3 Out Of 5 Cookies
Battlefield 3 is the most successful challenger to date to Call of Duty’s first person war shooter dominance. Each succeeding volume of COD outsells the first. I personally know people who play no other game – meaning that they’ve invested not only in the game, but in the entire console just for the one game. Its a shame to let all that processing power go to waste by not giving any other game a chance. But I digress. COD people don’t really listen to this kind of complaining anyway. It is almost as if they are blind to the entire world of video games except for that one. As I look at them as a mysterious entity, so too do they return the gaze wondering why anybody would play anything other than Call of Duty?
Seeing that Call of Duty is the best selling video game franchise of all time, publisher Activision is more than happy to allow this to continue ad infinitum. Their main competitor, however, Electronic Arts sees market share waiting to be stolen. They have both the Medal of Honor series, as well as this here Battlefield series. (Both of this generations Medal of Honor titles, in particular the most recent Warfighter title suffered dismal reviews. For the record, I did play the campaign of the 2010 reboot and found it satisfactory – and will say that there is a “zero-gravity helicopter crash” that was ripped off in 2011 by Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 with their “zero-gravity plane crash” – a segment that they made a huge marketing deal of during the release – thieves.)
People love these games because of the multiplayer. Guess what? I don’t really dig multiplayer so all of my judgments come from the campaigns, their playability, and the enjoyment I derived from the story. Guess what again? I didn’t even play the multiplayer in Battlefield 3 because I bought it used and would have had to pay EA $10 extra bucks for the online pass. So, yeah, I’m here to review the Battlefield 3 campaign, which I guess might be a waste of time because if the mainstream video game press is to be believed nobody – NOBODY – ever plays the campaigns for these COD, MOH, Battlefield games. Which, I’m sure they’re wrong, since I’m positive that Activision has explored what would happen to a COD game’s sales if they released it without a campaign – and needless to say – every single COD game has a 6 to 8 hour campaign, and I’d be willing to bet they will continue. In fact, I think it was the Destructoid review II read back during Battlefield 3’s release that wondered why they even bothered with a campaign. Although, nowhere near perfect, I would have to disagree and say I enjoyed it.
The campaign’s storyline is centered around a CIA interrogation of a soldier and how he fits into a recently executed terrorist plot that blew up Paris and is heading for the US. Each of these interrogation cutscenes is the set up for the succeeding level and weaves the player through time and different parts of the world. While the story is derivative of most of the other stories in these COD/MOH games, I must say this one is pretty easy to follow unlike the Black Ops and Modern Warfare series where I never really know what the hell is going on except in the most basic narrative way. Black Ops II in particular is great in the set-pieces and visuals, but sort of nonsensical in plot, further confused as you move back and forth between the 80’s and the future.
Each Call of Duty campaign also has at least one pause and replay mind-blowing moment – from the nuclear blast in the original modern warfare, to the aforementioned zero-gravity plane crash in Modern Warfare 3, as well as the collapse of the Eiffel Tower in the same game. Sad to say, Battlefield 3 had no truly insane moments in it – but it almost – almost – makes up for it with its slow-burn plot and one particular moment of that reminded me of the Nick Berg tragedy. That moment was not so much visually powerful, but rather emotionally charged, particularly since it playing out in a first-person perspective. I thought it was a particularly ballsy.
The last thing worth mentioning about the campaign is its visual style and palette. Its obvious that the makers wanted something to differentiate it from the Call of Duty series since, by its very nature, it has to replicate a lot from Call of Duty right down to the control-scheme. They chose to color the game in a lot of blacks, blues and silvers. It gives the game a cool dark sheen that complements the goings-on of the story. Add to that lots of lens flare effects and water drops (which it could be argued are a little overdone as sometimes I felt relatively blind when the screen as drenched with all these effects, but then again, it complements the chaos of war) and you have a game that looks like nothing that has come before. The game also brags about its almost “next-gen” graphics and requires an extra hard-drive download of 1.some Gigs to move the game to HD. I installed this pack and honestly didn’t find the graphics to be any more superior to those of the last Call of Duty game on my Xbox 360.
All in all I found the campaign to be worth my time – about 6 to 8 hours – and about 400 achievement points. As I stated the real strength here lies in the multiplayer which evidently has huge maps and the ability to allow up to 164 players on a map – as opposed to COD’s 30 or 40.
I’m actually holding on to the game for now to see if they kids are interested in a second copy with which to try the multiplayer. If I do I may return to this post and add my thoughts on that as well.