Thursday, November 3, 2011

Highway to the Danger Zone: Battlefield 3 Review

After much anticipation, Battlefield 3 has finally come out. The fantastic ads would have us believe that this is the next generation of shooters, and also that war is staticky, but does the game live up to the hype?

*It should be noted that for this review, I played the PC version of the game- Rock

Battlefield 3 had a lot of things working against it at launch.  With a beta that people thought was a horrible, buggy demo and a mandatory digital distribution system, as Chris Linendoll put it, "That game put it's worst foot forward".  And he was mostly right.  The beta certainly looked pretty, even though it didn't really show off a lot of the game's strengths, like huge open maps, 64 players in a game, or the highly-touted destructibility of the Frostbite Engine 2.0.  Now that the full version of the game is out, how does it stack up?

B-bU-buUut it's n-n-not s-st-Steam!!!!!
Well  let's start with presentation.  Origin, the much-maligned digital distribution system for all of EA's games, really doesn't suck as badly as a lot of the doomsayers would have had you believe in the pre-launch.  The interface is intuitive, if a little drab, and the system works well overall.  Will it take market share away from Steam?  Yes, but only because Origin is the only way to get certain EA games.  I really don't care though.  What's important to me is that it lets me play my games without getting my way with a cumbersome UI or other hoops to jump through.

Let's move on to Battlelog, the new front end for Battlefield 3, which really is a treat.  I have yet to see a more intuitive, comprehensive front end.  Presented in an attractive, easy to use format is pretty much anything you would want to know.  Everything, from unlock progression, your win/loss ratio, overall accuracy, time spent with the different classes....the list goes on seemingly forever.  Also included is a powerful server browser that gives players an unprecedented amount of control.  Battlelog also includes some great social networking features, making it easier than ever to find your friends, create groups, and stay up to date on each other's newest unlocks and awards.  The system really got a lot of flak during the beta, but it's quickly been winning over the initial detractors.

The game shows some truly astonishing detail
But what about the effing game, Rock?!  Well let's start with the campaign.  The campaign has been getting a lot of shit, and I'm not really sure why.  If you really think about it, is this campaign any worse than what you'd find in similar shooters?  Not really, no.  That's not to say that the story is particularly great, but compared to its contemporaries it's perfectly adequate.  The campaign does do a great job of showing off the fancy new graphics engine, though, and some truly bombastic spectacle is on display here!  Truly, the jet level had me almost gripping the edge of my desk, all while that one Kenny Loggins song played in my head....  You know, the one from the movie with the jets?


Anyway, the campaign does a great job teaching you the basics if you're inexperienced, and it really does provide some great cinematic moments!  Again, there's really nothing to write home about, story-wise, but again, it's no worse than what you'd find in a Call of Duty or Medal of Honor.... Personally, I prefer the more lighthearted attitude of Bad Company 2, and I think that was one of the ways in which this series differentiated itself from Call of Duty.  I definitely missed the truly hilarious conversations that would take place between the members of Bravo Company. There are a handful of QTEs here as well.  Some people really hate them, but they don't really bother me, mostly because they're pretty effing badass!  The game is just drop dead gorgeous as well, with some insanely impressive lighting and effects.  The sound design is some of the best I've ever heard, with explosions shaking you and every gunshot feeling substantial and dangerous!

Spoiler alert: dudes die in war games
On to the multi-player side!  Ho my god!  This really is the meat of the game, and where the majority of players will get the most out of their purchase.  Case in point- I ran through the Bad Company 2 campaign once, that's about six hours.  As of right now, I've got over three hundred hours in the multi-player, and I expect Battlefield 3 to be no different.  The combat is fast and intense,  and it's incredibly fun!  Oh, did I mention destructible environments?  Because that's a thing here, too.  Blow a hole in your enemy's cover or, shit, just bring the whole building down on top of him!  There is a massively robust leveling and unlock system that is deliciously addictive, and it ensures that new unlocks are always almost within your grasp, providing a nicely dangling carrot to reach for.  The maps are varied, and the solid mixture of vehicles, weapons, and classes ensures that everyone will find something that they enjoy, and there's really no such thing as a bad loadout.

Hey look! It's that scene from the commercial!
So is Battlefield 3 for you?  Well, if you're still undecided, I suppose it comes down to asking yourself a couple of questions.  Do you enjoy team-based, strategic gameplay that rewards tactical thinking?  Do you love the idea of using a tank, jet, APC or other vehicle to crush those who oppose you?  Do you relish the thought of smashing your foes under thousands of pounds of rubble as you bring a roof down on their heads?  How about a diverse and addictive  level up system that will have you playing "just one more round" chasing after the next unlock?  If you answered yes to even half of those, Battlefield 3 is without a doubt worth your time.  Hooah!      
  (that's what army dudes say, right?)

Verdict:  4/5

* Technical Specs: The PC used for this review contains the following hardware-
Processor- Intel Core I7 920
RAM- 6gb DDR3
GPU-  Radeon HD4890 1gb GDDR5
Operating System-  Windows 7 Home Premium

The game was played at medium settings on a 19 inch monitor. Average Frames Per Second was ~45 FPS

                 Rock can't get enough dude-shooting

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  1. Ooh, I forgot about the Times Square part. I was just going to stop playing after the jet.