The greatest war represented on video game consoles this generation is not set in World War 2, modern times, or even the future - it’s the war between the Call of Duty franchise and everyone else. EA has tried once before to settle the score, taking CoD head on with their Medal of Honor franchise with little effect. The latest attack has come in the form of Battlefield 3, a franchise who’s roots are in the PC but found new life with the Bad Company series on consoles. Battlefield 3 spans both PC and console and is definitely EA’s answer to Call of Duty, but does the focus on this war cost Battlefield 3 what has defined the series?
It’s hard to talk about Battlefield 3 and not start at the game’s single player component. It’s the marketed component, it’s the bayonet on the weapon, and it’s the most talked about piece. The campaign drops you into the role of Sgt. Blackburn, among other military soldiers, in a fight against the PLA, a middle eastern terrorist force. The story plays out in a series of interrogation scenes that flash back from a larger event that is being uncovered. Sounds very familiar, no?
Sadly the missions in Battlefield 3 are nothing like they were in the Bad Company games, expansive huge missions that feel much bigger. The missions in BF3 are devoid of much personality and attempt a much more serious tone. That’s not to say there aren’t some really awesome moments in BF3. There are plenty of explosive set pieces; one in particular that stands out is the storming of a city at night with a group of soldiers. The lighting and sound instantly pulls you into the moment, and the blackness of night contrasted against the flashing of muzzle fire makes for a beautiful yet menacing display.
Battlefield 3’s graphics are definitely the game’s standout feature thanks to DICE’s new FrostBite 2 engine. Lighting and texture work are absolutely astounding, especially on the PC. While the consoles look great comparatively to other console games, comparing it to the PC is no contest. All the modes including multiplayer, co-op, and single player show off the engine’s graphical capabilities.
The problem I have with the single player is that it’s simply uninspired, or perhaps, too inspired by Modern Warfare. There’s not a single moment in it that would make you say - “yes, I’m playing a Battlefield game.” It’s a completely handheld experience from start to finish with a very linear path. Perhaps the best example of this is the first “flight” mission. If you expect you’d be controlling a jet fighter against enemy jet fighters…you’d be wrong. Instead you fly as a co-pilot and simply “look at targets” to lock on and fire. I thought Battlefield was about vehicles?