Battlefield 3

Make Sure to Tap it Twice

The trigger, that is. Battlefield 3 is sprinting, flying, and rolling into battle. Just don't ask me to be your pilot.
Author: Scott Rodgers
Published: October 29, 2011
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I thought of many different ways to open this review, ranging from my past first-person shooter experience to talking at length about the “war” between this game and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. In the end, though, I decided to just talk about my previous Battlefield experience a bit and then go ahead and dive into the main reason you came here. This series is one that I am still a relative newbie at, and though this may seem egregious to some I am able to admit I just started Battlefield: Bad Company 2. I know, I know, where was I during Battlefield 1942 and Battlefield 2? I couldn’t have possibly played better games during that time (yes I was, it was called Warcraft 3). I did go back and rectify these mistakes after the fact, of course, but I also never played the original Battlefield: Bad Company. I bought BC2 on a whim a while back when it was on sale and the game rocketed up my most played list and to the top of my favorite online experiences. I also nabbed Battlefield 1943 from the PSN, though I only played it a minuscule amount compared to its disc-based big brother.

So even though I don’t have an extensive history with the series it is one that I have come to love. I’m not a huge FPS guy; I get burnt out on them quickly and I also hate how seriously some online gamers are when it comes to them. Heck, I haven’t played a Call of Duty game since the first Modern Warfare. Yet for some reason, Battlefield has grabbed hold of me and refuses to let go. Needless to say, I was quite excited and giddy about hopping back in with Battlefield 3. Sure, I played the beta but that was only an appetizer compared to finally getting my hands on the final release. In fact, that’s also a major contributor as to why this review is a bit later than your average “jump to the end to see the numbers” essay. I wanted to experience everything I possibly could in Battlefield 3 and I wouldn’t be comfortable blasting through the campaign, playing a mission or two of co-op, and maybe two hours of online and calling it a day. No sir, because I am given the luxury to take my time with a review it’s my goal to paint the best possible picture of what you can expect if you rushed out to the store to buy the game right now. If I succeed in doing so then I will have earned a gold star at my job.

Before we get to the good parts, though, we are contractually obligated (not really) to talk about the game’s campaign. Our very own Sam Bishop literally wrote the book on the game so I will give a wink and a nod to his guidance on helping me find that “one last guy who is hidden behind a tree and causing an entire platoon to stay hidden for some reason I can’t explain.” In all seriousness the campaign is your standard FPS affair; there’s nuclear weapons, Russians, Americans, a whole lot of fire fighting, and quick time events. Frankly, if it weren’t for writing this review I probably wouldn’t have played through the thing. I beat about three missions in BC2 before calling it a day and while neither story is bad by any stretch, they lack any sort of real depth. I think I’m supposed to have some sort of emotional attachment to some of these guys but it just didn’t happen.

The whole thing will last you roughly six to eight hours on the first play through depending on difficulty and skill. After some memorization it’s quite possible that you can barrel through the whole thing in less than four hours, even less if you skip some cut scenes. You’ll mostly play as Staff Sergeant Henry Blackburn (no relation to Minnesota Twins pitcher Nick -- at least that I know of) and try to show that, for once, the Russians aren’t the biggest problem in this fictional war. You’ll encounter a host of NPC characters who have various personalities but for the life of me I can’t remember more than a handful of their names. In fact, all of the Russians really ran together and I had to ask Sam to explain things to me. I could go on and on but I highly doubt there’s a sizable group out there that is buying Battlefield 3 for its story. The gameplay, on the other hand, is quite pleasant. Each mission felt different and memorable enough that I could refer back to them with little prompt and I would actually go as far as to say I enjoyed it. I wish there were more vehicle segments (there’s only one that you are the driver for) but the ground combat was fulfilling. I always enjoy big battles and being part of a charge to take over an area and I got to do this more times than I count.

As great as these battles are and as amazing as some of the moments can be, there’s one thing that starts in the campaign and becomes a trend throughout the whole game. If you’ve played the game you can probably guess where I’m going, but I’ll go ahead and spoil it: there’s a massive amount of technical problems and glitches. Characters in the campaign don’t sync their lines, loading points lock the console temporarily, and the AI seems confused at times. In some missions you’re tasked with protecting a target or providing covering fire, and instead of the enemy going after that person or thing they’re going to shoot directly for you. I don’t think I lost an ally once the entire time, which is rather odd when PLR could literally win the war by shooting the guys on the street. Some of the checkpoints are also wonky and will restart you in the strangest places. Late in the campaign, I died in a section where you have to infiltrate this amazing looking house. I hadn’t seen a save point for a while so I figured I would have to re-do a good chunk of the area. I was spawned exactly where I was but here’s the clincher: all of the AI respawned in their original locations as well. This meant I was surrounded by eight or more AI characters and my allies were out front, waiting for me. Needless to say I was frustrated having to restart the entire level because of an oddly placed checkpoint.
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