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October 20, 2012
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It's been almost a year since I wrote a review of Battlefield 3, but only to have it cover the whole single-player and multi-player experience. In this part of the review, I will talk about the Co-op mode along with the first expansion pack that came out, which is the Back to Karkand DLC. However, compared to the first and second parts of my review of the game, I will split both the Co-op review and the B2K review into their own sections.

CO-OP MODE

From the very first game of the series to the first Bad Company game the Battlefield video games were all about quality online multiplayer experiences, but the one kind of multiplayer experience that was missing from all of them, was the experience of playing with your friends against A.I. opponents in sets of unique objectives/missions. However, there was change, when the Onslaught DLC came to Bad Company 2. Granted, the co-op mode wasn't a multiplayer mode included in the game, but it provided the co-op multiplayer experience that certain people wanted.

With that being said, Battlefield 3--upon its release--had already included a co-op mode within the game. However, the premise is much different for this co-op mode compared to the DLC offering on Bad Company 2. Battlefield 3's co-op mode takes place within the storyline of the single-player campaign, which serves more as a side-story to the main events that happened in the campaign. There are three sets of two missions that take place in certain key cities and environments already featured in BF3's single-player mode. The co-op mode only allows two players (compared to the Bad Company 2 Onslaught DLC of four players), and features some of the weapons and vehicles that can be found and used in the mutiplayer portion.

In fact there are incentives to play the co-op mode, such as getting a high score over your friends and most importantly, unlocking seven new weapons that can be used in the online multiplayer section of the game. I played all missions through with one of my best friends, and I was left impressed...but at the same time, unimpressed about how the co-op mode experience was.

There are positives about what the co-op mode can bring. A minor example can be that it is included in the game as a portion separate from the main multiplayer experience, and not as a DLC much like Onslaught from Bad Company 2. Even further, it considerably adds more to the storyline of the game's single-player mode, helping explain the situations and conflicts that all factions involved are facing. Also as mentioned before, it helps to add value to one's experience playing the game, with the incentives to beat a friend's score and at the same time, unlock new weapons to be used in multiplayer. Certain missions can be challenging, especially when it comes to destroying enemy vehicles from the air, or defusing hostage situations from the vanatge point you're at. Furthermore, I believe that the co-op missions could serve as a tutorial and practice for those who aren't too used to first-person shooters on consoles, especially when one is trying to pilot an AH-64 Apache (and not crash).

On the contrary, there are a few negatives associated with the co-op experience in Battlefield 3. For instance, the enemies pop-in and pop-out of random places or they glitch/lag through parts of rooms or corridors in a few situations. I don't know if this issue is on EA's side, given that the co-op gameplay is powered through their servers, but I would rather assume that this problem is on EA's side anyway. Also, much like certain parts of the single-player campaign, quick-time events are present in the co-op mode. This is especially existent in one mission in which you have to defuse bombs in a subway train through a series of these. There should be less of them in game modes much like this. The final gripe I have with the co-op, is that there are only six missions to do. I think that they should include more co-op missions, add more variety to them, utilize what is being used in the multiplayer--such as piloting tanks and other vehicles.

Overall, I had a bit of fun with playing the co-op mode with a friend. It does add value to the gameplay, especially when it comes to challenging others in multiplayer. However, there are a few things that can be improved, such as adding variety and more challenges to the co-op portion. If I were to give the co-op mode out of 10, it would an 8.

BACK TO KARKAND

Battlefield 2 was the first game in the series to feature the following maps that were well-known, such as Strike at Karkand, Gulf of Oman, Sharqi Peninsula, and so on. In fact, a few certain Battlefield games that were released after BF2 had included these exact same maps in their multiplayer modes, albeit in different variations. That being said, four maps from BF2--Strike at Karkand, Gulf of Oman, Sharqi Peninsula, and Wake Island--were re-created with the visual brilliance of the Frostbite 2 game engine, and were to be released as the first new DLC to Battlefield 3, entitled "Back to Karkand". This map pack included ten new weapons, four new vehicles, dogtags, and more to the $15 value it was worth.

A few days after it came out for the PS3, I bought it and downloaded it just to see how and what the gameplay is like. However, given that I have not played Battlefield 2 that much, I could not tell more about how the new maps look and play compared to their original counterparts from years ago. What I can say, 'though, is that the gameplay is definitely something--in a positive manner, I mean.

There are some positives to the first expansion pack of the base game. For example, with the way Frostbite 2 has recreated the four maps, anything can be possible...including destruction. The destruction is ramped up this time, so that almost anything can be broken down into bits of pieces--walls, windows, fences, buildings, almost anything in that matter. The ten new weapons offered in the pack are a plus, as the guns are not too overpowered or underpowered (at the time of writing, they may or may not depending on the latest version). The new vehicles add a bit more variety to the vehicular combat focus of the game, and that also includes the skid-loader too. The maps themselves, compared to their original versions, are expanded and have changed in terms of scale and appearance. By comparing snapshots of both the B2K and BF2 versions, the new maps look cleaner and brighter compared to the brown-coloured visuals (especially when it comes to Strike at Karkand).

There are a few gripes about the DLC that I had 'though. Unless you know how to fly the F-35 effectively, you could end up being in the hover mode instead of actually flying and that eventually will result in a trip down into the water. Also, the skid loader isn't that much of a use if it is fragile towards rocket fire and other enemy fire of the sort (but it also could serve as a challenge to get the trophy for running an enemy infantry over with it). There can also be complaints by those who are huge fans of the franchise and have played BF2 a lot, since they could point out what was missing from the original maps in particular. Finally, although there is a new game mode--Conquest Assault--that's just it; there aren't any other new game modes to be introduced.

Overall, I had a blast (no pun intended) playing it. The DLC has added more with new weapons and vehicles, as well as improved destruction visuals implemented. My only wish is to have more new game modes to be associated with these four maps, and not just a variation of Conquest. If I were to give this DLC a score out of 10, it would be a 9.

...Now, I have already known that two other DLCs have came out after B2K, and that's Close Quarters and Armored Kill. They have already come out, and I have bought both and played them. I will come up with a review on both DLCs soon.
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