Battlefield 3 – Broken Joystick mini review

Posted: November 5, 2011 in Uncategorized

‘Listen up gentlemen.  It’s a war out there.  We’ve got those Activision guys raining down annual s@!tstorms on us and it’s time we responded.’

‘What’ll we do, sir?’

‘Time to go back to DICE actual, unleash the Frostbite 2…’

OK, had a week with this title and I’m feeling…….decidely underwhelmed.  I’d like to start off by likening the whole EA vs Activision thing to the Haye / Klitschko fight a little while back.  In one corner you have the champion, plodding along consistently with nothing that exciting or new to declare and, in the other, you have the spunky challenger, full of  promises and expectation. Telling you what you’d been missing, how things were going to change….remember how that fight ended?  Pretty much the same here for me.

I put the blame at the door of reviewers who, due to the influx of games in this mad season, are going a little overboard in their praise of the triple A titles (UC3, I’m also looking at you but more about that next week).  With all the fanfare, Expo awards and initial reviews you’d have thought this was the second coming of FPS.

It isn’t.

Not to say that this is a bad package.  Single, multi and co-op players are all correct and present, dedicated servers are in place, the mighty Frostbite 2 engine is driving things along… but it all still seems a bit unfinished and broken in places.  Which is amazing when you think of how much EA has riding on this at least matching the CoD behemoth.

Okay, single player.  Nice opening sequences,  very gritty and packed with testosterone.  Hang on, questioning a soldier, levels are flash backs.  Am I playing CoDBlops again?  Into the action and we start with an on the rails QTE prologue.  So far, so meh.  Onto a night time level, I’m on my own trying to get back to an evacuation zone. It’s dark, gun shots and shouts break the silence, spotlights blind you as you turn a corner…this is much better.  Heart is racing, really enjoying this…oh it’s over.  OK though, as now I am climbing into a jet (must…try…hard…to avoid…Top Gun quotes).  Here we go and …. oh, I’m not flying. Just dropping bombs..when told to…hmm.  And now I’m running down a hillside towards a town in the dark (DICE are really proud of their lighting effects) playing a game of grown up ‘follow my leader’, nowhere near as much fun as when I was on my own a few levels back.

And this is typical of SP.  When the set pieces work right, it’s all very exciting but, for a game that prides itself on openess in MP, the SP is a claustophobic affair with a lot of handholding.  I know FPS games are well known for crappy SP but just imagine how much love would be given to a game that came out with a half decent SP story?

Co-op – haven’t played, can’t comment.

MP – I loved BF BC2. It’s probably the only FPS MP that I can honestly say I’ve enjoyed.  I am neither good at these games or able to spend 24 hours a day getting better at them so when I played BC2 and was able to kill the odd bad guy or hitch up with my squad in a tank to clear out a village I actually felt part of things. I felt everything was fairly balanced.  Shots hurt other players (not like CoD where, on the few occasions I’ve been able to sneak up behind an enemy,  I’ve shot them half a dozen times only for them to turn around and gun me down with one bullet).  There were no crazy killstreak awards.  You might get helicopters pinning you down but they could be blown up too.  The maps were big but felt populated.  All the things that made me prefer the title to CoDBlops.

I’ve played half a dozen games on BF3 and those feelings just aren’t there. Maps are huge and there are only 12 enemies in total.  This equals camping (those people who think ‘sod claiming a base, I’ll just sit here and get my levels up’).  It’s weird to get to the end of a game and see that most of the 24 playing have not managed to kill more than 6.

Not sure if the CoD crew are sharpening their nails on this until next Tues but squadplay seems non-existent.  Apart from using you to spawn on, I have yet to find any real team work.  Sure this is different if you have a few friends you can jump on at the same time but, due to my erratic game playing times,  I often don’t.

There have been several times I have spawned only to be shot dead in one shot in under a second.  How did they know I was there?

Servers will come into their own in time but it took me 4 days to actually get a game and things are still not right.  Not sure if it was a game error or the server putting me out of my misery but I crashed out of a game last night and had to reset the game to continue.  On the forums, many gamers are mentioning being kicked out of matches on more than a few occasions.

So to the graphics…  this engine will produce marvellous things but, on the 360 at least, it is not happy. Fair bit of break up, there seems to be two layers of water when I swim (not a game breaker but hardly an immersing feature), a few judders here and there (but that could be the server).  It does look pretty in places (so did BC2) but also very grey and similar across many of the maps I have played.  I have yet to stop in my tracks and go ‘wow, that looks fantastic’.  Putting it simply, despite the HD pack being installed on your hard drive, the console cannot cope and things can often get messy.

To conclude, I appreciate that there are a lot of moans above (and there are still many positive things that stand out on this title) but it’s difficult to avoid the negative points when the developer and publisher have been carping on about this being the dog’s spherical ones for months. Bland SP and strangely unappealing and cold MP have been my initial impressions and the 99p trade in offer for Halo Nov 18 is looking v appealing.

No next gen feelings from me.  Activision just need a calm launch and steady servers and they’ll have this round won comfortably.

Just like Klitschko.

EDIT 11/11/11 – Played some more SP and am finding that you get a great level for every shite level.  The tank level is particularly good fun with a lot of tense moments.  It feels especially good after the rubbish level before it, full of QTE that don’t match what’s going on on-screen.  Still finding AI rubbish. In one room, I had to knife a soldier in front of me who was blocking a doorway.  Instead of pressing knife button I lobbed a grenade.  It went off in the small room and…guess what?… the soldier still stood looking the other way oblivious to my presence.  What a nonsense!!!

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