Saturday, October 29, 2011

Battlefield 3 Review

Above and beyond the call. The slogan pretty much explains itself. Battlefield 3 shows how much depth and strategy can actually go into a realistic first person shooter. The number of different ways to play the game is astounding, along with a very gritty and nearly perfect game mechanic lends to an awesome experience, when the game is working properly. First person shooters are probably the most scrutinized genre of gaming, with so many people playing, its hard to appease every single player. With Battlefield 3, many people will hate it immediately, and blame it on the sole reason that it's not Call of Duty. Of course, the first Modern Warfare game revolutionized first person shooters, but Battlefield 3 observes the formulas of many in recent years and does a fantastic job at combining them into a balanced experience. This review is mainly based off of the multiplayer, as those who play it generally base their experience in first person shooters on the multiplayer aspects.

Overall, the mechanics of Battlefield 3 play a lot like Bad Company 2. In reality, this really proves to be a bit more of a sequel to both the Bad Company series and the numbered Battlefield series, rather than just Battlefield. The number of modes to play in multiplayer is nice, providing anything from the classic conquest to more recently established Rush, as well as the standard in all first person shooters - Team Deathmatch. Each mode is taken from something already previously established, so this isn't by any means a groundbreaking video game, or anything that will influence the way all games are made from this time forward. Instead, its a game that takes a culmination of what players enjoy and packages them for a great experience. The maps are probably the most astounding part of this game. There are about 8 different maps, which all adjust based on the number of players in each round, and what mode is being played. In Rush mode especially, these maps provide an amazing challenge, and so far haven't favored either the attacking or defending teams. During Rush mode, attackers charge on two separate points at which they must arm a charge, and defend the armed charge for a countdown clock to destroy the package. While the attacking team is attempting this, a team of defenders must prevent them from arming the charge, or disarm the charge if they fail in the first aspect. Once the first two objectives are destroyed, a retreat is issued for the defenders, and they fall back to a once inaccessible part of the map to defend another set of points. There are generally about 3 to 5 locations in each round, which lends to a rather large map. This mode lends to the possibility of many different strategies in either defending or attacking.

In Battlefield, there are 4 separate classes - Assault, Engineer, Support and Recon. Each class has its own special way to provide for the team. Assault functions as a medic, giving health to those in need, and reviving strategically to avoid long runs back to the front lines. Engineers are responsible for destroying vehicles and large objectives. Support provides ammo and can use suppressive fire to advance the line. Recon provides cover from afar, with this class mainly focusing on sniping. The strategy behind each class lends to a balanced affair, if your team knows how to play the game. Oh, and the vehicles? They're not highly unbalanced. Usually in each map, if one team spawns with vehicles, you should expect that the other team has at least one. Vehicles range from jeeps to tanks to helicopters to jets. Each can provide additional support for the team, or distract and allow other players to arm charges or eliminate opponents. A good strategy as well is to use the vehicle to get close to the objective, but then evacuate and arm the objective, in a hurry so that they're not even set up when the first point explodes.

The graphical capabilities of this game are a high point as well. Not even merely just the graphics, but the attention to detail and replication of a realistic war setting are outstanding. This is probably the first game, especially shooter, to actually include the glare of the sun, as well as blinding lights from laser sights and flashlights. The lighting effects, though very shaky in the beta, are just unreal. This may not look perfect in terms of real life comparisons, but it is definitely one of the prettiest looking shooters ever made. Though it isn't 60 frames per second, the framerate usually doesn't have any issues keeping up with the massive amount of things happening on the screen at once. To be quite frank, 60 frames per second seems to give the game a bit of an unreal feel, whereas 30 makes it seem a bit slower paced, and lends to a more realistic war setting. Other shooters require you to die and spawn so quickly that the action never ends, but Battlefield 3 requires a bit of thought, which is definitely a bonus. The explosions and Frostbite 2 engine make this game shine. Frostbite 2 allows for extremely interactive and destructible environments, and provides a level of detail not found in many games, let alone first person shooters. Many times, rockets go flying inches in front of you, and you'll just have to take that in stride, and kill the shooter or ignore him and arm the objective. The sound also provides to the realism, with each shot fired and each explosion sounding so realistic, a veteran would probably have a tough time playing the game.

The amount of unlocks and customization also shines, allowing each player to have their own unique playing style. Each gun has different mods to affect the stability, accuracy, or even abilities the weapon. This can range from grips to scopes to flashlights to grenade launchers. There isn't much in terms of player customization, but each player has their own camouflage that affects the color of the uniform. The highest rank achievable is only part of the fun, with each class being leveled up as well, and unlocks periodically along the way, lending to a long time with multiplayer. There are a few flaws, however, with errors in the online play. A bit of lag still plagues the game, especially in certain maps, and the 360 servers have been very rough in the first week. Also, when in a squad, even before the match starts, sometimes your friends get put on the wrong team, which is very frustrating. The one thing the Call of Duty franchise has going for it is the seamless jump in/jump out multiplayer and lobby system, which Battlefield still needs to improve. The few setbacks, though, don't ruin the overall experience Battlefield 3 provides.

Gameplay – 9
A few problems with lag and just missed opportunities in terms of lobby systems and playing with friends keep it from a 10.
Graphics – 10
The graphics for this game, along with the Frostbite 2 engine make it the prettiest looking shooter on the market, and provide a great level of realism.
Sound – 10
Battlefield has always been known for their outstanding sound quality, and it doesn't change for this game. Every explosion and gunshot sounds great, and even interactions between soldiers is nice.
Replayability - 9.5
The story, as read in other reviews, isn't the best, but the multiplayer provides more than enough. Most people will play this game for the multiplayer, and that's where it shines. Lots of depth, and medals and ribbons to earn keep the players wanting to fulfill all goals.

Overall Rating – 9



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