Battlefield 3: Close Quarters PC Review

Author: Sean Ridgeley
Editor: Howard Ha
Publish Date: Wednesday, June 13th, 2012
Originally Published on Neoseeker (http://www.neoseeker.com)
Article Link: http://www.neoseeker.com/Articles/Games/Reviews/battlefield_3_cq/
Copyright Neo Era Media, Inc. - please do not redistribute or use for commercial purposes.

The second in a long line of Battlefield 3 expansions, Close Quarters is what you'd expect from the name: small maps, lots of corridors, and plentiful tight, infantry-based combat built around a small player count.

New modes

To accommodate this new focus, DICE has crafted two new-ish modes for the expansion: Conquest Domination and Gun Master.

Conquest Domination is a quick and dirty version of the traditional Conquest mode in which you capture and attempt to hold objectives; in short, objectives are now captured almost instantly, so it's even more important to defend them.

Gun Master is ripped straight from Counter-Strike's Gun Game: everyone starts off with crappy weapons like pistols; after two kills with a given weapon, you instantly get access to the next, better weapon. This goes on until you reach the harder to use sniper rifles and grenade launcher. Get two kills each with these and you advance to the knife; kill once with the knife and you end the game, placing first.

Team Deathmatch mode is also supported, though at least on PC, you'll be hard pressed to find servers running it.

Note the maps are built around 16 players, but admins are free to change that up to 64 on PC. Some of them actually work quite well with 24 or 32 players, but beyond that isn't really worth considering unless you're a dirty camper.

Gameplay

If you thought everyone running around like chickens with their heads cut off on Conquest was bad, it's worse in Conquest Domination. That is to say, more often than not it feels more like TDM than Conquest. It's less the players' fault, though, and more the developer's, as there's no immediate discouraging reason to not run off to the point on the opposite side of the map (not far) as soon as you see it's taken, as opposed to holding the two objectives on your side of the map, as you should. Designing this reason could be tricky, but I'd start off with making ticket bleed more extreme, so players are borderline terrified to leave an objective open to capturing.

Gun Master is a bit of fun with very little long-term value. It's enjoyable for forcing you to be effective with a variety of weapons you might not normally use, and is at times among the most tense gameplay you'll ever encounter in Battlefield. However, it comes with a couple of significant problems.

Firstly, you use the same guns with the same accessories every single game, so once you "beat" Gun Master, there's not much incentive to go back. What it really needs is variety and options, which is to say filters for mostly randomized guns and accessories, as well as different sets (shotguns and sniper rifles, pistols only, etc.) should be in the server browser.

Next is a less significant but still noteworthy issue: after killing your second victim with a weapon, it will immediately switch to the next weapon, even if still in the middle of a firefight. Since the other guy is usually firing the entire time, you've got to start firing again, but before you can hit your stride, you're already dead. Simple solution: guns should not swap out until you stop firing.

New maps

Maps feel slick, with a route of some kind around every corner. In the case of Ziba Tower and Scrap Metal, art direction and lighting, respectively, are stunning; Donya Fortress and Operation 925 are less memorable, but all do the job well gameplay wise. It's a shame Rush is not supported at all for these maps, because it's easy to see these could be potentially the most fun Rush maps yet with some thorough tweaking.

New guns

Perhaps you're not interested in any of that, though, and only the new weapons. Fair enough. 10 are on offer, and two of each type.

If you're the caring type, the Assault class gets the slow firing, smooth, and highly controllable AUG A3, and the SCAR-L (counterpart to the Engineer's SCAR-H, and also slow firing and highly controllable).

If you're the giving type or just lazy, Support gets the L86A1 (counterpart to the Assault's L85A2, with a similar feel, and slow firing), and the LSAT, another beast LMG that should do well with a bipod.

Engineers, meanwhile, get the fast firing and highly controllable ACW-R, and the MTAR-21, a 900RPM bullet machine that works well in...close quarters. Both are good news for Engineers, as previously nothing they had could really compete with the high RPM assault rifles.

Recon gets some serious loving in the form of the M417 -- essentially a highly effective single shot version of the Assault's M416 -- and the powerful JNG-90 bolt action rifle.

All classes, meanwhile, can equip the fan favourite SPAS-12 pump shotgun or the M5K/MP5K PDW -- this one is cute, efficient, and has a high rate of fire.

In short, there's something for everyone, and if you've somehow grown tired of your previous favourites by now, these are pretty much all very appealing and enjoyable choices to liven things up with.

Final thoughts

Close Quarters is a reasonably well-rounded package, and respectable at its $15 price point (or cheaper in the long run if you go Premium). Besides the Gun Master issues mentioned, the main thing here is the gameplay does feel akin to Call of Duty and Counter-Strike as some have feared.

I get that DICE and/or EA want to expand (if only to gain more success), but as a fan of the more traditional Battlefield experience, the result is as enjoyable as it is disturbing, and dilutes the brand unnecessarily.

Regardless, I admit it serves a purpose well in providing a quick fix when your time or attention span happen to be limited at any given moment, assuming you can't be bothered to play COD or CS. It also makes for more of those "HOW AM I STILL ALIVE" moments, and could be a boon for competitive play.

If COD and/or CS are something you want as an influence on your Battlefield experience, this will serve you nicely; if not, you'll find yourself mostly just waiting around for the Armored Kill expansion and/or yelling at kids to get off your lawn.

Close Quarters is available now to Premium members; it launches next week for non-Premium members on PS3, and two weeks from now for everyone else.

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