Gamesthirst Review: Battlefield 3

War is perplexing.

It’s been a long road to release for Battlefield 3. When the game debuted, we saw stunning visuals that were almost surreal for a videogame. We also saw well-scripted moments from the game’s single-player campaign that told a story of hot-blooded action and gameplay that’s second-to-none. That was then, however, because after playing Battlefield 3 for quite a while, I’m left feeling split. Yes. Battlefield 3 is a game you should buy, and at the same time it’s a game you absolutely should not waste your money on. The decision, however, depends on where your loyalty lies.

The opening cinematic of Battlefield 3 is something taken directly from Call of Duty’s playbook. In truth, the entire single-player campaign we’ve seen before from either Infinity Ward or Treyarch, but the sad thing is, DICE fails terribly at imitating. So much so that you’d think you’re playing a rather poor version of Black Ops.

The story, well, there’s no story. You are disgraced marine Sgt Blackburn, who’ve been tasked to make sure rogue middle-Eastern men don’t get their hands on nukes as they seek to destroy the world. You’re eerily in a room similar to the interrogation chamber Black Ops main protagonist was held in, confused as to what was really going on. Only in Battlefield 3, you’re well aware of your surroundings.

And so it begins. Battlefield 3′s linear as can be, press A to do this and B to dive out of a window. Then inadvertently, the soldier you’re assigned to follow takes the lead from there. In fact, sometimes you’ll feel as if the game’s playing itself because most of the time you’re following men yelling vulgar words as if they had not brains. Almost every other word is F**K this and MotherF** that, as if soldiers in real life could utter nothing else but profanity.

The pace is mighty slow, too. In trying to beat Call of Duty at its game, DICE managed to only magnify how accomplished both Infinity Ward and Treyarch are at what they do. It continues. Painstakingly, almost like a chore, I labored through the campaign and between silly deaths and some bugs, Battlefield 3 is a stunning piece of work visually. And I say this from a multiplatform perspective. The game’s beauty is to be beheld in every location: from the nights of Iran to the streets of France. From the deck of a warship to freedom of the open skies, Battlefield 3 is a stellar accomplishment in the visuals department. However the very moment you begin to take in the beauty in the cockpit of a fighter jet, you’re brought low by the inevitable gravity dragging you back down to the realities of the game.

Even the jet ride lacks luster. It takes too long to load up, and even when you’re in the sky battling enemy jets, you feel lost. The story doesn’t relay clearly why you’re fighting in the skies, or on the ground. Your guns ricochet off broken walls with sounds only DICE could achieve, yet you’re being killed from unforeseen enemies. They’re barely visible. The momentum that was clearly intended to be built as the game proceeded, always ended with an anti-climax. Like blah.

Battlefield 3′s single-player don’t have many memorable moments, bar the game’s conclusion, but even that was too short. You can beat the shooter in about 4-5hrs, and never feel like going back to it again. Perhaps if the game’s AI was clever, you’d feel more challenged, adding a bit of excitement, but the AI in Battlefield 3 are the dumbest I’ve come across in a long time.

The game also includes a co-op feature in which two players team up to tackle a variety of missions,and although the mode holds promise, it fails to deliver a lasting, memorable experience and, like the campaign, is linear. There are six stages in co-op and you proceed to the next defeating the enemies without dying. The mode could be fun at times but then everything becomes repetitive, and instead of actually waiting in anticipation for the horde of enemies coming your way, you’ll know exactly where to hide and take out the enemies as the AI always lineup in the same location.

EA and DICE talked up Battlefield 3 as a Call of Duty killer, the new standard of FPS games. They claimed it would change everything, and promoted their trailers as “above and beyond the call”. But in earnest, Battlefield 3′s single-player portion plays like different scripts taken from multiple war novels and patched together rather confusingly, and if your loyalty lies in single-player, don’t waste your time or money. Multiplayer on the other hand, is a totally different beast…

Battle Online

It seems as if Battlefield 3′s single-player was just plastered on the disk just to add more dollars to EA’s coffers. I actually believe DICE should have made the game multiplayer-only because it’s obviously where the developer is strong. Really Strong.

Battlefield 3′s multiplayer puts the beta to shame. Everything runs smoothly with almost no glitches (at least I haven’t spotted any).

In MP, there are four classes to choose from: Assault class (medicine in mind), Engineer class (repairs in mind), Support class (with ammo in mind) and the Recon class (bastard snipers!). Every class is well balanced and none feels overpowered as the weaponry in each class are comparable. There are three modes in multiplayer: Team Deathmatch, Rush and Conquest.

If you’re a FPS fan, you know Team Deathmatch is kill or be killed. The team with the most kills at the end of a match is the winner. Battlefield 3 does Team Deathmatch with real war intensity. DICE has curtailed the maps for said mode to make sure people are not too spread apart, and it works nicely. In fact I enjoyed Team Deathmatch more than any of the modes, and constantly found myself going back to the action.

The game’s visuals holds the same fidelity in the multiplayer as it does in SP, and with all the nine maps being playable in every mode, you’ll be mesmerized by the amount of detail that went into making Battlefield 3′s multiplayer on not only the visual level, but in every thinkable aspect.

Conquest mode is basically Capture and Hold, but the problem with said mode is how far and wide it is. There’s a huge focus on vehicles and sometimes you go around roaming for minutes trying to find some action. It actually got boring after a bit. You’ll want to enjoy Conquest, and for a time you will, but if you’re used to jumping in a game and getting into the action, you’ll leave Conquest for the hardcore. I also must make mention of the number of vehicles available to you in Conquest, from choppers to tanks, jets and trucks, DICE held back no punches. Yet, it feels like something is missing. Perhaps, like I said before, there’s too much emphasis placed on vehicles.

Rush is the last mode, the very mode made available in the beta. It’s a mode in which one team attacks while the other defend their M-COM stations from being destroyed. If the attacking team is successful, the defending team is pushed back to defend even more M-COM stations. Rush is the best suited mode for the big maps of Battlefield 3, and it too is very enjoyable and intense.

Make no mistake about it, there’s a mode in Battlefield 3′s multiplayer for everyone, and a gun for even the youngest of recruits. No other developer has been so ambitious as to bring such a massive game to consoles. You can swim in the ocean, man any vehicle, jump over walls and crawl like a snake. Yet that’s just the beginning: the rewards you get for just about doing anything are endless, and without ever shooting a gun, you can go from Private to Commander in Battlefield 3. That’s the beauty about it.

To conclude, I’ll remind you of my opening question: where does your loyalty lie? Are you big on single-player? If so, don’t buy Battlefield 3. It’s not worth your time. However if you’re multiplayer-only type of person, then absolutely, buy Battlefield 3.

One more thing, it’s not a Call of Duty killer.


Reviewed on PS3
Also on: PC, X360
Genre: First Person Shooter
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Digital Illusions CE (DICE)
M for Mature: Blood, Intense Violence, Strong Language

About Ernice Gilbert

Ernice Gilbert here. Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Gamesthirst. Thanks for stopping by, make yourself at home!
  • benzo

    Good review EG. I thought that Black Ops SP mode sucked. Too confusing and just plain bad when put up against the Killzone and Resistance games. With that being said,when BF2 BC wasnt like COD reviewers and gamers pointed that out. So instead of sticking with the Bad Company storyline, DICE decided to give the “people” what they want…crappy story and excellent MP. Because lets be honest, the only recent COD games that have good story were MW1 and MW2 but slightly less satisfying that MW1. These are my opinions, and thank for letting me share.

  • linglingjr

    Nice reveiw

  • RabidPrincess

    Great review. Couldn’t agree more. From the trailers, I was expecting much, much more from the campaign than it delivered. While the graphics and music are nice, the story is uninspired and there’s absolutely no free roam. You’ll do what the programmers demand when they demand it or else. (What if I don’t want to use the rocket launcher right now? Answer: “tough”.)

    The co-op is a horde game, but it is as deadly dull and limited in movement as the campaign.

    I’m off to try the multiplayer now with the hope that it will be worth the $60 entrance fee. If not, this one will get traded in ASAP, while the trade in value may still be high.

  • rpatricky

    Spot on. I’m already bored with the campaign. I may end up completing it someday but don’t know when? The MP is great. I am loving it. Great review! Accurate and fair to both aspects of the game.

  • Dean Kent

    Best and most honest review i’ve read on BF3 nice one!

    As for me i didnt play bad company 2′s single player untill 6 months after i bought the game………ITS JUST NOT THE BATTLEFIELD WAY…….

  • nick

    im really enjoying the campaign so far, just the buggs which are spoiling it.
    oh and another thing.
    since when can enemies shoot you through walls?
    its driving me freaking insane!
    its really funny the AI is dumb as bat %$#@!
    so funny running towards a enemy, get him to shoot you, then flank behind him and just stare at his back still shooting the position you were in.
    like, hello has he not notice i have moved?
    i think for the next battlefield they should get danger close to do the SP.
    the SP in MoH was freaking insane!
    DICE just are not cut out for SP.

  • CaribbeanCLANK

    I am ready to die here…I WANNA PLAY BF3!!! :(

  • Ernice Gilbert

    @Benzo: DICE should stick to its formula and not try and copy COD in SP.

  • Ernice Gilbert

    @Linlinjr: Thanks!!

  • Ernice Gilbert

    @RabidP: Exactly. Have you made up your mind on keeping or trading yet?

  • Ernice Gilbert

    @rpatricky: that’s the gamesthirst way!

  • Ernice Gilbert

    @Nick: you got your PC to work finally I see. Nice!

  • Ernice Gilbert

    CClank: only a few more days.

  • Ernice Gilbert

    @Kent: Thanks!!

  • bobromines77

    good review. I see ign gave it a 9. Once again, i feel they are often quite generous.

  • Ernice Gilbert

    I think that was a paid by EA review for Metacritic.

  • nick

    i finished it tonight.
    its a good campaign, just way too short and it ends really abruptly.
    the pace finally starts to pick up, you finally start to get some answers and it just ends.
    i HATE it when games do that!
    its like your on a train going so slow for hours then you finally pick up some speed 2mms away from your stop.
    it leaves you feeling like you missed out on half of the game!
    oh well, hopefully the co-op will fill in some of the gaps.

  • Ernice Gilbert

    You call that SP good? I thought your standards were higher. Plus you bashed Black Ops’ SP and it’s surely better than BF3′s.

  • Joshua Tompkins

    I don’t think Battlefield or COD should have single player campaigns. They both suck. COD is repetitive and more shallow than a Michal Bay movie, and I am sure this game is the same. They should just do mp and that is it. Most people do not even play the single player for these games anyway, and they just take away time that they could spend making the mp better. I am sure that the new COD single player will be a repeat of the exact same thing form MW2, but in a different location and that really bothers me. Take time to do something totally different or don’t do anything at all. You can watch the MW3 E3 gameplay for the sp and compare it to MW2 and you will see the same animations and sequence of events as MW2 other than it is in a different location. You start off slow sneaking in, then there is a big shootout and a chase scene. If they can’t change it in some way, then they should not do it. Now Battlefield never had sp until BF:BC and that was created for consoles to have a sp and campaign. I thought the campaign was okay but nothing special and I think they should just stick to mp, and the same goes for COD.

  • RabidPrincess

    @Ernice – I’m going to give it several more hours of play before making a decision. I’m not used to shooters, so my learning curve is probably higher than the guys. Just wish I could tell where the dang bullets were coming from.

  • Ernice Gilbert

    @RabidP: Same way I feel. Sometimes you just don’t see where the the bullets hitting you are coming from. Frustrating!

  • Ernice Gilbert

    @Josh: SP is important. These devs simply need to understand that and make them better. No need to keep it out. To me, SP gives a game’s MP meaning.

  • CaribbeanCLANK

    I GOT IT!!! I GOT IT!!! I GOT IT!!! Thought I had to wait till Monday but I got my copy today…I AM SO HAPPY!!!

  • Ernice Gilbert


  • CaribbeanCLANK

    I was so excited that I played a little bit of the campaign then a few games of Rush. The game looks great and the 2 maps I played on the MP were well designed but that is not surprising as DICE really know how to put together a solid MP game.

  • Ernice Gilbert

    Some action later, then? Sounds like a plan.

  • ttbounty

    Ernice great Review, it also seems G4tv felt the same as you did about the entire game.

    They gave it a 4/5 but then it is a 5 point system

  • Ernice Gilbert

    Thanks, ttbounty! Seems these other sites scored it a bit high.

  • Joshua Tompkins

    I can not stand the single player so far. It is boring and some of the big sets pieces feel out of place. Also, I have already run into a few glitches and I just started playing. The one that made me the angriest was in an area were I thought I cleared everyone out, but when I walked up to the ammo box (which had no one around it), a guy glitched through the wall from the room next to where I was and stabbed me. It made me so mad that I had to stop playing.

  • Ernice Gilbert

    Wow. Well that’s frustrating! Again, DICE and EA really need to do better than this for BF4. It’s embarrassing!

  • silkgt

    Hi there,

    Just wondered why you have reviewed the PS3 version? DICE have stated multiple times that the PC is the platform of choice for BF3.

    I have been playing SP and have had none of the issues you have mentioned. The jet level was so graphically spectacular that it took my breath away, and I found that level to be one of my most enjoyable moments in gaming history.

    Not seeing where you are being shot from or feeling lost? I’m sorry but I can only imagine the PS3 version must have bad clipping or some such then, I simply have not had this issue at all. I play on a geforce 580 at 1080 res, max settings. As the game is supposed to be played.

    I feel the SP review is unfairly scored based on the technical restrictions of the platform you have reviewed it on. I am not dissing the PS3, I own one, all the more reason I know of the technical limitations.

    I will agree the story is so-so but so what? Did you not realise that the SP campaign is actually a cleverly disguised tutorial? I had no idea what I was doing in a jet in MP, after playing SP now I do. It has an entire level teaching you how to play stealthy as well.

    I hope you played it on hard, because SP campaigns in any game are simply not fun if there’s no challenge. :p

    I also think it’s daft that you have scored a game down for it’s SP “shortcomings” when everyone knows the game is all about the MP. Everyone. Nobody rushes out to buy BF or COD because they want the SP campaign.

    What next, score a game down because the tutorial had a rubbish story? Oh.. wait.. you just did.

  • Ernice Gilbert

    Hey there silkgt, thanks for commenting. I understand DICE built the game first on PC, but the game will see most of its millions on consoles. Throughout marketing, DICE showed off snippets of single-player footage to get us hyped for the campaign, so you cannot call off single-player as some sort of tutorial. This kind of easy pass some people want to give DICE is baffling. Oh, it’s DICE, they say, forget the SP, is all about SP. If that were the case, then they shouldn’t do a single-player mode in Battlefield 3!

    Stick with multiplayer, and the game would be given higher scores all around. But that’s not the case. I’m not in favor of allowing EA to make millions off people who thought they were about to get an awesome single-player and multiplayer mode.

    Fair is fair. We must hold this industry accountable or else big names like EA and Activision will walk all us. They may do that on other sites, but not on GT – we speak the truth loud.

  • silkgt

    But that doesn’t make any sense; you’re basically saying you’d score the game higher if there was no SP in it at all.

    I see SP as an added bonus, I’d rather they focus on MP since that’s what I ultimately spend hours playing. So as far as I’m concerned they focused on the right bits.

  • Ernice Gilbert

    No. If you’re adding an important mode is single-player to your game in a bid to have more console gamers buy it, it had better be darn good. I don’t see how one could think otherwise. It should be a total package.

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