'Battlefield 3' Answers the Call of Duty
There’s something about a 12-year-old screaming obscenities at me from hundreds of miles away in a voice just quiet enough that his mom won’t hear him while she makes him a bologna sandwich upstairs that makes me froth at the mouth like Old Yeller.
Luckily for me, unlike its competitors like “Call of Duty” and “Halo,” “Battlefield 3” players thus far have tended to be past puberty.
Perhaps this is because “Call of Duty” has become such a behemoth (“Black Ops” moved 13.7 million units) or because the gameplay has a more tactical edge, but the “Battlefield” franchise is an undeniable underdog, something developer Electronic Arts has very publicly tried to combat with “Battlefield 3,” going so far as to give it the tagline “above and beyond the call.”
Now that the dust has settled and both “Battlefield 3” and the latest “Call of Duty” installment, “Modern Warfare 3,” have both been released to the masses, it’d be pretty hard to argue that EA succeeded.
“Battlefield 3” is great, but the masses have pretty much spoken – it’s not the top dog. And that’s a good thing.
“Battlefield 3” strays away from the over-the-top set pieces and action-movie moments of “Call of Duty” and stays true to the military first-person genre. While the game puts players in the shoes of multiple protagonists, all of them are members of the U.S. Armed forces. You’ll find no special operatives or heartbeat sensing guns here.
Everything about “Battlefield 3” is as true and gritty to a modern combat sequence as a 21-year old English major at a liberal arts college is going to get. The brightness of the sun or the shine of flashlights is blinding, buildings crumble into bits and gunfire echoes down streets and off of walls.
Occupying this world in the games campaign mode is an audio-visual delight.
The campaign follows a similar formula to “Call of Duty: Black Ops,” with the main protagonist, Sergeant Blackburn, being interrogated by your average, thick headed military officials, about the events of an undisclosed terrorist attack. Through flashbacks, players not only follow along side Blackburn’s squad, but take on the roles of various soldiers that supported Blackburn, sometimes driving massive tank units across a gorgeous desert, other times launching in a jet plane off of an aircraft carrier and into a dog fight. Every level offers its own unique graphical flare and impressive sound design.
The story hits all the familiar beats of a modern-day military narrative and doesn’t really tread any new ground, but there are several moments over the course of the campaign that are quite literally jaw dropping as the game takes you through Iran, Russia and numerous other locales. One moment in particular left me speechless.
Where “Battlefield 3” shines, however, is its multiplayer. While most games offer six-on-six or eight-on-eight player matches, there can be upwards of 20 players on the sprawling maps of “Battlefield 3.”
Nothing else on the market comes close to the incredible scale and destructive force on constant display during the online play of “Battlefield 3.”
Everyone and their dad is going to be playing “Modern Warfare 3” this winter, which will more than likely sell more than twice as many copies as “Battlefield 3,” but months from now, when everyone’s dad is sick and tired of “Call of Duty” and its quick paced, shoot ‘em up pace, “Battlefield 3” can and will offer an awesome alternative.