Author: Heath Flor
Editor: Howard Ha
Publish Date: Monday, September 17th, 2012
Originally Published on Neoseeker (http://www.neoseeker.com)
Article Link: http://www.neoseeker.com/Articles/Games/Reviews/battlefield_3_armored_kill/
Copyright Neo Era Media, Inc. - please do not redistribute or use for commercial purposes.
Armored Kill -- a new content pack for Battlefield 3 -- is about to drop for all users on Tuesday. If you're not signed up for Premium this will prove to be a bit of a challenge as PC and 360 players have been enjoying it for a week, while PS3 users already have two weeks on you. Delivering new maps, vehicles, and assignments, Armored Kill aims to give the game a shot of longevity which Close Quarters couldn't quite deliver.
Sprawling maps dominate the lineup, with Bandar Desert being the largest map ever made in Battlefield history -- not just Battlefield 3. This is excellent news for folks on PC which supports up to 64 players, but the console players will find the land pretty sparse with the maximum number at a paltry 24.
Snagging a vehicle is a must on this map, and players face the tough choice of waiting for a new vehicle spawn or hoofing it for a good few minutes to where the action is taking place. Since the official Dice servers are limited in tickets, it's typically best to find a server with a higher ticket count in place to allow you plenty of time -- that is if you insist on being a ground pounder.
Armored Shield again isn't likely the place you'll want to cruise around as an infantry soldier. With very little cover to choose from, you'll be left wide open for enemy attack which is most likely going to come from a tank -- hence the name. If you do decide to give it a go, it will be a challenge staying alive as tanks pummel the landscape with cannon fire.
If you absolutely insist on being a foot soldier on any one of these maps, the new ATV vehicles will suit you well. Zipping around the battlefield helps you to get into position quickly. Engineer and Assault classes will thrive when using C4, landmines, and rocket launchers while Recon and Support players will have a challenge trying to make themselves useful.
Death Valley is also a very expansive map, with the Marine forces launching an amphibious attack from the ocean and pushing forth through an expansive desert patch. A narrow bridge cluttered with junk breaks up the monotonous dunes, and can be a tough passage to get through. However, many attacks can be successfully mounted here with a skilled squad. Likewise, a strong defensive position can be set-up.
A surprisingly sparse map, Alborz Mountain rounds out the new map content. Covered in snow, this map is much more tightly compact and more fitting for the console players. Running around on foot is fine here, and you'll find many snipers hiding in the rock outcroppings.
I had quite a few issues driving any vehicles uphill in the snow, even when sticking to the roads. The heavier vehicles nearly become immobile on the slopes, and many people stick to the ATVs for transport. Most of the battles here take place at the station which controls the gunship. Alborz Mountain seems more fitting with the traditional maps we've seen on Battlefield 3, and feels like Dice may have been wanting to appease players who aren't proficient with tanks.
A new class of vehicles also comes with the pack: the M1128 for the US deployment and the 2S25 Sprut for the Russians. Known as tank killers, these vehicles pack a punch and offer a fine balance to the tank dominated maps. Almost strictly a one man affair, these bad boys are designed for tank battle and deliver a devastating blow to the heavy armor cruising around the new maps.
Another addition to the vehicle line-up is the mobile artillery, which is a missile launching platform. Deadly in the right hands, they have the ability to fire off 6 missiles at a time and can wreak havoc on unsuspecting foes. So far most players have been avoiding them, but I got a big kick out of launching salvos into an objective whenever I got the chance. Aiming with this vehicle is a bit of a challenge, so it takes a bit of practice to get it right.
The AC-130 Gun ship is nicknamed "Spooky" (or Spectre depending on the variant) in real life, and for good reason. If you've ever seen videos of it lighting up an enemy position, you know if you don't get hit with direct fire, the splash damage is going to get the job done. Filled with cannons and AA guns for defense, it lives up to its deadly reputation in game, raining hell down on the enemy from above.
Players spawn into one of two gunner seats as the ship slowly circles the map on autopilot. Everyone wants to take this baby down, and rightly so! The destruction it rains down is devastating, and will literally leave the map in ruins by the end of the round. You only need a minimal amount of skills to desecrate the enemy, and unfortunately for the enemy, Spooky will circle right behind the spawn point, leaving everyone spawning wide open for attack. This has been causing quite an uproar on the forums; happily for someone, the ship is being nerfed in an update later this week.
The odd thing about the gunship is it happens to be an Air Force asset, and has never been used by the Marine Corps (or the Russians). This is a moot point for most folks, however since I served as a Marine it's a bit of a pet peeve. This isn't the only time I've noticed a bit of an inconsistency in the game. Marines do not say "Hooah!" (which is actually Army), but rather "Ooorah!". Likewise the Marines don't have such a large arsenal of weapons either. Sometimes suspending reality is necessary in order to enjoy what's in the game, but I definitely don't mind bringing the pain when I'm sitting in Spooky.
There are ten new assignments and five new trophies/achievements; five of the assignments are exclusive to premium members and unlock new dog tags. There is promise of more to come after we've had a few weeks to get the feel for the new maps; the other half is open to everyone and unlock new vehicle features for the mobile artillery and tank destroyers.
The trophies are pretty generic and I was able to nail 4/5 within a couple hours without actually trying to; trophy/achievement hunters will have no issues getting these.
Unfortunately for console users the limited amount of players on the map isn't the only downside to Armored Kill. There also happens to be a tremendous amount of pop-in, which typically happens within 3-6 feet (1-2 meters) in front of you. It stands to reason there may be tweaks in the future to help remedy this situation.
Loss of audio has also become a huge issue since the update. One minute you'll hear the sounds of the battlefield tearing through your speakers, and the next it's like someone put the entire game on mute. This seems to affect the entire team, as I learned from my teammates. However, I'm unsure if it happens to the enemy team as well. Either way, trying to fight in a muted battle zone is actually quite difficult.
The final issue I had: after a teammate revived me, I no longer had any weapons. I'm not quite sure what happened, but for the rest of the round -- no matter how many times I died -- I could no longer defend myself or play the objective. Once in this situation you're a bit stuck, since quitting would erase anything you may have earned. By this point I had earned quite a few points, ribbons, and even a medal. Therefore I decided to stick it out and hide, even though I'm sure my team thought I was being a wuss.
As a player creeping up on 250 hrs of gameplay, I can honestly say Battlefield 3 has given me quite a bit of value for my money, and Armored Kill just adds more to my initial investment. Still, I have to admit this is a pack geared towards folks who enjoy armored warfare more than troop warfare. I don't mind personally, as every other pack has been aimed at infantry; it's high time tank freaks got their time in the spotlight, and I don't mind sharing it with them.
Armored Kill is far from perfect, but helps to round out the Battlefield 3 experience. Not everyone is going to enjoy the new gameplay, but war is hell Marine, so quit your whining and get your ass back on the battlefield, because you have some armor to kill.
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