GameRevolution's Battlefield 3 Video Review!
I haven't killed a single person.
The enemy team only has three tickets left before the match is over. We've lost two out of three sets of MCOM stations and the battle is nearly over. I've yet to kill a single person. I've been too busy healing people, laying Med Kits near the front lines, and reviving the soldiers who've fallen near me. My squad, my band of brothers, have effectively owned the right side of the map this entire time, and I'd like to think I had something to do with it.
But I didn't kill anyone. When the scoreboard pops up after the end of the match, I'm surprised to find myself sitting on top. I had NO kills and only 5 deaths in the previous 35 minutes, but I outscored everyone on my team and everyone on the enemy team. That's Battlefield.
In a triumphant return to the proper Battlefield series (Bad Company who?), Battlefield 3 from Digital Illusions CE and Electronic Arts drops players at the front lines with one goal: eliminate the enemy forces and capture the objectives. Whether that means you're playing the new-to-the-franchise Team Death Match or the now classic Conquest game mode, you need to use your class's unique abilities to their best and help your teammates reach theirs as well. This is a squad-based game for a reason.
Battlefield 3 manages to reach the pinnacle of team play, even on consoles where gamers tend to lone wolf their way around the arena. DICE manages to accomplish this through subtle pushes and prods, spawning players on squad-mates or into vehicles being piloted by other players, and giving each class a vital, unique role in the heart of battle. Ultimately, you're urged to act together and assist each other in battle.
Assault soldiers are lightweight, maneuverable, and are the only teammates who can heal you or revive you after you've died. Engineers are the only soldiers capable of repairing or destroying vehicles in battle. Support soldiers carry heavy machine guns and ammo packs so other soldiers can stock up on supplies to carry on the good fight. The Recon class is the only class that can use sniper rifles, but they can also provide mobile spawn points for their squad-mates to use in the field.
The real magic in the specialization of these classes is the way you've got to depend on each one in order to truly succeed. The best squads are the ones that work together, with Assaults healing the Engineers and Supports, while Recons cover them from behind. Even more important is spotting enemy units for your entire team. Jets and other air vehicles are practically worthless without key targets marked for them. Tanks are extremely vulnerable without soldiers supporting heavy armor on foot. So as empowering as vehicles are, they can also be extremely open to attack.
It also takes quite some time to learn how to handle the cumbersome tanks or lithe jets with real precision. Stepping into a jet for the first time only enables the use of the plane's machine guns. You have to level up your vehicles before you can use air-to-surface missiles or even anti-heat-seeking flares.
That may seem discouraging, but with gunplay so fast, responsive, and enjoyable, it's not so bad leaving the stick to more accomplished pilots. Infantry combat is just as fast and fluid—but more tactical—as Call of Duty's. Soldiers going it alone will be punished severly by anyone working together with their squad.
With Conquest, Rush, Team Deathmatch, and Squad Deathmatch on some truly gorgeous, varied maps, Battlefield 3 proves itself as the undisputed king of online multiplayer shooters. I would even go so far as to say that Battlefield 3 is the premiere online multiplayer experience, bar none. Any game that lets me go without killing a single enemy and still score more than my team and the opposition is a winner in my eyes.
There are so many ways to be successful in a match, and there's a seemingly endless list of unlocks, customizable weapons, and rewards. The second you think you've learned everything there is to learn about a specific class, you'll unlock a new weapon or attachment that will change the way you kill and succeed in battle. You can also just switch your class and see another side of combat, if just to improve your versatility.
All of that said, Battlefield 3's single-player campaign is totally skippable. That's no surprise. DICE's Battlefield series has typically launched without a single-player component. The multiplayer is just that good. The Bad Company offshoot has given the developer a space to experiment, but Battlefield 3's focus is still set squarely on online interactions.
The real issue with the campaign is its total lack of focus. It's not a Michael Bay blockbuster like Call of Duty's story and it doesn't strike a tone of its own to feel worthwhile. Why DICE and EA didn't seize a unique opportunity to be the Bourne Identity of first-person shooters is beyond me. It certainly seems like there's potential. Regardless, Battlefield 3's campaign just isn't entertaining, and I'm easily entertained by FPS campaigns. The cooperative missions are just as boring. The depth and value isn't as intrinsically linked to these modes as it is in multiplayer.
In the end, it's forgiveable. When you've got such an amazing multiplayer mode with literally thousands of hours of valuable gameplay packed into it, I will let it slide despite your "meh" campaign mode. Let me explain my role as a reviewer of Battlefield 3.
The engine is drop-dead gorgeous, no matter what platform you're playing on. The game also sports industry-best sound design. Period. This is the best engine I've ever seen and as many developers as possible should do their best to work in Frostbite 2. Their games will be that much better for it.
I'm not about evanglize the game for you fanboys. I'm also not going to dump on it for you naysayers. Battlefield 3 has its strengths and weaknesses, and every single one of its strong points can be found in the game's multiplayer mode, where it ultimately counts. Every single one of its weakpoints lay in the single and cooperative campaigns.
In the end, I'm grading Battlefield 3 on a "Should you buy it?" scale—and the ansswer is "Yes!" —but only if you've got the time and the desire to play online. You won't find a better multiplayer experience.
Review is based on the PS3 version. Copy provided by the publisher.