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Review

Battlefield 3 Review

  • First Released
  • Reviewed: October 25, 2011
  • PC

In the realm of online combat, Battlefield 3 provides thrills that few games can match.

When it comes to virtual battlefields, nobody does it quite like the Battlefield series. It has a long history of creating sprawling conflict zones where players have an exhilarating range of ways to make powerful contributions to the war effort. The competitive multiplayer mode in Battlefield 3 stays true to tradition, delivering an online combat experience that is amazingly addictive, immersive, and exciting, with refinements and new elements that make the familiar action feel fresh. Unfortunately, the stale single-player campaign fails to capitalize on the strengths of the series and feels like an off-brand imitation. The six cooperative missions fare better and offer a tougher challenge, but only the competitive multiplayer provides a compelling reason to buy Battlefield 3. With online battles this excellent, though, that reason is all you need.

There are many factors that combine to make these battlefields as good as they are, most of which will be familiar to series veterans. Nine great maps set the stage for up to 64 players to fight it out in a variety of urban, industrial, and military locations. These places all look beautiful, though the grassy hills and blue skies of the Caspian Border are naturally more appealing than the drab urban corridors of the Grand Bazaar. The maps vary widely in size and offer diverse environmental elements, including claustrophobic tunnels, coastal roads, desert plains, and a variety of multistory buildings. Many man-made structures can be damaged or destroyed by the explosive tools at your disposal, creating new infiltration routes or removing cover positions. The maps are designed to create opportunities for combat at all ranges, and the element of destruction lets you manipulate the environment to create even more.

Combat is not just about where you are, but also about how you get there, and the variety of vehicles is one of the things that makes Battlefield so uniquely engaging. Small maps might only have a Humvee or a light armored vehicle, while larger ones boast buggies, tanks, amphibious transports, helicopters, and jets. There are a few variations within each class of vehicle that make them better suited for troop transport, anti-infantry, antiair, or anti-vehicle combat, and learning how to get the most out of each one is a blast, even if you're sometimes the one getting blown up. Whether you're piloting, gunning, or just going along for the ride, vehicles offer a key tactical element that can change the tide of battle when used by a savvy squad. Using a vehicle well can earn you powerful upgrades and bonus weapons, but it can be tough to get the hang of the flight mechanics for helicopters and jets. It's a shame there's no way to practice flying them outside of active multiplayer matches (with one exception), though you can take comfort in knowing that you are at least entertaining your fellow players when your jet nose-dives into a mountain.

Probably should have bailed out before you arrived in front of the tank.

The maps and vehicles allow for a great degree of strategic freedom, but choosing your class and loadout is the first and most important decision you make before spawning into combat. Abilities and weapons have shuffled around a bit since Battlefield: Bad Company 2, so now the assault class slings health packs and totes defibrillators, while the support class carries light machine guns and ammunition boxes. Engineers still thrive on vehicle support/destruction, and recon delivers long-range death. New gadgets like robots that can arm charges (engineer) and mark targets (recon) give players more to look out for on the battlefield, and claymores and mortars (support) ensure that the engineer class isn't the only one packing an explosive punch. Unlockables include class-specific weapons and gadgets, gun-specific sights and attachments, and specializations that can make you tougher and deadlier. Focusing on one class to unlock higher level gear has its advantages, but so does spreading around your progress in an effort to be more adaptable to the ebb and flow of combat.

Regardless of what loadout you choose, there are a lot of ways to earn points for your actions. In addition to kills and kill assists, you can now earn points for suppressing enemies who are subsequently killed by your teammates. When a player is suppressed by enemy fire, they suffer from blurred vision and decreased accuracy. This disorienting tactic can help you mitigate the effectiveness of enemies who are peppering you from a prone position, which returns in Battlefield 3 after being left out of the Bad Company games. Battlefield 3 may be a successor in name to Battlefield 2, but in spirit, the competitive multiplayer is a refined version of that offered in Bad Company 2. Nevertheless, it will be immediately familiar to veteran players of either game, though fans of Bad Company 2 will encounter a few other small but notable differences. Buildings are not easily destroyed in Battlefield 3 and underslung grenade launchers are, as of now, far less prevalent. Furthermore, you can't just run up to someone and stab him in the face for an instant kill; you need to get in two swipes or sneak up from behind. Nor can you simply rely on explosives to destroy M-COM stations in Rush mode because arming and detonating the charge is now the only way to progress.

As with the previous Battlefield games, the focus is on teamwork. Diverse loadouts encourage you and your squad to make complementary choices, and point bonuses reward you for working together. Every vehicle is better with teammates in it, and even the simple act of spotting enemies is an effective way to contribute to your team's efforts. Teamwork is woven throughout the fabric of Battlefield 3's multiplayer action, and when your team is working well together, it's one of the most gratifying experiences you can have in a game.

Battlefield 3 also has six cooperative missions that require teamwork on a smaller scale. These stand-alone sorties have a narrative connection to the campaign, but they are tougher to complete than most campaign missions and you can unlock some nice weapons for use in the multiplayer. Setting up voice chat with your teammate is helpful here, especially in the stealthy sections, because the spotting mechanic doesn't sufficiently differentiate enemies at long distances. Your foes are fairly tough, even on normal difficulty, though some unexpected quick-time events can also catch you off guard. The most notable mission here puts you in the cockpit of a helicopter, which provides the only chance outside of multiplayer to practice your flying skills. Earning all of the weapon unlocks requires repeat playthroughs of these missions, so it's a shame there aren't more of them to keep you busy.

Finally, there's the campaign. Battlefield 3's single-player adventure tells a harrowing tale of a fictional modern conflict. It follows a familiar formula by delivering a short campaign with diverse combat scenarios and dramatic set pieces. The story is solid and has some good acting, but the "Now tell us about this mission" interrogation mechanic makes the structure feel stale (having made a notable appearance in last year's Call of Duty: Black Ops). The focus on realism makes the unrealistic elements like the heavy-handed linearity, quick-time events, and reckless foes even more noticeable, but most disappointing of all is the campaign's utter failure to capitalize on any of the series' strengths. The lively personality of the Bad Company games is nowhere to be found, nor is the operational freedom on which the series has thrived. When you climb into the cockpit of a fighter jet, you are merely the gunner in an on-rails sequence rather than the hotshot pilot. There are some gorgeous environments and a few exciting sequences, but these are outweighed by the overly familiar cityscapes and set pieces that were clearly inspired by other shooter campaigns from the past few years. This contributes to the pervasive sense that this campaign is not only outdated, but also outclassed.

If only there was a quick-time event to knock out the pilot and take his keys.

Fortunately, Battlefield 3's competitive multiplayer is among the best in its class, providing immensely rich and immersive combat zones. These are complemented by the slick browser-based Battlelog, which serves as the hub from which you access each game mode. With EA's Origin software running unobtrusively in the background, Battlelog tracks your unlock progress, displays your stats, and enables you to join parties and launch games easily. Battlefield 3 may not offer much beyond the multiplayer, but there are so many ways to contribute and feel like a powerful soldier that after hours and hours of playing, all you'll want to do is play more.

The Good
Deep and varied multiplayer competition
Awesome array of vehicles
Many gorgeous environments
Rewards teamwork handsomely
The Bad
Campaign is disappointing and dull
Only six cooperative missions
No way to practice jet flight outside of multiplayer
8.5
Great
About GameSpot's Reviews
Other Platform Reviews for Battlefield 3

About the Author

Chris enjoys aiming down virtual sights, traipsing through fantastical lands, and striving to be grossly incandescent.

Discussion

37 comments
gryphus1kwo
gryphus1kwo

the game is awesome!! well worth the money!

iowastate
iowastate

I got Battlefield 3 from Amazon by error when I ordered a more expensive game.  I did some checking and have decided to return B3 for a refund and reorder the original game

scottr102971
scottr102971

Battlefield 3 sucks if your a new comer with no partners.  Everyone is so experienced that if your new comer you won't even have a chance to get good because you will be killed instantly.  Half the time as soon as you come to life there is a jet or helicoptor there to kill you.  If you are think about buying the game now I don't recommend it.  You won't have a change at any fair game play.

soueaster
soueaster

Boring.  Follow the in-game directions: Press "E"  now... Press "SPACE"... oh wait... did you see that icon? Press the left mouse button or was it the right button?

Not a whole lot better than 2D scrolling shooters from 20 years ago.. other than some nice CGI.

 

Give me Ghost Recon anyday, somewhere I can at least use more than the finger / eye co-ordination test.

 

If you like a challenge, don't bother with this one.

BiiteMe
BiiteMe

A waste of time and money, seriously not worth buying since the expansion will cost you another $50. If you see it in the bargain bin for $20.... it might be worth buying then :)

GeneralEpic
GeneralEpic

Played it and finessed it. Battlefield 1942 with the Desert storm mod is way more fun. I know it’s an old game. Lots of older games are better than what came out after them.  Especially EA games.

Dragonom
Dragonom

With Battlefield, it's all about the Multiplayer.

You want a decent campaign you get CoD.

IamNick2k11
IamNick2k11

Played this game on the Xbox 360.. Now I have the pc for it :) This game is going to be amazing!!!

smacfe
smacfe

This games single player campaign redefines the word lame. It was obviously assigned to the most mindless, vacant headed, worthless, quota filling, mouth breathing, drooling, imbecile that the people at EA could find slithering amongst the corridors of their offices. Humanity would be well served to see this development team cast back down into whatever sewer they crawled out of to prevent any further horrors like this created.

pimpofdoom
pimpofdoom

@alaaj99 Oh and if the game was about killing Germans or Russians you would probably be fine with it ,right? Oh that's right in the multiplayer mode all you do is kill Americans or Russians.

pimpofdoom
pimpofdoom

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

ShadowRun02
ShadowRun02

luckily Razor 1911 (yes, i know they count illegal, but this is a good thing they did!) cracked origin and with their crack u can play the game without origin (but it must be an original release, or u wouldn't have the multiplayer feature)

Anteares
Anteares

Battlefield 3 is pretty awesome. However, I'd give it a 7 just for ORIGIN. This confirms why I hate EA with a passion...they ruin ANYTHING GOOD!!! It was an enormous pain to install! Seriously! I'm glad I didn't pay full price for this game when it came out but its good to play on a squad with your buds. Single player is pretty good so far as well.

anniekassler88
anniekassler88

Battlefield has 5 modes, Conquest, Rush, TDM, Squad Rush, and Squad death match. Conquest is similar to domination. Rush is when one team has to protect a base, the other team has to plant a bomb it. TDM is the exact same. Squad modes are 4 teams of 4, same rules.

Iron_aufschlag
Iron_aufschlag

Here are some problems for the PC game you should know of. The game is great only if you can get into a game that does not lag. I have found that you cannot utilize the 64 player without lagging all to hell. Best to use 24 player maps with high tickets. Only play high ticket servers otherwise the game is over too fast. It takes a long time to join a game and when a new map tries to load a glitch occurs that causes the loading screen to keep loading indefinitely. This forces me to Ctrl+alt+delete and it lags my computer down to a crawl. In short, it is a cool game when it works. But I played my old Battlefield Bad Company 2 yesterday and it was a joy. I joined games quick and there was no lag and it was just plain fun and nothing made me feel like I wasted money on it. So skip BF3 and get BFBC2 because it is cheaper and more fun.

06053kma
06053kma

I hate Battlefield and EA because EA hate muslims...

alaaj99
alaaj99

Why the only thing going on in the mind of the EA's developers is to kill Arabs ,Iranians ,Afghans and Muslims?! Maybe I'm wrong ... maybe it's not only in the minds of developers ... I hope that I'm wrong ... I hope that it's "not" the opinion of "most" of the US ppl.

payamrpg
payamrpg

i realy expect more from Battlefield 3 and i most enjoy from its LAN multiplay like Battlefield 2 and vietnam but unfotunatly it wont happen every release

Zabridge
Zabridge

I agree with Hanif, im pure french canadian white and everything from montreal (wich dosent change much but...) and i did see,like Hanif below. Wrong language EA... People should stop putting everything in the same pot.... Respect Hanif

Hanif_shadow
Hanif_shadow

Hey! this game is ridiculous! I live in Iran, and believe me, we don't speak Arabic here... May I know why the hell EA wrote those street boards and advertisements in Arabic????

gryphus1kwo
gryphus1kwo

@scottr102971 I disagree with you. I've only recently started and it doesn't happen to me. I actually think Battlefield 3 is a really good game for both the "pros" and the "noobs". A noob (like me) can actually kill SOME pros unlike other shooting games like COD, cause there are barely other factors other than point and shoot in COD.

Warmuro
Warmuro

 @GeneralEpic Yea bro, even some old games are better than these "hd" bulshits.

Slade968
Slade968

yea, except with CoD you get both without the garbage mechanics.

md_rayan
md_rayan

@smacfe Is it that bad? I was thinking of getting this game this weekend.

bullsfan769
bullsfan769

 @smacfe yeah I totally agree with you that the campaign sucks, I played like two missions and started multiplayer, never played single player ever 

Hanif_shadow
Hanif_shadow

 @pimpofdoom  @alaaj99 Hey come on, there is no tension between US and Russia or Germany, when the game was released there was a high tension between IR an US, Israel talked about war and US sent its warships to Persian gulf...AND if you remember, there was a game about attacking iraq before the war of iraq. that's the difference @pimpofdoom 

G-Man4ever
G-Man4ever

 @Slade968 CoD was great until Modern Warfare. After that the single player campaign sucked and the multiplayer didn't bring anything new. There is literally no difference between CS:Global Operations and CoD multiplayer. Except one costs 5 times less. I'm not saying that BF 3 is way better, but at least the maps are nicer with WAAAAY more logic and not repetitive. In BF 3 you can actually play and not feel like the map advantages one class over another. Also teamwork. I can't explain it but i am obliged as a BF 3 player to say it.

Dragonom
Dragonom

 @Slade968 which part about the game mechanics is considered garbage?

Battlefield 3 More Info

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  • First Released
    • PC
    • PlayStation 3
    • + 2 more
    • Wii U
    • Xbox 360
    Step into the role of elite US Marines in Battlefield 3.
    8.3
    Average User RatingOut of 11694 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Battlefield 3
    Developed by:
    EA DICE
    Published by:
    Electronic Arts
    Genres:
    First-Person, Team-Based, Action, 3D, Shooter
    Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
    Mature
    All Platforms
    Blood, Intense Violence, Strong Language