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Battlefield 3 review

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Battlefield 3
  • Battlefield 3
  • Battlefield 3
  • Battlefield 3
  • Battlefield 3
  • Battlefield 3
  • Battlefield 3
  • Battlefield 3

Summary

Our Score:

8

Pros

  • Astonishing, benchmark-setting graphics
  • The best multiplayer experience in the genre

Cons

  • Single player campaign is a dumb Call of Duty clone
  • Frustrating sharpshooter enemy AI

Version tested: PS3

We’re not the kind of site that likes to throw around quotes from Nietzsche, but there’s something about Battlefield 3 that makes you think of Friedrich’s old chestnut: “He who fights monsters should see to it that he himself does not become a monster.” Battlefield 3 has, from the very beginning, been developed, marketed and hyped as the game that could take on the Call of Duty juggernaut and win. Somehow, during this process it has become exactly the kind of monster it was designed to fight – a leaden, tunnel-visioned spin on the military shooter, with exactly the kind of sub Tom Clancy plotting and reliance on shock moments that DICE seemed to be working against in Battlefield: Bad Company 2. As a single-player game, Battlefield 3 has all of the failings of Modern Warfare, Modern Warfare 2 and Black Ops, but without the assured pacing and big movie moments that make the Infinity Ward and Treyarch games work. In aggressively confronting Modern Warfare, Battlefield 3 has become a second-rate clone.

Battlefield 3

Admittedly, there are some massive ‘buts’ waiting in the wings. The first is that Battlefield 3 is an astonishingly good-looking clone. There’s no question that the Frostbite 2 engine is capable of producing unbelievably detailed human figures, richly textured war-torn scenery and the kind of gritty, cinematic lighting you might see in a Ridley Scott film. On the PlayStation 3 version we’ve spent most of our time testing, Battlefield 3 matches benchmark titles like Killzone 3, Crysis 2 and Resistance 3 for visual spectacle, and arguably exceeds them. The animation, with systems half-inched from EA’s sports games, looks uncannily convincing much of the time, and even the dialogue-heavy cut-scenes frequently look breathtaking.

Battlefield 3

The gameplay, however? Not so much. Like Call of Duty, Battlefield 3 has chosen to tell its tale of modern warfare and counter-terrorist action by hopping from character to character, with a flashback framing structure to hold it all together. However, it hasn’t really worked. While you could hardly call the storyline of Modern Warfare 2 or Black Ops intelligent or coherent, it still does a nice job of propelling you from place to place and ramping up the interest. With Battlefield 3, you sort of drift from location to location and situation to situation, and it’s almost impressive how regularly the big moments are botched. Sequences that are clearly designed to have the shock value of Modern Warfare’s nuclear explosion or Modern Warfare 2’s infamous No Russian mission fall flat, leaving nothing more than a slightly nasty taste in the mouth.

Battlefield 3

The levels, meanwhile, are gobsmackingly linear. Follow this guy, go here, go there, shoot them. Want to use your own initiative? Take a different route? Forget it. You’re here to follow orders, soldier. It’s all the worse because, with Battlefield: Bad Company 2, DICE seemed to be going down a path that balanced the orchestrated mayhem of a Call of Duty with the more open, unpredictable combat that the Battlefield brand was known for, and the result was a game which felt genuinely thrilling and on the verge of chaos. By contrast, Battlefield 3 feels dumbed-down and generic.

Battlefield 3

It also feels frustrating. One frequent complaint about the Bad Company duo – particularly the first – was that your AI opponents combined the sharp-shooting skills of a Vasily ‘Enemy at the Gates’ Zaytsev with the heightened senses of a Marvel superhero. Well, the bad days are back again, with regular choke points where you’ll struggle to draw a bead on your foes before multiple headshots put you down in a fraction of a second. You will get past these, but only through an awful lot of crawling on your belly – and who really signs up to do that?

stranded

November 1, 2011, 9:31 pm

Battlefield is the same as Call Of Duty. Only difference is the better and more realistic graphics. The target group of these 2 games is exactly the same.
Even though i don't like any of these games, i prefer COD, i think it's more fun and more honest. BF is way more boring and pretends to be many things that it's not.
I think Nietzsche is not suitable for this. BF never tried to advance the shooter genre, only wanted to steal many COD fans. And looks like it succeeds that way.

NitrousAvster

November 2, 2011, 2:30 am

I don't agree, having played every Call of Duty game and the last BF game, battlefield requires more skill, team work and more fun especially when playing with friends.
. BF is actually older than COD, Codename Eagle (from which most of the original code, etc comes from) came out in 1999.
There aren't any 360 quick scopes, campers, grenade spammers or tactical knifers.
Summed up:
Call of duty: Quick call in the airstrike. Battlefield: be the airstrike

Retset

November 2, 2011, 2:51 am

Your review is spot on: Excellent multiplayer, fun co-op and a COD-u-like single player campaign. I am a hopeless 'twitch' shooter which is why I really love the BF series. I can play support, doling out the ammo to my squad or backing them up with a bit of mortar fire and still have fun despite my gun skills only being so so. I see that MW3 will be trying to get more team based action but feel this is one area where BF3 will have it well and truly beaten.

stripy

November 2, 2011, 4:02 am

"Battlefield is the same as Call Of Duty"

I'm going to be charitable and assume you're only talking about the single player campaign.

I've been playing BF3 on PC since launch and have to say this review is spot on. I really enjoyed BC2's single player but i haven't even been able to bring myself to finish the second level of BF3's.

The multiplayer is awesome though. Some of the new destruction effects are amazing, esp on the seine crossing level. Pull out the under-slung grenade launcher and fire it at a first or second story window and the whole façade comes sliding down. Wonderful stuff.

Keithe6e

November 2, 2011, 6:22 am

There both good games, I tend to think COD is best for single player, BF for multi-player.

Saying this EA need to sort out there servers for BF3, trying to squad up with friends is a royal pain in the butt.

John Archer

November 2, 2011, 1:47 pm

For what it's worth, I think the online components of COD and BF are so different and both so brilliant in their different ways that drawing comparisons is pointless.

Call of Duty's Free For All online mode remains the most adrenaline-fuelled, frenetic and, yes, skillful 'single player' online mode I've ever played. Yet most of COD's online team games leave me pretty cold.

It's with team-based online play that the BF series excels, delivering a depth and, more importantly, genuine NEED for team play you just don't usually get with COD, where team games mostly feel like a bunch of individuals doing their own thing.

So instead of getting embroiled in fanboy arguments about which one is best, I'd rather say that both work sublimely well in their separate ways, and just get on with enjoying their respective 'lone wolf' and 'team hero' thrills according to my mood!

Ironduke

November 2, 2011, 6:49 pm

Voted you down lad complete joke.

Battlefield is War in a Can.

You can start in a Jet Fighter Bail out into a tank then capture the flag on foot

try doing that on No bullet drop Cod

stranded

November 3, 2011, 2:34 pm

You don't start in a jet, you don't bail out into a tank and you don't capture the flag on foot, you act the hopping bunny role all the time in BF. Same for COD, but it's more honest and fun there.
Nobody cares about negative votes mate. My sincere congratulations and admiration for installing officially tested spyware in your computer.

Tom New

November 16, 2011, 12:20 am

@stranded

I don't know what you're talking about. Clearly you have never played BF3, or you're just a bit of an idiot. You can indeed start in a jet, you can indeed bail out into a tank (with parachuting in between obviously), and furthermore, almost all the damn capping of flags is done on foot. In fact, I just did this exact order consecutively to see if it was indeed possible. It is.

I don't know what you mean by hopping bunny, but you have classes, each of which has a specific role.

I have nothing against CoD in itself, what irks me is the people, like you, who /do/ play CoD, then try a BF game and slate it off because it doesn't fit their tastes. I expect you tried to play it like a CoD game rather than a BF game where you have to play as a team (even in TDM is this still applicable).

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