Review: Battlefield 3: End Game is DICE's final stamp on one of this generation's most action-packed titles
As the curtain slowly closes on a generation filled with stunning experiences, it’s only a natural to reminisce on the games that made this generation so spectacular. For many, Battlefield 3 is one of those experiences. Forget about story -- DICE set out to capture massive multiplayer battles in the form of guns, tanks and helicopters, and they did so magnificently. That being said, it’s only right that Battlefield 3’s curtain closes as we’re lured towards next-gen mumbo jumbo, allowing DICE to step back and see all their work on the table. With four expansions already released, does “End Game,” the fifth and final DLC pack, properly shut the door on this shooter?
The first question I asked myself when reviewing the End Game map pack was, “What makes a memorable Battlefield map?” After some nostalgic thoughts from throughout the franchise, I came up with a few factors. A memorable Battlefield map must be large but accessible, vehicle heavy but not forced, and it brings out the best in whatever mode you’re playing. Once I got my hands on the expabnsion, it hit me that each of the four maps absolutely hit the mark with every point I came up with.
Operation Riverside, for instance, is the epitome of a successful Battlefield map. Fixed in a wooded, “fall themed” setting, Riverside dares you to jump around between ground infantry and all-out vehicular warfare in a map that’s large in context, but accessible to all play styles. The map itself is open, yet shadowed by a vast river system, jagged rocks, and a central power substation building for vital cover. Objective points are carefully placed in locations that can be reached either on foot or through the wide array of vehicles that Battlefield 3 offers, including the fan-favorite special dirt bike.
Similar in nature to Operation Riverside, though substantially diverse in theme, is Sabalan Pipeline. Like Riverside, Sabalan gives you the balanced choice of infantry or vehicular gameplay, but in a frosty, winter biome amidst an oil refinery. To achieve success, you’ll have to maintain dominance throughout the hilly terrain, cluttered with tight roads that highlight a massive infrastructure from the air. In fact, you may appreciate the slight nods to Port Valdez from Battlefield: Bad Company 2 in design, including Sabalan’s central “base” that’s crucial for map control.
Kiasar Railroad is the prettiest addition to the game. As you can probably pick apart from its title, Kiasar Railroad features a lengthy railroad system that runs straight through the middle of the map, hugging the edge of a massive lake and an eye-popping mountain range. With its lumber industry theme, there’s countless trees strewn about a vast battlefield. While you can certainly go about your business on the ground, there’s really no better way to go about Kiasar than on a dirt bike, tank or helicopter. Dodging attacks behind trees and a handful of buildings never grows tiresome, and trust us, you’ll be doing it quite often.
Lastly, and perhaps my favorite addition to End Game, is Nebandan Flats. Another map whose title hints at its design, Nebandan sits amid an arid, flat desert with little cover to hide behind. This forces players to utilize every vehicle that the game has to offer -- and boy is it a joy to play. Its layout also makes for some of the most interesting objective matches, including the newest addition: Capture the Flag. If I have one recommendation, it’s to strap on a rocket launcher of some kind and have fun hunting. There will be no shortage of action, that’s for sure.
To sum up the core contents of the End Game expansion, you’re going to have a blast playing these maps. That said, what lies within them is easily End Game’s best success: the additions of the dirt bike, drop ship, and ASRAD, as well as the modes, Capture the Flag and Air Superiority. These aren’t gimmicks thrown in to add more marketing appeal, but vital components to gameplay that’s already addicting enough. For example, the dirt bikes aren’t a niche vehicle that’s hard to come by. They’re strewn about everywhere, and since they’re easy to control, you’ll likely make them your go-to vehicle to get from point-A to point-B. The same goes for the two fan-favorite modes; they aren’t just there for amusement. You’ll find yourself spending hours flying around the air or riding on the back of a motorcycle holding the enemy team’s flag before you know it, and that’s exactly what active players are looking for.
Whether you are an active player or someone who hasn’t popped in their Battlefield 3 disc in a while, go ahead and pop that sucker right in and purchase the End Game expansion pack. It may not be full of content that's revolutionary, but it is filled with the action that made us all fall in love with the Battlefield series from the start. Not only is End Game a proper closure to one of this generation’s best online shooters, it’s everything Battlefield was created for, and that’s something you definitely do not want to miss.
[Reviewed on Xbox 360]