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Review

Battlefield 3 Review

  • Game release: October 25, 2011
  • Reviewed: October 27, 2011
  • PS3

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

by

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. Yet it wasn't until the Bad Company games were released that Battlefield really made a splash on consoles. As you might expect, the PC version of Battlefield 3 still boasts better visuals and larger matches than its console counterparts, but competitive multiplayer on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 is incredibly addictive, immersive, and exciting. Unfortunately, the same can't be said for the single-player campaign, which fails to capitalize on the series' strengths and ends up feeling 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 24 players to fight it out in a variety of urban, industrial, and military locations. These places all look great, 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.

The suppression effect won't keep you from drilling an enemy at this range.

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: Modern Combat, 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. Chatting 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 beautiful 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.

You can't outrun shotgun rounds.

Fortunately, Battlefield 3's competitive multiplayer is among the best in its class, providing immensely rich and immersive combat zones. Though there are still some intermittent server issues that might cause you to lose your connection or put you in an unpopulated game, these are infrequent occurrences that aren't likely to keep you from having a blast online. 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 attractive 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
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About the Author

/ Staff

With his Apple IIGS as the spark and his neighbor's NES the fuel, Chris Watters' passion for gaming caught fire early. Years later, you can find him aiming down virtual sights, traipsing through fantastical lands, and striving to be grossly incandescent while desperately avoiding sunburns.

Discussion

17 comments
bossc351
bossc351

I have been playing BF3 since release and was dumb enough to buy Premium when it first was offered. I paid $30 for the game, $15 for an expansion, then $50 for Premium. The $15 was a complete loss because the pack came with Premium. The whole thing can be purchased for $20-$30 now.

No other game induces pure rage and fury like BF3 multiplayer. The game has "glitches" or what I call cheats in it due to what many say is antiquated and inept programming and net code. Examples of this is where players can hide inside walls and rocks. Some players are near invincible when shot taking entire magazines to kill them and at times more that one is required. However they in turn inflict immediate and life ending damage with just a short burst. When driving in tanks or flying jets or choppers this is immediately apparent. I have hit tanks wher it took 3 to 6 hits to disable them and an upwards of 7 at times to destroy but in turn only one hit to disable my tank and only 2 to destroy it. In jets I have hit other jets with entire bursts of the machine gun and get a disable for my trouble. Hits with 3 to 4 missiles to get a disable but in turn one short burst or missile hit on my jet and I'm disabled or destroyed.

Balance on this game is NONEXISTENT and quite obvious when entering games where one team is full and the other has half as many players. Any question as to if some players have a little or a lot of advantage over other players due to internet speed, location, or region can be answered by simply looking at the games stat section for PS3 players. One can even come to the reasonable conclusion that the game has indeed been successfully hacked and left unchecked.

DJNOSKILLS24
DJNOSKILLS24

Do not update on PS3 it will glitch you out at times. Like i was on the mission Rock and a Hard Place and came on a truck for cover and when i zoomed in it wouldnt let me go to the right and get a guy. Plus in Kaffarov i was upstairs and a guy like ran at light speed (A.K.A. glitched) to knife me and kill me that is unreal.

icebox98
icebox98

the campaign was kinda short, disappointing and boring. i think this games whole purpose was the multilayer and fancy visuals. The good part of it all was that the game is challenging, unlike COD which is very easy. But despite all that, the game has a poor campaign/story that never immersed most of us (at-least the author is thinking in the same line). even with the fun destruction, and cool graphics, the game wasn't much fun to play.

i have to say Call of duty is a very good and satisfying game, good campaigns, immersing storys and so much fun in the single player campaign, you don't have to play online to enjoy. sadly, i can't say the same for battlefield 3

My advice: if you like a game with a good story and campaign but not much into multi-player, BF 3 may turn out to be a really disappointing game.

NTM23
NTM23

No, I really liked the campaign. I don't think it was dull at all. My biggest problem with it was that it was short like the Call of Duty games (four to six hours). Before I bought the game, I read a lot of reviews and saw that people thought the campaign wasn't great, but once I got my hands on it, while I didn't think it was amazing, I thought it got a lot of flak when it was actually pretty good. 

All it needed to make it a great campaign was more play time; a story that was a little more interesting (yes, just a little), and the ability to get off the beaten path, 'cause it was so linear that if you walked in some areas it'd tell you you're going out of the combat area, and I would have loved to explore; maybe put some collectibles that filled in story bits kind of like Crysis 3 or Dead Space. 

I think more games need to adopt Crysis' weapon customization on the go functionality, though in their own way. The only reason I'm actually typing this right now is because I'm listening to the soundtrack, so it's in my head right now. I hope BF4 has a campaign and fixes the few things BF3 had a problem with, then it'd be really great.

antoniobandino
antoniobandino

I wonder why he rags on the campaign so much...it was extremely short and the writing was mediocre, but still ultra-entertaining.

SqualleoN_xD
SqualleoN_xD

UP to 24 players?You should make the review for pc... I think it would have a better score since its almost a different game. 

Pyertos
Pyertos

Wli zebratshe zebratshe yojaane

boatsnhoes
boatsnhoes

@buying1999 Are you crazy?!! The ps3 has a way higher graphics card than the 360 (take them apart and...well point proven). Also I just do not see how you can call something that must be payed for and doesn't even have an internet browser superior than the ps3 seriously. There is no console more powerful than the ps3, unless you count a pc which isn't really considered a console. And one last thing the hardware on a ps3 blows the hardware of a 360 out of the water. This is coming from an owner of both systems.

frankpoo
frankpoo

BFBC2 is still my favourite military shooter

buying1999
buying1999

Well here's the ONE game that looked better on the overpriced internet ready blu ray player LMFAO, ONE. But definately not better that MW3...are you kidding? Oh I get it...ha ha..sarcasm. But if you go with MW3 then you have to go with the SUPERIOR Xbox 360 release because the overpriced internet ready blu ray player has trouble keeping up the 60fps pumped out by the SUPERIOR Xbox hardware and VASTLY SUPERIOR online of XBox Live. "Xbox 360 is the BEST console EVER made." --John Carnack

d_40
d_40

At least it's better than Modern Warfare 3.

bossc351
bossc351

I just left two games where yet cheats were being used. One was a sniper that was able to get into the wall and drop his spawn beacon. Undetectable he was able to shoot not only through the wall down onto the area of play but was also invisible and could drop on you at will to knife you. Another was in firestorm where I was shooting a guy with a MP7 and extended clip at about 3 yards. I emptied the magazine but got no kill but he shot me once as I was running and killed me with no effort. Also we had a sniper spawning into B that we held with no spawn beacon. Right behind me and most convenient.

SqualleoN_xD
SqualleoN_xD

 @boatsnhoes  @buying1999 Actually PS3 has a better processor but the GPU is kinda worse , thats the reason why HD textures are out for the xBox360

Battlefield 3 More Info

First Release on Oct 25, 2011
  • 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 11664 User Ratings
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Developed by:
EA DICE
Published by:
Electronic Arts
Genres:
First-Person, Action, 3D, Shooter, Team-Based
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