And so we’ve come to the end of the year. I probably played through more new releases this year than any year prior. My Xbox died the day after Forza 4 came out. I attended E3 in June. The Vita was announced. The PSN was down for about a month. It’s been a pretty crazy year. At the end of it all, there have still been a few games I’d like to write about but never had the chance to. I’ve picked out three from 2011 and I’ll be writing a brief article on each of them.
Today, let’s talk about Battlefield 3!
Battlefield 3 may very well be my last big online multiplayer shooter. It features everything I love and hate about that style of game. The greatest thing that BF3 has going for it is that it’s presented and focused in a wildly different way from Call of Duty.
You wouldn’t be able to tell from the single player campaign, though. The single player is yet another story of a soldier being interrogated so that the gameplay can occupy various flashbacks. If you think this sounds familiar to Black Ops, you’re not wrong. The single player isn’t bad per se, but it’s entirely unremarkable and unmemorable. Not unlike Black Ops, sometimes it feels linear to the degree of being a long rail shooter.
But who comes to the Battlefield series for single player? Before Bad Company, BF games didn’t even have single player stories. The multiplayer component of BF3 is truly unique, chaotic, intense, and addictive. The reason it feels so much different from Call of Duty is due to the sense of scale. Sometimes maps seem like they go on for miles. Oftentimes, it’s true. In spite of that, the matches never feel overwhelming or overcrowded.
The squad system returns yet again and creates a very focused feeling around the various pockets of action going on at any given time. Your squad may be engaging another squad around this office building, but there are groups of tanks and trucks fighting up the road, an APC delivering a squad to a distant control point, and jet fighters dogfighting overhead. Everyone has a separate little battle to win, and doing so contributes to that overall objective, be it holding a control point or overrunning an enemy on the defensive.
It gets really crazy when you start to think about all these things happening around you being controlled by actual players. You can be running down a path and suddenly a burning jet falls into a building and explodes. That was an actual player, likely shot down by another actual player who is still flying up there somewhere. Moments like these are really immersive and, at the same time, feed into the whole “multiple small battles feeding into a larger one” feeling.
BF3 isn’t devoid of all online shooter problems, though. Though the game focuses on objectives rather than kill-death-ratio, you will never be able to change the fact that some people are insanely good at these games. You will die a lot; you often won’t even know from what direction you got killed. I know that a lot of the time, I couldn’t understand why the guy I was shooting was able to kill me before I killed him. Sometimes you’ll get into a bad streak and it will totally snap your interest in the game. You’ll definitely get fed up with players who fire endless amounts of mortars into the Paris streets map.
Other problems with the game sway to the technical side of things. I’ve fallen through the world a couple times. Other times, my interface simply didn’t exist and I couldn’t even bring up the menu to quit. A simple respawn after death, etc., solved the issue. Finally, for some strange reason, the game never works the first time I launch it. It always takes two tries at first. The game launches from a web browser, which may have something to do with it. It’s nice that you can browse servers without launching into the game, though, especially if you end up deciding not to play.
So why could this by my last massive online shooter? It just does everything I want. The gameplay is objective based and requires teamwork. The visuals and first-person animations are stunning and very immersive. The game just feels like it’s done what I want these games to do and I can’t imagine it going anywhere from here. Maybe it’s time for a new style of shooter to take over. Sci-fi, perhaps? In the meantime, I’ll keep enjoying Battlefield 3 until the modern military craze dies out.