Battlefield 3 Review

by Stephen Heller Featured

27 Comments 27 Votes 5235 Views 26/10/2011 Back to Reviews

Battlefield 3 Review

Battlefield 3 had a lot a live up to. Not only was it following the footsteps of the wildly successful Battlefield 2, the game that showed us that modern warfare could work, but the constant slew of marketing campaigns; along with the never ending battle between that OTHER franchise has built a hype that is beyond belief. Is Battlefield 3 the messiah that so many people, EA included, prophesied it to be? Far from it. What it does offer though is a riveting multiplayer aspect, one that has something for everyone and will keep people glued to their consoles or PC's for months to come.

Considering such a huge difference between the console and PC versions we'll be blunt - this review is based purely on the PC version. While the player count and graphical fidelity may differ on the console versions of the game, the gameplay and elements of the game are largely the same.

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What Battlefield 3 Got Right

Engrossing multiplayer suite - The Battlefield series has always been about multiplayer at its core, and Battlefield 3 only continues that tradition, providing the deepest online experience yet. Six game modes are present including all your favourites such as Conquest and Rush, but featuring a nice addition with Team Deathmatch. Battlefield loyalists may feel that DICE are trying to dumb down the game, but the new mode definitely offers a new way to play, particularly in the close-quarters maps such as Operation Metro` and Grand Bazaar. On the other side of the scope you have humongous battlefields that truly push the limits of the Conquest and Rush game modes such as Caspian Border and Kharg Island. This provides a nice middle-ground, maps that are large and expansive and feel like all out warfare, while others offer a great approach to open areas and choke points that can almost feel claustrophobic. There is something for everyone on offer, and most gamers will find deep satisfaction in the maps alone.

The great gameplay and map design is only part of the reason why Battlefield 3's multiplayer suite is so engrossing. It's the deep sense of accomplishment gained when unlocking that new item. The weapons and unlock system implemented in Battlefield 3 is deep, engaging and ultimately a driving force to continue playing online. It seems almost every action you perform in the game will have some kind of effect to your score, and the constant barrage of "+50" points that come with healing a team mate or providing suppressive fire help to define a culture of teamwork. Teamwork is the best way to win at Battlefield 3, and when a multiplayer suite as engrossing as this one is on offer, you'll want to be part of that team.

Constant rewards - Battlefield 3 wants you to be proud of your achievements, and it does a great job of constantly rewarding the player. Every kill feels like a little victory as you see that +100 come onto the screen, and you know that you are just that little bit closer to unlocking that red dot sight for your rifle. There is always something else to strive for, and with a number of weapons available, and two factions to unlock items for, that is a lot of satisfaction to be had.

Graphical prowess - Right now you would be hard pressed to find another game that looks as good as Battlefield 3 does. Running on the brand new Frostbite 2 engine, everything from character models to vehicles move with graceful fluidity. The lighting effects are simply outstanding, pushing the boundaries of what out graphical outputs can handle. The level of destruction, while not as severe as the over-the-top Bad Company series, also creates a sense of wonder. Traversing these large and expansive environments with 63 other players going hard at it, firefights in the distance, billowing smoke and dust blowing in the wind is simply sublime. Battlefield 3 looks great, and is surprisingly well optimised; I've tested the game on three systems and all have handled it rather well at High or Medium settings. The console versions look great too, especially with the HD textures installed on the Xbox 360 version.

Amazing audio - While the graphical prowess of Battlefield 3 may become an industry leader, there is no doubt about it that the audio is the best in gaming. Playing this through a beefy sound system will make your living room sound like a warzone, and when wearing a good set of headphones you will hear every detail. The commanding boom of a tank shell in the distance is frighteningly realistic, and the nuance of rain falling on a tin roof is equally as captivating. Each weapon, vehicle, environment and weather effect sounds as real as a Hollywood movie, and definitely drags you into the experience. If there was one game worth upgrading your sound system for, Battlefield 3 would be it.

Slick interfaces - It may not sound like much, but the simplicity of the menu system, whether it be for game options of customising your kit, provides a very slick experience. The HUD is minimalistic and adds an almost futuristic aspect to the game. The sparse use of a light blue hue instantly makes it recognisable and stand out from the crowd of other first-person shooters. It may not sound like much, but a slick presentation goes a long way to making a game playable, and memorable.

Stat tracking - Battlelog adds to that feeling of being constantly rewarded, allowing you to track your stats online through an intuitive interface. The free service allows you to track all your stats, unlocks and compare them with your friends. In addition to the awesome ability to see what classes you are most effective with, you can also create Platoons - clans for your friends to join and go into battle. It makes the Battlefield 3 experience a social one, where you can meet, compete and share your experiences. Time will tell if it prolongs the life of Battlefield 3, but it certainly looks to be a solid experience thus far.

 

What Battlefield 3 Got Wrong

Boring single-player - The prospect of having a serious Battlefield single-player component was an exciting one, unfortunately in reality it is anything but. The short attempt at an action packed campaign contains a boring and contrived experience, one that has a few moments of brilliance surrounded by a series of forgettable moments. Enemies rush in droves as you simply find cover, fend them off and wait for the next scripted sequence of action packed hoohah. The story lacks substance, urgency and feels like a weak conduit in which DICE can justify all the blood shed. There are moments that are decent, but none that are truly great nor a reason to buy the game.

Co-Op is lacking - Battlefield 3 contains six missions that can be played by you and a friend, which should have been an interesting adventure. Instead we are treated with the same gameplay patterns found in the single-player campaign, only this time you have a friend to listen to you groan about them. The missions all surround events that take place during the single-player campaign, and while they seem a little more tolerable in single instalments, ultimately they provide the same, boring experience that the single-player offering serves up.

Lack of identity - Why does the single-player and co-op campaigns feel so boring and bare? Battlefield 3 lacks an identity; action packed gameplay with no real purpose or outcome. There is no drive, no passion and no excitement to be found, unlike the multiplayer component that offers both those qualities in spades. Battlefield 3 is a great looking game on the outside, but as a single-player experience it is lacking a soul on the inside, a purpose, a mission.

The Final Verdict

It's hard to review a game like Battlefield 3; if it had been offered with the multiplayer only component I would have easily given it a 10 out of 10. It provides a deep and engrossing experience that is addictive, fun and ahead of the pack in every way possible. However we didn't just get the multiplayer, we got served up a single-player campaign that is boring and contrived, and a co-op campaign that offers a similar experience. It lacks purpose and identity, and offers nothing more than a great looking, scripted experience. If you're looking for a multiplayer game that provides online warfare with unparalleled depth and scope, Battlefield 3 will meet all of your expectations, and then some. However if you want an engaging single-player experience, this is simply not your game of the year.

By Stephen Heller

8.0
Battlefield 3 excels as a multiplayer shooter, but doesn't offer much in the realm of single-player gaming.

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Battlefield 3

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Battlefield 3 Review Comments

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Bit silly giving it 7.5 for value its only $30 bucks on pc and who the hell buys it for single player ive never even played a single player campain in battlefield.
Not really silly at all - the majority of people will buy it at retail price which is $80+ on all three platforms.

If no one buys it for the single-player then why bother putting it in there? Because it's there I have to mark the game accordingly - if it was just multiplayer it would have scored more but the single-player is severely lacking, thus the value as a whole package goes down.

7.5 is still a good score, people need to stop thinking that 7 is a bad score -_-
Might want to do a proof read, there's 3 errors in the first line. [Shifty]
What errors would that be?
That was supposed to be 2, "Not only was IN following" and "contant".

Anywho, nice review. Very positive on the MP and negative on the SP, as expected. I wonder how long it will be until we start seeing these games released as MP only? Next year?
I read your post wrong and checked the final lines. I think the code from my dreamweaver didn't save after I proof read it. Thanks for the heads up haha!

BF2 was MP only, as in the SP was merely the MP mode with bots. It was a departure for the series, one that didn't work.

If it was MP only I would have scored it higher, but the fact that a dog headded SP is sitting there, I had to give it a lower score.

The MP is sublime, you'll love it!
If the online is as sublime as you say it is howcome value for money isn't higher? Single player isn't important when it comes to games like this.
Whoa 8 out of 10 is lower than i expected.

Hmmmmm i am liking that you considered all aspects of the game equally. If you are going to do something, like single player, do it well or dont do it at all.

Great review.

Prime said: Whoa 8 out of 10 is lower than i expected.
Hmmmmm i am liking that you considered all aspects of the game equally. If you are going to do something, like single player, do it well or dont do it at all.
Great review.



Agreed.

When you review a game, you should be looking at the overall package. Not separating parts of the game into different reviews.

Good stuff Heller! :)

Milky said: If the online is as sublime as you say it is howcome value for money isn't higher? Single player isn't important when it comes to games like this.


yes it is. If it was good people would be crying foul if it wasn't considered part of the game. It's part of the package and advertised as one of the main parts, so ofcourse it should be considered in the review.

Good review Heller =D I agree with the scoring.

Also @ people complaining about scoring ...

2/3 of the product is dissapointing yet it still got an 8. Put it into perspective =D
Should do a separate review of single player and multiplayer and really get into what you did/didn't like about them. BF3 mania needs fuel X_X
Good honest review. For $80 retail, you're paying for Multiplayer only really. No point in even having SP and Co-Op when they're lackluster and the majority of players won't touch it again after the first day, because they're both so short.

Milky said: If the online is as sublime as you say it is howcome value for money isn't higher? Single player isn't important when it comes to games like this.



Singleplayer is important because EA and DICE made it important. The simple fact they included it in the game means comparisons need to be made against other games with SP. The sad truth is if you don't intend to play BF3 online, or haven't liked the series in the past, don't waste your time or money because the package being offered simply isn't enough nowadays to be given a higher score. 7.5 is still good, but it's effectively $80 for a multiplayer game.
Good review mate, depressing though. I'm hoping I'll enjoy the singleplayer but I'm pretty sure I won't. I'm generally a bastard to please lol
Glad you guys see it from my point of view, and how is 8 out of 10 a low score. That's 80% which means it's a great game. 9 and 10s are being handed out too easily these days because everyone seems to think that 7 = HORRIBLE.

Fact of the matter is SP is a big feature, and one that I feel they didn't pull of quite as well. As someone said, considering that and it still got 8 out of 10, is a true testament to how deep and fun the MP is.
well in my opinion Bad company 2 is way better than this crud i was expecting this to be game of the year (well shooter game of the year) and wow did they get this wrong looks like unfortunately Warfare 3 will win hands down, and man how could you really gives this a ten for sound the is only ok even bad co. 1 has better sound, i think Dice forgot to make a game and only worried about an engine and boy did they get that wrong
Oh boy I can't wait to play this game! That picture of the jet on the aircraft carrier looks like pure smex [Derp]
I think we can all agree that one feature of BF3 should be better overall... i.imgur.com/...

Good review heller, however this begs the question: Is the singleplayer in BF3 better or worse than MW2?
Well I WOULD have given this game a go during the beta, but stupid Origin said I needed an activation code -_-

I'd like to give it a go since the multiplayer looks great...but like I said, can't play it because of stupid Origin [Rage]
Worse than MW2, far, far worse my friend.

Heller said: Worse than MW2, far, far worse my friend.



Really? i really like the SP in MW2 Especially the Sniper part (it had the one where you had to crawl through the field and under the convoy of cars?)

Had some hopes for BF3 SP - wont judge till i finish it tho
TASc
+
The review has valid points, but i don't agree with the scores - especially VALUE.

Even if the average PC Gamer, which is BF3's primary demographic, spent 100 hours playing (I racked up over 300 hours in BF2, over the period of a couple of years, and I wasn't even considered hardcore) - that's still a heck of a lot more value than even the most fleshed out of RPGs (Planescape Torment, TES series, etc.) to date.

And just to illustrate my point further, Batman:AC got a 10 for Value, and I refuse to believe that anyone will play it anywhere near as much as most people will likely play BF3.

And the final nail in the coffin is the price. BF3 can be had for roughly AU$50 (even cheaper from CD key sites), whilst the cheapest I can find B:AC is AU$60.

So, without going into a huge debate about the philosophy of "what is value?" When one considers the bang for buck (or hours of quality gaming time per dollar) that BF3 provides, I hope people can appreciate why I disagree with the Value (and in turn Overall) score BF3 has been given.

TASc said: The review has valid points, but i don't agree with the scores - especially VALUE.
Even if the average PC Gamer, which is BF3's primary demographic, spent 100 hours playing (I racked up over 300 hours in BF2, over the period of a couple of years, and I wasn't even considered hardcore) - that's still a heck of a lot more value than even the most fleshed out of RPGs (Planescape Torment, TES series, etc.) to date.
And just to illustrate my point further, Batman:AC got a 10 for Value, and I refuse to believe that anyone will play it anywhere near as much as most people will likely play BF3.
And the final nail in the coffin is the price. BF3 can be had for roughly AU$50 (even cheaper from CD key sites), whilst the cheapest I can find B:AC is AU$60.
So, without going into a huge debate about the philosophy of "what is value?" When one considers the bang for buck (or hours of quality gaming time per dollar) that BF3 provides, I hope people can appreciate why I disagree with the Value (and in turn Overall) score BF3 has been given.



I will play Batman AC much more than BF3 and have already started doing so. I own both.

TASc said: The review has valid points, but i don't agree with the scores - especially VALUE.
Even if the average PC Gamer, which is BF3's primary demographic, spent 100 hours playing (I racked up over 300 hours in BF2, over the period of a couple of years, and I wasn't even considered hardcore) - that's still a heck of a lot more value than even the most fleshed out of RPGs (Planescape Torment, TES series, etc.) to date.
And just to illustrate my point further, Batman:AC got a 10 for Value, and I refuse to believe that anyone will play it anywhere near as much as most people will likely play BF3.
And the final nail in the coffin is the price. BF3 can be had for roughly AU$50 (even cheaper from CD key sites), whilst the cheapest I can find B:AC is AU$60.
So, without going into a huge debate about the philosophy of "what is value?" When one considers the bang for buck (or hours of quality gaming time per dollar) that BF3 provides, I hope people can appreciate why I disagree with the Value (and in turn Overall) score BF3 has been given.


I clocked over 30 hours on the first Batman, and seeing how that game's single-player is 5 hours (vs. AC's 15) I'm going to spend a lot more time with AC. You're the very rare exception that plays more than half of 100 hours, let alone a full 100. Especially with a shooter. In my opinion, you're getting more value out of AC than you are with any shooter out there.

Look at it this way; in those 100 hours you were doing the same thing; shooting people. No story, no real sense of achievement (besides leveling up); in Arkham City, however, you're playing an experience. It's like a movie; you've got set-pieces, deep story, engaging cinematic action sequences, etc. I'm not saying shooters aren't worth it; what I am saying is that value shouldn't be measured by hours alone. What you do in those hours is just as important, if not more. [MOG]

TASc said: a long post


I get what your saying and the whole value thing is debatable. On this site i believe value is not decided in hours but what you are getting for the game you bought. With Battlefield 3, 2/3 of the final products components are dodgy. That means you are buying a game with single player, co-op and multiplayer. If 2/3 of those you aren't going to enjoy much then that's not very good value is it?

Once again to put it in perspective: The value and score being around 8 despite the 'meh' SP and Co-op component...

Heller said:... is a true testament to how deep and fun the MP is.




PS i bought AC for 40 dollars, but most plebs will buy BF3 and AC for around the 80 mark

E: just edited out all the grammar fail
5 Hour Campaign?
Good god man.. why even put something in there if im going to finish it in one sitting
Hmm me thinks they better push out a FREE level pack as DLC for all the Single Players out there, otherwise sales are going to suffer on this review. I wont buy a game which is geared for multiplayer alone, and that's how the review comes out.
I want lots of levels, they don't all have to be epic, I just want a decent content and game hours for my $, Not a dull boring half-dozen levels.
I'm loving the single player campaign [Derp]

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