Companies have been trying for years to find the perfect competitor to battle in the “war” against the Call of Duty franchise. It’s a war you see taking place in every trailer, press release and TV spot up until the games launch. The Battlefield series has roots originally in the PC, but has new life in the consoles thanks to the Bad Company releases. Battlefield 3’s release see it spanning from PC to consoles this time around and is definitely a better choice to measure up to Call of Duty then Medal of Honor was. This is all well and good, but are they focusing too much on the outside war and not enough on the inside?
The first thing you’ll notice when you bring home your copy of Battlefield 3 is that is on two separate discs on the Xbox 360 version. One disc contains the single player campaign, and the other disc contains the co-op missions and multiplayer content. This is something a bit perplexing mostly because developers have normally been able fit both content on one disc and call it a day. However, what we find here is that players will be swapping discs as if they’re playing Mass Effect. If you were looking to dive right into the Battlefield experience I’d recommend starting with the multiplayer components of the game. The single player is by no definition containing any life or scenes worth remembering. Yes the game certainly looks pretty compared to other first person shooters on the market, however it is a much short lived experience.
The single player campaign can be completed in an afternoon or in other words, about 5 or 6 hours depending on your playing style and preferred difficulty. You play as several different characters but the mainstay is Staff Sergeant Henry Blackburn. The game depicts its story in a series of flashbacks as you are questioned and under investigation by the CIA. These various scenes flash by in a blink of an eye but what they contain are several quick time events and rather bland gameplay. While it was a different take than what other first person shooter are attempting its effect got lost in the clutter of its poor design. In the main campaign there is everything from missing character animations to weird enemy behavior, roller coaster difficulty and terrible offline lag. It marred what could have been an interesting experience. The campaign doesn’t particularly get to jump till halfway through the game but even then you’re still fighting the waves of frustration.
When you head into the second disc, this contains your online multiplayer and co-operative missions. Along with the standard Deathmatches, there is also a Conquest mode where teams capture flags on the map to reduce the opposing teams spawn points. Finally we have the popular Rush mode in which teams attack or defend each other’s M-COM stations and push their lines further back. The multiplayer is the meat and bones of the Battlefield experience going back to the original days on the PC with the first game. Every time I find myself in a new round of battle, I get lost in the fight just simply finding a way to survive without getting murdered in 5 seconds. As soon as the match starts I can hear the rumble of vehicles passing through the terrain, helicopters flying around and jets breaking the speed of sound. Explosions and bullet pops in the background are another noticeable and trademark feature of the series.
Whenever I’m dropped into the map, the immediate soundtrack of war surrounds you. The game really doesn’t have much of a soundtrack of the musical kind. You’ll find yourself trying to get your bearings straight and with the games mammoth maps, there will be a lot of running. The first task is to get yourself in one of the vehicles (which are everything from helicopters, tanks and jets) to get you around the terrain and just make sure an RPG doesn’t blow you up. The biggest draw for Battlefield and its biggest selling point is the concentration on teamwork. There are various classes you can choose from upon starting your match and each has their own varying degrees of success and how you want to contribute to your squad. There are different classes to for you and your teammates to decide upon to use. Each has there own unique abilities to control. You will have to watch how you spawn, however, as you could easily spawn and be caught in the middle of a firefight. There are options to spawn next to your squad mates or a pre-determined spawn point on the map for your 5-minute walk.
Bottom Line: When looking at the overall package, Battlefield 3 is only worth half the price of its current price tag. While the multiplayer is a great experience, the single player is the real downer here. The co-operative missions are decent for what they are, but feel uninspired and only they’re for your achievement hunting. The effort put into the multiplayer stands out and could easily take your time away for hours on end. Battlefield 3 is easily a shooter that should be in your first person shooter catalog if you’re into team based combat and realistic modern warfare.