The authors of this review and the PC version review are different persons and their views and scores may differ. To read our Battlefield 3 PC review, click here.
We already know the PC version of Battlefield 3 is awesome, with multiplayer that will blow you away and a not-so-memorable single player campaign. But DICE has definitely made several cutbacks in the console versions of the game, with only 24 players able to play multiplayer matches as compared to the PC’s 64, smaller map sizes and, of course, graphical downgrades. But despite all these setbacks, does the console version of Battlefield 3 still stand up to the hype?
I will admit that the Xbox 360/PS3 versions of Battlefield 3 aren’t as good as the PC version. The 64 vs. 64 battles are certainly better and feel more like true wars than the 24 vs. 24 battles on the consoles. The map sizes are significantly bigger on the PC, and the visuals are much better. If I was to pit the two versions against each other, I would definitely say the PC version is better. But that doesn’t mean the console versions are bad. No, far from it.
Battlefield 3 on the Xbox 360 and PS3 is awesome, addictive and a technical marvel. I didn’t play the PC version much, only spent around 5 or 6 hours in the multiplayer. So when I first played the campaign on my Xbox 360, it was the first time I was playing Battlefield 3’s campaign ever. And it might be because I had heard so many bad things about it, and because I had absolutely no expectations, that I actually enjoyed the experience. The campaign, while full of cliches and predictable story twists, had some brilliant set pieces, some that could put the likes of Modern Warfare 2 and Halo: Reach to shame.
The campaign revolves around a Sergeant Blackburn, who’s been taken into interrogation by a mysterious group of people, who ask him to recount the events in the past few days to determine where a nuclear bomb exactly is in New York. It’s clear that the idea has been taken straight out of Call of Duty: Black Ops, with us playing out flashback missions, but it actually does its job pretty well, creating a sense of urgency. The great voice acting and facial animations only help.
However, as you play on, you realize what Battlefield 3’s campaign is trying to do. It tries to cross of set pieces and scenarios off a check list with each mission, doing and imitating what popular contemporary military shooters always do. Nuclear weapons? Check. Russians? Check. Terrorist attack? Check. Buildings crumbling before your very own eyes? Check. And while Battlefield 3 does them all well, it is made clear from the get go that it is trying to be what it’s competing against.
Battlefield 3’s campaign is also very linear. A bit too linear. There’s a defined path you have to move on, and if you deviate, a five second timer forces you to go back to the “battlefield” or risk starting the mission from the last checkpoint. Then, there’s the fact that the campaign is full of scripted events, even things like something throwing a grenade. Or take this for example- in the tutorial mission, I tried sprinting using the sprint button, but the game did not read the command. A minute later, the tutorial told me to press the sprint button to sprint, and when I did it this time, the game did register my command. It all almost felt suffocating, with the game only allowing us to do what it wants us to, and not a bit more. At times, it felt like I was playing an on-rails shooter. Add to that the fact that there were plenty of cheap deaths in the game, some pretty bad QTEs that are a total disconnect with what you press and what you do in the game, and friendly AI downright sucked, and that you couldn’t control any vehicle but a tank in one mission, and you have a pretty disappointing experience on your hands. It was only the set pieces and some awesome sequences in patches that kept me going till the end. And one pretty damn awesome stealth mission.
But the single player being somewhat disappointing didn’t really bring down my overall experience by a lot. Because for me, the real star of Battlefield 3 was the multiplayer component. I have never really liked multiplayer in shooters, though I do occasionally enjoy playing Halo and Call of Duty online, but one match in Battlefield 3 hooked me so bad, it never let go. Yes, I do have a few problems with the MP component. It needs more modes, for one. Just three main modes, namely Deathmatch, Conquest and Rush are not enough to satisfy my online needs. Secondly, a few maps, like Noshar Canals, downright suck.
But screw all that, because Battlefield 3’s multiplayer is the most addictive, tactical, enjoyable, balanced and deep multiplayer you’ll see in any shooter for a long time to come. The first thing you notice is that it takes practically zero time to put you in a group and kick off a game. Matchmaking usually takes some time, but for Battlefield 3, it’s a matter of a few seconds.
But let’s talk about the main stuff. While it’s true that multiplayer matches on the consoles do not quite feel as much like true wars as those in the PC version do, with less than half the number of players involved here, it doesn’t really make that much of a difference, since the maps, too, are considerably smaller. So it feels basically the same. It offers a deep, engaging experience that makes you feel like you’re truly progressing through the ranks. As you play more matches and win experience points, you level up and unlock new weapons, attachments, equipments, gadgets and sidearms. Depending on which kit you use- Assault, Support, Engineer and Recon- you unlock different kinds of weapons. You don’t just level up as a player in Battlefield 3, but you level up in the kits too.
There’s no joy that equals the feeling of achievement and pride when you unlock a tactical light attachment, or a new sidearm, or a new gun altogether.
But Battlefield 3’s multiplayer is not about being a lone wolf, running out into the open and shooting enemies in the face. The team has to work together to win matches. Recon players have to tag enemies and snipe them from a distance. Assault players have tactical advantages over others and can even provide medical support to revive downed enemies or provide med kits. Support players can help win matches with their raw firepower, and Engineers can fix vehicles. It’s all about teamwork, and helping your mates will gain you extra XP points.
Talking about vehicles, let me tell you- Battlefield 3 has a ton of them. While in the single player campaign, you’ll only get to use a tank, in the multiplayer, you can use everything from choppers to jets to boats to tanks to jeeps. Anything you want, you get it, and it’s always a blast to drive these vehicles and unleash their powers upon your enemies.
Another thing present here that you won’t find in the single player are the dynamic environments. You are never safe in Battlefield 3. An RPG can blow through an entire wall, carefully planted C4 can bring down a whole building, and carefully shot bullets can shoot through ropy cover. You can’t camp in one place in the corner of a dark room or a container, hoping to shoot the first guy that steps in. You always have to be on the move, looking for new cover, taking down enemies with high caliber guns and RPGs.
The map design in BF3 is also very impressive. Maps are huge and sprawling, especially if you play the Rush mode, and some of them, like the Grand Bazaar, Caspian Border, Operation Firestorm, Tehran Highway and Operation Metro (to name a few) and incredibly well designed. It can take you forever to explore an entire map, and the fact that they’re dynamic, with destructible environments coming into play, only helps.
Battlefield 3 is a technical marvel. The graphics of the game are absolutely brilliant, if not as good as the PC version. The textures are highly detailed and sharp, there are almost no pop ins, and draw distances are amazing. Tiny little things like particle effects, water effects and light effects are also extremely impressive, whether you player online or off. We absolutely recommend installing the texture pack on the 360, because without that, the game looks a bit dull.
The sound design is also brilliant. Weapons all sound authentic, with each one of them having their own distinguishable sound effects. Voice acting is great, and echoes of bullets being fired or buildings and cars exploding in the distance can also be heard. It all sounds authentic and real. The soundtrack is also awesome, featuring some of the best tracks I have ever in a game in recent years.
Ultimately, Battlefield 3 is one hell of a game. Battlelog will offer some highly detailed stats, the co-op missions provide even more longevity, and the multiplayer will keep you coming back for more. The single player campaign, while best in the series, still needs some work, but the multiplayer is the real star here. If you’re looking for an FPS with incredible competitive online, Battlefield 3 is the game to get.
This game was reviewed on the Xbox 360 and PS3.
Single player campaign has some awesome set pieces; Voice acting, lip syncing and facial animations are great; Awesome soundtrack; Brilliant graphics that will blow your mind; Mind bogglingly large maps; A large variety of weapons and vehicles; Multiplayer is addictive and deep; Lots of longevity; Destructible environments will keep you on your toes at all times; Co-op missions are enjoyable; Battlelog
Single player is a bit too linear and scripted; Some glitches here and there; Story has a lot of military campaign cliches; Needs more multiplayer game modes; QTEs just plain suck