1. Computing

Battlefield 4 PS3 Review

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating

By

Battlefield 4

Battlefield 4

Image © EA
Arguably the most divisive debate in the world of modern gaming will rear its ugly head again next week when “Call of Duty: Ghosts” unleashes its response to EA’s “Battlefield 4,” already crashing servers worldwide with demand for multiplayer game time. Has Electronic Arts set the bar high for those of us willing to accept the possibility of two great multiplayer shooters? (The fact is that some “CoD” and “BF” nuts are so intense that they won’t even play the alternate just like political junkies who always vote along the exact same party line). While it was a massive success commercially, I know many people who felt disappointed by “Battlefield 3,” a lesser game than the landmark “Battlefield: Bad Company 2,” the one that really elevated this franchise into one of the current juggernauts. Despite a merely decent single-player campaign (which is more praise than I could levy at the awful one in “Battlefield 3”), the multiplayer offering here doesn’t just work on “Battlefield” terms, it stands with the best ever created. The maps are beautifully designed, the modes are deep with variety of gameplay, the customization is remarkable, and, most of all, the graphics engine (known as Frostbite) has been finetuned to the point that combat has never been more intense.

Game Details

  • Publisher: Electronic Arts
  • Developer: DICE (EA Digital Illusions CE)
  • ESRB Rating: M (Mature)
  • Genre: First-Person Shooter
  • Pros: Amazing Map Design, Stunning Graphics, Levelution, Deep Customization
  • Cons: Lackluster, Glitchy Single-Player Campaign

Gameplay

Battlefield 4

Battlefield 4

Image © EA

Let’s get through this briefly – the single-player campaign in “Battlefield 4” is more engaging than those who write it off completely might expect but too familiar and downright buggy at times in the way it treats enemy A.I. It reminded me of “Spec Ops: The Line,” although it’s not as ambitious. It does have a similar structure in that you move from combat zone to combat zone, casing the area for enemies, marking them, and taking them out. The campaign has a frustrating lack of common sense at times in its reliance on room-clearing to move on. There was one point where a hangar door wouldn’t open because I had missed an enemy who was behind cover about 200 yards behind me, basically, it seemed, cowering for his life. I had to find him, headshot him, and move on. That’s just silly. The door should have opened without the clearing. I had another point on a boat where the enemies wouldn’t engage me for some reason and so I had to restart to a checkpoint. And bad guys will often move like wooden ducks in a shooting gallery. They take cover, they pop up, you head shot them. Which is not to imply that there aren’t VERY difficult chapters in the campaign and the whole thing looks great. It’s more of a case where the outdated AI issues stand out more against the ambitious narrative and remarkable graphics.

What really matters? The multiplayer. It’s hard to pick my favorites. Domination on Siege of Shanghai. Conquest on Rogue Transmission or Operation Locker. Obliteration on Hainan Resort. You’ll soon know your favorite modes to play on your favorite maps but the truth is there’s not really a boring option in terms of gameplay choice or where the chaos will ensue. The standard modes are here – Deathmatch, Conquestion, Domination, and Rush – and they’re joined by two new modes – Defuse & Obliteration, the latter of which is one of my favorite gaming developments of 2013. Each side has three targets to destroy with a bomb that randomly spawns in the environment. Find the bomb, take it your enemy’s target, blow it up. Try and do it again. The constant solitary target (the bomb) makes for absolute, mind-blowing chaos, as tanks, helicopters, and other weapons of mass destruction are unleashed. It’s incredibly fun.

The level of detail in the design of the maps for “Battlefield 4” is so remarkable that one begins to take them for granted (unless they’re thinking about it for a review). Whether you’re stealing a jet ski to get to a shipwreck in Paracel Storm or jumping off a building in Siege of Shanghai, there’s an attention to detail here that is simply missing from most multiplayer games. The development of these multiplayer arenas was so accomplished that the game captures something spontaneous every minute. It feels like you could play for days and not have the same multiplayer experience twice. And, let’s be honest, as much as I love my “CoD” maps, there’s a play-and-learn quality to them in that one often finds the tricks, the rooms, the areas in which they have the best chance to succeed and then exploits those habits. “Battlefield 4” will have some sniper spots and some corners that you’ll learn to master but it feels stunningly in-the-moment, as the world is collapsing around you.

Sometimes literally. There’s a development in map design here called “Levelution” in that the maps will change over gameplay time. Some Conquest matches can take 20 minutes or more and weather will change as storms come in while buildings will collapse from tank or helicopter fire. The shattering of the wall you’re using for cover has long been a staple of the “Battlefield” series but it’s never been more remarkably accomplished than it is here. These levels feel real, as if the ground beneath your feet isn’t quite safe.

Graphics & Sound

There’s an entirely new Frostbite 3 engine being used on “Battlefield 4” and one can quickly tell the difference. I can’t wait to see what it looks like on the PS4, which I should be able to report back about in just a few weeks. For now, the PS3 version of “Battlefield 4” is breathtaking in the large picture. There are some details – shading on foliage, the way smoke is handled – that I believe will be vastly improved by the 4, but this is as good as multiplayer gaming looks on the PS3. As for sound, it’s similarly impressive. I love the way that gunfire can be heard in the distance or pinging by your head as you run to a target. It’s another detail, an element that can easily be taken for granted but adds to the overall experience of the game.

Overall

Battlefield 4

Battlefield 4

Image © EA
Is “Battlefield 4” the best multiplayer shooter of the PS3 generation? It’s a bold statement to make but I wouldn’t argue with anyone who wanted to make it. I know it’s something that I will dive deep into and spend days there, mastering the maps, unlocking items, and finetuning my favorite weapons. It could end up being the perfect transition game as users buy it on the PS3 and can’t wait to see what it looks like on the PS4 (which they can do for only a $10 upgrade). Well, unless that transition game ends up being “Call of Duty: Ghosts.” If this is a war for your multiplayer dollars, EA has made an incredibly impressive first wave of assault. Your move, Activision. Good luck.
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
  1. About.com
  2. Computing
  3. PlayStation Games
  4. PlayStation Game Reviews
  5. Battlefield 4 PS3 Review

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.