Battlefield 3: Close Quarters Review

In all the fuss over Premium Subscriptions, week-long exclusives, and EA Internet bashing, it’s easy to forget that there’s an actual expansion pack out there for Battlefield 3. And with more than 15 million players getting into the game last October, that’s a lot of people who care a lot more about these new maps and modes than any other hubbub.

What exactly do you receive in exchange for the first part of your payment? Now you get four new cards (Ziba Tower, Donya Fortress, Operation 925 and Scrapmetal), two new game types (Close Quarters Domination and Gun Master) and a series of new weapons and tasks. But unlike other card packs, Close Quarters isn’t just a collection of rooms and corridors; it’s a fundamentally new way to play the game. In many ways, Close Quarters is not a battlefield at all.

DICE, of course, never proposed anything else. The very name shows another goal, a step away from the dynamic open skirmishes of the Noshahr canals or the Caspian Border and towards something else. Something Familiar. Something like Call of Duty, actually. At a basic level, from map building to the details of the new modes, this is Battlefield’s answer to this other game, almost like a thank you letter to its Fans for not staying blue and not switching to Modern Warfare 3. And in this regard it is largely successful.

It’s important to point out one fact: Battlefield 3 signature modes, Rush and Conquest, are not available here. Close Quarters is its own beast and must be played in its own way. The new mode of the day is Conquest Domination, itself a facsimile of the Call of Duty flag that action against domination, but with faster conquest times. Each map contains three fixed flags in key areas, and teams action to secure and maintain each point. The more flags you have, the faster you will drop your Spawn tickets.

This, of course, is not radically different from Vanilla Conquest, but the river is completely different. Points are captured extremely quickly, which means there is a constant back and forth to The action, rather than long battles for each point. It’s a game in which it’s all about moving in a pack, focusing on the lines between the flags and making sure your team always has a 2 to 1 advantage.

Since all four maps were created specifically for this mode, their similar characteristics are completely different from any other type of battlefield map. They all work with a consistent flow and place one flag in a large open area and two in a confined space. The key to victory is to keep control of that free space flag while making sure that at least one of the others is under your control.

The Ziba Tower is probably the most immediate of the four maps, with long sight lines, a mirror-style color scheme, and a very obvious flow between the flags. Hanging out in the yard is Chaos, while action for point A are grenade-heavy melee brawls. However, the control of Point B is of paramount importance, since it is directly overlooked from a rectangular balcony and accessible from countless positions.

But the Ziba Tower is also the most forgotten of the quartet, as the tactics quickly become predictable and the same skirmishes are repeated with each match. However, it does a fantastic job of showing what DICE HD Destruction’s Marketing team calls. Glass breaks, lights burst, walls collapse and ceilings fall-this is largely cosmetic damage compared to the madness of the main game’s tower felling, but for sure it looks pretty.

More interesting is Operation 925, which at first glance seems identical to the Ziba Tower, but soon reveals a huge underground parking lot in which Point B is hidden. The underground darkness makes some spectacular shots, and each step is doubly terrifying when you jump from one staircase to another to climb back.

Back on the surface, Operation 925 is reminiscent of the famous Terminal card of Modern Warfare 2, with curved corners and small intersecting spaces. DICE has opted for this type of circular card creation like professionals, and Operation 925 offers plenty of tactical play possibilities, even if the relentless action of Close Quarters doesn’t really leave much room for thought or reason.

The third map, Donya Fortress, also contains a hidden middle-level Tunnel that turns into a death field when the two teams collide. And of course, there is his point B.

Donya Fortress is also known from many Call of Duty cards and is perfectly maintained, albeit a little discreet. Point A sits at the top of the map on a small balcony, leaving the support class campers to have a little fun with the rushing crowds before someone inevitably stabs them in the back. And Point C is another chaotic mess, with tiered viewpoints, as well as lots of entrances and exits. Spawning there without proper Scouting is a good way to ruin your K/D ratio. It’s not that these things are important (they really do).

Package selection then ironically has the lowest name. Scrapmetal is a multi-story tower of twists, twists and traps, covered with a considerable open roof and housing the most tactically varied Close Quarters matches I’ve enjoyed so far. It’s also the hardest thing to deal with, but it only takes a few games to discover multiple routes through each floor, with loops that intersect between flags and even a few sassy choke points to avoid (or enjoy depending on your mood).

All four cards are also playable in Team Deathmatch and here as sterile as in the main game. The only other mode that may interest you is Gun Master, the son exchanging weapons from Counter-Strike and Black Ops.

If you’ve played one, you know what you’re doing. Everyone starts with pistols, and after two finish (apart from the M320 and knives) upgrades to a better weapon. This continues through assault rifles, Shotties, LMG and grenade launchers to Level 17, where the winner must finish someone with a knife to reach the Top.

However, two things hold back Gun Master mode. First, the diversity of weapons is not really memorable. There’s nothing quite as enjoyable as the crossbow or telescopic knife from Black Ops, so it’s best to imagine your progress as a trial course for all the new weapons in the game (the SPAS shotgun and AUG assault rifle being Personal Favorites).

Secondly, and more importantly, I don’t understand why Gun Master is a team game. It makes no sense to me. There is no team spawning, no classes, and no team buffing, so why having teammates is completely confusing. It also makes things more difficult, because even though these maps are small for the battlefield, they are still large enough to make it difficult to find the enemy as they move away from the Action.

I think the biggest Problem with Close Quarters is its Longevity. There’s no doubt DICE did a great job creating a Call of Duty-like offstrike in his already sparkling world of roughness and explosions, demonstrating how effective gun action in Battlefield 3 was. But it’s just not Battlefield, and after a few weeks – a few days, even – I’m convinced that Hardcore will return to the main game and unwritten drama.

As good as Close Quarters is, it just doesn’t have the tools to deliver something as deep in Battlefield 3. Where are the war stories-The amazing emerging drama in which you are completely excited by the Moment and live out these boy-soldier fantasies? There is a reason why these 15 million people do not play Call of Duty. For all its triumphs, Activision Behemoth is simply not Battlefield. And while a good effort.

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