This is my rifle, this is my gun.
They say that imitation is the highest form of flattery and, if this is the case, then developers Infinity Ward must be creaming their pants. To be fair, constant references to this game being the ‘Call of Duty killer’ or ‘the end of Modern Warfare’s reign’ are all extraneous.
Despite the rivalry between EA and Activision over the years, Battlefield 3 is only like its competition in the fact that they both have guns. And they’re both set in modern-day military combat. And they both rely heavily on multiplayer gameplay. But ultimately, it’s like comparing oranges with satsumas. Can’t we enjoy a healthy serving of both these citrusy treats and make a fruit smoothie?
Battlefield 3 is worth all the hoopla we’ve been experiencing over the last few months. But lets get one thing straight: anyone looking to buy this game for a rip-roaring single-player campaign will be disappointed. Battlefield 3 is definitely a game to be shared with other fellow humans - whether you are covering their backs or shooting them in the face.
It’s still a good place to start, though, and the campaign story revolves around disgraced Staff Sergeant Henry 'Black' Blackburn - a member of the United States Marines who is caught up in an International terrorist plot.
From here, the list of expected military clichés kick in; Middle Eastern turmoil, weapons of mass destruction, walking away from explosions in slow-motion, and a sense of patriotism that would make even Tom Clancy wince. Amazingly, though, despite all of the over-the-top Hollywood heroics, Battlefield 3 still feels like a terrifyingly real simulation of modern day warfare.
This is probably thanks to the monumental level of detail that the Frostbite 2 engine manages to spew into every nook and cranny of the game. Battlefield 3 is a stunning game to behold, whether it’s the dusty dilapidated streets of Sulaymaniyah or soaring through the bogey-ridden skies in a Super Hornet.
Even the minor details, like tiny scratches on metal surfaces, Islamic propaganda on walls, and blood splatter on your visor are like candy for your eyes. The lighting and particle effects are some of the best I’ve ever seen in a videogame as well. You’ll be able to taste the sand on your tongue and flinch as bullets whistle past your ears as you scurry for cover.
Battlefield 3 truly encapsulates that white-knuckle, ‘death is all around me and I want to get out’ atmosphere that is reminiscent of Evan Wright’s brilliant Generation Kill chronicles.
The voice-acting throughout is phenomenal, and adds a whole new dimension to the human casualty side of urban warfare. The writers have certainly dropped their share of F-bombs into the mix too, but considering there are seven shades of painful death waiting around every corner, a few obscenities seem pretty appropriate. Not to mention realistic. As you scurry for cover from a tank bearing down on you, you’ll probably be dropping more than a few F-bombs yourself.
The soundtrack plays its part as well, slowly building in the background during moments of high tension before dropping away when you have your balls to the wall and are whispering prayers.
The campaign mode is packed with non-stop action, including some short but memorable vehicle missions. Throughout the story, you’ll come across other characters as well - including tank operator Corporal Miller and aircraft weapon’s specialist Lieutenant Hawkins, both of which offer a different gameplay experience.
Overall the single-player is far from terrible. But it is brief, clocking in at around six hours, and it suffers from some uninspired plot development and even worse AI. It all feels rigid and far too controlling when compared to the action that can be found online.
Although cinematic and worth the ride, little quirks like the numerous quick-time events, occasional bugs (I was swimming through air in a car-park at one point), and invisible ‘out of bounds’ restrictions mar the experience. It does, however, set you up beautifully for the open-ended, seat of your pants madness awaiting you in the multiplayer.
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