When Battlefield 3 properly runs, it is the most impressive and entertaining online shooter I have ever played. In many ways, it is a triumph in gaming infrastructure and engineering. There are times when playing Battlefield 3 feels like taking part in a momentous event in gaming history. This is the new standard for the industry, and it is absolutely gorgeous.
But my adoration for Battlefield 3 is bridled by DICE and EA’s gaffes and missteps. The game’s glitches and bugs can instantly shatter the overwhelming sense of immersion. The game’s campaign is a dull and insultingly familiar affair, one that attempts to replicate other shooters rather than create its own identity. And as we all know, Origin is a nightmare. With so many glaring frustrations, one should wonder if the game’s flaws are even worth stomaching.
Fortunately, they are. Battlefield 3 has enough meat to make up for all of its flaws. If you’re willing to deal with the occasional headache, you’ll be rewarding yourself with some of the best online entertainment ever crafted.
Battlefield’s biggest strength has been its immersive qualities. With such a focus on destructible environments, gorgeous textures, and smooth loading times, it’s clear that DICE made immersion its number one priority. They valiantly succeeded. Battlefield 3 may not act like actual combat, but to those of us who have never served in the military, it’s just like how we imagine warfare. This is where the Frostbite 2 Engine shines. Pretty graphics require a large budget, but engrossing gamers into a battlefield requires talent and taste.
There is nothing more satisfying in Battlefield 3 than leading 4 or 5 enemies into a building, planting charges, and then watching that building’s core structure collapse onto your foes. Everything in Battlefield 3 can be interacted with. Plant for cover behind a barricade? Don’t stay there for too long. Want to drive a plane right into a building filled with opponents? No one’s stopping you. By the end of a match, maps are left in a complete state of ruin, destroyed by the creativity and ingenuity of those who just played a game. Battlefield 3‘s expanded destructibility adds another element to the series’ brand of creative warfare.
While Frostbite 2 has deservingly received praise for its lighting system and rich textures, its most visceral quality has gone relatively unnoticed. The game’s audio is the shining jewel of Battlefield 3. Never has a game been so inundating on the ears. Every explosion and collision sounds different. Every bullet that whizzes by is terrifyingly realistic. Every ricochet gives off a different set of clanks and clatters. If anything drew me into Battlefield 3, it is the game’s leap in audio design. Like the visuals, it is easily the new standard for the industry.
Then there’s the game itself. Offering four classes with unique abilities, dozens of engaging vehicles, and a seemingly countless supply of gadgets, Battlefield 3 has an infinite amount of weapon abilities for your usage. The game’s maps are absolutely huge, having enough space for large vehicle assaults and just enough compact areas for infantry engagements. Overall, the maps have a fair amount of variety and enough intricacies to prevent the game from ever feeling dull. They are properly balanced, and help add a sense of fluidity to matches.
That’s the true beauty of Battlefield 3. This game is constantly engaging and always encouraging you to work with your team. You can’t be a lone wolf. With collapsable skyscrapers and suppressive fire dismantling cover spots, you will have to work with your squad to have any success. Mix that in with thousands of weapon and class arrangements, a sense of visual and audio immersion unmatched by anything out there, and a perfected balance of maps and gameplay, and you wind up with one of the most satisfying experiences imaginable.
But I’d be lying if I said this game is the apex of online gaming (even though it is painfully close). Some modes aren’t paced well at all (Team Deathmatch is currently a mess), glitches are rampant, and the game’s lag and connectivity issues remain present. Most of these modes can (and will in all likelihood) be fixed by a patch. Regardless, they do hamper the current experience.
But if there is anything just flat-out boring in Battlefield 3, it would be the game’s campaign. Once the awe and wonder of the visuals wear off, you are left with a typical, dull, and lifeless campaign. Battlefield 3‘s multiplayer is about openness and creativity. When playing the campaign, you chase after blue dots for four hours. Rarely are there breakups that make the game feel any different from a generic first-person shooter experience.
Then there’s the offensively similar storyline, which feels like a prequel to that other giant first-person shooter coming out later this year. Evil terrorist attempting to send the world into chaos? That’s there. Russians? Of course. Plans to blow up New York City to incite a full-scale world war? Perhaps something like this?
Battlefield has always felt refreshing. The series’ reliance on team-based gameplay is one of the most satisfying gameplay elements in all of multiplayer gaming. Therefore, it’s a complete pity that this wasn’t replicated in Battlefield 3‘s campaign. Yet Battlefield 3‘s multiplayer is fruitful enough online to overcome glitches, an obnoxiously designed digital distribution service, and an offensively boring campaign. That’s a testament to one fantastic online experience. It is worth your time, money, and patience.
4 Stars out of 5
***A 4 Star game is a well-made, outstanding experience that the vast majority of buyers will enjoy. It is a great investment, and can appeal to a wide audience.***
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