Review: Battlefield 3 (PS3)

Title: Battlefield 3
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PlayStation Network Download (11.6 GB)
Release Date: October 25, 2011
Publisher: EA
Developer: DICE
Original MSRP: $59.99
ESRB Rating: M
Battlefield 3 is also available on Xbox 360 and PC.
The PlayStation 3 Disc version was used for this review.

DLC Review(s) For This Game:
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Let’s get this out of the way right now, Yes, I’m a Battlefield fanatic. I own every iteration except for Modern Combat, I’m in an awesome BF Clan (WDT Fo’ LIFE!), and I’ve probably spent as much time playing the series as even the most devoted MMO fans have played WoW. That doesn’t mean, however, that I can’t realize a deficiency in a Battlefield game. For example, Battlefield 2142 is still my least favorite, as air ships were incredibly nerfed and insanely difficult to control, and Battlefield Vietnam, well it wasn’t very good until 3 or 4 patches were released. In other words, yes, I can be realistic about a Battlefield game, so let’s get to this perfect game! *smile*

Gameplay:
It’s Battlefield!

Kidding, but that’s definitely the feeling, which is a great thing. It’s feels like Battlefield in every aspect, even on a console. The scope of the maps, the way the weapons feel, the vehicles (including having a machine gun available on the tanks for the driver instead of only the turret like the “made for consoles” Bad Company off-shoots. Aircraft feel great as well, and I’m actually getting chopper flight down pretty well. It’s definitely been tweaked since BF2, as for example, the choppers are definitely setup to be more “realistic” and don’t allow for as many acrobatic feats as BF2 did.

There are some things that did evolve and move over from the previous console brethren, especially the weapons progression system. It’s smooth, and quite easy to understand. Physics are better than what was available in the Bad Company games, and hey, splash damage from a tank shell or RPG is actually present here, which is a key part of gameplay when you’re trying to take someone out with the tank.

In Single Player, you obviously start with specific weapons but dropped weapons of your foes are plentiful. Also, since we’re on the subject of single-player, the campaign is quite solid, and definitely better then what was included with Battlefield: Bad Company 2. It’s your standard “you’re in a room and some dudes with bad attitudes are interviewing you about a bad situation, and you go back in time and play-through these scenarios” mechanic that we’ve seen in many games already. One big difference though, is how they take the player through these scenarios using cinematic techniques and solid FPS gameplay. One highlight is a portion of the game where you play as a Rio in a jet fighter under attack. It’s one of the coolest things I’ve ever played, and will blow your mind for sure.

At the end of the day though, it’s an FPS Campaign, but one littered with amazing next-gen effects and solid gameplay throughout, but it’s not without its issues. The difficulty, even on Normal, is ramped-up quite a bit. Also, a few situations really feel like “trial and error” since things can definitely seem vague occasionally. Also, I swear that I was being shot through cover like huge rocks and others items as well. Is the campaign perfect? No, not at all, but it’s solid, and still quite enjoyable. You probably will get a bit frustrated though, as it can become a bit uneven when your enemies all of a sudden develop PERFECT aim at 300 yards.

Visuals:
In a word, stunning! As a fan of the Battlefield series on a high-end PC, I can’t believe what they’ve done on the PS3. Lighting effects everywhere, highly detailed textures, a solid framerate, and things like blowing dust and rainfall (+more) This is on-par with Killzone 3 in terms of effects and overall visuals, but this time obviously in a more recognizable setting. Also, one place where Battlefield 3 excels is scale, in many situations you can see for miles with essentially no pop-in (some bushes and random objects may pop-in occasionally though.)

With every step taken, or every yard traveled in a vehicle, the visuals impress. Then put the destructibility of the Frostbite 2 Engine on top of that, and you feel like you’re truly in these battles. This is the most visceral and engrossing multiplayer I’ve experienced in an FPS for a long time. You’ll quickly notice this when a building that you’re in suddenly collapses around you even though you were safe from that tank firing upon you from the street.

A problem with the visuals though, is those damned flashlights mounted to tactical weapons (which DICE is saying will be fixed in the first patch.) Even in daylight, one of these flashlights aimed directly at you will completely blind the player, which is insanely unrealistic, and isn’t really fitting for a game trying to straddle that gap between realism and the fantastic. That’s about the only issue with the visuals though, as everything in the game is truly a sight you must experience on your own.

Audio:
In the pursuit of realism and bringing the player into this world, the audio design is second to none, with full use of surround sound at all times. Rockets whiz by your right ear, while you hear a tank moving-up behind you. Individual bullets hit the wall to your right, with chips of brink falling to the ground. You run toward the yells of who you hope are your teammates, as you hear a grenade hit the ground to your left. Every single object in this world has its own sound applied to it, and everything is encoded in beefy DTS sound. If you have the system to experience audio like this, you’re in for a treat. If you have a subwoofer, turn it up a notch or two, because you’ll feel how awesome the sound design is.

Online/Multiplayer:
Until Battlefield Bad Company 2, I’d never done anything BUT play Battlefield online. In other words, that’s the bread and butter of the series, and Battlefield 3 doesn’t disappoint in the least. This is such a great evolution from what Battlefield 2 offered, and with the upcoming “Back to Karkand” map pack (4 of the best maps from Battlefield 2,) I couldn’t be happier. The squad system works as expected, and has been updated since Bad Company 2. Voice chat works great, and finally gives you the option of chatting with your team, only friends in the game, or with your squad only. The audio quality for chat is great, and in a game like this, chat is essential! The number of maps included is a nice number, and the variations between Conquest and Rush especially is well done. Honestly, this is what I’ve been waiting for, and unfortunately, the victims of how great the online play in Battlefield 3 are games like Resistance 3, Uncharted 3, Modern Warfare 3, Killzone 3, and well, you get the idea. I’m addicted to this game like no other, and even with some random bugs, this is one of the most solid Battlefield games at launch.

On top of this is the addition of some co-op missions. There are only like 6 or 7, but they vary quite a bit, and range from a clone of “horde mode” to snatch & grab and even to you and your buddy manning a chopper to cover a squad on the ground. The variety is good, and even if you’re playing under the idea that you can lose and learn, the missions will actually throw you a curve ball or two if you replay the missions. The chopper mission was definitely my favorite, and really, there’s something for everyone in there.

The one big issue people may encounter is partying-up. The best way to get a group together is by finding a server that’s near-to or completely empty, filling it with your crew, and letting it seed from then forward. Luckily, DICE have actually included a server browser, so you can easily communicate the server name to your cohorts.

Conclusion:
As you can probably tell, I love this game, not just because it’s a Battlefield, but because it’s awesome. I’m actually disappointed that so many other great titles have come out recently, because they’re pulling me away from Battlefield 3. If you want Call of Duty, you may want to go somewhere else. If you liked Warhawk, or are looking for a great FPS with a lot of scale and options, and an FPS that’s flexible enough for you to play any way that you’d like, Battlefield 3 will fulfill all of your needs.

Kudos DICE!

Score:
9.5

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  • Derek / Beaver6622

    Hey is that Server Browser on the PS3?  or PC?  Nice review by the way.  I could really feel you trying to stifle your nerd love for BF and be objectionable…  well sort of stifled anyway.

  • $28 Thursday night at Walmart.  I’m going to try to snag a copy.

  • Man I wish I could give it an A. But this game is just so bad. So far its on my worse game of the year list. So disappointed in this game. :-[

    • I don’t know what’s driving those feelings, but with me I’m just so happy that they’ve stayed true to the true Battlefield series. Modern Combat and Bad Company are off-shoots, and really tough for the PC zealots like myself to accept fully (although, I really did enjoy BC2 quite a bit.) This game is definitely a departure for most FPS that you see on a console though, so some will have a tough time accepting it.

  • Raj S.M.

    Great review buddy 🙂

    Just downloaded this from the PSN at the weekend – mixed feelings atm. Much prefer what I’ve experienced of the campaign so far than MW3, but need to play some more multiplayer. Only played 2 matches online and really disliked it, I think it’ll take a lot of play to get me into it. Seemed really unresponsive for me. Then again, I really enjoyed MoH and BF:BC2 so maybe I’ll grow to like this as much as those two. One thing that grabbed me straight away though: the audio is simply superb, as well as the visual side of things.

  • Really good review.

    I agree on the multiplayer, this is the best online experience I’ve had in terms of great gameplay.

    But I agree with Raj on the campaign, enjoyed MW3 more and actually preferred Bad Company 2’s campaign. Wouldn’t say BF3’s campaign was bad just… average I guess. Stunning graphics but just thought they out COD’d Modern Warfare and the result wasn’t brilliant. There were a couple of great moments but overall it was lacking for me.

    • Raj S.M.

      Actually I was saying I (so far) prefer BF3 over MW3…

      Could change though by the time I finish the campaign. Which, judging by my pile of games in the backlog, will probably be some time in late 2015…

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  • i’m still loving this game! cant wait for end game 🙂