Under the Radar

Battlefield 3 Multiplayer

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As you may already know, assuming you’re smart enough to read Under the Radar, we reviewed the BF 3 campaign last week. If you aren’t reading us, despite our adoxographic record of excellence then you’re as wrong as two grunts in fishnet hose.

So, Battlefield 3: Multiplayer. The verdict? Phenomenal. In fact, at the risk of eschewing sesquipedalianism and waxing unnecessarily pedantic, it’s unexpurgatedly awesome.

(Note: we’re writing this one special for some of the officers who might be reading it, if you couldn’t tell. They like big words and powerpoint slides.) Just between us knuckledraggers though, this game is bad ass. Bad. Ass. Badder Ass than that dead donkey on the Jaji Bridge that one St. Patrick’s Day. Badder ass than that towering 6’ skank who used to work the door at Big Louie’s outside Ft. Leonard Wood. Badder ass than…well, you get the point.)

It's silly, but we sometimes preferred the AK74U to the SCAR; talk about interactive environments,there are sharks out there lurking to eat players that drop in the water. (Screen shot courtesy of Al-A)

Anyway, multiplayer is much better than we expected, which is saying something, though of course there were some initial bugs. One commenter from our previous post mentioned that his SCAR-H disappeared whenever he fired the weapon, and a couple times we seemed to teleport through walls if a grenade went off nearby. That didn’t last very long though, and once things settled out we experienced no further issues. Multiplayer in BF3 (which has several modes) is definitely the game’s strongest side, and we find it difficult to believe MW3 will be able to really compete in an objectively reasonable fashion (though we remain open minded).

Game Modes

Team Deathmatch on the console allows up to twenty four players (12 vs. 12) to battle it out, with victory contingent on casualty rate (that means a winning outcome based solely on the number of kills, try to keep up).  Squad Deathmatch is a brilliant concept fir online matchmaking play, allowing up to four squads consisting of four players to compete for a set, predetermined number of kills.  Rush is based completely on objectives.  Again, up to twenty four players divided into two factions will compete in this mode.  One team takes the role of aggressors, assigned to arm and detonate M-COM stations.   The other team plays the defending force and obviously it’s their mission to prevent it.

The catch attached to this game mode is that the attacking team is limited to a set number of respawn “tickets” while the defending team has an unlimited amount. This may seem a little strange, since basic military strategy calls for an attacker to outnumber the defender by a minimum of 3:1 in a conventional fight, more in a MOUT operation depending on whether it’s high intensity or precision MOUT (and as you’re aware, it’s considerably higher in a counter-insurgency, unless you’re the Rhodesians). Strange or not, it works. We probably shouldn’t overthink the real world tactical implications of a scenario where a real life asshat who has never touched a boob (like BlustryChees810) can, without much difficulty, humiliate and kill real world operators. Not that we’re holding a grudge.

The attacking team will only be awarded respawn tickets upon successfully detonating the M-COM stations and progressing to the next pair.  Winning teams are decided by either destroying all M-COM stations or by virtue of attrition (depleting the other side’s respawn tickets).

Squad Rush is similar to Rush with the exception of numbers (players, vehicles, and bases).  Two squads of four (essentially two fireteams, though using the classic fireteam weapon has no appreciable advantage) will attack/defend only two bases, each of which contains just one M-COM station.  Vehicles are not available in this mode.  Conquest is the final game mode.  Console systems will allow for up to twenty four players to compete.  Conquest is objective based much like Call of Duty’s Domination.  There are, however, some distinctive and refreshing tweaks that raise the bar for any future objective based multiplayer fps game.  As opposed to a score based on the time a team is able to occupy objectives, begin the match with a preset number of tickets.  Teams attempt to occupy up to four objectives, causing the opposing team to bleed tickets.  Kills will also cause the opposing team to lose tickets.  The team to reach zero tickets first is deemed the losing team.

View from the door gunner's seat on a helo headed in...we crashed a lot. The seas were angry that day, friend. Screen shot from BestofVideoGames.

Maps

Battelfield multiplayer utilizes nine large scale maps.  They include a variety of settings and operational terrain from urban scenes to desert landscapes.  The variety of maps (and to a lesser extent the range of battlefield terrain within the maps) allow for a variety of military vehicles to be utilized if not in the very manner they were created for then about as close as can be got with current gaming technology. You can air assault, go mechanized, move under the cover of CAS gun runs or thunder runs…its awesome. If we sound like we’re gushing, well, that’s because it’s awesome. On a side note with these maps, these graphics and the sound quality…if you don’t flinch once in a while, there’s something wrong with you (or you’ve never really been shot at). Though, to be fair, we’re a bit on the cowardly side when it comes to being shot at, preferring to depart this life equipped with exactly the same number of holes with which we entered.

One cool new feature, ocean spawn points (aircraft carriers) are available, making players choose between riding/operating either an amphibious assault vehicle across the sea or flying the provided aircraft to the beachfront battles (note: for the record, Slim was a Marine and we’ve run with a lot of Marines, but given the choice between a chopper piloted by a guy whose driving it like he stole it and riding in to storm the beach…it’s no hard decision).  While the maps are broad in scope, initial movements are rarely a daunting or difficult task. Sprint capability is unlimited and initial spawn points are littered with a variety of ever spawning modes of transportation (things change, of course, with regards to actions on the objection or final movement to contact, but the wide variety of ways to spawn are definitely one of the more refreshing aspects of multiplayer play).

Environments are very interactive, particularly in regards to damage and destruction.  Oh, and snipers an campers face a well-deserved new threat in this feature.  If you’re taking rounds from someone set back in the room behind a third story window, one well-placed RPG round will give him the good news (and destroy that portion of the structure).  Tanks can also maneuver through wooded areas with little difficulty and most parts of urban areas, allowing infantry movements to be masked by armor if players can coordinate it.

Player Classes:

Players have the option to play each game and respawn as four different classes: Assault, Engineer, Support, and Recon.  Assault players are armed with a rifle, pistol, and a grenade launcher/med kit.  Engineers carry a loadout comprised of a carbine, pistol, RPG, and a repair torch for friendly vehicles.  The RPG may later be traded for landmines.   Support players are armed with machine guns, sidearms, and ammunition for teammates.  Players will have the ability to upgrade each class’ weapons with successful use and points earned in gameplay.  Such upgrades include alternate weapons, laser sights, and high capacity magazines. Individual character customization does not have the same level of innovation as other features but it is certainly satisfactory.

Spawn Points:

Single spawn points are obsolete.  The player now has the option of spawning in numerous locations.  If assigned to a squad, to player has the option to spawn at a squad mate’s exact location, and it can be timed to coincide with movements (or wait for suppressing fire, etc.), again if players are coordinated.  In objective based games, players can spawn on occupied points.  Vehicle spawn are also possible.

Screenshots don't do it justice. You could go roast marshmallows in that burning building there, though you'd get hammered with grenades or RPGs even if you didn't get sniped. (Nobody appreciates smores in the middle of a fight anymore.) The massive PC multiplayer games are literally overwhelming with 64 players brawling. It's a slaughterfest not for the faint of heart or weak of thumbs.

Summary:

Battlefield 3 multiplayer is Call of Duty on steroids.  With destructible environments, incredibly realistic settings and vehicles, superb game mechanics and the new progression system, the player is thrown into a high-intensity, action-packed world.  Veteran or n00b, serious or recreational player, this game is dynamic and compelling. Teamwork and tactics are escalated to a level impossible in previous games (including BF2) with the use of air and ground support, spawn points and other features.  Players have the ability to attack an objective or area from the ground while coordinating a chopper or jet attack with teammates in the air…you are absolutely cleared hot to play it.

Sorry again for the all the big words earlier on. Don’t hate us for being colposinquanoniacs.

The Mad Duo can be contacted here on UTR, over on Kit Up! or at Breach-Bang-Clear. High speed, low drag celebrities of the action figure and steely-eyed snaker-eater world, the commentary of Richard “Swingin’ Dick” Kilgore and Jake “Slim” Call has been likened to a .308 op-ed to the head. They don’t like the Taliban, marplots, hippies, sissies or SNCOs and officers who don’t grasp the concept of Noblesse Oblige. Loyalty starts from the top down, assclowns. (Some folks have asked for some background on the intrepid doorkicking twosome: background is here.)

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