Game Review: Battlefield 3 (Xbox 360)

BF3 Logo and title
Electronic Arts

Releasing trailer after trailer that debuted such provocative taglines as "Above and Beyond the Call", there is no doubt about what other major FPS franchise that EA lined up in it's sights with its newest blockbuster. Does Battlefield 3 land the perfect head shot? Or is but a mere flesh wound in the proverbial shoulder of Call of Duty? Read on to find out.

The answer to that question is both yes and a no, in a nutshell. I'll explain what I mean later on in the review, but first let's examine what makes Battlefield 3 such a lauded game that's won plenty of delectable Best Of awards in just a few months.

She's Definitely a Looker
Damaged building infographic
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So this game utilizes a little known engine called Frostbite 2 that you might have heard of before BF3's release. There is so much impressive, revolutionary tech shoved into Dice's gem of an engine that, when playing, its easy to forget that you're looking at a videogame. Now I use that cliche not for the sake of convenience, and not because I am so stupid that I sometimes forget what videogames look like, I use it because this game's visuals are nothing short of an astounding, visual spectacle.

In fact, I have full confidence in stating that there is no other FPS to date that comes close to what BF3 has pulled off in it's presentation. Nearby gunshots knock particles of dust into the air, vehicular explosions rock and rumble your view as pillowing flame, laden with black smoke and soot, shoot into the air as the ashes fall. Just about every visual element in this game indeed looks realistic, however it's all done in an artful way that is distinctly Battlefield. The art style is subtle, but its there.

I could write an entire dissertation about the chains and whips BF3 brings to the retina spanking that it calls its presentation, but really you have to see it in motion to truly appreciate the amount of detail that DICE has poured into it. Admittedly, the console versions of BF3 do suffer in visual finesse, but they still hold their ground against other FPS offerings on consoles. Rounding out these incredible looks, sound design is every bit as detailed, thankfully. It truly is pretty awesome.

Distant explosion by tank
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Did You Know There's a Campaign Mode?
Needless to say, you will be shooting a lot of things in the campaign mode while romping through twelve levels as a Marine named  Who Cares the campaign mode is dumb. While I appreciate the addition of a campaign mode to the Battlefield series, it really comes off as half-baked. The story is as generic as generic can be, the voice acting, although impressive, is bogged down dumb writing and familiarity.

The missions, for the most part, border on boring and have that been there, done that feeling. Although, there are some parts where the atmosphere gets tense and you truly care about what's going on for a few minutes. If you've played the Rock and a Hard Place level, you know what I'm talking about. You won't feel that tingly feeling throughout the entire campaign, but the tense atmosphere is something that BF3's campaign does get right when it does show up. Bottom line: Don't expect too much from the campaign.

Boom De Yada 
AK image showing off BF3's lighting engine
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Much like a chubby redhead, there is a lot to love in BF3's multiplayer as cheerfully pointed out in this song. With over 50 weapons to choose from and over 20 different vehicles to use to your tactical advantage, fans of the Battlefield series will not be disappointed. As heavily advertised, Destruction 3.0 plays a major role in this title, albeit less so than Destruction 2.0 has in the previous title Battlefield: Bad Company 2, and this is where I first felt disappointment with BF3. In all fairness, this game is a sequel to 2005's awesome game, Battlefield, but jumping into BF3 after playing Battlefield: Bad Company 2 I felt a noticeable culture shock. Gone are the maps where most visible buildings, barricades and other structures are destructible, and in their places are fewer destructible objects with more detailed destruction. Is the trade off worth it? I'd argue no, but you probably won't notice this trade off if you haven't played a Bad Company game. Regardless of your Battlefield history, just avoid loading up the Call of Duty style maps like Operation Metro and Seine Crossing expecting to collapse entire buildings on your enemies.
                                                        Is Anyone Home?
BF3 multiplayer ADS
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Again, much like a chubby redhead, BF3's multiplayer experience has left me with mixed feelings. On one hand, the plethora of weapons and vehicles to use in order to crush my enemies with is awesome, especially on wide open maps like Caspian Border where Destruction 3.0 truly shines like the orange locks of a redhead. On the other hand, with the console versions of this game, looking for one out of 24 players on maps designed for nearly 3 times as many players (64 to be exact) saps out a lot of the fun.

Not only does this low player to map area ratio force you to search for enemies in long duration, so forced will your teammates, which instills a highly irritating "I must grab a vehicle as soon as I spawn and take off before anyone has a chance to snag it before I do" mentality at the beginning of these large maps. Too many times I found myself spawning into a game, walking for what feels like an eon just to join the fray because my teammates have "forgotten" that their vehicle of choice seats six. It's too little butter spread over a delicious helping of french bread and it's a real bummer.

Now, once you are able to actually join the battle, things get fun. I especially loved rolling around in a tank, spamming it's cannon and running over unsuspecting enemies. Truth be told, it helps to understand that BF3 is not something that you will pick up and play and enjoy immediately. This game isn't as easy to play as you may expect a modern FPS to be, and it sure as hell isn't easy to master. I can see this aspect turning off some players, but give it time, I say, because those moments where you are able to join and dominate in a rush match with your friends that actually speak to you is when the real, addictive fun of Battlefield 3 hits you in the face like a HEAT round from a tank.

Buy or Rent?
BF3 definitely earns a buy recommendation from me. From the jaw-dropping presentation to a multiplayer that can provide hours of enjoyment, I found my time with BF3 enjoyable overall. The empty feeling of particular maps did kill the mood in some instances, but once you're actually in the battle you're going to have blast. Here, go ahead and take a moment to take it all in.

Oh, About that COWADOOTY...
So in the end, does EA's BF3 have what it takes to take down the likes of Activision's MW3? No, not even close. Personally, I believe that BF3 is more fun to play, but that means nothing when compared to cold, hard numbers. BF3 has sold a respectable 5 million copies in within the first week of sale, while MW3 has sold twice as many copies in the same amount of fucking time, leading Activision to make exactly one ass load of dollars in sales. Holy shit.

Battlefield 3 is available on the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC, and IOS (Formerly). Tell me what you think of this review and of Battlefield 3 in the comments section below. I love all kinds of feedback <3


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