I have been an avid Call of Duty fan for a few years now, but I wouldn't necessarily call myself a die hard fanboy of the franchise. I only really started paying any attention to the series with Call of Duty 3 on the Wii. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare was what really sparked my love affair with the title. Although I was aware of the awesomeness of Battlefield: Bad Company 2, I stuck to my guns and just stayed on the Call of Duty side of things. I don't know what pushed me to get Battlefield 3, really, but I'm guessing it was the desire for something new and the brilliant DICE marketing.
Since this is my first Battlefield game, and my heart has been with Call of Duty for a long time, I would like to give an unbiased review of Battlefield 3, from the point of view of an open minded Call of Duty fan.
Black Ops' graphics didn't really do it for me; everything felt kinda like textured plastic. Modern Warfare 2 was still better in this department. So how does Battlefield 3 compare? Frankly, BF3 kind of blows them both out of the water on all platforms. Every single thing looks gorgeous. It's exciting to see how MW3 will stack up in November.
Using Frostbite 2, they were able to create amazing landscapes and realistic looking textures. The way light interacts with the environment is just inspired, although that goddamned flashlight is a little overpowered.
Before I even started playing the game, I was under the impression that the controls wouldn't be so hard to get used to because it'll be very similar to Modern Warfare. Turns out, I was right. The button mapping is slightly different but it didn't take so long to get used to.
The difference is in how your character moves, given the same control scheme. In Modern Warfare, guns didn't have much inertia when moving them side to side. This enabled noobs like me to exercise some accuracy. In Battlefield 3, guns moved just as swiftly, but had a lot more inertia to them, which causes a little sway when moving them from side to side. I'm still trying to get used to this. Neither control scheme is better; they're just different, but if I had to pick, I'd still go with Call of Duty just because it's easier for me.
Recoil on Battlefield 3 is generally harder to control, and that's why burst firing is encouraged instead of letting a stream of bullets flow through the air to hit a target 50 yards away.
As beautiful as the sounds were in Modern Warfare 2, I think Battlefield 3's sound effects outclass them. Voices, foot steps and gun shots echo depending on the environment. Lugging guns around sounds heavy and realistic. However, it's the ambient noise that really sets the title apart. With all those gun shots going off in the distance, you actually feel like you're in a war zone.
When I had my 7.1 simulated PS3 headset on, I actually ducked when I heard a jet coming from behind me.
With what I'm hearing from MW3 previews, it will seem like a close match.
Single Player Experience:
This is where Battlefield kind of disappointed me. One could argue that it feels as if the single player was added only because everyone else was doing it and you had to add that value just so it wouldn't look like you were gimping your customers. One might even say it is nothing more than a training camp with a story, preparing you for the multiplayer. I dunno how I feel about it. I guess it's okay because the meat really is in the multiplayer.
The campaign's story was pretty weird because you start out playing as Blackburn of the US Marines, then you're transported into the body of Jennifer, a jet pilot. After that, you're a guy named Dima. Most of the body switches felt unnecessary.
Although the plot is fairly easy to piece together, it just feels a little coo clichè. The Modern Warfare and Modern Warfare 2 storylines are hard to believe or understand but they were way more interesting than Battlefield 3's. Also, Soap, Price and Ghost are very interesting characters; interesting enough to be in the Long Live Play video. Blackburn is just another hard-ass Marine who chose the hard path.
The length is disappointing, too. It takes maybe 6-7 hours to finish on medium difficulty, maybe 10 hours if you go for all the trophies. It sucks because just as you're really getting into it, as the story is revealed, it just ends.
Before I go into what I love about it, let's get some rants out of the way. Customizing weapons can't be done in between games, which kind of blows. You can do it while in a match, which is kind of cool but it'd be nice to leisurely put your loadout together without having to worry about where you need to be because your team is getting decimated. Another thing I absolutely, really would have loved that isn't in BF3 is the ability to leave the game in between games. Popping out of a game that just finished makes sense, yes? When I want to leave, I'd have to wait until the next game starts before I can quit.
With that little rant out of the way, we can move onto the good stuff. I must say I absolutely love the idea that if you don't work well as a team or squad, you're essentially fucked. I am having trouble adhering to this concept because I find myself playing it like a Call of Duty game where you all essentially go out and kill people on your own, and working as a team is advantageous but optional.
As far as I can tell, everything seems well balanced, except the damn flashlight, which blinds you even in the middle of the day. There are no superman specializations that give you a massive edge over anyone who doesn't have it. Guns seem fairly equivalent all throughout, but I could be wrong since I've only played about 4 hours of multiplayer.
Given my limited play time, I can confidently say that I suck balls at the MP. However, even though I get frustrated at times, I like the game enough to be determined to get better. There are mechanics that still elude me and aiming is still a challenge for me, but this just makes me want to pour more hours into it and turn myself into a player not to be messed around with.
Still, I will say this - I find the twitchy gun-on-gun gameplay of the Modern Warfare franchise to be more fun. I like that I can jump in and drop out really quick just to meet my badassery quota. Battlefield 3 multiplayer requires me to invest some time because you can't jump in there, guns blazing and do well. Plus, matches take about twice the time a regular Call of Duty TDM would take. However, I do enjoy having to strategize with a bunch of other people, so it all just depends on what I feel like doing.
These are fun as hell. In the single player, in the jet, it felt like I was on a freakin' 4D ride, man. The experience was surreal. As the Battlefield 3 marketing says, you don't call in airstrikes. You are the airstrike! Problem is, if you have uncooperative bitch ass team mates who don't spot, you'll be flying around there, not knowing what to shoot at. Just staying airborne is hard enough, so having no real target doesn't help.
Mastering the chopper and the jet take some time. They're easy enough to learn after a few tries, but complicated enough to require some practice to actually get good. I think that's a good way to balance things out.
Tanks and jeeps are essential to winning. That is, the control, management, evasion and counter strategy of the tanks and jeeps are vital to success. I went 19-0 because I found this sweet vehicle that let the driver fire off a powerful machine gun instead of a canon. No one knew how to stop me, and no one seemed to think I was a threat. So I mowed them all down.
Key Differences in Gameplay
Apart from not being able to take out an entire squad with a tactical knife and a flash bang, there are a number of things that makes Battlefield 3 different.
- The entire gameplay experience of Battlefield 3 revolves around team work. You wanna win? You play as a team.
- Spotting. Please, for the love of all that is holy, when you see a tank or an unfriendly, press the select button please! Q for PC players.
- Driving tanks and aerial vehicles
- More recoil. Popping caps into dudes at a distance is harder and requires more fine motor skills.
- Maps are bigger. You literally need to get into a vehicle to get into the fight.
- Class system defines roles very clearly. Knowing what class to pick and how to fulfill its role is vital - assault is the medic, engineer is the guy who takes out enemy armor, support is the guy who provides covering fire and ammo, and scout is the guy who should really do more than sniping (spotting).
- Knife kills are only really effective from behind, which is how it should be
Better or Worse:
Neither. Sure, it's a cop out answer, but that's the truth. The experience is just surreal, and the multiplayer is enjoyable. I find the Call of Duty franchise more fun, but Battlefield 3 has a lot more depth. Now, let's wait for MW3 to come out so we know what's what.
Battlefield 3 gets a 4.5 out of 5.