Battlefield 3

Posted: October 27, 2011 in Thoughtful thinking.

Ok, here’s where my nerdy side shows. I’m a recreational gamer. I love to pick up a controller and waste some precious time in the digital world of entertainment. It’s one of my hobbies, I suppose one could say. I’m pretty up to date on all the current gaming news, and while many games attract my attention, it takes either a really great game or a really good deal for me to buy one. Well, I gave in, and so far I’m happy that I did.

To say that Battlefield 3 hyped up this launch is like saying that soap is slippery, or that fire is hot. I have yet to see a more vamped-up, crazed launch than this. Halo 3 had some really classy, cool ads that became very popular, but Battlefield has been at it for months. And it wasn’t the calm, methodical, awe-inspiring ads that Bungie put out for their Master Chief. It was seemingly done haphazardly. Fans and haters alike were pelted with commercials and gameplay quite often until the release. There was so much gameplay involved that people almost felt like they played the game weeks before they ever got the game in their hands. At least, I did. The advertising team at EA didn’t let people get a coherent thought in before they threw another ad or game feature. This looks awesome, and gains a whole bunch of publicity, which is what DICE (the development team behind Battlefield 3) needs. However, the repercussions for such great fame and publicity is that they have built for themselves a tower of high expectations that could crumble if the game doesn’t hold up to its advertising word. It almost does.

Alright, campaign mode first. It’s my philosophy whenever I get any new game to complete the campaign before I touch the multiplayer. You know why? Because if I don’t, it never gets done. It’s also a great way to become associated with a game so one doesn’t get slaughtered in multiplayer as a newbie. Campaign is to me what vegetables are before dessert. Good for you, but not necessarily desired. And for this game, the vegetables were a tad underdone.

I’m not computer wizard or genius. I tip my hats to those who know such wizardry. So I have absolutely no idea what kind of work and effort goes into building a game back up from a new engine. (Frostbite 2, which is what Battlefield 3 uses) But this engine could definitely use a little bit of ironing out. It’s still got the factory wrinkles in it. Perhaps another one of my issues is the use of a console (xbox 360) instead of the platform-intended PC. But this game was, for the budget and time used to create it, pretty glitch heavy. Floating guns, light glare, furniture, and the like all made the otherwise beautiful graphics a tad sketchy. How can one take shooting an enemy from behind the cover of a hovering sofa seriously? It makes for a nice laugh, but when the glitches get ugly and start to turn on you it’s anything but funny.  I remember restarting a checkpoint because I died, (if you play it on hard like I did the first time through, plan on doing that A LOT) and the two AI members of my squad ran right through the closed door they were supposed to open. OK. Another time, I was right about to close upon an objective and my character decided walking was for mortals and simply floated right up to the checkpoint. He also seemed to get a mind of his own because I could no longer switch to any weapons. It’s a good thing a cutscene arrived or he might have just gone all skynet on me and begin shooting through the TV. Those were some of the more comedic ones…

Alright, its got some glitch marks. But that can be forgiven due to the enormity of the game. Wait… what? *Ahem* the campaign is only six hours long. Give or take. And about an hour of those have you punching enemies in interactive cutscenes. I happen to be a fan of those parts because I like the fact that I probably won’t be dying and it offers a reprieve from the normal humdrum hide-and-shoot. But I’m a percentage of the very few. Most gamers will be complaining that there were far too many of those particular scenarios. Also, Battlefield has a very unique flair to their game visuals. The entire game looks like a painting or movie. Smooth textures, flowing physics and whatnot. Unfortunately, this makes enemies outrageously hard to see, especially in the forest levels. I spent probably around 35% of my time in the campaign in the prone position crawling around and looking like a complete goober trying to find these enemies with my iron sights who are hitting me with pinpoint accuracy from 200 yards away from behind a rock and shooting over their shoulder. The lack of personal visibility will drive you bonkers, especially on a higher difficulty. It’s like they took all their time of the visuals of the environment, they forgot to make people the priority.

Now, my biggest gripe. The AI. If real life was like Battlefield 3, the Taliban, Russians, and any other group of people that I shot as an enemy as this game would have long since taken over America due to how ignorant American soldiers are, or how freaking awesome they are. Probably a combination of the two. The AI on any given ally in this game will by default: A) Expect you to do everything for them. And B) Get in your way as much as possible while you try to do it. It seems like the designers were more conserned about their computer friends than they were the intended player. If you play a mission with a squad setting, good luck trying to find decent cover, the AI takes all the good spots for themselves and has you crouching behind the milk cartons in the corner. And of course, due to the game’s cutting edge physics, it won’t let you push your darn teammates out of the way! Your teammates almost become invulnerable bunkers themselves as they hog and push their way through the fighting. And here’s a good one too. If they are scripted to run into a certain spot and you are standing there while in the middle of an outrageous firefight, too bad! They pummel you out into the open for the enemy’s target practice and then yell at you some more for not doing what they told you to do.

The saving points really stink sometimes as well. They seemed to have reserved the hardest parts for the longest save gaps. I swear I could do some parts of some levels with my eyes closed.

Weapons are great and diverse. There are many along the campaign road with loads of attachments that you can switch from any deceased enemy should you not like what you’re given. (And you probably won’t) Watch your cover though… just because you see someone in your sights doesn’t mean you barrel is clear of debris and your shots won’t go anywhere. The only way to shoot someone in this game is to put yourself in danger of getting shot by them. No freebies.

Sound is beautiful. Every scream, shout, and bullet whizzing by is crisp, and sounds exactly like what it should. Echoes in buildings and thuds after a bomb or grenade are all dead-on. My favorite part sound-wise was the fighter sequence. The take-off and radio chatter sounded awesome through the noise-muffled headphones of the pilot.

The story was a tad disappointing. It felt very generic and didn’t meet my expectations. The end was mediocre. The bad guy gets what’s his and the good guy… well… the good guy doesn’t fare a whole lot better… Nothing happened in the story that made me feel what I was doing was terribly important. At the very end I was asking if that was it, I mean, for the emphasis they placed on the game, I was expecting to save the universe…

Beware the profanity. Seriously. There’s enough to the point of tackiness.

The multiplayer is this game’s saving grace. Whatever points were lost for the campaign are gained back and more for the multiplayer, which is the real meat of this game. Maps are huge and there are more to choose from. The return of controllable jets have old-school Battlefield fans rejoicing. The combat is smooth and of course, the visuals are amazing. Knifing someone and taking their dog tag never felt so good as in this game does. I like the fact that one has to take out their knife rather than it just materialize in their hand. It doesn’t differ too much from its predessecors, but the tiny differences that it made like the ability to more customize one’s weapons and choose their load outs is great! Also, the classes change to better accommodate team play. It’s an even more rounded and exciting experience which challenges and rewards the player. It is a step above the rest in that nobody can really get large-scale warfare right like DICE can. The multiplayer is a victory and just one game of it helps me forget the somewhat forgettable campaign.

Another cool feature is Battlelog. It’s like facebook for gamers. It lets you know where your friends are at, what they’re playing and how well you stack up against them. Clans, and platoons can all be created and edited through an online account and seen through gameplay. The transfer is pretty cool.

Overall, the game does just what it’s meant to. Entertain. The multiplayer that is… I will most definitely be returning for more many times. The campaign however, is something that will be gathering cyberdust. Because it will most likely never be played again. My score is 7/10.

5/10 Campaign- Glitchy, AI annoyance/cause for rage, relatively short, shallow. However lifelike, awesome visuals, amazing sound.
9/10 Multiplayer- Immersive, massive, balanced, all the good benefits of campaign… without the campaign. Some long load times though.

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