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Downloadable content has become an integral post-release strategy for most developers creating first-person shooter experiences. They’ll develop a game, take out some of the original content and save it to be released at a later date…as DLC. You’ll have to pay for that content, and while we understand the grudge some gamers have against such offerings, it’s something we can’t get away from. And besides, map packs add longevity to our favorite games. Yet, while some are worth the asking price, other packages are not – the question is, does Battlefield 3: Back To karkand Map Pack, which consists of refined Battlefield 2 maps really worth the asking price? I’ll answer my question at the end of this review.
Firstly, if you bought the limited edition of the game, you’d already have received the map pack for free, so downloading it is a given, but for those having to purchase the content for $14.99/£11.99/€14.99 and 1200 MS Points on Xbox Live, it’s a tad more complicated.
Included in Back To karkand are four revamped Battlefield 2 maps which includes Gulf of Oman, Sharqi Peninsula, Wake Island and Strike at Karkand, all of which were redesigned to take full advantage of DICE’s new Frostbite 2 engine. All of these maps are excellently designed and really exposes Battlefield 3′s online intensity in a way none of the other maps have been able to relay.
Introducing Back To Karkand to gamers who are new to the Battlefield 3 franchise was a brilliant move by DICE, as they’re the best-designed maps in the franchise – especially Strike At Karkand. Unlike some of the original BF3 maps, Back To Karkand keeps the
show war coming. And I mean coming. The intensity, whether you’re playing RUSH or Conquest never dies down. The choke points are cleverly put and you’ll always find yourself shooting at something. It might be a tank, a helicopter, a fighter jet or some old buggy, the action is thrill-a-minute. The destruction is also more realistic, resulting in a rather rare feeling that you’re actually in a real war. Not many games can do that. But how is such a feat accomplished on such massive maps? The answer is great design, well put objectives and amazing gamepplay. Back to Karkand takes the gold.
DICE also introduced a new mode with Back to Karkand called Conquest Assault. In CA, one team is set at no rally point and must battle up to gain control by attacking the points all controlled by the other team. There’s an advantage and disadvantage for both sides: If you’re the team without rally points, you’re given 50 more tickets than the team controlling the bases. It’s nothing special, but it definitely adds flare to an already great mode. The way Conquest Assault is set also varies: sometimes the rally points are split in half, with both teams having an equal amount of points, and sometimes, all points are neutral.
Three new vehicles were also introduced to the game, including The F35B fighter, the BTR-90 APC and the DPV Fast Attack Vehicle. The latter is the only vehicle that manages to to make a lasting impression as a speedy and manoeuvrable buggy armed with a grenade launcher. It has its downside, as you’re extremely exposed and can be taken down really fast, but it gives a hit-and-run experience that, if perfected, is a dangerous tool.
Then there are the new weapons, ten of them to be exact. The cool thing is DICE didn’t simply add the weapons for free as part of Back To Karkand, these weapons must be earned. For example, to unlock the deadly Famas, you need to heal and revive ten players. And if you’re looking to grab hold of the 9mm PP-19 SMG, you’ll have to capture ten flags, arm ten MCOM stations and clock in two hours of play time on Strike At Karkand.
To answer the question I asked at the beginning of the review, Battlefield 3: Back To Karkand DLC is not only worth a purchase, it’s a must-buy for fans and newcomers alike, as it adds even more value to an already amazing multiplayer package. Like I’ve said in the past, if you’re into single-player, stay away from Battlefield 3, but multiplayer fans shouldn’t pass up this one, especially now that four of the best multiplayer maps in FPS gaming is now part of the offering.