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November 10, 2011
Battlefield 3 - PS3 Review
Release Distributer Publisher Developer Offline Players Online Players
27/10/2011EA GamesEA GamesDICE12-24
Media HDD Install Resolution Move Controls Tilt Controls OFLC Rating
Disc1950MB720pNoNoMA15+

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Soldiers prepare to breach the next room.
This generation of console games has been highlighted by the sheer dominance of Activision's Call of Duty franchise. It sells by the truckload, but now developers DICE, and publishers Electronic Arts are setting their sights on that market space with Battlefield 3. It has been six years since Battlefield 2 was released on PC (although consoles have seen versions including Bad Company), but this third major release in the franchise was one which had high expectations, and for the most part meets, or exceeds them.

Battlefield 3 storyline (for the campaign mode) is set in 2013 and sees players take the role of several soldiers around the globe including U.S. Marine, Sergeant Henry Blackburn, tank operator Sergeant Jonathan Miller, and GRU operative Dimitri Mayakovsky. These men are tasked with eliminating the deadly force known as the PLR, and stop two WMD's being detonated in two of the biggest cities around the globe.

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Using an RPG in Battlefield 3.
The campaign mode (and indeed the multiplayer maps) are set across a wide range of urban and rural areas with locations such as Tehran, Paris, New York. Almost every map has some truly jaw-dropping set pieces and moments which includes the destruction of buildings, taking off from the aircraft carrier which is an exhilarating rush, the intense close quarters combat, and the very entertaining tank battle in the "Thunder Run" mission, while the Quick Time Events (which some people will despise we're sure) will keep you on your toes. Weapons are varied, and have their own "feel" while the gameplay, in general, is very smooth. This isn't a "run and gun" game though as you'll need to take cover and take your time getting though the levels or you'll see the Restart screen quite often. Those that played the Bad Company titles will be pleased to hear that the prone position has returned for Battlefield 3.

That's not to say the campaign is perfect however. As well as being quite short at around 6-7 hours, fans of the franchise will be disappointed by this very linear experience with a pretty average storyline and levels that are very linear. It's not until the mission "Rock and a Hard Place" near the end of the game that the battlefield opens up as you fight your way across a large open valley with tanks and planes looking to end your assault. Another issue we have is the inconsistent AI. We came across instances where we would blow away an enemy with a shotgun, while some of his comrades, only meters away, remain looking in the other direction. In other sections of the game enemies will spot you crawling through grasses from a hundred meters away and lay the fire directly on your position.

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Smoke and particle effects impress.
In terms of the storyline this game is very much a typical hunt down the guy with the WMD. What disappointed most was that the story is presented in an almost identical method used in Call of Duty: Black Ops. A soldier, in this case Sergeant James Blackburn, is being interrogated and the gameplay takes place during the series of flashbacks. Really DICE? You couldn't have presented this differently to your competitor's biggest title to date? As they say; Imitation is the sincerest of flattery.

When you've finished with the single player campaign mode it's time for some Co-Op madness with the developers including a swag of missions for you and a friend to work through. Sadly there's no split-screen mode but the online gameplay is slick and pretty much lag free with plenty of fun to be had if you have two headsets to communicate together. One cool thing about these missions is that as you progress through them you will also unlock new content, such as weapons to use in the main multiplayer modes.

So let's talk about the multiplayer. This has always been the strength of the Battlefield franchise and there was no way that DICE were going to disappoint, although I'm going to start with a couple of negatives to this game mode. On the PC Battlefield 3 supports up to 64-players online simultaneously. The PS3 can't handle that many players (Well it can as we've seen in M.A.G. and Resistance 2, but not while retaining the level of visuals and smoothness required) so drops the player count down to 24. Initial disappointments aside this is still a decent number of players and DICE have modified the multiplayer maps to suit the player numbers so the combatants on the ground are in a more confined area, while those in the air still have the full map available (yes, you can fly planes). The Conquest maps have had the number of capture points reduced from five on the PC to three.

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Detail levels are very impressive, although these screens are from the PC version.
So that's the bad news about Battlefield 3's multiplayer. Beyond that this is as polished and refined as we could ever desire with a wide range of game modes, maps and character classes. These game modes include Team Deathmatch (two teams of twelve players face off), Squad Deathmatch (four squads of four players face off), Rush (which is an objective based game for 24 players), Squad Rush (for 8 players) and Conquest (essentially capture the flag for 24 players). The Blu-Ray disc includes nine main maps, with four more expected to be released in December through the upcoming "Back to Karkand" pack.

There are four classes available in the online modes whcih include Assault, Support, Engineer and Recon. Each has their own special abilities but the do cross over. Impressively the leveling up system in this game focuses on the class which you are most using so it allows you to receive new weapons and items for use in that class.

Oh, there is one more mega-annoyance with the multiplayer mode in Battlefield 3. Once you have selected your online game mode, and even after you have played a game or two, there is no way to quick back to the main menu from the menu between rounds. You literally have to hit the Playstation button and quit the game! I am not pulling your leg. How the hell this got past QA and general testing I never know but hopefully this will be remedied in a patch.

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Battlefield 3 is out in October 2011.
We must point out that despite being announced and touted by both Sony and Electronic Arts at the 2011 E3 Show this disc does not contain the Battlefield 1943 game as and additional bonus. In a rather cheeky and annoying move it was confirmed on release day that this free bonus has been dropped in favour of a weeks early access to the Back to Karkand DLC which includes four classic maps (Strike at Karkand, Gulf of Oman, Wake Island and Sharqi Peninsula) as well as 3 new vehicles and 10 new weapons. This expansion is due in December and, we believe, is free to those who purchased the Limited Edition of the game on PS3. So you are aware the game also requires an Online Pass which is included in all new games, however if you purchase the game second hand you may need to pay to access the online features.

Powered by the Frostbite 2 engine, Battlefield 3 is very much a visual tour de force. Before you ask, no, this game on PS3 is nowhere near as visually jaw-dropping as the PC version so if you have a PC, get that one instead. But as a PS3 game this game holds its own with superbly detailed levels, wonderful modeling and animation on the soldiers and brilliant effects such as fire, smoke, explosions and level destruction. Indeed, the development team have utilised the same animation technology called ANT used by EA Sports in their FIFA titles. As a result animations on the soldiers running around the battlefield looks super-slick. Fortunately, unlike XBox 360 owners all PS3 gamers will see this game with high resolution textures thanks to the mandatory 1.9GB install. On the XBox 360, if you don't have the HDD, you'll be seeing very poorly textured, low-quality visuals.

It must be point out though that we did encounter some very occasional glitches with the game. There was the very occasional frame rate drops here and there but more evident were some clipping issues where soldiers, or parts of them, would pass through solid objects such as walls or stairs and some "strange" body positioning for deceased enemies.

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Battlefield 3's tank mission is fun.
Simply astounding. That's the best way to describe the HDR (High Dynamic Range) audio in Battlefield 3. Not only does every weapon have a unique sound, but this sound changes according to your location - be it indoors in confined spaces, or outdoors in large open areas. The explosions too have plenty of impact while the dialogue is perfectly delivered. The music too deserves a special mention as it's wonderfully composed and perfectly suited to the various missions, and paces, throughout the game. Exceeding all this however is the surround sound use which not only adds atmosphere and sounds great, but is essential in allowing you to pinpoint enemies by sound alone.

As an overall package Battlefield 3 is the near-perfect FPS - tight gameplay, plenty of game modes, slick online multiplayer. The only negative is the single player campaign so if that's all you'll play knock the score down, but for those playing online this game delivers the goods in a massive way.

Review By: Dave Warner

GRAPHICSThe Frostbite 2 engine, even on the aging PS3, looks pretty sensational despite occasional glitches.
92%
SOUNDProbably the best ever sound in a shooter with great music and effects. Speech is also impressive.
95%
GAMEPLAYThe campaign disappoints with linear levels and average storyline, but the co-op and multiplayer are great fun.
86%
VALUEThe single player game is disappointing, but multiplayer will have you returning for a long time.
91%
OVERALLBattlefield 3 is one of the best shooters on the market. If you only play single player offline, knock this score down a bit (maybe 15%), but online FPS fans should snap this title up immediately.
91%

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