Wednesday, 9 November 2011

The Battlefield 3 campaign train

The thing I like about rail journeys is that they usually get me where I need to go with the least amount of hassle and effort on my part. You just get to sit back and enjoy the ride until you eventually get off and then continue with life. On-rail shoot ‘em ups are typically like train journeys designed to entertain. You wave a plastic gun at pixels on the screen and have a great time pretending you’re John McClane or Rambo.

Time Crisis arcade cabinets and home console editions are classic examples of this done right. They walk the player through an action intensive environment and ask you to shoot the pop-up gallery style villains using a fun peripheral. Unfortunately, not all on-rail shooters can capture the feeling adequately, especially when they don’t intend to be on-rail shooters.

I don’t understand why Battlefield 3’s campaign got as much praise as it did. Don’t get me wrong, I love the multiplayer and have managed to play a little bit every night since its launch weekend. It’s just the campaign seems so funnelled and guided. You might as well be following a track through each linear mission. Battlefield 3’s campaign mode is a dull corridor shooter.

Okay, the corridors are riddled with some of the best graphics seen in games and are mostly disguised as wide-open areas, but there is only one route through each mission which will periodically throw bad guys at you in all the obvious places. I was not pleasantly surprised once going through the campaign and found it very disappointing.

Modern Warfare 2 is guilty of exactly the same thing, but I had already dismissed that in my head. I had the hope that DICE was going to try something different in Battlefield 3, which since its announcement has been widely hyped as the Call of Duty killer. However, the campaign had gone down the exact same route as the Modern Warfare series, only keeping everything that bit more dull, clich├ęd and realistic.

You might as well be pushed around the levels in Battlefield 3 as there is only one way to go at any opportunity. The only level that offered any freedom was ‘Rock and a Hard Place’, and even straying too far from the determined path in this area would most likely get you killed. I don’t understand how early reviews of Battlefield 3, which were mainly based on the game’s campaign, scored so highly. The campaign is boring, short-lived and unimaginative.

Like a train journey, it just felt like you got on, travelled through several areas and finally disembarked at the other side. It had no excitement, no element of exploration and felt quite clinical in its execution. You didn’t even get a plastic gun to wave at the screen.

No comments: