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Electronic Arts






M (Mature)



October 25, 2011



- Superlative graphics
- Solid FPS action
- Excellent attention to detail throughout the game
- Wide variety of options for gamers to enjoy



- Team balancing is problematic
- Some maps are laggier than others
- “Battlelog” web portal is annoying
- No integrated voice chat



Review: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (PS3)

Review: F.E.A.R. 3 (PC)

Review: Brink (PC)

Review: Battlefield: Bad Company 2 (360)



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Battlefield 3

Score: 8.5 / 10


battlefield 3          battlefield 3


It seems like we're having this discussion just about every year. In some ways, it's completely arbitrary and borderline stupid, of as much relevance as similar mythical battles of yore. Coke versus Pepsi, Ford versus Chevy, Call of Duty versus Battlefield. In other ways, it's a referendum on what we as gamers are looking for. Do we want big stupid set pieces that look like they were cribbed from the deleted scenes of a Michael Bay movie? Or do we want taut kinetic sequences that Kathryn




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Bigelow might call at least tolerable? While Modern Warfare has consistently graced gamers with the former, the Battlefield series tended towards the latter. With Battlefield 3, the pendulum seems to be swinging more towards the “big set pieces” vibe.

Let's get the one thing that Battlefield 3 does best out of the way. Visually, this game completely blows the


doors off anything currently in the genre. The Frostbite 2 engine is setting the bar for everything that comes after it, and it's not going to be easy to clear. The level of detail in everything from uniforms to weapons to vehicles is tremendous. Explosions are big and satisfying, though preferably admired at a distance. The environments are highly destructible, which feeds into gameplay strategies in multiplayer. Character animations are pretty fluid but do occasionally stutter. The “augmented reality” feel to the mission objectives, character models, and vehicles is subtle and helpful without getting in your face about it. Even the HUDs for vehicles have the touch of authenticity without slavishly duplicating everything one would find. It’s not perfect, to be sure. There are some clipping issues here and there, particularly when it comes to hiding behind the corpse of a recently eliminated opponent, but it’s not that big a deal. A major flaw I found was in the final quick time sequence, where I apparently was fighting an invisible opponent the entire time. There was blood flying, but the character model was completely missing.


I have some mixed feelings on the tactical flashlight. On the one hand, DICE certainly modelled it well, as it rather effectively blinds you as a player, not merely as some cheap effect placed on your avatar. On the other hand, it might have been smarter to have it turned off by default, since I’m morally certain that too many noobs are running around with the damned thing on because they genuinely don’t know how to shut it off. At the time of this writing, a patch was in the works to adjust the intensity of the tactical light but had not yet been released.


One other minor quibble is that the game can’t seem to remember when you’ve told it to turn the subtitles off between launches, which means if you had turned off the subs for the cutscenes, they’ll come back on if you come back to the game later.


battlefield 3          battlefield 3


From the sound standpoint, BF3 does some really excellent stuff. Weapons fire, which is one area that some developers are tempted to cheat on, gets the full treatment here. The AKs sound different from the RPKs. The Berettas sound different from the Glocks, which sound different from the revolvers. Tanks rumble and clatter, buggies snarl as you hit the boost, jets scream as they fly overhead while the rotors of gunships thrum ominously as they hover. On the single player side, the voice acting is clear and concise, well acted during the cutscenes, and highly realistic. While a couple characters in the cinematics edge into the territory of stereotype and caricature, for the most part they remain well rounded and fully realized. As far as multiplayer, I again find myself with mixed feelings. On the one hand, the notifications given when other players spot targets are short and sweet, giving you information that you need to know. On the other hand, the lack of integrated voice chat inside the game is a major downside. EA and DICE can claim all they want that voice chat exists and it can be set up through the portal page on your browser, but that covers only your friends that you communicate with prior to entering the game. If I’m jumping into a quick match, I don’t have the time to add everybody as my friend before using voice. It was present in Bad Company 2, it makes no sense at all that it’s missing here.

This leads me into the gameplay side, and rather than extol the virtues first, I’m going to rap some knuckles. When you’re starting up a game, you should be starting up the game. You should not be going to some wannabe social networking page and THEN starting the game through that. The “Battlelog” web site is interesting, but it shouldn’t be the control point for starting your game. If I want to look up my stats, I’m cool with making a bookmark in my browser or having an option on the main menu that reads “Check My Stats” which launches a browser. It serves no purpose to be making my browser your launch “portal.” With all of that being said, the gameplay is quite good. So far, the community seems to be focused primarily on Conquest and Rush maps. The maps are fairly well balanced, though team balancing is occasionally off. Class progression can feel slow at times, depending on your class and the map that you’re playing on. Flying the fixed wing aircraft is pretty good, though they feel a little heavy on the stick. I rather wish there had been a good tutorial on how to fly the helicopters in the game, since a well piloted gunship can mean the difference between victory and getting crushed by enemy armor. On some maps, there were some serious lag issues, which diminished the fun on those maps to some degree. Insofar as the single player campaign goes, I’m rather disappointed. Some will argue that the Bad Company series is better suited for an engrossing single player campaign, but I don’t think that means that BF3 should get a pass for a lackluster experience. Sure, it helps introduce several maps and weapons for the player to familiarize themselves with, but it should be more than that. As it is, it tells a story that only just starts to get interesting right before a frustratingly inconclusive ending. The hell of it is that we know DICE can do better because of Bad Company. If you’re not going to do it right, don’t do it at all.

There’s no questioning the fact that Battlefield 3 brings a lot to the table. It’s visually stunning and mechanically very sound in terms of gameplay. The shortcomings that are present, however, keep the game from reaching true perfection. This will not stop the community from growing. Indeed, I imagine that Battlefield 3 will have a strong fan following for a while.


- Axel Cushing

(November 30, 2011)


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