Battlefield 3 Review: Bring On the Multiplayer

It's got its problems, but EA's latest still hits the mark.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been going on for a bit about Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, while occasionally taking jabs at Battlefield 3.  Yeah, EA’s press treatment hasn’t been the most favorable regarding this game (they basically denied some smaller outlets, even the ones they invited to events) while Activision has taken care of anyone and everyone with their product.  But when we get down to the good and gritty, the games should take primary focus.  So, with that, I took some devoted time to sit down with Battlefield 3 to see how it turned out.  And despite a few hiccups, it’s a mighty war machine.

There are two parts to Battlefield 3, and both should receive prompt attention from gamers.  The first is a single player campaign that introduces a vast number of set pieces, including a battle in a street that culminates with the collapse of a building and some fairly cool jet fighter sequences, though you’re not entirely in control of your craft.  The other is multiplayer, where you’ll log in through the Battlelog services and take on your friends in a number of traditional Battlefield modes, once again helmed by the team over at DICE.  These guys have mastered the art of multiplayer combat with their previous efforts, particularly the Bad Company games and the much appreciated Battlefield 1943.

Now, let’s talk single player for a minute.  EA and DICE attempted to build a campaign that, at the very least, made a little more sense than last year’s Medal of Honor, which dragged too often with its unfamiliar characters and its “this is taking too damn long to get done” pacing.  Well, sadly, not everything works out in Battlefield 3’s favor.  The storyline involved with the game is non-sensical at best, shooting for realism but then throwing in a few curve balls that make you wonder just what the hell is happening.  It’s like trying to watch Apocalypse Now and then the movie turns into Tropic Thunder.  Still, it does pave the way for some magnificent set pieces, so feel free to skip past the cinemas and enjoy the ride.

What’s more, the AI is a little too spot-on for its own good.  I could be running around in pitch black in the middle of the night and these guys would have a ridiculously good bead on me, even if I’m trying to pop out of a corner and shoot someone from a distance.  It’s almost like they have high-definition trackers packed into their rifles.  Granted, some people will like this kind of challenge, but others may want to set the game at a lighter difficulty setting.

One more thing – the game’s campaign mode is littered with quick time event sequences.  These are sequences where you don’t control your character directly, but rather hit corresponding buttons, or else suffer a bad death.  Hey, if I wanted QTE-laden stuff, I’d go back to Dragon’s Lair again.  These really get old quickly.  (By comparison, Modern Warfare 3 only has one QTE, and it’s over before you know it.)

Where Battlefield 3 makes up for these flaws is in its multiplayer.  EA and DICE have done a tremendous job here once again, not only keeping everything finely tuned when it comes to the heat of battle, but making it inviting to play.  Yeah, there are some slight shortcomings you’ll have to get used to with the controls (particularly when you go prone), but overall it’s an exciting experience.  Logging in and getting into the game’s many combat modes (including Rush and the always-favorite Conquest) is a snap, and Battlefield 3 doesn’t come up short when it comes to working with your team to dominate and take down enemies.  Sometimes there’s questionability with being matched up with equally skilled players, but overall, we didn’t experience any other hiccups when it came to logging on and kicking ass.  There are co-op missions available as well, and they aren’t half bad.