The long-awaited “Battlefield 3” was released last week and fans know the wait was well worth it. The wildly successful franchise’s latest installment does not disappoint.
Technology-wise, “Battlefield 3” is stunning. Gamers will be hard-pressed to find anything that doesn’t look meticulously textured. The lighting in particular is breathtakingly realistic, though at times DICE seems to have gone overboard with J.J. Abrams-style lens flairs.
In addition to the graphics, DICE has once again proven how powerful sound can be in a gaming experience. The studio has gone to great lengths to provide top-notch sound effects. DICE’s approach to sound involves going on location and recording high-definition audio; the effort has paid off.
DICE has crafted maps that take advantage of the destructible environments the Frostbite engine is known for. This has contributed to combat that is exhilarating and intense at levels other shooters just can’t match. Trying to hold out as tanks, helicopters, mortar strikes and infantry all converge on a single point elicits a feeling of being at the Alamo.
In addition to the serious punch and range of shotguns, gamers can use the weapons to rack up suppression points, a new type of point bonus awarded when bullets hit near an enemy. The suppression causes the enemy to go into a suppressed state, reducing their vision.
Teamwork is more important and rewarding than in any previous Battlefield game. Bonuses from suppression, spotting, repairing, resupplying and healing teammates racks up quickly. Players can use lasers to designate targets for planes and helicopters, a welcome addition to the franchise.
All four player classes feel necessary and rewarding. Players have a plethora of vehicles to choose from on the PC version’s 64-player maps, and this is where the engineer really shines. Vehicles enter a disabled state for a period of time before blowing up, giving the engineers time to repair if opponents don’t keep up the pressure. Every class has numerous weapons and equipment to unlock, and each primary weapon has 10 uniquely unlocked attachments. Vehicles have their own collection of unlockable upgrades as well, all meaning it will take a very long time for players to wear out the leveling system this time around.
Vehicle upgrades have become a matter of some concern. Aircraft in particular are very fragile and lightly armed until upgraded, and new players may find it quite difficult to survive long enough to do enough damage to unlock the better options.
The game does have some serious issues that need to be addressed. Currently, playing on the larger servers is blighted by intense lag and rubberbanding for many players, making play almost impossible at times. Attempting to join a server with friends is difficult. Even when joining as a party, the game often splits groups into different squads or different teams entirely. The limited number of squads can also make it hard to form a group with friends once in-game.
At times, spawning will force players to appear right in front of an enemy player or in odd places far from the nearby capture points, leaving the character open and exposed to enemy fire. The game’s co-op mode is filled with bugs at the moment, with enemies not visible on both players’ screens, events not triggering and an enemy artificial intelligence that often will break missions by getting stuck in walls. However, when these issues aren’t occurring, “Battlefield 3” is a riveting experience.
Overall, the game is highly recommended for players seeking intense teamwork, huge vehicle battles and intense infantry combat. A bug-free release is rare and DICE appears to be working on the glaring issues. Already improvement to the beta has been seen, when squads were far less functional.
When all aspects are working, there really isn’t any other shooter that can come close to the intensity, varied gameplay or sense-overloading greatness present in “Battlefield 3.”