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Battlefield 3 Review (Singleplayer)

Battlefield 3 Review (Singleplayer)

In this review we’re only going to look at the single player aspect of Battlefield 3 and will do a separate review for the multi-player.  We’re explaining this, because to be totally honest the single-player and multi-player are completely different and likely to be liked by completely different types of players.

James’s Take: (PC) 9/10

I’ve seen a lot of grumbling on the forums about the inclusion of the single player campaign, problems with the beta, little bugs which happen in every release.  Let me go ahead and assure you right now.  This is a good game.

The 2 most lasting impressions from the game that I’m likely to remember are, the Operation Swordbreaker mission start with a johnny cash rendition of “Run On” playing in the background,  and the going hunting mission which was one of the best immersive single-player experiences I’ve ever experienced.  It technically shouldn’t have been in the storyline or have been written in better but I’m glad it was included.  More on it later.

First I’ll talk about the graphics a little bit.  The graphics detail that the new Frostbite 2 engine is able to achieve is stunning.  Lighting, smoke, blur, all wonderfully rendered in this engine.  So all I can say are the graphics are amazing.  But I do have some small issues.

Included for the first time in the battlefield series is suppression mode.  A very good inclusion in this game IMO, in which while you’re being suppressed you vision blurs and your weapon accuracy drops.  The effect however leaves me feeling like I’m being shot, although maybe that’s the point.  But it will make me want to jump from where I am and find new cover.

I have noticed the occasional time when I shoot an enemy he will go to jump backwards.  However when something is blocking him from behind he will jump straight up with superhuman ability.  Sometimes I’ve seen them jump over trees and then lie on the ground dead.  They say a candle burns brightest before it blows out, but that’s a bit much.  Its a minor thing however and I suspect a patch in the near future will eliminate it.

The sound in the game is excellent.  I was particularly impressed by the environmental effects in the game which really added to immersion and realism.  Like for example passing by a rain gutter in a rainstorm will cause you to hear all of the water running off the roof that the gutter is serving.  This isn’t exactly groundbreaking stuff, but it’s an attention to detail that has been lacked in many games recently.

The soundtrack for the game was great as well.  I made a little note on my notepad here about how I liked how the soundtrack had many moods and levels.  But I guess what I was trying to was that I liked how the soundtrack wasn’t just constantly drums and war music.

I also like the BF 1942 theme rehash that they’ve introduced in the campaign.  It appears in 2 missions but you can only hear it really clearly during the paratrooper mission.  It brought back some memories and but a big smile on my face.

There was nothing groundbreaking about the game play in Battlefield 3.  DICE just stuck with their tested method.  I do have a few complaints however.

In the campaign scripted AI will simply push you out of their way.  This may not seem like a big deal, but the AI is scripted to take cover at certain positions.  If you happen to run ahead of the AI and take a spot they’re headed for, they’ll just push you in the open when they get there.  This happened to me twice during a mission where a jet was strafing my squad.  I died twice just cause the AI wanted to take cover where i was.

Another issue I had was the number of areas where you get stuck behind a turret and you’re just simply meant to wipe out as many of the enemy as possible.  This happens a lot in this game, way too much for my taste.  I wouldn’t mind the occasional turret mission but not this many.

Scripted interactive storyline elements are kind of fun and have been coming into PC games more and more lately.  But this game has the most “tap the whatever key to continue the storyline” game play I’ve encountered on PC since Dragon’s Lair.

The different variations in the mission types really broke up the game well and prevented boredom on my part.  There was a series of different types of game play in the missions (IE stealth, charging, flanking) to break up the styles of  game play on the players behalf.  If the player didn’t particularly like the stealth mission they only had to stomach to the end of the level and then not see it again.

But a different method of breaking up the action is with what I like to call “intermission missions”.   There is two of them in this game, a jet fighter mission which is on rails and a tank combat mission which is fun as well.

Both of the missions are much more arcade like and lacking in the realism that Battlefield generally provides.  For example in the jet mission you have a seemingly unlimited number of missiles to fire at the enemy, and your IR missiles will track the front of an enemy plane.  If you fire a missile at an enemy fighter behind you, your missile will actually turn all the way around and chase the fighter.

The tank mission starts off very arcade like and fun, and finishes off with a turret mission fending of 100 of rpg teams.  Well maybe dozens, but still.

As far as Storyline and immersion are concerned I was generally fairly impressed with the single player campaign.  There was a moment of WTF in the later missions, but in the beginning everything was well done to draw me into the game.

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This storyline departs a bit from Bad Companies storyline.  All of the campy humor that was present in Bad Company has been replaced with a dead serious Band of Brothers meets 24.  I personally would’ve liked to have seen another episode of Bad Company, but this story was pretty good as well.

The storyline is presented in several flash backs.  There is 2 main story lines which head towards each other.  The one story line goes ahead in chronological order while the other proceeds in reverse chronological order.  Eventually they converge and the plot finale is realized.

In between there is several side stories which are very loosely tied to the main story.  In fact the jet mission may have been an afterthought edition since it barely made any sense to try and tie it to the main story the way it was.

In the end the stories finale isn’t very fulfilling IMO.  The ending doesn’t seem to lend itself to introducing a sequel.  But lets not assume there isn’t going to be one.

All said the singleplayer campaign takes about 5 hours to complete.  Its not very long, but it is fairly intense and is over a fun game.  Because of the games amazing graphics, fun gameplay and immersion I’m giving this game a score of 9/10.

By James Sullivan
James is a regular contributor to GameAspect.Com and also the operator.  He’s primarily a PC gamer but enjoys the occasional console game.

Sean’s Take: (PC) 8.5/10

***Warning Warning Spoiler Alert Spoiler Alert Sound The Alarm***
Unfortunately reviewing some of the games I did this month took a hit on my bandwidth limit so unlike other people who waited at home until the game unlocked I actually had to go out and wait in line for the presale like a sucker. I got home around 0200 and the install was about a half hour, so I began playing the single player campaign around 0230. I completed after about 4.5 – 5 hours of game play so, this was a fairly short single player game but I liked most of it. Here is a recap of the single player and what I thought of it.
The story starts out with the mission Semper Fidelis which by the cut scenes you see takes place in New York.  All you know is that you are wearing a pair of hand cuffs and United States Marine Corps. battle dress uniform and are jumping onto a train filled with a bunch of angry dudes with guns. I didn’t mind the fact that I had no idea what was going on, I just decided to go with it and kill them all. It was a good opener because it was an easy mission so you can get a feel for all your controls and make sure you have stuff set up properly.  At the end you meet an angry guy who you can only assume is an important part of the story because he is trying to kill you and you can’t control your character.  The mission ends here and kind of draws you in due to the fact that it’s a little different then the Battlefield I remember with New York, and Trains, and a Marine in Hand Cuffs.

Next you find yourself in a room being interrogated by two CIA agents for some reason. For the rest of the game you play missions that happened in the past to find out what is about to happen in the future.

For the majority of the game you play as Marine Corps. Ssgt Blackburn of the 1st Recon Battalion who you discover is being interrogated by the CIA for shooting his CO (Captain Cole). You are in charge of a 5 man squad who originally was tasked to meet up with another squad investigating chemical weapon Intelligence because they are pinned down in a bad part of town by a militia called the PLR.
You are then sent to Tehran where you are tasked with taking a high value target named Al-Brashir. The plot thickens when the squad locates a crate made for 3 weapons of mass destruction (WMD’s) in a bank vault where Al-Brashir is hiding with someone named Soloman, 2 WMD’s are missing. Your squad takes Al-Brashir alive who points the finger at Soloman and says that the two target cities are Paris and New York. After this you find out that Al-Brashir and Soloman are bad dudes as they executed on video Corporal Miller who was a tank commander sent to rescue Ssgt. Blackburn when they were pinned down in the bank vault.

Your next move is to interrogate an arms dealer named Kaffarov who lives in a ballin’ villa but in order to get to it you need to cross a valley crawling with Russian Spetsnaz who are also out to interrogate Kaffarov. During the mission your CO Captain Cole orders you to cross the valley which results in the death of all of your squad except you and a wounded soldier named Montes. The Russian’s get to the villa first and Kaffarov also points the finger at Soloman.

The next part doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me … When you as Ssgt. Blackburn get to the villa where Kaffarov lives, Dima a Russian soldier tells you that Kaffarov also pointed the finger at Soloman. As a result you decide to shoot your CO Captain Cole who is yelling at Dima to drop his weapon and get on the floor instead of doing your job. The words that Dima said wouldn’t personally cause me to shoot my CO.
So back in New York where you are being interrogated, the CIA thinks that you are in on the placement of the WMD’s because you shot your CO. You find out that they really want info out of you because Paris was bombed earlier in the day. You and Montes are put in the same room together where you decide to break out and stop the plot to blow up New York before it’s too late. Luckily you are being interrogated at the exact moment that the train is entering the underground within 100 meters of the building you’re in.  You and Montes escape via a window and after derailing the train chase Soloman to time square where you kill him by smashing him in the head with a rock. During the struggle Montes was killed. The end part I don’t fully understand but Dima (who I thought was dead) is writing a note and has a gun in his hand … I have a feeling he wasn’t cleaning it.
So the story was actually good there was a lot of stuff happening and it fit together pretty well. I find it comparable to being interrogated to decode a set of numbers that you were brain washed to understand during the Vietnam War, and playing through the memories of the soldier to try to decode the mystery. I just wonder if anyone else compared it to that or made that connection, because that’s really what it’s like. I won’t say it … I wouldn’t dare … it’s almost like…. no I should ….. Black Op’s Anyone? Uh oh … I just said it. Okay, so it bared similarities but it was still a good story game. I think Ssgt. Blackburn made a stupid choice shooting his CO and a lot of interrogations,  train jumping and smashing people in the head with rocks could have been avoided if the Americans and Russians just worked together … What did we learn people?

A notable part of the game which was very fun to play was “Going Hunting” where you as Lt. Jenifer Colby Hawkins are a gunner on an F-18. You take off from an aircraft carrier then get to do some dog fighting and rain JDAM’s on an airfield before returning to the ship. During the beginning of this mission there is the classic Battlefield music which has been redone to sound even more epic. The graphics in this mission were amazing and though the replay ability is kind of bland I would play it just for the graphics.

The other mission that I loved playing was “A Rock and a Hard Place” where you as Ssgt. Blackburn have to cross the valley of Russian’s to take the villa. It really gives you a sense of what flat combat is all about in fields hiding behind supplies and flanking enemies to move up the field.
Overall I give this game 8.5 out of 10 for the single player. I don’t really get why Ssgt. Blackburn decided to kill Captain Cole and I think that the end could have been made to not look like all of this was a huge coincidence. They just happened to be in a building down the street from the tracks which the train that Soloman was on would pass by at the exact minute that the pair escaped? On a side note I noticed a goof in the game, the handcuffs which you are wearing disappear after you toss the guy with the AK out the window of the train. Check it out, it’s a true story.

Sean Sullivan is a regular contributor to GameAspect.Com.  He has a long history of playing PC games, however lately he’s turned to Xbox 360 to save his wallet from constant upgrades.

Andrew’s Take: (Xbox 360)

I wasn’t too excited about Battlefield 3 at first because of how close the release was too Modern Warfare 3 but all the hype about it made me curious. The beta was far from spectacular but I kept my pre-order thinking if nothing else it will pass the time before Call of Duty.As the game has just come out and I have spent most of my time in multi-player I have not made it very far into the campaign. What I noticed right away though was that compared to Bad Company 2 this game has a story line. The game brings you through Iran, Paris and New York and the levels show detail where you can almost tell where you are. Though I am not far in the game, the mission “Going Hunting” may be one of the coolest missions in any military game I have played, not so much for the action but the pre-flight check and the take off were pretty incredible.This is the campaign review but I feel I have to mention the online as it is where I have spent most of my time. Compared to what the beta offered console players in the beta the actual game is far better. I am a Call of Duty fan but I will say that Battlefield is a more team based game which I like, having a team go into the fight in APC’s and tanks is really cool. Battlefield 3 added was Jets and though I failed miserably in my first attempt at flying I look forward to learning.

My only real complaints for Battlefield is some small bugs like frame rate issues in the campaign and enemies disappearing but since single-player is not something Dice is known for it was a very good effort compared to Bad Company. Multi-player is where Dice excels and did a really good job on it, improving Bad Company 2.

Andrew Martin is a regular contributor to GameAspect.Com and also does the news.  Xbox 360 is his system of choice, with PS3 coming second.  He will play the occasional PC Game.

James Sullivan

James decided it was time to update this little tag line and call himself the EIC of GameAspect.Com and also the operator. He’s primarily a PC gamer but enjoys the occasional console game. RTS, Racing, FPS and RPG are his games of choice… but he’ll play just about any game.
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