Let’s face the honest truth here, who plays games like Battlefield or Call of Duty just for the single player? There are a few out there, whether you don’t have Internet or maybe multiplayer just isn’t your thing. But does that mean we as reviewers should turn a blind eye when the single player is so glaringly bad it makes us want to break the copy of the disc in two because the multiplayer is that good?
I just recently played through the single player campaign of Battlefield 3 and gave this general impression on twitter: “Battlefield 3 has the worst FPS single player campaign that I’ve ever played!” When I said this, I was saying it from a point of pure frustration with the game. But before I hit the “Tweet” button, I took a second to think about it. I then decided that I really did believe this.
***SIDE-NOTE: This is NOT the official Battlefield 3 review! Just the mad rantings of one insane mind***
I forced myself to finish the single player campaign for the only reason of being able to right this little blog/rant. I’ve put together several reasons that destroyed my experience with the single player…now granted, some of these points could easily be overlooked and forgiven, but in this case, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
If you enjoyed it, great! I’m glad someone did. But if you want to know my reasoning behind why this is the worst FPS single player campaign I’ve played, read on!
1. Modern Warfare Wannabe:
Many of the following issues I think stem from this one problem: Battlefield 3 is trying too hard to be like Modern Warfare. As I sat and played the game I kept thinking how much it reminded me of Modern Warfare. This was not something that crossed my mind when playing Battlefield Bad Company 2 (BFBC2). The game seems more focused on its big cinematic delivery than its gameplay. No longer do you bring down a building using the destructive environmental mechanic. Instead the game breaks into a clearly scripted event. I could write a whole paragraph more as to why I feel this game is trying too hard to be like MW, but instead will just elaborate more in the next few points.
2. Poor Level Designs:
Despite the huge maps in the multiplayer or previous BF titles, the SP maps are small and extremely limited. On top of this, there is very little room for using different strategies. In BFBC2, you could choose different ways to take out an enemy camp; sneak in under the huts, flank them from the side, snipe from a distance, or level them with RPG’s. With BF3, there is none of that. You pretty much run down a narrow lane, shoot at the bad guys, find some cover, and repeat. Try to deviate from it and you’re either rapidly gunned down by the enemy, or you just die for no apparent reason.
There is also a very high level of hand holding throughout the whole game. Doesn’t take long to realize you’re not really playing the game as much as you are being dragged through the game.
3. No Weapon Choice:
Sure, there are different weapons on a map, but these are from fallen enemies and comrades. Most of the time they aren’t any better or that much different than your standard weapon you were issued at the beginning of the map. Most of the time it is random luck you stumble across a gun you prefer. Like point #2 and most of the points on this list, a blatant reminder on how little control the developers want to give you.
4. Terrible Enemy Programming:
In short, the enemy programming is way too over aggressive, over accurate, and over powerful. Playing on Normal you think you were going up against Navy Seals for how accurate the enemy is. Enemies can easily see you far away in dark corners lying prone (when the only way you can see them is via a thermal scope). They can see through cover at you and know exactly where you are as well as many other things making enemies not feel challenging but rather very cheap instead.
They also are ridiculously accurate in their shooting. I understand if you’re going up against a company of highly specialized trained soldiers with acog scopes and advance weaponry. Most of the enemies you encounter are not elite agents nor have the latest modern weaponry, yet they can still hit you from half a mile away as if you were a magnet to bullets!
Don’t be surprised when enemies are hip-firing with an Uzi or Shotgun 100 yards away and you get pelted with bullets.
5. Terrible Friendly AI:
If you thought enemies were bad, Friendly AI is worse! Most of the time you will find them getting in your way rather than helping you. Most of the game is spent tagging behind them or waiting for them to catch up. Their abilities range from either doing everything for you (primarily at the beginning) to not being able to hit the broad side of a barn (most of the game). If they’re not blocking you from being able to take cover, they are stepping directly into your line of fire as you’re trying to take out the enemy. Their detection ability is terrible as well. Many times enemies will be less than 5 feet away from them and they will not detect it. They are literally the complete opposite of the enemy programming and are so useless you might as well be playing as a lone-wolf in all the missions.
6. Vehicles on Rails…Not Wheels:
One of the biggest differences between Modern Warfare and Battlefield has always been the vehicles. In BFBC2 you were able to race Mongoose ATV’s, drive tanks and jeeps, and much more. While there were some on the rails moments, most of the time, when you got a vehicle, you had full control of it. That is all but gone in BF3’s SP campaign. While you do get to load up in vehicles, most of the time they are on rails. There is only one time where you get full control and that is on a tank level which was shown at E3 2011 (and they eventually turn that into an on rails shooter by the end of it!).
Again, it’s just a constant reminder at how little control you have in the game.
7. Quick Time Events:
When quick time events first started being used in games, they brought certain elements of fun. This was probably because much of what could be done in games was limited, so it was a way to keep it interactive and not just becoming one big cut scene. Now they are hindering plague upon gamekind! Sadly, BF3 is riddled with many of them. It seems you are constantly running from one quick time event into another. Nothing kills the sense of excitement and tension as taking you out of control and making you do a quick button mashing.
The first 7 points make up my major issues with the game. The following are minor issues that if by themselves could have been overlooked. But because there are so many big problems, they make smaller problems even that much more annoying.
8. Pointless Tasks:
Prime example, it’s nighttime, someone yells at you to “mortar up!” and throws you a mortar cannon. You think, “Awesome, I get to shell the enemy!”. Soon you’re running down a hill along side a full platoon of soldiers into a city being lit up with mortar rounds, gun fire, and screams as your army tries to take it. You run to the designated mortar location to setup. You click and deploy it and just when you think you get to bring down the BOOM…….you are given a gun and told to climb over a wall to shoot the enemy with this pea shooter. Once over the wall, you’re told to shoot over the enemies heads so the mortar team (WHICH YOU JUST WERE AT AND SETUP) could shell the enemy. All that buildup, all that climaxing, reduced to becoming a bullet meat shield. This sums up much of the tasks you are given in the game.
War in general can be pointless at times, but I don’t think this game is deep enough to try to implant such a heavy metaphor or meaning within its gameplay.
9. Subtitles During Heavy Action:
Okay, I’ll be the first to admit, heavy Russian accented English dialogue isn’t always the best to listen to in a game, but you know what it beats? Trying to read English subtitles as Russian teammates talk and give you commands in the middle of heavy combat THAT’S WHAT! It’s not like you’re an American who doesn’t speak Russian paired up with Russian soldiers. You play a scene as a Russian with two Russian Partners. Yes it’s most likely they would speak Russian, but don’t make me try to read what they’re saying while I’m trying not to die because of reason number #4.
What kills me is the fact that you later try to capture a key Russian black arms dealer and tap into his radio communications to listen in on his orders to his Russian security team…AND HE’S SPEAKING FRIGGIN ENGLISH!!!!! To add to this irony, it’s Americans who are trying to capture him and he is aware of it…makes perfect sense!!! NOT!
10. My Greatest Enemy: The Lightbulb:
If any horn was being tooted from EA and DICE about this game before its launch, it was how amazing the graphics were. While mostly true, there is a glaring issue I noticed. Maybe it’s just on the 360 or maybe it’s just me, but someone really messed up the lighting details with light bulbs. Almost every light source you see produces a glow around as if you were looking at the light through wet plastic goggles. Often it obscures and blinds your view. No other squad mates are wearing goggles. I guess you’re the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar of the battle field.
11. Can’t Open Doors:
Yet another thing making this game feel more like Modern Warfare is that you can never open doors freely. Doors are most often opened or breached by squadmates who you must follow. On top of that, there usually isn’t a room full of bad guys on the other side either. It serves more of a loading time for the next boring straight and narrow path. Just another reminder at how much on a leash you are in the game.
12. Can Be Killed By a Rat:
Video link explains it all. Most humiliating death in a FPS I can think of. Warning: Potential offensive hand sign at 0:40 seconds into video.
In all honesty, BF3 probably isn’t the worst FPS single player ever made. Don’t get me wrong! I love love love LOVE the multiplayer part of Battlefield 3 and feel you definitely get your money’s worth with the multiplayer component. But with big names behind it such as Dice and Electronic Arts, it’s really sad to see a game come out copying another franchise and abandoning many of the things that made single player enjoyable (and bearable) in previous titles.