Battlefield 3 has arrived and it is a mixed bag. One of the big things that EA has been pushing about this game is the Frostbite 2.0 engine that makes the game look amazing. As far as the PC version is concerned the game is absolutely stunning, however, for the Xbox 360 version it is not the quantum leap that people were wanting. Please don’t misunderstand what I am saying here. Battlefield 3 is a beautiful game no matter what platform it is on. The console versions did take a hit though which is made a lot worse by the high definition patch that you had to install on the Xbox 360. If you are someone that doesn’t have a hard drive then you are not going to be able to enjoy the graphical beauty of this title. I never thought that I would be asked whether I wanted to install HD content. After all, I am playing Battlefield 3 on the Xbox 360, not the Wii. There is also some co-op action that you can go through with a friend in addition to the standard multiplayer suite.
Much has been said regarding the graphical fidelity of the Frostbite 2.0 engine and it has definitely given us one of the most beautiful games available on the Xbox 360. There are certain moments within the campaign that look stunning and really add to the overall atmosphere. Unfortunately, the campaign is marred with technical issues and bugs that really take away from the overall enjoyment of story. There were multiple times in the campaign when I was prone and trying to sneak up on an enemy to take him out. As I was making my way over to the enemy my guy would inexplicably stand up for no reason and I would get shot and killed on the spot. This didn’t happen every time, however, it was infuriating when I had spent the last few minutes clearing out an area and then a bug like that kills me and I have to start over. There was also a melee glitch that I would encounter from time to time where I would quietly sneak up behind an enemy and hit the melee button on my controller. The guy had no idea that I was there yet, magically, instead of me silently eliminating the enemy I was the one who ended up with a knife in the neck and having to restart that section. The first couple of times it happened I thought it might have simply been an error on my part. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case and it happened to me a number of times as I progressed through the story. As beautiful as the scenery looked around me there were also some big graphical glitches. I could see some tearing as I was going through it and I could also see the graphical seams in the environment as well, just to name a couple of problems. As I was going through the story there were definitely some cool locales that I got to visit. I enjoyed myself in the air when I was trying to shoot planes out of the sky and then had to cover my guys on the ground similar to AC-130 missions I have experienced elsewhere. I also enjoyed driving a tank around and blowing everything sky high. It’s a shame that the technical issues and a feeling that this was rushed out the door before it was ready takes away from some of the great moments the campaign has to offer.
If you still want more once you go through the campaign then there is also a co-op mode that you can go through with a friend. The co-op mode features six missions and even has a mini storyline that is similar to the single player campaign. Going through it with a friend is definitely a lot of fun and I think the campaign itself could have been more fun if it featured online co-op as well. One great thing about the co-op mode is that you will be rewarded for completing the missions with new weapons unlocked for the multiplayer portion of the game. With all of that said let’s face the facts. The vast majority of gamers who pick up this title will spend the majority of their time playing with/against their friends online. There are five different modes in the multiplayer with Rush, Squad Rush, Squad Death Match, Team Death Match and Conquest. The multiplayer is where this game really shines with maps that are a good size and vehicles that you can use to wreak havoc. I really enjoyed getting into a tank and blowing the enemy up or simply taking control of the secondary weapons as a friend worried about driving the tank around. The game comes with nine maps on the disc which should keep people busy until DICE gets around to releasing some more in downloadable form. The multiplayer on the Xbox 360 can handle up to 24 players and the maps are a bit more scaled down when compared to their PC counterpart. With that being said there are two ways you can look at it and what you like will depend on what type of gamer you are. The smaller maps on the Xbox 360 help to insure that you never have to go too long before you get into some action. If you are playing on the PC and you don’t have a vehicle then you might spend a little bit of time running back to the action every time you get killed. Now Battlefield does have a system where you can spawn at different points, which does help to alleviate this problem if used correctly. So it really is just about personal preference. I enjoyed being able to jump into the action a little quicker myself.
The multiplayer maps have a nice variety to them and I enjoyed each one. There is the Operation Metro map that everyone should be familiar with but I really enjoyed the Seine Crossing map as well as Kharg Island. As you participate in multiplayer matches you will earn XP through your actions. You can get XP through a variety of methods like winning a match, having teammates spawn on your location and more. Once you get to the required number of XP you will level up and items/weapons will begin to unlock for you. It can be pretty rough going in the beginning when you are playing against a bunch of people that are twenty levels higher than you, however, the game does become quite a bit of fun once you get yourself to those higher levels. Vehicles added another layer of enjoyment for me as I mentioned before. There are twenty two vehicles in all with eleven ground vehicles, four planes and six choppers at your disposal. You will also be spoiled for choice when it comes to customizing your load out although, obviously, some things will have to be unlocked along the way. For people who like to obsess over stats there is also EA’s Battlelog. This is where you can check out various stats such as your medal count and keep track of your friend’s progress in the game.
Your enjoyment of Battlefield 3 will be dependent on what you want out of it. If you are the type of gamer who only wants to play the game for its story then I would highly suggest you rent this game first so that you know what you are getting in to. I encountered way too many bugs throughout the campaign which kind of made it feel like an afterthought next to the robust multiplayer offering. The multiplayer is really where the fun is here and if you have been a fan of the franchise in the past then you should have a great time here. There are still some issues and some servers are still screwing up, however, the majority of the multiplayer works perfectly fine and I have confidence that DICE will eventually iron out all of the issues that they are currently experiencing. Even though there are some server problems I had a great time in all of the multiplayer matches that I participated in. There are a ton of games set to flood the market, however, if you are a fan of online military shooters than be sure to check out Battlefield 3.