Battlefield 3 Review (PC)
Much of the hoopla surrounding Battlefield 3 has been about its use of the shiny new Frostbite 2 engine. The videos and screens we’ve seen leading up to release have been nearly mind blowing, and the recent ‘Is it real, or is it Battlefield’ campaign is aptly named. If you’ve got the hardware to push it (our review machine is detailed below), Frostbite delivers exactly what you’ve been seeing in all those trailers. Environments are some of the most realistic you’ve ever seen, and the amount of debris and smoke in the air can sometimes get overwhelming. It all contributes to the tension the game creates, and is a major factor in making the multiplayer really come alive.
Another nice thing about Frostbite 2 is how well it scales for less powerful machines. We’ve got people running it smoothly on video cards ranging from GeForce GTX 460s to SLI setups that border on the ridiculous. All of them report excellent performance, although some are running at different settings. So far, it seems the GPU is the most important component, so if you’re looking to skimp on the upgrade, go big on the graphics card.
The audio in Battlefield plays an equally large role in making the battle seem more real. Bullets pinging and whining around you, the rumble of a tank outside the building you’re hiding in, the sound of a nearby mortar launch – all of these help pull you even further into the game. Weapons sound very good, and little touches mean a lot. A running soldier generates a lot of random noise, from boots hitting the ground to various objects sliding, shifting and pinging about his person. Again, it brings the gamer that much closer to reality.
The other major change in Battlefield 3 is the one people are expending a lot of internet bandwidth to discuss right now: Battlelog. Rather than stick with the traditional in-game server browser, EA and DICE have integrated the server browser, stat tracking, friends list and clan (platoon) tracking into one web-based interface. It’s a great idea, and when it works, it’s wonderful. Unfortunately, there are plenty of reports about how often it isn’t working. I personally downloaded the game, installed it, and then had to re-download all 12GB of it when an unexplained ‘install error’ cropped up.
I’m not the only one having issues. Just among GameFront staff we’ve had several of the issues plaguing Battlelog pop up, from invites not appearing to games refusing to start. When I want to play with two of my buddies, it shouldn’t take an hour to get the three of us into a game together, but that’s exactly what happened.
Battlelog does have some high points. Joining as a party with your buddies is a great feature, as is the ability to drag and drop friends to invite them to your server. It’s obviously a system with a ton of potential, but it feels like it got taken out of the oven a little too early.
All in all, Battlefield 3 delivers almost everything I was hoping for. The campaign is lackluster, but that’s almost overshadowed by how damn good the multiplayer is. Quite simply, it’s the best multiplayer shooter I’ve played since Battlefield 2. Fans of the Battlefield series will find a game that isn’t exactly like what you’ve played in the past, but it’s close enough that you’ll feel right at home in a short amount of time. The bugs and hiccups with Battlelog are annoying, but not so much that they make me not want to play. This is a game that every PC shooter fan should play.
If DICE decides to release mod tools for BF3, this could be the game that dominates the PC shooter scene for the next 5 years, just like Battlefield 2 did. As it is, I still expect it to be around a good long while.
We reviewed Battlefield 3 on a Digital Storm ODE PC. Short list specs are i7 2600K @ 4.7GHz, 2x GTX 570 SLI, 8GB RAM. You can see the whole system at the Digital Storm Website
- Frostbite 2 delivers on the promises DICE made.
- Embodies the classic Battlefield multiplayer with modern features
- Plenty of unlocks
- Co-op missions are surprisingly fun
- Great audio
- Lackluster-at-best campaign
- Numerous bugs
- Lots of issues with Battlelog
Final Score: 88/100