Battlefield 3: Close Quarters review
Enjoyable as this new chunk of DLC is, it’s also Dice unashamedly attempting to ape Modern Warfare 3 and by doing so lure away a few of its less vehement contingent like a pied piper in camo paint. Close Quarters ditches everything Battlefield for a bit, preferring instead a giddy festival of twitch-killing that COD players will find extremely familiar and the BF3 hardcore will enjoy as a break from all the thousand-yard snipes if nothing else.
There are no vehicles in the four new maps, and their compact design forces you into noses-pressed together gunfights. Likewise the ten new weapons on offer, a selection of SMGs and shotguns, are much more effective at arm’s length than when you’re dug into some far-off corner of Caspian Border.
Of the four new locales, Donya Fortress defines the packs intentions most plainly. There’s just one open area in the courtyard of a Tehrani mansion, the surrounding network of spindly corridors hosting much of the killing.It’s the map that promotes constant sprinting the most, and it’s where you’re most likely to find yourself in a face-stabbing contest. Ziba Tower shares a lot of the same white-washed corridors and plays out a little like Modern Warfare 2’s Terminal, with Operation 925 and Scrapmetal being perhaps the pick of the bunch for offering less predictable chokepoints and not being quite as susceptible to claymore-spamming at control points as the others. It remains, like SMAW-spamming, a problem throughout this DLC though. Like Mario Balotelli’s bathroom, each level is too compact for high powered explosives.
At least when you’re bleeding out you can admire Dice’s new HD Destruction scenery damage, which adds detail to smaller scale effects like plaster crumbling out of a bullet-sodden wall, furniture turning to mulch and a lot of glass-smashing.
It’s certainly gratifying to witness each level degrade over the course of each round, and forces you to re-think about cover every second. However, at the time of writing there are still a number of wall hacks yet to be patched out and no shortage of devious types willing to exploit them for glitch-kills.
On the one hand it’s worrying to see BF3’s defining characteristics pushed into the background in favour of new features which clearly owe a lot to Treyarch’s shooter. Exhibit A is the Conquest Domination, a three-base capture mode that plays out exactly like MW3’s Domination. Gun Master mode (or exhibit B) which starts you with a pistol and improves your weaponry every two kills is slightly less damning, not because it doesn’t play out extremely similar to MW3’s gun game, but because that itself was ripped from a Counterstrike Source mod of the same name that emerged years before.
On the other hand, it’s a thrill to play such a different style of game in the familiar BF3 outfit. Running into enemies so often and capturing points so much more quickly than you would in the base game feels like you’re breaking the rules somehow.
The increased frequency of kills, assists, neutrals and captures certainly act like metabolic steroids for your rank, feeding you XP like it’s going out of fashion, and for some players that’ll be enough to warrant Close Quarters’ existence. It’s a worthwhile distraction and vigorously executed for the most part, but where are the vehicles that define Battlefield? As an important political figure once said, get to the chopper(s), Dice.