Battlefield 3

EA’s latest blockbuster is two distinct games -- excellent, complex multiplayer and simple, short but fun single player

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EA Games Battlefield 3
  • EA Games Battlefield 3
  • EA Games Battlefield 3
  • EA Games Battlefield 3

Pros

  • Some of the best team-based multiplayer we've seen
  • Excellent graphics, a solid game engine
  • Hours of replay value

Cons

  • Simple singleplayer storyline
  • Some bugs, especially in Origin
  • Some multi-player features missing from the last game

Bottom Line

Battlefield 3 is two distinctly different games -- chaotic, complex, world-class multiplayer with enormous replay value versus a pulp fiction singleplayer story that sometimes plays like a pop-up shooting gallery. The game's tacked-on co-op missions sit uneasily between MP and SP in terms of enjoyment. If you're an online gamer you're well catered for -- Battlefield 3 is undoubtedly one of the best multiplayer games we've spent time with in a long time, and although some features are missing from previous Battlefield games we're still happy. If you're an offline gamer -- well, you're out of luck thanks to EA's somewhat Draconian backend software.

Would you buy this?

Battlefield 3: Multiplayer

If you were one of the three million people who pre-ordered Battlefield 3 worldwide, chances are you wanted it for the multiplayer aspect, which has long been a hallmark of the series. A week-long open beta test for Battlefield 3 got our hopes up, and we’re pleased to say that, bar a few teething problems, Battlefield 3’s multiplayer aspect is excellent: it’s one of the best multiplayer gaming experiences we’ve had in a long time, and we’d go so far as to say it’s one of the best squad- and team-based multiplayer games that you could buy.

Battlefield 3’s new Frostbite 2.0 engine does an excellent job with the expansive maps of the multiplayer mode. Nine huge maps that can support up to 64 players in various gameplay modes are all incredibly richly detailed and remarkably versatile, lending themselves to a near-infinite range of play styles — skulk around the edges of the conflict as a long-range sniper, pilot an attack helicopter in the close air above combat, or keep your feet on the ground as an assault rifle-toting grunt. There are dozens of weapons and dozens of vehicles, each of which has plenty of unlockable add-ons, like heat-seeking missiles for a jet or a thermal scope for a machinegun — there’s an intense sense of satisfaction from getting one more kill and unlocking another perky extra. There are a number of different game modes — beyond the standard capture-and-defend-choke-points Conquest, there’s also the fast-attacking Rush and simpler Team Deathmatch (and a Squad Deathmatch mode for smaller conflicts). They’re all extremely well balanced and we’ve consistently had a ball in public servers, with random players, in every game mode.

We have very few complaints about Battlefield 3’s multiplayer, with our chief one the amount of time required to comprehensively unlock a full set of add-ons for any weapon or vehicle. You’ll need to be a very dedicated player — we don’t think a week off work would be enough, although we’re willing to test that hypothesis — to unlock an ‘ideal’ kit for any play style. Similarly, features we enjoyed in other Battlefield games, like markers on the map for each control point, are missing and as yet unconfirmed to be added in in the future. There’s no voice chat, either, yet — an astounding omission from what is one of the gaming world’s best complex team games.

For less frenetic gameplay, co-operative gameplay also gets a look-in in Battlefield 3. It hits an uneasy compromise between the story of the single player game and the teamwork of multiplayer — although the gameplay is fun, the six scripted missions are largely based upon knowing the events happening in advance; you’ll need to know what to do before you do it in order to succeed. As confusing as that sounds, the end result is that you’ll need several play-throughs to be competent at each co-op level. The lack of voice chat is also a huge impediment for smooth gameplay in co-op mode, but if you’ve got a friend handy, some time to learn the levels, and a healthy level of disdain for large-scale multiplayer, it might occupy a couple of hours of your time.

Next page: EA Origin & Conclusion

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