Bangers and crash
Review Even the staunchest opponent of all things games would have been hard pushed to avoid the determined advertising campaign waged on us by EA of late. TV spots, billboards, websites, magazines, sides of buses, newspapers, even logos on tanks in one recent London stunt, all liberally displaying brand Battlefield.
To say the war upon our eyes and ears has been won would be putting it mildly.
Over and (taken) out
With such hype comes bewildering expectation and, while Dice’s Battlefield 3 certainly makes for entertainment, it falls short of being the second coming we might have expected. That said, if you hyped up Jesus’ return to Battlefield 3 proportions, even that might seem a bit... ‘meh’.
What you get here is essentially two games in one: the FPS-by-numbers single-player campaign and the far more open and ambitious multiplayer offering. You’ll also get a first look at Dice’s much publicised Frostbite 2 engine, the driving force behind Battlefield 3’s effects and, since gameplay footage was released, one of the game's most hotly debated aspects: “Is that really gameplay footage? Will it look as good on console as PC?” And so on.
Do not talk about flight club
Well, as this is a review of the Xbox 360 version – that’s the version supplied by EA – I can at least state that yes, it was really gameplay footage all along and, no, it doesn’t look as good. But it isn’t far away.
To clarify – on the Xbox at least – you’re provided with two discs, one with the solo missions and one for multiplayer. It’s this second disc which also contains the high-res texture pack which you really should install at all costs to get the most out of your experience. Without it, be prepared to be underwhelmed. Owners of 4GB 360s have no choice - they can't install disc 2.
Tanks for the memory
With the texture pack installed Battlefield 3’s warzone is a thing of monstrous beauty, as tracer rounds whiz overhead, grenades kick up clouds of dust, choppers and jets patrol the skies, and your enemies realistically recoil before crumpling to the ground as they become yet another statistic confirming the evil that men do.
Next page: Single shots
Sorry but I won't be buying this one
At least not until LAN play is once again on the table.
EA has been continuously constraining the Battlefield franchise. In BF 1942 (the first title), you could have your LAN server, with bots if you wanted (ie not all human players) and you could choose among whatever factions were available for fighting on the map of your choice (one size).
This situation remained in the series up to and including BF Vietnam (the last patch of which controlled the foliage option for the bots and made the game a real pleasure). Then we got BF2, and the options diminished.
In BF2, you could choose map sizes to correspond to your number of players. A great option, until you found out that said option was not available for LAN players, only for official (pay-for) servers. LAN servers (ie your server) could only run the small maps for 16 players.
That was corrected by some community map makers who did a bang-up job of saying "screw that" and made the huge 64-player maps available for LAN play, with bots.
Then, of course, there was the progression system, not available for LAN players at all because you had to be on a public server to be able to use it. In itself, it was not really a problem, except that your LAN server would not allow you to play with stuff you hadn't unlocked on public servers. So you had the incredible situation of being forced to use the basic (lame) weapons on your private server. Why not the best ones ? To force you to play on public servers, of course.
So the community once again rolled up its sleeves and birthed a personal ranking server for BF2. Then the war started. With each patch and major update, EA did something that would break the personal server functionality, and the intelligent people behind said server would toil day and night to produce a patch to the ranking server in record time.
In the end, it became simply ridiculous.
Finally, with BF2 gone was the time where you could choose the factions for the maps. They were hard-coded into the map rules. Sure, there is certainly some very good explanation for that, but let's be realistic, hmm ? If they could do it in the previous versions, there really isn't any technical problem with making such freedom of choice available in BF2. I think it was to avoid certain "political" issues, like peoply whinging over the fact that some public server had Euro forces fighting against US Marines.
Now EA has entirely removed the LAN option. Maybe it's temporary (because that happened in BF2 as well, and EA relented with a patch), maybe it isn't. But one thing is certain : EA is once again doing everything it can to lock down the game and prevent people from enjoying it the way they want to. And I do not want to be subject to the mind-numbing amount of griefers and morons that infest public servers like lice.
With BF2 I did the resistance thing. I installed the official patches, and went hunting for the private ranking server patches. My friends and I played BF2 and the patch game for over two years. We had loads of fun, even though 58 out of 64 players were bots. Maybe even because of that.
I will not submit to the same shenanigans again. If EA does not open up BF3, allow LAN parties and private ranking servers, then fine. What it means is that BF3 is not a game for me and I will not buy it or play it.
The promotional material is stunning, for sure, but my friends and I have other games that are fun to play and don't limit us on purpose.
We'll find the Frostbite engine in some other game that is more gamer-friendly anyway.
I would say a few things against it
The 360 version looks unbelievably bad without the texture pack - we're talking N64 quality textures in places, just checking out review sites.
The PC version doesn't have LAN play or bots, and requires EA's shite.
Because of the above, pass.
Which is why you play on a console where you've already signed away all rights to the data it can get hold of.
Too bad no information was given about the necessity to install spyware on your computer to play Battlefield 3. Origin scours the computer to see if it can find any personal data to peruse.
I wouldn't go as far as awesome.
Average, more like.
No arguments about multi-player - it is brilliant in-game. The part that totally negates that piece of awesomeness for me are the loooong load times, and - even worse - the fact that you can only quit the game in-game, and not between game sessions. WFT?!?