To be fair, I had never played a Battlefield game before I purchased my copy of Battlefield 3. I had heard people sing the praises of the previous iterations on the PC so I couldn’t let myself miss out on something so hyped. So, in the hopes of finally being able to run people over in a tank, I decided to pick it up, and thus far, my experience has been generally positive.
As everyone reading this review has probably already heard, the Campaign of BF3 is painfully linear and often frustrating. This is true to some extent. While the backbone of the campaign revolves around an amalgamation of conspiracy theories and cloak-and-dagger, I never found myself leaning forward in my seat wondering, “Oh, man, what’s going to happen next?” Everything unfolds in a very anticlimactic fashion, which may leave some players with a bad taste in their mouths. Fortunately, the Campaign is the worst part of a game that exists almost solely for the multiplayer experience.
The main thing that current players have yet to realize is that BF3 is absolutely not Call of Duty. BF3 is an exercise in team play that rewards those that work together and is incredibly punishing and frustrating to those that don’t. This is not to say that one person that’s an FPS fanatic won’t find ways of contributing a lone-wolf style, but the majority of the game modes require communication (in some fashion) and teamwork. Take, for example, my personal favorite mode: Conquest. Littered across the map are checkpoints. By having at least one vehicle (or two footmen) near the checkpoint, your team will begin to capture that part of the map. Once the checkpoint is captured, you can choose to either hang back and defend said checkpoint or make your way across the map and try to capture another. Regardless of your decision, you’re helping the team. The key factor in this mode is that any team that holds at least half of the checkpoints (some maps have four) will cause the other team to “bleed” Tickets, which amounts to the shared amount of times each team can respawn. By holding half or more, you are able to give your team a leg-up on your competition.
What is most compelling, however, is the class system implemented by BF3. There are four classes: Assault, Engineer, Support, and Scout. Each has unique strengths and weaknesses that keep the game balanced, and each one is crucial to the well-being of the team. Without a Support class, all of the players running-and-gunning as Assaults wouldn’t have anyone to replenish their ammo. And vehicles would certainly be overpowered without the Engineer’s ability to place anti-vehicular mines. There are plenty of other scenarios that embellish the class system, but you get a general idea.
My only gripe with an otherwise great game is the graphics engine. I’m not exactly sure what compelled DICE to develop a current-gen game at 30 frames per second, but fans of other FPS games will immediately notice the difference. If I may make such a bold prediction, the simple fact that the game has half the frame rate of Modern Warfare 3 may be what keeps hesitant buyers from making a purchase. Additionally, it’s a little hard to tell who is on your team and who isn’t if you spot someone from across the map. Even when you’re right up on someone, the game doesn’t immediately place a marker over their head to let you know that the person in your line of fire is on your team, so you may find yourself shooting at a teammate on more than one occasion.
Despite these minor gripes, Battlefield 3 is a unique experience that console players won’t be able to find anywhere else. The sense of accomplishment that you feel after winning a tense match by working with your team is hard to find, especially with the plethora of other games out there that only reward those with the highest Kill-to-Death ratio.