One of the most prolific names in first-person shooters today is, of course, the Battlefield series. Since 1999, the Battlefield series has taken the video game space by storm, releasing hit after hit. As everyone expects, Battlefield 3 is no different, and certainly meets the expectations laid out for it. Everyone is going to want this game for its unique brand of multiplayer, but there is also a solid single-player campaign for those interested. Though this isn’t anything that will redefine the genre, it will still scratch that FPS itch and give you an experience worth having.
Battlefield 3 features a single-player campaign that should take most players somewhere between 8 to 10 hours to complete. It has multiple difficulty settings, allowing you to control the experience, and features a standard first-person shooter storyline where you are a soldier telling of his battlefield experiences. The story is simple but engaging enough that you care about seeing what happens next. During the campaign you will take control of a few different soldiers and you’ll have a number of different tasks to perform as each. Most of the time you’ll be on the ground, but this time around you get the opportunity to assume the role of a gunner in a jet sequence, which is surprisingly entertaining. The campaign alone isn’t worth the price of admission, but it is a nice addition to the multiplayer, which is the real reason why people will buy this game.
The multiplayer mode is where the Battlefield series separates itself from the rest of the pack, and is the main draw for gamers. Those who have played games in the Battlefield series before will feel right at home, since the developer didn’t really tweak the way the multiplayer works. You still have your basic Rush, Team Rush, Conquest, Team Conquest, Death Match, and Team Death Match modes, but there are 9 new multiplayer maps to play on. Each one is different and contains specific areas which allow players to show off their skills and play to their strong points.
Whether you play as a sniper or a run-and-gunner, there is something on each map for you. New additions include many new vehicles, weapons, and the coup-de-grace: jet fighters. Jets are initially difficult to control, but once you get the hang of them they can change the game, especially on the larger maps where vehicles are important. The control scheme has been tweaked for flying helicopters, and personally we find it extremely difficult to fly one accurately. Direct control of the roll axis has been mapped to the analog sticks, so it will take practice to get yourself used to the new scheme. In addition to the tweaks to the controls, new weapon modifications have been added as unlockable multiplayer awards. Tactical and laser sights are the newest additions and they add an interesting element to close-quarters combat, as a tactical light will temporarily blind opponents if you catch them off-guard. They do, however, give away your position from long distances. The laser sight gives you the ability to fire accurately from the hip but will also give away your position from a distance. All of these changes are subtle and won’t make a huge difference to hardened Battlefield fans.
The largest changes to the game come in a few forms, one of which is the ability to go prone. Before Battlefield 3 you could not lay on your stomach – the lowest you could go is getting on a knee. It seems that enough fans have been requesting this feature that it has been added, but we find that it doesn’t really help or hurt the game. Sure, it gives you an advantage when avoiding bullets, but it does change the pace of the game. We can see why they added it, and it isn’t a drawback, but it is certainly worth noting.
The other large change comes with the addition of suppression. If you continuously fire your weapon at an opponent, whether you hit them or not, you can trigger a suppression bonus, which manifests itself in your opponent’s vision becoming blurry. This effect goes away quickly, but for a couple of seconds, that suppression bonus can mean the difference between life and death. This bonus is similar to the tactical and laser light distractions – there are a number of defensive adjustments that you can execute to help protect yourself in close quarters.
Arguably the largest change of all comes with the addition of a cooperative mode. For the first time in Battlefield history, players can join a friend and take on certain levels and situations together. The co-op mode is very well done and finding a partner is rarely difficult. Private matches are available for those times when you just want to play with a friend, and joining existing co-op games is easy. This is an excellent addition which doesn’t detract from the single-player campaign or the multiplayer mode, which is a strong positive.
Overall, Battlefield 3 is an excellent game. It is familiar enough for Battlefield veterans to feel comfortable with it, but there are also a number of additions that will mix up the gameplay. We feel that these changes do a nice job of making this game feel refreshingly different, although we will also admit that some changes will take some getting used to, especially the vehicle control changes. If you have been waiting for the next big first-person shooter release, this is the game for you. It is classic Battlefield action that fans have come to expect, and we are happy to report that this title has been worth the wait.
This review is based on a retail copy of the Playstation 3 version of Battlefield 3 by Electronic Arts.