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Battlefield 3


ESRB Rating: Mature

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Battlefield 3

UPC: 014633197372

Platform: Xbox 360

Publisher: Electronic Arts

Developer: EA DICE

Category: Shooter

Style(s): First-Person Shooter

Synopsis: EA DICE's flagship military combat series continues with Battlefield 3, a first-person shooter with destructible environments, large-scale maps, controllable vehicles, and online support for up to 24 simultaneous players. The single-player campaign, which the publisher estimates to be 12 hours in length, features multiple playable characters in a structure similar to Activision's Call of Duty franchise.

In a storyline set in 2014, you'll play as a Russian agent sent to stop a terrorist attack in Paris, a Marine corporal in the Tehran desert, and as others in missions set in Sarajevo, New York, Wake Island, Oman, and Sulaymaniyah. The Frostbite physics engine introduced in the Battlefield: Bad Company spin-off series has been enhanced, now allowing for the complete destruction of buildings and scenery objects as well as vision blurring or blinding effects. Soldiers can also shoot from the prone position.

The multiplayer game features a choice of team-based options. Conquest has your side trying to claim and hold different areas of the battlefield, while rush involves one team trying to quickly advance across a map as the other team defends. Team deathmatch is also included, and there are four available classes in the game: assault, support, recon, and engineer. Both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 titles are designed to run at 30 frames per second at 720p resolution. ~ Scott Alan Marriott, All Game Guide

Package Contents: Online Pass

Controls: Joystick/Gamepad

Though Battlefield 3 is the hotly anticipated sequel to 2005's Battlefield 2 on PC, console players should expect a modest step up from 2010's Bad Company 2 rather than a leap forward in the combined arms military series. The reason can be summed up in one word: scope. Battlefield 2 was designed from the ground-up to be a PC title and took advantage of the computer's horsepower to feature expansive maps, tactical commands, and an epic "feel." Battlefield 3 on consoles can't quite manage that same level of scope, primarily due to the lack of memory and processing power to deliver that true Battlefield sense of full-scale warfare.

So instead of online support for 64 players on the PC version, console players are limited to 24. Instead of a wide selection of vehicles on the nine included maps, you have four or five at most. More troubling to longtime fans is that the success of Activision's Call of Duty seems to have influenced the thought processes behind some of the maps and play options. The Battlefield series has been about tactical teamwork, role specialization, and either assaulting or defending an area by land, sea, or air.

For Battlefield 3, the developers introduce team deathmatch, squad deathmatch, and squad rush modes, which dilutes the Battlefield experience to appease those with short-attention spans. Some of the included maps, such as Operation Metro, Seine Crossing, and Grand Bazaar are tailor-made for those craving fast-paced action, as they emphasize infantry combat in tight quarters. The single-player campaign is yet another attempt to mimic Call of Duty, although it fails miserably. Half the time you are staring at cut-scenes, while the other half is seemingly spent on quick-time events or shooting brain-dead enemies that stream out of buildings like clowns out of a clown car.

Battlefield isn't Call of Duty, so why the talented developers at DICE waste time and resources at delivering a Hollywood-style single-player campaign is worth a head scratch or two. Instead they should be teaching players how to be better Battlefield soldiers in scenarios or levels that focus on specific tasks. A recon soldier should be able to practice sniping targets from a distance, support classes should be learning how to take out tanks with C4, and assault soldiers should learn how best to revive fallen soldiers in the thick of battle. More importantly, let players practice flying helicopters and jets offline without forcing them to learn in an online match. If you make players appreciate how the game differs from other shooters, they would be more apt to play the online multiplayer component, which is the heart and soul of Battlefield 3.

Taking what was learned from Bad Company 2, the developers went nuts over the psychologically addictive rewards and goodies you'll receive for simply playing a match or fulfilling specific roles, like repairing a damaged vehicle, tossing out med kits, or spotting the enemy. If you continuously use a specific weapon, for instance, you'll be able to "level" it and unlock additional accessories for that particular weapon, such as a laser sight or a longer barrel. As you increase in experience with a particular class, you'll unlock weapons and gadgets for that specific class, and so on and so on, until every vehicle, every weapon, and every class is maxed out, which will take months of dedicated playing.

Battlefield 3 is at its best when it doesn't try to cater to the Call of Duty crowd. The single-player campaign is a step back from Bad Company 2, and the new play modes aren't nearly as appealing as the tried-and-true conquest and rush modes. Despite these issues, the game is easily one of the most addictive online experiences you'll play in 2011. The wonderful environmental detail, the amazingly realistic sound effects, and the deep progression system are certainly pluses, but it's the freedom you have to play the way you want to play that's so compelling. With the promise of new maps, play options, vehicles, and weapons through downloadable content, Battlefield 3 should only get better over time, making it a must-own title for online players. ~ Scott Alan Marriott, All Game Guide

the game requires Joystick/Gamepad.