Battlefield 3 Review
The line between perfecting a genre and flogging it into the ground is a thin one. After being thrilled by WW2 shooters for so long in the mid-noughties, watching boats draw toward a ubiquitous beach-landing set-piece eventually grew yawnsome. Modern shooters are gradually going the same way – and for all its moments of genuine oorah-ing brilliance, Battlefield 3’s solo campaign is very much a case in point.
It doesn’t help itself by being shamelessly derivative of the Call Of Duty games. No one’s saying it isn’t fun to blast away at AK-toting militia in blitzed Arab cityscapes, shrubby Russian vistas and New York streets – it’s just that I’ve played it all before. Narrative devices are also plundered. Playable characters are killed (one on camera, exactly like in MW2’s intro), and the garbled plot about nukes and double-crossing is cut-and-pasted from the mega-selling Activision series.
The majority of the campaign sees you waiting for balaclava-covered heads to bob out from behind cover, clearing an area and then moving on. Occasionally, two po-faced overweight men grill your Willem Dafoe-alike protagonist about the events he’s retelling (which form the retrospective missions, Black Ops-style). Then it’s back to the shooting galleries, QTEs and scripted sequences that play out with all the dramatic flair of a sixth-form drama production.
Ironically, when the game dares to be itself, it’s capable of moments that give you goosebumps. Just past the halfway point there’s a fantastic mission in a Russian woodland, charging around on foot with dozens of other infantry units while APCs, tanks and fighter jets battle it out all around you. That soldier-vehicle interplay is what Battlefield games have always been about, and DICE translates it brilliantly into scripted solo play in this rare moment – too rare.