Battlefield 3 (360/PS3): The next chapter of war

November 2, 2011

The Battlefield franchise has been around for years, remaining the king of competitive military shooters for the longest time. And until the first Modern Warfare game, there was really nothing else like it on consoles. Slowly, but surely, DICE began working on bringing their biggest franchise to non-PC players with the Bad Company series, which leads us to the next main game in the series, Battlefield 3. It may not be as impressive as its PC counterpart, but it still manages to hold its own fairly well.

Since Battlefield 2, DICE has tried to fit a single-player campaign into each game with mixed results. While the campaign in the Bad Company games were fun and didn’t take themselves too seriously, the series has never been known delivering a compelling solo experience. Sadly, Battlefield 3’s derivative campaign is no exception, offering a visually-stunning dud. While it shows off the power of the engine well enough, DICE forgot to provide the fun.

That’s not to say the campaign is bad, far from it. It’s just so painfully average, with its overabundance of quick-time events and predictable scripted sequences that will just leave you scratching your head. A nice alternative to the campaign are the co-op missions, which take place in the same locations and focus on the same scenarios seen in the campaign, but strip away all of the annoying story moments that drag it down. They are a nice enough diversion that can provide a couple of hours of entertainment, but that’s about it.

None of this matters when compared to the real heart of the Battlefield series: competitive multiplayer. Despite being scaled down from the PC version, the core multiplayer experience on consoles is as solid as it can be. If you’re familiar with Bad Company 2, you’ll feel right at home here.

There are three main modes, which might pale in comparison to some other big shooters, but the level of variety in each mode is astounding. You have Conquest, a standard in every Battlefield game that has you capturing and holding different control points, Rush, which involves either attacking or defending different points on the map, and Team Deathmatch. These modes have been refined and, thanks to the large variety of maps available, have plenty to keep you busy.

You have four different classes to choose from: assault, engineer, support, and recon. While the number of classes have been reduced from the seven class kits found in Battlefield 2, each class now has more roles to play in battles (outside of just shooting guys in the face, that is). You’ll gain experience and level each class separately based on how often you use them, earning you new weapons, equipment and abilities. Every class plays a very specific and important role in how a match plays out; the best teams will always feature a good balance of classes.

Returning from Bad Company 2 are squads, which allow you to group up with three other people. People in your squad essentially act as moving spawn points, which lets you jump back into the action faster. This might also cause you to die faster depending on who you spawn near and how close to the action they are, making the simple act of choosing a spawn point a bit more tactical than you might think.

Compared to Battlefield 2, the matches, while still long, move a lot faster and are easier to get into for those who might not be as familiar with the series. If you consider yourself one of those people, don’t be scared off by the multiplayer: it might take some getting used to, but once you get into a groove it’ll be hard to stop yourself from playing.

At launch, the console version of Battlefield 3 was met with a host of online connectivity issues. For the first day or so, you couldn’t even play online at all. While a lot of these launch day woes have been fixed up a bit, I still found myself running into a ton of connectivity problems. The simple act of finding a match was a bit troublesome, but once you got into a game it was generally smooth sailing.

Battlefield 3 is not the next evolutionary leap for the series that Battlefield 2 was, but with enough tweaks here and there, the multiplayer experience is just as fresh and addictive as you remember it being. If you’re coming to this game expecting a great single-player campaign first and foremost, look elsewhere. But if you want the tried-and-true Battlefield multiplayer on a console, then expect to get your money’s worth here.

Pros: Stunning visuals and sound design, addictive-as-ever multiplayer
Cons: Uninteresting campaign from start to finish, some online connectivity issues

Score: 4/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.