Battlefield 3: Close Quarters
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Platforms: PC (Reviewed), Xbox 360, Playstation 3
Release Date: Out Now
Price: $19.99 (PC – Origin), 1200MSPoints (XBLA), $23.99 (PSN) or in a package with Premium ($49.99 – BF3 Page).
Battlefield 3: Close Quarters is the second expansion pack to hit the Battlefield 3 franchise. This is the first expansion pack to be released alongside the Battlefield Premium service that has recently been released for Battlefield players on all platforms.
The Battlefield community have had a divided opinion on the new expansion with many of the referencing the terms ‘Call’ and ‘Duty’ quite a bit. I happen to disagree with the players that have been spitting these two words around simply because I have a much broader gaming experience behind me and as a result can compare to much more brilliant titles. Read on to find my full impressions.
Unlike the original Battlefield 3 game, Close Quarters does not add on or expand the original campaign at all. This, I found, was quite unfortunate as a multiplayer only expansion pack can only add so much to the overall Battlefield story. In this case, the amount added was ~0, considering that it was a multiplayer only addition.
I found this to be kind of disappointing as I would have loved to have had even a couple of extra levels in the campaign. I mean the environments in the expansion pack are great and having the same kind of level structure in a two or three level campaign would have been awesome. We were just never given this opportunity.
Gameplay in Battlefield 3: Close Quarters is very close to the original Battlefield 3, which is to be expected considering that it is actually an expansion pack to the game. Mechanically speaking, this is Battlefield 3. However, the game differs from Battlefield 3 in that instead of there being these massive open battlefields and large cityscapes, you have close quarters gun fights inside of various buildings and warehouses.
The game comes with four new maps that greatly change the Battlefield experience. Unlike the first expansion pack and the main package, the maps in this game are a much more tight affair that take place nearly completely indoors as opposed to the great outdoors. A lot of players will liken this experience to that of Call of Duty, but this only because of their own limited experience with games. If they had actually played more than what publishers tell them to, they would have played an awesome game known as F.E.A.R (the first one, because the rest sucked).
Now anyone who had played the original F.E.A.R game will have noticed that the multiplayer maps in that game were all very tight, but also very strategic in nature. You were mainly on the interior of buildings with multiple levels and lots of hiding spots in stairwells and halls that could only really be assaulted in one of a few ways. The maps in Battlefield 3: Close Quarters have these exact qualities that made F.E.A.R the multiplayer experience that it was. So anybody who felt at home in that game will most definitely feel at home here in Close Quarters. To be honest, I don’t think that Close Quarters is a homage to F.E.A.R, but that game and this have the exact same multiplayer qualities that make the game fast, frenetic and an all around awesomely fun experience.
Once again level destruction is back, however it is not of the making a building collapse on itself variety. Instead, players are able to shatter walls and the like to create more opportunities to defeat their opponents. However, most of the damage done to a level is in incidental damage caused by missed rounds colliding with the environment. Having this kind of destruction in a localised area gives you a much better feeling of the tenacity of the combat. Seeing the walls break around you also gives you plenty of visual cues as to the direction of the guy shooting at you so that you can better escape and mount an effective counter attack.
The expansion pack also adds a bunch of new weapons to each players arsenal which have to be unlocked by completing various challenges exclusive to the expansion pack. These weapons carry over to the original campaign and the previous expansion pack also. It is likely that the weapons will move forward to the next expansion pack also.
I thoroughly enjoyed the frenetic close quarters gameplay of Battlefield 3: Close Quarters and you shouldn’t be listening to anyone who likens this to Call of Duty, because they’re wrong.
Visually, the game is very similar to the main Battlefield 3 package and the previous expansion pack, Back to Karkand. However, there are a few differences in visual style. In the original Battlefield campaign, things were much more external looking, I.E. it was focused on what things should look like from the outside in. Most of the interiors in the original, with the exceptions of the interior focused maps, were very basic.
In Battlefield 3: Close Quarters the maps are designed from the inside out in that they look like the actual interior of a building that has recently, and frequently, been in use. What I particularly liked about the level design was how the maps were not designed symmetrically, but instead were designed systematically. This creates a lot of choke points and other kinds of various advantages that are up to the players to find an exploit to bring their team to victory.
Another awesome thing about the level design is the colour palette. Now I know that the Battlefield games don’t have the most colourful palettes, but this does not mean that they haven’t used the colours available to them to their fullest. In one map I quite liked how it was really white, with all of the walls being this bright white colour at the start of a match. It’s kind of like foreshadowing in itself in that you know it’s going to get trashed and destroyed by machine-gun fire and the way the destruction alters the feel of the map from this bright-white, almost pure affair to this destroyed greywall with holes punched through it bits falling off. It works incredibly well.
What impresses me about the Battlefield 3 games are that they have an amazing set of audio that go with them. All the weapons sound weaponish and powerful. Not too much has changed audibly from the main Battlefield 3 experience, so there isn’t really all that much to talk about in this regard. Things are pretty similar, so if you’ve played the original Battlefield 3, you pretty much know what you’re in for in regards to the audio in this expansion pack.
Battlefield 3: Close Quarters is a fairly fun experience that really enhances the Battlefield series. While Battlefield supremacists may cry about the expansion pack not staying true to the series roots, they seem to ignore that these kinds of firefights are prevalent in wars and as such are an evolution of the series’ premise. Players looking to enhance their Battlefield 3 experience will not regret picking up this expansion pack as part of the Battlefield Premium package, or as a standalone package.