It has been six years since the release of Battlefield 2, and although there have been plenty of other releases in the Battlefield franchise, the anticipation for a Battlefield 3 has been huge. When it was finally announced in February, Battlefield fans went crazy.
From the first footage shown, the game didn’t look like anything we’d seen to date. There was plenty of debate over whether or not the footage was actual gameplay or merely a pre-rendered trailer – the game just looked way too good! The attention to detail was on an entirely different level to other games released, and it was hard to believe that anything that looked this good could be run on current generation PCs and consoles.
The first hint at the real quality of the game came at E3 2011 with an actual playable level, complete with the promised graphics and the unexpected bonus of audio quality to match. Of course, these were passed on to the final version in all its glory, released several months later.
There is no doubt that the majority of anticipation for Battlefield 3 was for multiplayer: We all just wanted to get back into the 64player modern day arena we came to love with Battlefield 2. But Battlefield 3 also includes a single-player campaign that includes all aspects of the game.
The single-player campaign is very much a “How did I get here?” story, you find yourself being interrogated and must explain all events that lead up to the day. I’m not going to go into huge detail about the characters that you play, but I will point out this isn’t a simple run and gun affair. For the majority of the time you play as Sgt. Blackburn, but select missions see you taking part in some of the extra-curricular activities the Battlefield series has made famous. Mixing the gameplay up really keeps the fun in the game, the ability to both act as a shooter in a plane, and drive a tank turned out to be my favourite levels. The rest of the time you find yourself doing your best not to end up dead making your way around both urban and country maps and putting both your assault and ranged weapons to good use.
If you are a fan of any first person shooter campaign you will love Battlefield 3. The storyline was interesting, and gameplay second to none, even my pet hate of bad bots didn’t come into effect. I can however say it wasn’t perfect.
First problem, a crucial action failed to trigger. While investigating a body, my unit ended up standing in the middle of a forest having a tea party waiting for nothing to happen. Although this was solved by me throwing a grenade at my feet and doing the mission again it was an irritation.
Secondly, there was some graphic breakup issues on my setup on certain parts of the map (if someone from DICE readsthis: Urban courtyard taking out the rocket launchers in the building, I received what looked like bullet tracers in gray nothingness).
That said, if these are the only things I can complain about in a game as complex as this, I’m pretty happy.
The only other major thing noted with the single player is the fact it is hard. This is no Rambo “take a million hits and keep running” kind of game. One good shot to your head and you’re done. One other feature of the single player campaign is (while I realise it technically negates the “single player” title) is the ability to play it co-op with a friend. Most of the campaign involves you as part of a unit, this just slots the second player in that unit with you.
Of course what would a Battlefield game be without some of the best multiplayer gameplay around? Huge maps, destructible environments, 64 players, all with added boats, planes and vehicles. I could spend hours talking about how great multiplayer Battlefield is, but I would just end up sounding like a fanboy. DICE has brought back the same play you know and love from Battlefield 2, however everything is just better.
The developers have tweaked the classes, for one thing. The medic has been removed and his skills given to the Assault class – while this might sound like a odd move, in the past the medic played like assault anyway, just with added health packs. Tweaks like this have really balanced things out, and the long running beta before release guaranteed a smooth release (something the previous titles were lacking).
And finally the graphics and audio (oh, the graphics and audio!). They are like nothing you have seen or heard. This is where DICE and Battlefield 3 really shine. There is no game that has come close to the quality that has gone into Battlefield 3 and I’m pretty sure most tech demos don’t even come close.
The first time I heard the audio – in a noisy booth at E3, it simply stood out. It is almost like the guys at DICE decided, “Let’s start from scratch, and re-learn everything we know about in-game combat sound”. The audio is somehow crisper on all levels, whether it was the snap of a rifle or mere background ambience, it melded together into a high-quality audiophile’s wet dream.
But this is only half the story, as you have eyes as well as ears. The million dollar question: How did they pack in so much graphical quality and still make the game playable? The attention to detail is simply amazing, and these are not small linear maps, the areas you can both play in and view are gigantic and the detail stretches the full size of the map.
I have to say, I went into Battlefield 3 being a massive fan of the franchise. I’ve barely been able to wait for the release of the game, and to my delight, the team at DICE hasn’t disappointed. This, in my opinion, is the next generation of gaming. There is just nothing like it. This is a PC-first title (and it shows!), which hasn’t been held back by the current generation of consoles and their now-outdated technology. I just hope we start to see more games like this pushing modern day hardware with such fantastic graphics, audio and gameplay.