What an interesting week hey? ICANN announced the domains and applicants thereof for over 2000 new gTLD’s. Linus Torvalds was announced co-winner of the Millennium Technology Prize, and I got up close and personal with Battlefield 3’s newest expansion, Close Quarters.
Now, I am lucky enough to have purchased Battlefield Premium, which is a service designed to expand on what Battlelog can already do. It also grants me benefits like priority in server queues and special items. It also grants me 2 week early access to all expansion packs. This allows me, for the first time Install or Not history, to bring you a review of a product that is not officially released yet. WooHoo! Go me! *pulls out a party hat, does a dance and blows on one of those party whizzer things* OK, gimme a sec while I clean up……..
So what is Close Quarters? Well it’s Dice’s attempt at tempting away CoD players from the thing they love most (and no, I’m not talking about that thing in their pants). It is essentially a $14.99 copy of the Call of Duty multiplayer. It adds 4 new maps, 3 new game modes, 10 new weapons, 10 new achievements and it also improves on Frostbite 2’s destruction model, to quote Dice.
First up I want to talk about the maps. For a battlefield game they are small but they are all based in buildings and they all cover 3 floors. The locations are varied, stretching from a Paris office block to a metal works with a Middle Eastern hotel and a derelict chateau in the middle. The best map by far is Ziba Tower (the hotel), mainly because it’s stylish in the way it looks, it’s well lit and the games flow so well. Ziba tower is also the best showcase for the new destruction model because there are bar stools and chairs everywhere that spin and blow out their padding when shot, some of the walls can be blown out to create new doorways and there is glass and marble everywhere.
Now, before I continue I want to talk about the glass. We have all seen glass breaking effects in games and to be fair they aren’t great. Most games will split a window in to 4 or 5 chunks and then drop them to the floor. In close Quarters the glass actually cracks, then shatters and the pieces blow out around the bullet holes. The shards that aren’t affected but the kinetic force of the shot fall out of the frame and start bouncing on the floor. The first time I saw it, it was enough to make me blow out more windows just so I could behold the awesomeness.
The other maps feel a little disjointed to play. Scrap Metal is the worst for this, because it is dark, and there are a lot of obstacles you have to work around. Also, the top floor has far too many opportunities for snipers to get a foot hold and pick off players from the other side of the map and this sort of breaks the entire point of Close Quarters as an expansion. CQ is supposed to be an infantry only, fast paced affair, and snipers don’t have a place in that kind of gameplay.
The new game modes are mostly rehashes of existing ones. There is Close Quarters Squad Death Match, which is an expanded version of SQDM allowing for 4, 16 man squads instead of 4, 4 man teams. Conquest domination is a cut down version of normal Conquest mode with the addition of the flag capture time being halved and then there is my personal favourite, Gun Master. If anyone has played Counter-Strike’s Gun Game mod or Call of Duty’s Wager Match the format will be familiar. The object is to be the first to complete 17 levels of weapons. Starting with a pistol and working up to knife only kills. The differences here being you need to gain 2 kills with each weapon before you can progress and you can’t be knocked back a level. In both CS and CoD you only need one kill to progress and they both will knock you back a level if you suicide or are killed with a knife.
The new weapons are very much middle of the road but very well balanced. B2K had problems with some of the weapons being over powered, but this doesn’t seem to be the case in CQ. If I had to pick a favourite it would either be the SPAS-12 (Holy cow! I picked a shotgun! I hate shotguns!) or the assault class’ AUG A3.
So what’s the overall verdict? Close Quarters is a very different expansion to both Battlefield as a game and Back to Karkand. It adds a new angle on the traditional style of Battlefield gameplay and has executed it, for the most part, very well. It’s let down by a couple of poorly thought out maps, but not everyone likes the same things in a level design. The new weapons most certainly don’t stand out as game winners and the only piece of inventiveness in the new game modes is Gun master, and even then you could question its originality. Although, most importantly, it is very fun and most certainly worth its price tag. Therefore it gets a deserving 4 out of 5 stars