REVIEW The new expansion pack "Close Quarters" might be a little too close for comfort for some players.
In an effort to keep up with "Call of Duty" and its Elite service, Electronic Arts has shifted "Battlefield 3" (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3) in a new paid-content direction with the announcement of its Premium service, one that offers map packs and various weapon and XP boosts for $50 -- a decent price but one that's really for dedicated fans.
They're out there, because the pack has sold 800,000 units so far, and climbing. The first real map pack to come with the service, "Close Quarters," offers extensive combat situations that will test even the most frivolous of players. However, the way it does it might not be what most "Battlefield" fans are used to.
"Battlefield 3" has its own way of creating intensity in a game, and it's different from how Activision does it with "Call of Duty." While that series relies more on "epic" moments and trying to set the tone for a major world war, "Battlefield 3" is more realistic, going for intense situations, albeit with a rather wonky story. They're both great experiences in their own special ways, but with "Close Quarters," it almost seems as if EA is trying to reach out to "Call of Duty" players, rather than fully satisfy its "Battlefield" community.
Not that "Battlefield" fans won't like what they find. The expansion pack includes four new maps -- Operation 925, Donya Fortress, Scrapmetal and Ziba Tower. They line up to create interesting situations, whether you're storming through an office gunning one another down while stretching across command points or fighting through a confined tower space where pretty much everything can be dismantled or destroyed. If it's action you want, it's action you'll get.
But it almost feels as if something's missing -- not sure if it's the moments that really define "Battlefield" or the fact that there's hardly any vehicular play. But it's serviceable, with plenty of opportunities to frag your friends via traps or gunning in a heated battle. And with double XP weekends lined up, you can bet that some veterans will be lining up to build up stats.
Where the pack really earns its keep is through the destruction -- or rather, the HD Destruction, as the development team at DICE dubs it. Watching walls and other objects break apart, thanks to the Frostbite 2 engine technology, is simply amazing and really adds to the intensity of each battle. Knowing that "Medal of Honor: Warfighter" will take even bigger advantage of this when it comes out Oct. 23, we're pumped for it.
It's hard really to dislike the "Close Quarters" maps when it comes to getting into action and boosting your stats. Even dying has its crazy moments, such as "where did that come from?" in the middle of a heated battle in the confined Ziba Tower.
However, it almost feels as if EA's trying to reach out to "Call of Duty" fans. There's nothing wrong with that, but the remaining map packs need to bring veterans back into play, so all sides will be satisfied.
Still, if you love the series, give it a look. Chances are you won't be disappointed, especially when you take out a group of adversaries with well-placed C4 explosives.