Battlefield 3: Multiplayer Brilliance, Amazing Graphics

11 thumbs up
Battlefield 3 dropped last week, promising a strong single-player campaign, an impressive new graphics engine, and up to 64-person multiplayer mayhem on huge maps. Despite a rough few days post-launch, the game delivers much of the multiplayer goodness that it promised, with a strong emphasis on team dynamics and an experience system that rewards both focusing on a particular class and learning the capabilities of all four. Before we dig into the game's extensive online goodness, however, we have to deal with its tedious, flawed, and boring single-player missions.

Battlefield 3's single-player campaign bears a strong resemblance to Lindsay Lohan's career. Not only do they both exist only by dint of technicality, they're each driven by a frantic desire to channel something they aren't—Call of Duty, in BF3's case, Marilyn Monroe in Lindsay's. The problem with BF3's single player campaign is that it jettisons almost everything that makes the multiplayer campaign great. The first mission is set on a train and serves as a perfect metaphor for the entire plot: you're on a rail, from start to finish. Attempting to explore a map or sticking your head out from cover, before being told to, can result in automatic death. Games like this typically rely on scripted scenarios, but BF3's approach is heavy-handed enough to destroy even the illusion of freedom.


This single-player screenshot neatly illustrates the game's detailed models while summarizing the entire SP experience
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If you want great single-player, go play Deus Ex: Human Revolution

If the turgid storyline wasn't enough, the game's cinematic aspirations are further undercut by its use of quick-time events, while the lack of a save game ability turns navigating said events into a tedious process of rote memorization. All of this would be easier to overlook if the SP campaign did anything to prepare you for multiplayer.


The game lets you fly helicopters and jets, but neither craft is a tenth as intuitive to control as a tank or jeep. Battlefield 3 badly needs a tutorial or three on piloting, but the single-player missions confine you to playing gunner while someone else handles the aircraft.

The single-player campaign does one thing well--it's a fabulous showcase for the capabilities of the Frostbite 2 engine. The game's visuals set a new high mark for the PC and the positional audio cues are excellent, even when using a simple pair of speakers or stereo headphones.

Battlelog:



The game's server-finding functions and all game-related data is stored online in the Battlelog, while the game itself is only available via EA's Origin system. We were entirely prepared to dislike Battlelog—the idea of handling all the various game functions in-browser sounded like a hackneyed attempt to justify an always-on connection and display ads to a captive audience. Though we can't speak to the company's long-term advertising plans, but Battlelog works surprisingly well.



We encountered glitches, including needing to apply a manual PunkBuster patch and issues with the game not always properly starting when told to do so, but problems have been few and far between. In-game lag has never been more than occasionally annoying, and the latest drivers from AMD and NVIDIA delivered good performance without a need for last-minute updates.

AMD appears to have a slight edge on NV where image quality is concerned; Our NV play sessions were marred by an occasional green flicker. It tended to occur 2-3x in quick succession and never very often. Whatever problems cropped up at launch, they appear to be locked down. We're confident recommending that folks buy the game as it exists today.

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I am loving this game, dice did an amazing job.

Only thing that annoyed me was having to use origin (pretty much a bad copy of steam), and no flight training or offline multi player because i am having trouble getting the correct settings for my joystick.

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Nice review, I would of liked to go a bit more in-depth with the graphics but what you do have in-depth is pretty nice. I like your complaints about VOIP, single-player campaign, multi-player campaign and while I would of liked to see the more recent graphics cards on display, what you did was pretty interesting. Overall, pretty nice review and it proves that Battlefield 3 is worth the hype.

Side note: I have to wonder if Joel's clan is letting in new member's, I've been playing Battlefield all my life and I'd sure like to be a part of a clan who plays the same game as me for as long as I.

EDIT: I've been wondering, does this game have a similar mode to the one in Battlefield 2 that allows you to play on Multiplayer maps but with bots, if so then that'd be a perfect substitute to flight training since one of the maps is bound to have jets. (you know the one I mean.)

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Great review on the graphics and performance characteristics of the game! I'm going to have to disagree with you about the multiplayer though. I wouldn't call it fabulous. Battlefield 3 has some really weird quirks when it comes to multiplayer.

I've been playing since release day and have been repeatedly accused of hacking and using an aimbot since I unlocked bipods for several of my weapons this past weekend. I've even had my profile reported to DICE on the official forums. I'm not happy about this. I've been playing the game just like everyone else. I also don't have anything to shoot at when I fly a jet anymore either. If the other people on the server don't have heat seekers or flares they stop flying. It was fun the first several times, but now it's just like shooting fish in a barrel. Most of my opponents simply cannot defend themselves or fire back with equivalent weapons. Most haven't even unlocked jet flares yet making taking them out a piece of cake.

Two of my friends have gotten so mad at this game they stopped playing multiplayer and only want to do co-op. I share some of the blame for making one of my friends mad because I kept accidentally killing him using thermal optics and then an infantry fighting vehicle with the firing speed, secondary weapon, and missile unlocks. We had a lot of trouble getting on the same team. I told him not to get so bent out of shape over a game, but then I genuinely started to feel bad after a while. I'm rank 30. He's rank 4.

I think DICE needs to do something now. I can't VOIP with squadmates on my own team so I'm pretty much stuck as a lone wolf until my friends decide to play multiplayer again. This game is way more difficult when you're alone.

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Nfscop:
I've been playing since release day and have been repeatedly accused of hacking and using an aimbot since I unlocked bipods for several of my weapons this past weekend. I've even had my profile reported to DICE on the official forums. I'm not happy about this. I've been playing the game just like everyone else. I also don't have anything to shoot at when I fly a jet anymore either. If the other people on the server don't have heat seekers or flares they stop flying. It was fun the first several times, but now it's just like shooting fish in a barrel. Most of my opponents simply cannot defend themselves or fire back with equivalent weapons. Most haven't even unlocked jet flares yet making taking them out a piece of cake.

I understand, there are people out there who can accuse you of that wrongly because they got pissed off they died. Funny story: I actually encountered a guy with an aimbot equipped since he could shoot at anyone from afar and he did have a high kill count since he was literally impossible to kill, that guy was already reported and well; he just kept on going... Had to hide throughout the match because that hacker would of severly affected my K/D ratio.

The weapons defense thing is an annoying thing, and it's not limited to this game. In Battlefield 2142, people constantly got killed my Mechs and airplanes usually because no one had the right weapons available. They promote that an EMP grenade combined with several blasts from a rocket launcher would take it down but barely anybody has an EMP grenade and I'm mostly the only one to go engineer on maps with a mech available. Kind of sad when people think about raw power rather then working together.

The jet thing, thanks for letting me know. I would of understand if there were some pros out there who couldn't use two of those attachments and still evade their target. Hell, I couldn't even locate the jets 9/10 in Battlefield 2 when I was flying one, and I had some practice... (Well, not a lot of practice, but some...) The fact that the jets are easy to kill makes me wonder if they should of included these things from the beginning, you know to give a challenge.

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Jets and choppers can release countermeasures--and the heat-seeking missile launcher is literally the first RPG unlock. I unlocked it in 2-3 hours of play, and I'm a *terrible* BF3 player.I'm fairly certain jets can also outrun SAM fire, or evade a lock-on. I'm not saying its perfect, mind you, but there've definitely been jet fighters I fired on and didn't hit.

If people don't know / don't equip their upgrades, that's their own fault.

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Yes -.- the single player was stupid, confusing and annoying :). But multiplayer is where its all at! waiting for my friends to get it so i can get my co-op scores :). Game might still need some tweaks, i should be able to jump and then prone right after. Also there should be assisted aim for jet turrets.

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Nfscop,

Ever heard the phrase 'First World Problems?' I think it applies to your FPS skills vs. the rest of us peons. ;)

I'd suggest looking to join one of the more elite Clans. If you're as good as you describe, I'd start checking for whatever informal structures exist to ensure high-end competition. As someone who has no clan (Sorry Taylor) and played solo, I'd say that while I've ground my teeth in frustration a few times, it's mostly been at myself.

And no, there's no multiplayer option for offline or bot play. Even joining an empty server doesn't work--the game refuses to start until there are sufficient players. There's no way to even launch a 'Practice' mode in which you can work on flying or target strafing or anything of the sort while keeping your performance off the books.

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I am on beta for SWTOR (oh and they (Bioware) said we could acknowledge that) but cannot discuss anything directly because of the agreement. I of course have been in beta for 6 builds or so now and while even we (beta participants) have not yet seen the complete RC build or as close to it as we will get prior to full release but it is not far off. Of course it is a MMO, and it has a lot of things to distinguish it, besides the fact that it is Starwars subject wise. Oh yeah and it will be released before the end of the year. So will the 5th edition of the Elder Scrolls saga (Skyrim) which also looks pretty nice, and a few other games as well. SO while B3 may be the big one on campus right now it has some competition coming on fast.

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Man I can't wait to play. Been playing BF2 since 07 and BC2 since last year.

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I liked the idea about joining a clan. I found a couple via the official forums last night. Unfortunately, after talking to people on both clans they said they didn't have a server and there was no organized ladder or anything yet. Everyone just wanted to play the game as a team to get more unlocks and squad points basically. Where do I find some actual organized competitive games? I can't seem to find this.

I got kicked from a server for the first time last night. I was 16-0 in a jet when it happened. I'm ticked off because I didn't get any credit for those kills. The server admin was a douche who told me to stop flying jets or I would be kicked. Why should I stop? I'm not cheating. It's not my fault you can't shoot me down thanks to the flares and stealth unlocks. If you don't want to be shot down then stop getting into enemy aircraft. I already reported the server and admin to DICE.

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