Monday, 21 November 2011

Battlefield 3 - different strokes for different folks

So its been quite a long time since I've played a Battlefield game.  The last one was Battlefield Vietnam (not the DLC expansion of the bad company series).  I was hesitant at first at buying the game, but watching some amazing videos, and getting some playtime with the beta, I decided that this was worth the purchase.  The easy choice was picking the platform.  I have a relatively high-end rig (Dual EVGA GTX480 SC+'s), so Battlefield 3 will reside on my PC.  This game has always been a PC oriented game, and it shows.  Having a few friends who don't have gaming PC's, they had valid complaints with the console version.  The changes made to make the game work on consoles complete change the essence of Battlefield.

Frostbite 2

A brand new game engine is as good as it gets for graphics, pure eye candy if you have a rig powerful enough to run it on the highest settings (fortunately I do).  The environment crumbles, the glare from the sun, the smoke from a disabled tank are all things of beauty.  I load up the game, and I am reminded of the feeling I had when I first tried Crysis with the highest settings.  This is how games should always look.  Its also interesting that the latest Need for Speed game is using this engine, and the videos look amazing.  Now lets start seeing more games with this engine.  Command and Conquer in Frostbite 2 anyone?

Battlelog and Origin.

The web interface of battlelog is nice, but it relies on the reliability of the browser being used, which can be quite an annoyance.  I don't get why they couldn't kept it old school and had its own menu system?  As for origin, I could've sworn that EA and/or DICE mentioned that you will be able to play without Origin, but yet I still need to have it open at the same time.  Is it only meant for people who bought physical copies?  I don't know.  It doesn't effect gameplay, but rather its something I bring up only because other people had concerns about Origin.


This is where the game is quite a let down.  Almost to the point where I wish they wouldn't have bothered with it, and just left Battlefield 3 as a multiplayer frame work.  But they had to try to keep up with the Call of Duty games, but even with all the development time, Call of Duty still has the better campaign, even if it is "hyper-reality", its just an overall better presentation, story and product overall.  The voice acting isn't up to par, and the missions don't really feel that "epic".  They tried, but its still not quite there yet.  Something is still missing from it, and it comes off as a half-ass attempt at filler.  Any single player campaign should have some level of attachment which grabs the player, and hooks them into the story.  To somewhat care about whats going on around them.  I guess it is the lack of this emotional attachment that makes the Battlefield 3 campaign so lackluster.  I get that its trying to be more realistic, but now we know what works better for single player.  Basically, Call of Duty is the summer blockbuster action flick, and Battlefield is a documentary.

Co-op Missions

Another part of the game that feels forced.  Similar to the campaign, is lack luster.  I only played a few, but I was already bored.  It lacks the urgency, desperation feel that Spec Ops in Call of Duty provided, or the Zombies mode in the Treyarch iterations.  Its nice that they give you multiplayer rewards for reaching certain point scores, but it feels like a chore when the missions aren't interesting.


As a long time Call of Duty player, entering the Battlefield 3 multiplayer was quite an adjustment.  It has a lot of good things going for it, but I can now see why its hard for some people (mostly kids with ADD) can't adjust.  You have to move around slower in any area where there's a lot of infantry.  Once you understand that concept, then you can slowly work on the rest of the multiplayer experience.  Also, understanding things like the importance of marking enemies, and actually deploying med packs and ammo crates helps the team a lot in certain maps and game modes.  I wish there was a tutorial in the game to go over some of the basics of multiplyer, like tagging, and TURNING OFF YOUR DAMN TACTICAL LIGHTS! (pet peave of mine, they blind enemies, but also team mates as well!).  I guess that is usually covered in the campaign, but who has the time to play that when the multiplayer is there?  Also, thanks to all the people who run laser sights, because it makes it that much easier to shoot at you in dark places.

Although the entire game engine is quite polished, and the maps are beautifully rendered, there are some things that I personally don't like.  Some objective locations in RUSH mode make no sense, and are completely unbalanced.  I sometimes wonder if someone actually play tested the bomb locations for balance, or just randomly placed them on the map, some are in odd corners of buildings, while some are out in the open.  Now my squad and I have figured out exactly is needed to be done to get to those objectives, but if we encounter a full team, its impossible to even get close.  What also doesn't help is some maps invisible barriers don't show up on the mini-map, and they often cut off the map, and give the defenders the advantage for certain paths. 

On Conquest, I enjoy only if the server is using the default flag locations.  I guess that is another "battlefield" thing that I have to get used to is the variations from server to server.  I got used to some consistancy, and like the idea of the option of changing things around, but actually playing it, is different.  Personally, the "rules" can be changed from server to server that accumulating stats and comparing them to other players seems rather pointless.  Things like, KD ratio and W/L ratio means nothing because one person can be playing on their home server all the time, with their own rules, and winning, but if they ever play some other server, they'll probably lose.  But I feel this is something thats always been a "battlefield thing".  So I actually don't really care about those stats as much as I normally would in the game.  I'll just try to have fun.


I was disapointed with the lack of game modes for multiplayer.  They really only cater to groups of people running as squads, and don't really offer anything where someone can be on their own and still be sucuessful, like a Free for all match.  You only get 3 basic game modes, conquest, rush, and TDM (and the sub categories of squad TDM and Squad Rush).  It was interesting how some parts of the maps are only used for certain game modes, and I love the flow of the rush mode on certain maps, how it opens up the new area for you to attack.  But then for conquest, there's only the area for each map.  I also was hoping for a few more maps, the ones included are nice, and are vast, but I really wish there were more smaller maps, or more enclosed areas like the middle sections of Operation Metro.  Hopefully DICE and EA will have a steady stream of map packs to help keep things fresh.  Hopefully the maps will feel more balanced for all game modes, and not just for one.


As someone who only plays as a complete squad, I really do not like it when we are forced to split up because the server would become too unbalanced.  I know there is a setting to make the server not force the balance, but I'm quite sure not many of them have this feature enabled.  Why promote team work when you don't let teams stick together?  Also, it would be nice to be able to change loadouts between matches, and not have to wait to spawn before being able to access certain functions, like quit game (for those who don't like to alt-tab out).  These things are minor, but they would be nice to have features that would make the experience a bit better.  I do like the distance numbers under each objective on the HUD, so you know which one is closer, and I like the marking system, and the realism that is lacking in Call of Duty.  Things like limited range of motion while prone, or while bipod is deployed are things I wish existed in Call of Duty.

No replay mode?

With the advent of gamers creating montages, I'm surprised that they did not add such a feature, hopefully it is in the works.  This game is so good, and there are so many "fun" and "cool" things to do in the game, it would be nice to have a replay function so we, the players can start making montages and short films.  Its fun sharing some epic moments of the game, and sometimes it is good to go back and look at your own play to figure out what went wrong, and thus improve for the future.  Maybe.. just maybe.


So in conclusion, if you have yet to buy this game, I would only suggest purchasing it on the PC.  If you don't have a PC, and only a console, I'd suggest waiting or other games, unless you are a die-hard battlefield fan (but if you were,  you'd already have the game already).  Battlefield 3 has built a very strong foundation for what potentially could be an awesome game.  But right now, it only caters to the experienced Battlefield player, and does not really offer that much for people who are getting into the franchise.  (i.e. trying to convert COD players over).  I hope they can add in some more game types, and re-balance certain things (sniper shotgun? really?).  For a score, I'd have to give it a 79%.  Idealy, I'd like Call of Duty multiplayer modes and campaign, on the frostbite 2 engine, with a game mode for the huge maps & vehicles.  But that maybe just a dream.

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