After placing their bets on Medal of Honour last year, only to leave the casino with nothing except the shirt on their backs, EA have brought out the big guns this year, and they really mean it this time.
Battlefield has to be their ’go to’ guy when it comes to shooters; with a loyal following and being developed by DICE, it makes you wonder why they bothered dragging MoH out of retirement in the first place. Unfortunately, after all of the hype surrounding Battlefield 3, it seems that EA has let this year’s crown slip from their grasp. Battlefield 3 isn’t a bad game; it just seems to be surrounded by imbeciles.
From broken promises to broken servers, the Battlefield 3 experience has been a painful one for the average fan. For almost 3 days after launch, few people were actually able to get online to play a game of multiplayer or co-op; this from a game whose marketing so far has been focused solely on that aspect of the game. In fact, EA are still having issues, and it can be quite frustrating trying to start a quick match, with the game repeatedly kicking you back to the main menu after failing to connect to a game. If you are lucky enough to join a game (I found the best way is to find someone on your friends list who’s playing and then join their game), you have to suffer through some annoying lag. It doesn’t happen every single time, but when you get in a game that has it, expect to see it throughout that round. I can understand that Battlefield 3 is a massive title, with lots of people trying to play online at the same time, but surely EA would have known that demand on the servers would be high; wasn’t this what the ’Online Beta’ was for? You can search for a game using the Server Browser option, but this can take time, and in most cases, all you want to do is press a button and get in a game.
Then, there are the in-game glitches; some of the funniest stuff I have ever seen, from players clipping the scenery to firing bullets from my hands in a helicopter. Sure it may be funny at times; but really, In this day and age?
Other than the annoyance of connection issues and glitches, the multiplayer is an incredible experience and exactly what BF3 fans have been hoping for. This is not Call of Duty, and if you want to start winning, you need to start thinking more and twitching less. There are, of course, the obligatory Deathmatch/Team Deathmatch games that can be played, but unlike CoD, these aren’t the best ways to play multiplayer in BF3. My personal favourite, Rush Mode, is an excellent mode in which to exercise teamwork and, by far, the most entertaining mode. There is also Capture the Flag, another mode where teamwork prevails. You can expect 64 player matches on PC, and while it drops to 24 on console, it can still be tons of fun. The best thing about Battlefield Multiplayer is that I may get frustrated that I am getting killed a lot, but this is frustration because I know I made a mistake, not because some idiot has gone nuts with an LMG. Those kinds of actions will cost you dearly here, my boy. There are the usual classes to specialise in: Assault, Recon, Medic, and Engineer. As you level up your character, you will unlock new weaponry and by levelling up your class, you will gain access to new equipment. This will help you do your job better on the field of battle.
As you can expect, vehicles have made a welcome return. Expect some old favourites, and a few new surprises when playing certain maps. Most of the maps I have played include something to get you from A to B with ease, but the controls can still be a bit tricky, so it is best to practice if you can.
While we are on the subject of Multiplayer, I would like to draw your attention to Battlelog. Sounds a lot like Autolog, that really awesome feature found in EA’s NFS: Hot Pursuit. I bet you are thinking ’Wow! All those incredible features found in Hot Pursuit have now been implanted into my favourite FPS’. Well, guess again my friend. Battlelog is an absolute turd of a feature, and a complete waste of your time. To start off with, you will need to create an account in the Battlelog Battlenet (one too many battles for my taste). This is done by getting off of your couch, heading to your PC and logging in online. I guess that would be fine if, by doing that, you would unlock all of the tasty features; but alas, it was not meant to be. For some completely bizarre reason, unlike Autolog, Battlelog does not use the people on your friends list to fill up the Battelog timeline. Instead you must create a new profile and add your friend separately (they must also have created a Battlenet account). Did they look at Autolog and wonder what they could do to make an excellent feature completely suck?
Again, it is an opportunity missed, as when you do set up an account, you can access all sorts of stats for your time with the game. Why did they have to make the whole process so convoluted?
As well as having multiplayer, you can also get some friends together and head out for some co-op action. Six missions in all, they are made up of various game types, which can be taken on with a friend. From sniper missions, to horde style combat, the co-op can be fun, if a little short.
Review copy provided by publisher. Primary play on PC and Xbox 360.