
 
 
 
 

For those who skipped straight to the end

You should interpret this final score based on what you really want from a shooter. If you're a resolute campaign player who avoids multiplayer like a shark with a gun, BF3's single-player is simply not up to scratch in a year that has already given us Resistance 3 and Deus Ex. But if online is where it's at for you, Battlefield 3 is going to be one of your games of the year.

More Info

Available Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Genre: Shooter
Published by: Electronic Arts
Developed by: DICE
Franchise: Battlefield
ESRB Rating:
Rating Pending
PEGI Rating:
Rating Pending

140 comments

  • sharkmamx_ - June 22, 2013 10:59 p.m.

    Im going to be simple, clean, and honest... Here it is. The game is not as good as they say it is. Its just fact. THe Campaign sucks it gets 2/10 because in every mission i was only thinking "when will this mission end" And the multiplayer is just broken! Why? Here is a list 1. Its not new player friendly 2. In every map where there is a tank, or helicopter you can spawn trap your enemy team. 3. Because the game is camper friendly (i have no problem with that, because its the nature of the game) spawntraping is a commun sight. And the thing that most pisses me off... Sniper Rifles are not as powerful as their real counterparts I cant tell you how many times i have gotten a hitmarker when i hit some one dead center mass. Which is where real snipers aim for... The reason i get so mad is the game tries so hard to be realistic but it failed for me. The multiplayer gets a 4/10 from me! Im 90% disappointed with this game!
  • nicogonzo16 - December 6, 2012 10 p.m.

    Today, we don’t look for the same qualities in games as we used to back in the early two thousands. Battlefield 3, developed by EA Digital Illusions CE and published by Electronic Arts Sega, was released October 25th, 2011. This FPS (first person shooter) game is to my opinion a very exceptional game for many reasons. It does have some faults, but they do not outweigh all the great content it has. Back in the early 2000s, most people would rate a game on the quality of the campaign mode it contains. Campaign for most FPS games is single-player, mission mode, going from four to seven hours of game play. One plays as a character (two or more for some games) and has missions to complete and as one is completed, another one is unlocked. The story takes place in the near future, about the year 2015, but it never exactly says. It begins with a character being interrogated about a possible nuclear weapon being moved into the US. As you tell the story, you have flashbacks in which you play the missions. Throughout the missions, you fight terrorists in the Middle East to Russians invading the country. The ultimate goal is to find the nuclear weapon and disable it. The campaign mode for most of the Battlefield games, including BF3 (Battlefield 3), never drew me in as much as those of Call of Duty Series. In Call of Duty, you get to know to the characters pretty well. The producers put a lot of effort in adding personality to each character. In Call of Duty 4, I became very attached to some of the characters, and seeing some of them die as the campaign progresses really gets to me, which enhances the experience of the gaming. In BF3, however, I do not make such a connection. The game play is just around the same quality, but when looking at the characters, they don’t appeal to me as much as those of the COD (Call of Duty) series. I could name all the characters that were present in COD4 through MW3, but I could not remember any of the names from BF3. The game play is still fun, but it doesn’t have that extra incentive that makes it extraordinary. Nowadays, people with modern game systems (PS3, Xbox 360, PC) rate FPS games by their multiplayer mode. Multiplayer allows one to connect via Internet to a server in which thousands of people participate everyday. Normally one just presses “join game” and it will put him in a game in which he’ll have to kill other people, either by yourself or a team, depending on the game mode. Personally, I think BF3’s multiplayer mode is absolutely extraordinary. The game producers really stacked up most of their producing teams on the multiplayer mode. Many games have problems in balancing the multiplayer, meaning some guns are more powerful, depending on the location a team may have an advantage. BF3 does a fantastic job in balancing out its game play. No gun, perk or gun attachment is over-powering, and if one were, then an update would be released where it is fixed. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been killed in MW2 by the UMP. All weapons and vehicles of the game have positives and negatives, which encourage players to not only use one but also everything that is available. One aspect that is great about BF3 is that it has vehicles. It adds to the whole reality aspect to the game, as well as another way to have support when attacking the enemy’s position. Another great fact is that all of the buildings in the maps can be destroyed, which makes it so realistic and fun, meaning if you need to clear out a building, you can have an attack helicopter blow it up. One last thing is the size of the maps. They are massive, meaning there are times in which you run for thirty seconds to get into the action. Some people think it’s annoying, but I think it is necessary. Not just because there are vehicles available, but also because it discourages camping (sitting in one spot and shooting people as they run by). In MW2 specially, camping is a huge problem. It is very frustrating when one runs into a room and some guy in the corner kills him. It takes away the fun and good experience of the game. Having huge maps is good because there are so many routes and campers may only get one or two kills. The quality of the graphics nowadays is very important. BF3 gets the job done. Its graphics are excellent, going from the genuine details of the guns, to the realistic view of fire, to the environment you are in. They add a sense of realism that is not present in the COD series. In MW2-3, everything is very lighted and bright colored. It makes it more attractive for a younger crowd. BF3 is more realistic in that they don’t make the environments nor weapons the same as in COD. It is straight on the colors you would imagine and gives you the feeling that you are at war, not just playing a video game. It is aimed to an older crowd.
  • matt-bailey-kelly - December 29, 2011 9 a.m.

    i swear mine is a disabled version as it wont let me complete night shift on campaign as it keeps coming up with a error message sayin i have been dissconnected from the ea server plus if i do it ofline it says ive signed out the psn bloody game but at least the mp still works
  • richardr - November 9, 2011 8:28 a.m.

    I played the campaign. It gets a 5/10. Multiplayer gets a deserved 10/10. This review is pretty on the money. Overall though I would have said 9 is more fitting as I can't see anyone buying this for campaign only. But I see the reasoning, adn the review itself is 100% spot on.
  • sheldon1979 - November 7, 2011 10:38 a.m.

    I LOVE THE MULTIPLAYER I LOVE THE MULTIPLAYER I LOVE BF3 multiplayer im new this game it kicks ass im not going to say n en thing bout cod cuz cod has its perks just as well as bf3 so how bout you jus get both annnndddd uhhhhhh have ur cake and eat it to.
  • JusticeIroquois - November 6, 2011 10:31 p.m.

    I did not have an oh-so great experience with the multiplayer. Maybe it just doesn't apply to my desires or something. But I have a Vizio 32in HDTV and I can never seem to see anyone on the maps I play, when I play multiplayer. You can't add hundreds of unlockables and features to a game to make the game great, if the gameplay is sh!t. I am disappointed with BF3. Thanks for the review though.
  • 15jewfro - November 6, 2011 3:31 p.m.

    I don't have many problems with the campaign for Battlefield 3, but I do have a couple complaints: 1. Sometimes I'll just randomly die. No shooting. For instance, in the mission Rock And A Hard Place, I had to regroup with my squad, and out of the blue Blackburn decided it would be a good time to die. 2. The AI takes all the good cover. I believe this was mentioned in the review. 3. Whenever it tells me to follow a guy, the AI says they'll cover me. Nearly every time, this is not the case. Otherwise I very much enjoy the campaign and the multiplayer.
  • ImDownWithTheSickness - November 5, 2011 8:12 a.m.

    Honestly anyone who bought BF3 for campaign should have waited for MW3 because in that aspect it probably will beat BF3. Multiplayer on the other hand MW3 will not have any chance at beating BF3. Battlefield is about multiplayer not campaign and that is why DICE is such a great development team.
  • chrishoughton - November 4, 2011 7:21 a.m.

    What a load of crap. Ok the story was good but its the usual story in war games, Guy 1"oh we found some nukes" Guy2 " oh shoot there is some missing" Guy1 " oh well lets go find them" the only best bit of the game i liked was when the quake made that building fall down and nearly hit you. oh that and the sniper mission (where you get ali baba or what ever his name was) I know i may get flamed for saying this but...... MW3 WILL KICK THIS GAME BUTT HARD
  • Miruki Hazard - November 8, 2011 1:57 p.m.

    yeah.. its about time they added some flair to these stupid war stories.. and also... some females would really do... these games all feel like a sausage fest.. and not in a good way
  • LBK117 - December 30, 2011 6:12 p.m.

    On the mission were you're in a jet you play as a woman. Most women are in the air force.
  • Yeager1122 - November 1, 2011 8:16 a.m.

    By the sound of this i wish i could only buy the multiplayer
  • Nuka-Cola29 - October 30, 2011 10:37 p.m.

    Campaign was pretty great. It definately had it's moments of "holy effing $hiT!" and it did have it's stumbles where the scripted events left me frustrated. (one isolated event) in Night Shift after crossing the pedestrian overpass into a building. And up some stairs. There an enemy is in front of me unaware to me and my partner. I am then asked to knife him from behind as he has his back to me. As I approach him I get the pop up R1 to knife prompt a few feet behind the said enemy. As I step closser I fail the mission because the enemy apparently heard my stealthiness. Every damn time!!! It was because I was suppose to just walk up and knife him as soon as he turns around causing a quick time event. In which case I won! This was only time I felt disconnected to the game. Otherwise I felt that BF3 pulle off a better badass spec ops character than CoD with Dima and Vladimir.
  • CitizenWolfie - October 31, 2011 12:08 p.m.

    I had that same thing happen to me! You get about halfway down the hall and it prompts you to knife him but you're nowhere near. So you carry on until you're in a proper reaching distance and suddenly Blackburn just collapses. In the same mission, you can't get on the evac plane until EVERYONE else has. And then once they are you're given "Hurry it up, Black!" like you're sitting there having a beer. But yeah otherwise pretty cool, especially "Comrades" and "Going Hunting".
  • worldwidewonder - October 30, 2011 7:48 p.m.

    Let me get this straight... This game is better than COD: Black Ops and Battlefield: Bad Company 2 (which both scored 9 on Gamesradar.com) and better than Medal of Honor (which scored an 8)? This doesn't make sense. If you think someone will enjoy it more than these three games, it should have been given a score that is equal to or greater than Black Ops and BFBC2. If I didn't play Battlefield 3, I would deduce that the game is only a step up from Homefront and on the same scale as Payday: The Heist (for PS3 & PC). Having played all of the games mentioned in the previous paragraphs, Battlefield 3 is so much better than this review would lead you to believe. I agree, the single player campaign left something to be desired, but to drag down the score when other games that have shorter and less engaging SP campaigns and broken multiplayer modes score greater than or equal to BF3 is not consistent.
  • gmcb2011 - October 31, 2011 9:30 p.m.

    This has been bugging me, too. But look closer into the reviews. In BF:BC2, they said the campaign was a 6 and multiplayer was a 10. The same is said in this. It's so damn inconsistent, and that's the only reason I'm really annoyed at this review. That and the fact that it seems to be so much lower than the other review out there.
  • Samwell785 - November 1, 2011 4:54 p.m.

    yeah but they're reviewed by different people init
  • Mike3one5 - October 30, 2011 5:34 p.m.

    EA worried so much about taking CoD of the throne that they forgot that this was Battlefield (campaign wise). CoD has some of the best campaigns, and EA tried to pit a rookie against a reigning champ.
  • Plan10FromOuterSpace - October 30, 2011 3:56 p.m.

    the problem with being overly on rails is what made me hate call of duty black opps so much,I was really hoping battlefield 3 would buck this trend and provide the player with more options and less scripted sequences but i guess just imitating COD is the way forward now.
  • WarWasp - October 30, 2011 3:23 p.m.

    Let me start by saying that I love your reviews David.But I find it a bit annoying that you ragged on the campaign so much.Let's face it,it's a Battlefield game.The campaign is not its strong suit.If your experience with the campaign was so terrible,you don't need to write a four-page review and dedicate three pages to your bad experience;make the review shorter,if you must,and focus on how incredible the multiplayer is.Remember that you are one man - your experiences may be isolated and exclusive to your playthrough.If I had never played a BF game before,and I read this review,I would NOT be inclined to buy it,because even though you gave it an 8/10,the overwhelming majority of your review was nothing but negative.My point is,if you think a game is good (which your score indicates) do it justice in your review and be positive.

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