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Battlefield 3 (PC) Review

by on October 28, 2011
 

Ah, Battlefield, how we did miss, thee.

Sure EA and DICE cranked out other Battlefield iterations since the release of Battlefield 2, but despite efforts on the console and a pretty fun Battlefield 2142 on the PC, nothing quite measured up to BF2 – until now.

The highly anticipated launch of Battlefield 3 finally arrived this month (October) and it brings with it a phenomenal multiplayer experience, along with a decent single-player campaing.

First let’s get the single-player stuff out of the way.  BF3 features about a 6-8 hour campaign that while it’s mildly entertaining, it’s a bit too clichéd for my taste, adding in elements from other military-based FPS games, including Call of Duty: Black Ops.

The story is told through recollections of a detained Staff Sergeant Henry Blackburn, that includes WAMD, evil Russians, and plenty of extraction missions.   The story is fairly linear and far from being unique. I encountered quite a few cheap deaths, even on Normal and was not thrilled about not being able to freely use vehicles.

It’s not that the campaign was bad; it’s OK; it’s just that it doesn’t stand out from other storylines already on the market and with so many quicktime events that litter the mode, it feels like a completely different game.  BF2: Bad Company demonstrated a comical take on the experience, but BF3 goes in a more serious direction.

The game also includes a co-op mode which lets two players take on varying and alternate missions from what is found in the campaign.  These are pretty short but are fun to play, though the AI can sometimes be a tad too good.

Whether playing the story, co-op or jumping into multiplayer; the game is managed by the online Battlelog, which lets you launch the game, but more importantly incorporates stats, customization options, the ability to search and join servers and also keep track of your friends with the Battle Feed.  The website is done quite well, though players who have no internet connection will immediately get launched into the campaign.

Regardless of which mode is being played, DICE’s Frostbite 2 engine shines.  The game looks amazing, and while gamers with a top of the line GPU will get the most out of what BF3 can do, a decent rig can still pump out a good looking game.

For my review, I used AMDs HD Radeon 6870, with 4GB of RAM and a quad-core AMD processor.  I managed to pump out all the graphical options at ‘High’ without a hitch, and even getting some up to Ultra was quite possible.  My only issue with the game’s graphics was the occasional clipping, with some NPCs or even opponents in multiplayer going through walls, or seeing enemies in the same prone position, even after dying.  I’m sure DICE will release a patch in the near future to address issues like this, but for now, it’s not too terrible.

Without question, one of the best aspects of the game’s technical achievements is the sound quality.  Battlefield 3 is a cinematic experience, highlighted even more in multiplayer matches.  You can hear damn nearly every bullet that whizzes past you, every explosion, footstep, collapsing structures and more.  Truly, this game begs for being played with a dedicated surround system or at least a headset capable of 7.1 or 5.1 Dolby Surround sound.  Seriously; BF3 needs to be played at loud volumes with a good system for the absolute best performance.

And then of course there’s multiplayer.

The real meat of the game, which has always been the case for the Battlefield franchise, doesn’t disappoint.  The PC version has the distinction of featuring up to 64-player matches, with Conquest mode kicking all sorts of butt.  There are tanks, jets, helicopters and LAVs aplenty to cover the gigantic maps, and as always, strategy and teamwork is key.  Sure, there will be lone wolves who only care about their stats, but to truly be successful, you’ll need to work as a team, with squad gameplay being even more effective.

Upgrading weapons and abilities is done through XP, but gamers can unlock class-based items, as well as those that are specific to certain weapons or vehicles.  If you find yourself not being able to use heat seeking missiles or smoke screens, you just need to keep playing to unlock them.

Quite frankly, it’ll take the average gamer weeks or months to try and unlock everything they possibly can.  After each match, you’ll see all your stats, even within-game, so you’ll know how much more XP you’ll need for that next unlock or promotion.

Gamers can also check out other multiplayer modes like the familiar Rush mode, while Team Deathmatch also makes an appearance.  TDM shrinks the size of the maps and the amount of players for a more enclosed, infantry-style game.  It’s not quite as charming as Rush or Conquest, but it’s still an option.

Truth be told, the single-player and co-op modes aren’t too shabby but aren’t without their problems.  And while we can’t say multiplayer is 100% perfect, it’s without question the best experience for online FPS action and doesn’t disappoint.  It’s been a long time since we had a legitimate Battlefield experience on the PC and BF3 hits a homerun.  While the offline stuff can be completed rather quickly,  or put on the backburner, multiplayer, which is what BF is all about anyway, is magnificent and will keep you coming back over and over again.

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  • Avatar of Barnaby Jones
    October 29, 2011 at 7:20 PM

    I don’t have a nearly good enough computer to run this game, but I’ve been playing the hell out of it on 360 and I love it. Surprisingly, Metacritic users are giving it (all version) a lot more crap than I expected. Oh, well. Less people to race to the helicopters and jets.

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