Published: 02-Nov-2011 16:14
By Dylan Moran
They say “war is hell”. In the case of Battlefield 3, that war is a beautiful, hectic, pristine, adrenalin-filled hell.
And I love it.
I come into BF3 already a huge fan of the series and though I really dislike naysayers, the beta and hands-ons I had experienced had not convinced me this would be quite as great a game as everyone was hyped up for.
Well, it is. It’s even more than that.
I cannot say enough about awesome a feeling it is to run along as an engineer, bust out your bazooka and demolish a building - even a building which is inaccessible to either side.
The Frostbite 2 engine is an incredible innovation and will push first-person shooters to a whole new level. Bricks and mortar rain down on you from above while you scurry to the nearest entranceway to escape the T90-A which just blew your teammates to oblivion.
Then there’s the sound. Whether you’re hearing the approaching footsteps of an enemy squad while you’re camped in a room desperate to stay alive for two more seconds so your mates can spawn on you, or the roar of the chaingun mounted to the jet which is taking potshots at you running across open ground, the sound setup is fantastic. As with every Battlefield title.
The most beautiful game. Ever.
There is absolutely no way to describe how great this game looks. Whether it’s on PC, or console (on Xbox 360 the title comes on two discs, one for single player campaign mode, the other for online and to install a HD graphics boost to your hard drive which is thoroughly worth it).
Sure, the lens flares get annoying when you can’t spot that guy in prone with the M4 who just took you out, and the blinding effect from another rival’s laser gets a bit much when you’ve got the jump on him for the fourth time that round – but then again, these are incredibly pretty effects.
A tip for newbies: Battlefield is not your spray and pray title. For starters, you will gain a lot more points and therefore level up when you do things which will help your team.
A kill is worth 100 points, while neutralising and capturing a flag is worth 450.
The biggest thing about BF3 though is you need to learn how to make great decisions and then repeat them over and over. Is it really worth taking a shot at the tank in the main street and getting blasted for your efforts, when you could instead stay in cover and wait for a couple of other dudes to do the work for you?
Should you rush the main road which doubles as a choke point for a well-entrenched opposition or figure out a way to blast a secondary route?
Running around like a Call of Duty chicken is not how you should enjoy this game. Some rounds you will go 30 and 10, others you will go 10 and 30, but that doesn’t matter. What’s important is helping your unit advance and win.
Who said there’s an oil shortage?
Vehicles abound on most of Battlefield’s maps. As with the game itself, learning to use these effectively and efficiently can turn the tide of a whole round.
Sure, the only way you’ll learn how to fly a jet is by jumping in it from time to time - but if you’re doing it time and again only to immediately crash, your energies are best directed elsewhere. And be aware of your teammates. Don’t do this:
…because the guys at DICE manage to find the perfect line between real-life complexity and videogame simplicity.
Helicopters have a steep, steep learning curve but are so utterly rewarding when you learn to use them. But when you jump in your first helo, you won’t be able to help it, you’ll fly like this:
Jeeps meanwhile can seem useless and get ditched at flags 90 percent of the time, but with the right driver and right mentality you can quickly transport troops across the warzone, overwhelming the enemy.
The biggest vehicle improvement though comes in the tank department. In Bad Company 2, players were forced to choose one of several perks for their tanks. Do you want the mounted light machine gun on the barrel, faster reload times or the ability to scope in on your targets?
It forced players to make a decision and tailor their gameplay to it – not that there was anything wrong with that – whereas this year’s iteration sees you able to roll out with several perks installed at once.
The ability to scope is standard once you unlock it. Similarly, once you gain access to it you will always have a coaxial gun, you can just choose the calibre. And the third perk category is the one which sees your tank about to repair itself faster, use a radar which shows off enemy positions nearby, or speed up reload times.
You have to make a choice in the latter two categories of course, but it’s one made a lot easier.
It’s the same way Battlefield’s always been played, but it’s a whole dimension more than its competitors.
Another change to vehicles which is yet to convince me is the aforementioned auto-repair.
It’s very simple to explain. If your vehicle is damaged, you can back off and after a while it will repair itself.
It’s geared toward rewarding those who play smart, but what it means is I can use my scope, heavy MG and shells to bombard the opposition and go 42 - 0 in a round while on the frontlines.
On the flipside there’s also the ‘disable’ feature. If you do enough damage to a vehicle, I believe get its health under 20 percent, it will be disabled and have functions diminished.
For a tank, this means moving at about 1kmph. For planes and choppers, this means going into tailspins and being entirely unpredictable.
The thought behind it is to again encourage teamwork. When your vehicle remains disabled its health will slowly drip down to 1 percent, giving engineers on your team time to come help you out.
In reality, this never happens – but it will once the newbies either learn how to play properly or stop playing altogether.
Like lambs to the slaughter
The greatest thing about BF3 is the sheer amount of hype it generated, bringing in waves of brand new players to the series.
While it can be annoying when they’re on your team and choose to take on a tank mano e mano when the MCOM they’re supposed to blow up is unguarded, when they’re on the opposite side it is absolutely brilliant.
While my stats at the moment don’t reflect it due to a few unbalanced rounds [those who have Battlelog set up can see my advanced stats here], the number of newbros online is awesome – and my knife hopes they stay around at least until the release of the latest Call of Duty later this month.
One of the best fixes – and I say this as a guy who used to strap on the sprint and armour upgrades in Bad Company 2 and run around knifing everyone – has been the downgrade to knives.
Front-on stabs are no longer one hit kills. Stealth knifes from behind are.
With experience comes weaponry
I was not a fan at first of BF3’s player progression system. Put simply, you will unlock everything in a kit as you use it more. Not too dissimilar from previous games, yes, but as the majority of the unlocks are things like scopes and barrel modifications those who put in the massive hours get the better guns faster, creating an uneven playing field.
But then as I played a little more it grew on me. Every kit is now a challenge and while there are still some weapons which can be used across all kits, each kit also poses its own unique challenge, and has gadgets specific to it.
Revision, revision, revision
DICE have historically been very good at continuing to update their games over their lifetime – they’re still bringing out updates to their old games.
And they’ve already announced a patch to up the damage of the PP-2000, and a buff to jets. Apparently stinger missiles will also get a damage decrease so pilots will be able to survive after being hit by one.
I’ve been a console player since Bad Company 1 but had to get back to the PC roots to give this a go.
While there is a lot of ‘feel’ lost by dealing with the awkward keyboard layout for the PC version, most computer gamers have joysticks and the like for this, making my aversions null and void.
It’s actually a pretty similar game on PC and console – each having strengths. Helos are easier to fly with a mouse & keyboard combo than controller, but tanks are more effective on the console versions.
It was all worth it
All the pre-release hype was right. This game looks great, sounds great and plays great. There are little bugs, there are the changes I don’t agree with, but when you look at it in context no game even comes close to what Battlefield 3 has to offer.
There are the bugs, there are the changes I don’t agree with, but when you look at it in context no game even comes close to what Battlefield 3 has to offer.
It’s a different kind of title to what most console gamers are used to – PC player will be at home with the team-work elements – but rewards all styles of play, whether you’re the sniper who sits 500m behind your team-mates taking potshots at the guy lying prone instead of covering your squad or the engineer who runs around with his SMAW drawn firing rockets at anything that moves.
All the pre-release hype was right. This game looks great, sounds great and plays great. Don't miss out on what is easily one of the best games of the year... I'd love to see you on the battlefield.