The military shooter has been a staple of gaming for a very long time. Even before Steven Spielberg’s Medal of Honor in the PS1 days, we’ve been fighting for our country one way or the other. Operation Wolf, FTW? And with every take on the military shooter, be it world wars, sci-fi, or modern day, we know that evolving and refining a formula is the key to staying relevant.
EA’s other military franchise Medal of Honor had it and lost it. Its lack of innovation forced the law of diminishing returns to its downfall. Activision’s Call of Duty, the current leader in the shooting space, now has the same problem as Medal of Honor; its lack of innovation has given players a sense of déjà vu for a few years. Now Battlefield 3 is taking aim straight at Call of Duty, guns blazing with an excellent graphical presentation and strong multi-player legacy. But is it enough to answer the call?
I wouldn’t call myself a ‘fan’ of first person shooters, but I do love the sense of immersion they provide; I feel I’m part of a grander event. Uncharted, Gears of War, Metal Gear Solid, and even Splinter Cell – while all wonderful games – don’t evoke this feeling. I didn’t like Battlefield: Bad Company 2. The campaign was flat and the multi-player elements didn’t do it for me. I don’t have time to camp, I want the action now! I don’t want to find a clan or coordinate with my team, I just want to run around and shoot people once in a while. Give me fun and save the planning for a wedding.
Battlefield 3 is definitely a step forward for this series; the campaign might be a bit forgettable, but it still has some awesome 90’s action movie moments. The game’s fidelity is stronger than its direct competitor Modern Warfare. Everything looks sharper, more destructible and more… real. Modern Warfare, while a great looking game, always felt and looked like a game. Although this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, one of the major flaws of Battlefield 3 is its desire to look so real.
As important as immersion may be it can’t come at the cost of information. Battlefield 3’s night sequences, in particular, have some of the worst ‘where the fuck is that coming from’ moments I’ve ever had. The lighting contrast is too strong, and even during the day time the bloom effect can mask the base of information. If I can’t tell where the fire is coming from, I ain’t having fun.
The multi-player strikes a nice balance for anyone looking to go lone-wolf or strategic. I’m happy to see that there’s an option for both. As a console player, having maps this open and big is a nice change over the claustrophobic and frantic action of most online experiences.
But does it answer the call? In short: No.
Battlefield 3 is a great game; it has moments that capture the summer blockbuster feeling, but it’s ultimately no Modern Warfare. After playing Battlefield 3’s campaign, I now have a stronger appreciation for what the Modern Warfare games do so well: keeping the white-knuckle action and full blown intensity at the forefront of the gaming experience.
Again, Battlefield 3 is a very good game, and in a market where being an imitator can yield as much revenue as the genuine article, I can’t blame EA for all the direct (and sometimes douchie) taunts at the Call of Duty series.
When your best effort is your competition’s worst offer, you need to shut the fuck up. And while claiming that you’re ‘above and beyond the call’, your game only shows that you’re below the standard. So, next time actually answer the call instead of telling me what you plan to say. 7/10