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Battlefield 3 Review

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Dave Snell

We re-appraise Battlefield 3 on its lead platform a few weeks after launch

Published on Nov 17, 2011

 

So, we’ve already ascertained how good Battlefield 3 is on consoles, but what you all really wanted to know at launch was, how good is the PC version? Well, in a nutshell, if you have a PC that can run it, this is still, hands-down the version to get.

We know that Battlefield was developed first on PC, then scaled down for consoles, but trust us, this version looks so much better. Particle effects, dust, texture detail and facial motion offer such an improvement that it’s practically a new game. 

Seriously, we couldn’t engage with the campaign on consoles the way we can here – it’s still a bit pap overall, but you really believe in the characters thanks to some incredible facial work.

But then it takes you a step further – every light gives off a sheen of bloom, the shadows cast are imperceptibly perfect, and thanks to some remarkable trickery, the quality holds up into the distance with only the tiniest bit of pop up on initial loading, that gives away the mechanics under the hood. 

This looks considerably worse on console formats.

Wiggling the visual setting sliders about shows that rather than add in items, the lower graphical settings drop the texture quality without heavily impacting the overall view – the screen shots throughout this review are at the highest settings, but drop it a few notches and it’s still beautiful to gawp at.

The other huge difference comes in multiplayer, and the reintroduction of 64 player matches is a huge boost here – after a week on the consoles, it’s true to say we really noticed the difference a properly full server can offer. What were slightly bare and bleak maps were suddenly full of action, and no matter where you spawn you are often not far from a fight.

This is the way Battlefield is truly intended to be played – properlyscaled skirmishes with vehicles only really work when there’s enough bodies to make you feel part of something epic. 

No longer will you see lone warriors scoring a capture or holding off a squad – there’s too much going on for the average player to last longer than 30 seconds, and very quickly, even the most gung-ho squaddie learns to hang back and work with their teammates.

However, the combination of scale and visual acuity is something else – with everything going on in a full match, expect either a drop in framerate or a dip of the graphical quality, because at times, the sheer intensity of combat can drag the game back somewhat. 

Still, the campaign is naff.

And while we’re griping, the decision to run everything through the Battlelog web browser was a poor choice too –switching between multiplayer modes is a pain, requiring a full reboot of the game each time. But let’s face it; these are tiny issues that drown in the shadow of the overall quality on offer here.

So, on to our bug report, and we can happily tell you we didn’t find any. Some players have reported issues with lagging on certain cards and problems with remapped controls, but thankfully whatever tweaking DICE has done seems to have done the trick – for our rig, anyway.

Battlefield 3 is a truly brilliant multiplayer game, and this is clearly the definitive version – the graphics alone merit the accolade, but the expanded multiplayer servers are the real icing on the cake. 

There’s nothing the console versions do that this doesn’t do better – sure, it’s the same game, but the difference is so staggering you’d swear they were separate titles. Battlefield 3 is a must buy for anyone who has ever enjoyed the simple art of shooting people online.

 

 

Score Breakdown
Graphics
9.6 / 10
Sound
8.9 / 10
Gameplay
9.4 / 10
Longevity
9.1 / 10
Multiplayer
9.5 / 10
Overall
9.3 / 10
Final Verdict
Despite a lacklustre single player, Battlefield is the definitive online multiplayer king, and the 64-player PC servers and massively improved visuals make this the superior version of a truly classic shooter.
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Game Details
Format:
PC
Release Date:
28/10/2011
Price:
£34.99
Publisher:
DICE
Developer:
Electronic Arts
Genre:
FPS
No. of players:
1-64
Verdict
9.3 /10
The definitive version of Battlefield 3 packs a visual punch and epic multiplayer which blows consoles out of the water.
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