Also available on PlayStation 3 and Windows
Review written by Stephen Deck; originally published October 10, 2020 on Teacher by Day, Gamer by Night
I was super late to the game playing Battlefield 3. I’ve always been a fan of the Battlefield series in general ever since the glorious 1942. With Battlefield 3, though, I was always a little put off. This game came out in 2011 at the height of the gaming industry’s inundation of brown, desaturated first person shooters featuring Americans killing brown people. After going through a bit of a mental health slump back in July, though, I found myself needing that very type of game – mindless nationalist violence. Like a faithful dog, Battlefield 3 was waiting on my shelf for me despite the years I’d spent neglecting it.
Considering the hardware and the fact that the game is nine years old, the visuals are outstanding. Sure, it’s no Battlefield V, but it’s running on hardware that’s almost old enough to have a driver’s license. DICE really did a phenomenal job of squeezing a tremendous amount of visual fidelity out of the Xbox 360. The Xbox 360 offers some optional texture packs that really show off the potential of the hardware and the Frostbite 2 engine. Battlefield games in general usually nail immersion, but the particle physics and lighting effects used here really double down on that strength.
The first thing I noticed about the core gameplay is that it’s extremely similar to what I saw in the Bad Company games, and you know what? That’s a good thing. Hell, that’s a great thing. DICE pretty much perfected the feel and mechanics of infantry and vehicle combat in the Bad Company games, so all it really needed in Battlefield 3 were minor tweaks. Now I’m a single player oriented gamer, so that’s how I primarily judge games, and unfortunately for Battlefield 3, single player isn’t its main focus. The single player campaign is perfectly fine, but that’s the thing – it’s fine. It’s not bad, but it’s not outstanding or anything. It’s fun while you’re playing it, and there are definitely some likeable characters and awesome moments, but as an overall product, it’s rather forgettable.
Where Battlefield 3 really shines is the multiplayer. Whether you’re playing the traditional team based deathmatch or the conquest game mode, Battlefield 3 was clearly geared towards online multiplayer. When it released in 2011, Battlefield 3 had arguably the best online multiplayer on consoles. I fondly remember playing Battlefield 3 online with my full time BFF/part time secret husband, Grant, when we were in college. As great as Call of Duty is for online multiplayer, Battlefield 3 dethroned it for a while there in my book. Granted, that doesn’t mean much in 2020 with multiple Battlefield games having released in the past nine years, but you can still find a game online every now and then.
Unfortunately for those of us who love revisiting games years (or decades) down the line, Battlefield 3’s heyday has definitely come and gone. The multiplayer was always the focus for Battlefield, and unfortunately, given how old the game is, Battlefield 3’s online community is pretty sparse these days. There’s still a bit of a community on PC, but most console players have understandably moved on. I wish I could say that the campaign is a great experience, but while it’s certainly not bad, it’s nothing to write home about. It’s a solidly competent and okay shooter, but it doesn’t have the high octane energy of Doom or the emotional sucker punch of Spec Ops: The Line, but it’s definitely worth playing through once if you’re a fan of military shooters with modern settings.