Sunday, 16 September 2012

Mini Review: Battlefield 3 Armoured Kill

The third of five expansion packs for battlefield 3 released on PC this week gone and its quite a departure from the previous expansions for several reasons.  Firstly this expansions goes a little more old school for its maps, giving us large open maps with plenty of terrain diversity, much like the original battlefield games did.  Secondly this pack doesn't add any new firearms or soldier skins, instead we get entirely new vehicles to play with.

The maps themselves are all very well designed and memorable.  Bandar desert is the largest map ever made in a battlefield game before and takes place in the vast Iranian desert.  Just because its a desert doesn't mean its bland though, we have a beach with numerous condo's built or under construction, petrol station, rocket artillery base and the main staging areas.  This map is great with some stunning visual effects in play here, coupled with the large number of vehicles and aircraft this is probably the closest battlefield 2 veterans will get to the old days.

Armored shield is a map set in the caspian border area with similar rolling hills and lush vegetation.  Teams battle over key facilities dotted around the map while utilising mobility to its maximum here.  Infantry will find very little cover in this map so transport is a must.

Death Valley once again set in Iran is another night map like Tehran highway, although unlike tehran highway people actually like it.  Death valley is the smallest map of the four, but that is still larger than most vanilla BF3 maps.  Again vehicles are key here, but infantry can get into firefights much quicker here as the bases are closer to each other and the darkness acts as a good cover for exposed forces. 

The last map is my personal favourite, Alborz Mountains.  Again set in Iran this map takes place in the high altitude mountains featuring heavy snowfall.  Its nice to see a snow map for battlefield 3 after bad company 2.  The snow maps where the best maps in that game and its nice to see a return to form here.  Troops will battle over several points in the forested foothills near a frozen lake before engaging in the snow covered mountaintop for communications facilities and vehicle spawns.

All the maps are really well made and quite balanced and for once this pack doesn't feel like a specialised pack.  Close quarters seemed to be pandering to COD fans while back to karkand felt like a botched attempt at hitting the companies old stride of good map design, even though the maps they chose are all imbalanced. 

The main feature of armoured kill though is the vehicles.  Each team has access to tank destroyers which are fast, moderately armoured vehicles that have a faster fire rate and slightly higher damage against tanks.  They are a nice addition to the lineup, although it would have been nice to have IFV's also.  Mobile artillery are difficult to use at first, but once you get used to the firing arc and splash time they can be extremely effective against enemy infantry, even being capable of holding friendly flags without ever needing to be near it.  ATV's have been added for infantry to quickly get between points, although they seem more like an afterthought than a meaningful addition to the game.

A new game mode called "armoured superiority" features mostly tanks and a few infantry fighting over a single flag on the map.  This mode is great for those players who enjoy vehicle combat in battlefield.  If you are unlucky enough to miss the vehicles though, you had best equip a repair torch and AT rocket.

The final and most unique aspect of armoured kill is the addition of a AC130 gunship.  This massive aircraft is controlled by the AI and can only be used by teams that capture a specific point on the map.  When you do, there is usually a scramble for players to spawn on it to begin firing its massive arsenal of heavy weapons.  The gunship can quickly turn the tide of a battle if used well, but it can easily be destroyed by enemy aircraft, so it needs almost constant air support to remain effective.  Still if DICE could add more elements like this as time goes on then battlefield 3 is set to be even better than it originally was.

Overall armoured kill is the best expansion pack released so far for battlefield 3.  If you have yet to jump in to any of the games optional expansions, this would be the one I would recommend before close quarters and back to karkand.

SCORE: 7.0/10


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