PC- Xbox 360 - PS3
Developer: EA Digital Illusions
Release Date: October 25th, 2011
- Possibly the best looking game to ever grace a system
- Fantastic sound design
- Jaw dropping set pieces
- A stand out, enjoyable multiplayer
- Campaign story and characters fail to hold interest
- Single player is littered with scripted events
- Few squad management and other start up issues
Beauty in the Battlefield
Watch any video of this game, and within the first few seconds you will see the biggest appeal. For PC owners, this is possibly the greatest looking game ever created. The new Frostbite engine shines true as rays of sunlight peek through openings, glass is shattered and spread across the ground, or trees sway as the shot from a cannon resonates through the field. There are some stunning sights to behold in this game, and the sharp character animation and impeccable sound design only enhance the setting.
If there is one thing EA manages to get right every time it's sound design. That simple, looked over feature that really brings a game to life. Every shot that leaves the muzzle makes an impact on your subwoofer, like a symphony of bullet shells that becomes music to your ears. The whiz of bullets over your head, the rapid tapping of fire at your cover, or distance sound of an impending battle makes this game appealing in both sight and sound.
As far as presentation comes, the game is unmatched. It is the one military shooter that comes closest to the ambiance of a war. With some jaw dropping visuals on the PC, it is hard not to appreciate the detail that went into this game. The glare of sunlight, the shimmering water as it moves down a stream, and the detailed character models all combine to convince any player to stop and take it all in before running into the battle.
The campaign for the game plays out the story of a soldier's interrogation. While the information is unclear, you delve into his memories of the skirmishes that have led to his incarceration. If it sounds familiar...that's because it very much is. The plot fails to really takeoff until the later levels, and until then leaves you confused at who these people are and what you are even doing.
There are some truly shining moments in the campaign that stick with you well after they are through. One of the highlights had to be hopping into the back of a fighter jet and taking off from a battleship. The feeling of taking off was so well done that I actually tensed up a bit as we shot off into the air. There is also a level where you roll out with an assembly of tanks, kicking up dust as you fire each shot.
While there are some great moments, the campaign ended up falling flat. It evolved into, "look how pretty our game is", and did not focus on making the actual gameplay as enjoyable. While it is a great game to watch, popping from skirmish to skirmish left me wanting more from the game. Scripted events pop up far more often than they need to, hindering your progress as you wait for the AI to open doors for you as if you were their prom date. There are even "out of bounds" segments that kill any immersion the game puts in place by killing you if you do not return in a certain amount of time.
Though single player left me wanting more, multiplayer more than made up for it. Battlefield offers up to 64 players to duke it out over a slew of maps. At fewer numbers they are tailored to be quick skirmish sites, but at full capacity are massive in scale. Maps can vary from close quarters action to giant battlefields that require a few minutes drive to get from point to point. Some include fighter jets, some include tanks, some do not even possess vehicles.
Battlefield has been all about team play, and it is no different in this installment. The four classes (Assault, Support, Engineer, and Recon) all work in a single cohesion that further supports communication and teamwork. The single-soldier run and gun is only so powerful in this game, and it's that sense of camaraderie that really makes the multiplayer stand out. The more you help out your squad the more points you are rewarded. The lone wolf will find the game far more difficult.
The arsenal of weaponry is as much a variety as you care to possess. Automatic, heavy machine guns, or a trusty sniper rifle are all here and can be tailored to personal preference. As you gain more experience, tactical flashlights or red dot sights unlock that make your weapon more efficient. While the starting arsenal is very disappointing, as you progress you will steadily unlock a slew of weaponry to pave your way to victory. Just expect a steep "learning curve" as other players with much better equipment brush you to the side.
Squads still act as the highlight feature. You will be automatically assigned to a squad of four people, and are expected to work together with them. You have the ability to spawn on them, and are awarded extra points for healing or supporting them rather than another random teammate. This encouraged teamwork works well in keeping you from straying too far from your buddies.
The standard modes are all here. Team Deathmatch, Rush, and Conquest fill out the list of the most popular modes. Conquest proves the most enjoyable, especially on the larger maps as you rush to capture each point. Regardless of the mode, the first team to run out of "tickets" loses. Dying loses a ticket each turn, and failure to keep more than half the points on the map can bleed out tickets. It's a system that has stood the test of time, and keeps battles from drawing out into stalemates.
The oddest feature the game possesses is the browser based menu. On PC the game launches from an internet browser. This page acts like a Facebook for the game, continually tracking your friends and your own accomplishments in the game. It also keeps a detailed list of past servers, performance statistics, and much more.
It's an organized and interesting method of keeping everything in one central hub. You still must launch the actual game to change most settings like key bindings or aspect ratio, but overall it still works. The biggest issue thus far is joining a game with friends. We had a group of four attempt to join multiple servers to no avail, as someone almost always ended up being left behind, on a different squad, or launching campaign instead. It's a rough start, but will be fixed with numerous patches along the way.
Though the single player experience left a lot to be desired, the overall look and feel of the game is unmatched. The multiplayer stands out among the shooter market, and holds an incredible promise for expansions to come. There is no experience quite like it, and if you are playing on the PC it is that much better.