“Bro, America was founded by terrorists, for terrorists. What do you think the fucking Revolutionary War was? History is determined by the motherfucking victor.” — David Montes
Henry Blackburn, David Montes, and the rest of Misfit 1-3 are travelling in an LAV-25, and, over the radio, are ordered to dismount and locate a squad known to be searching for IEDs. Blackburn and the squad follow Matkovic into a road-side bazaar, meeting up with Cole, their Commanding Officer (CO), who is standing beside a map of the area. He gives the squad orders to locate a missing unit that had been investigating a possible IED near Spinza Meat Market, telling them to find the squad before the PLR. After their briefing, Blackburn’s squad exits the bazaar, entering a garage. Matkovic kicks open a back door and the squad sprints down an alleyway, regrouping at a door at the end of the alleyway. Another Marine then kicks open that door, before the squad enters the building. The Marines then climb up a flight of stairs towards the exit, but a low rumble cuts them off, and the windows start to break. One Marine assumes that other Marines in the area were blowing up high-explosive ammo dumps, while another Marine says its an earthquake, saying that the city is ninety kilometers away from a fault line that causes tremors. Misfit 1-3 then rallies in an alleyway, closed off by a gateway. The squad takes cover as a PLR technical surges by, not noticing the squad. The unit then crosses a large street, with Blackburn and Matkovic taking a doorway through into a garage. Proceeding towards a parking lot for a large hotel, the squad are unnerved by the lack of civilians in the area. As Blackburn walks into the parking lot, a hidden enemy sniper shoots Chaffin, one of the Marines in Blackburn’s squad. Blackburn then drags Chaffin to safety, and returns to the firefight, helping his fellow Marines by shooting the hostiles hiding behind the cars. After the PLR insurgents retreat, the squad regroups in the car park, but an RPG strikes a car, with the explosion throwing Blackburn off of his feet. Misfit 1-3 then advances forward, taking out two RPG gunners in a building overlooking the parking lot, as well as PLR insurgents in the area. Once the PLR retreat, the squad then move back into the garage, where a medic, Doc Holiday, provides medical care for Chaffin. The squad, seeing that everything was fine, move into the building adjacent to the garage, but as they reach the top floor, they are attacked by the sniper, and are forced to sprint past several windows. Montes then sees three PLR insurgents enter the room from a stairwell, and Blackburn helps him gun down the insurgents. Montes then notes that the insurgents are not native to Iraq, remarking “they weren’t speaking Arabic”.
After the Marines fight off an ambush inside the building, Blackburn follows the squad onto a rooftop cluttered with generators and air-conditioning units. Being cautious, the squad moves behind the machinery towards an open area of the rooftop, with Blackburn staying behind the machines, otherwise the sniper would fatally shoot him. The squad arrives at the final generator, and go prone, hiding behind a wall and moving into firing positions. Matkovic notes that he could use his AT4 rocket launcher, as the sniper was dug into a spider hole in the front of a hotel. Giving Blackburn the AT4, the squad, on the count of three-two-one, gives Blackburn suppressive fire, pinning down the sniper while Black takes the shot, which rips apart the facade of the hotel. The squad then moves towards the other side of the rooftop, where Blackburn, as the squad’s designated marksman, and armed with a Mk11 Mod 0, is told to cover a party extracting Chaffin back towards the staging area. Multiple PLR insurgents attempt to attack the party, from both street-level and from rooftops, but Blackburn’s squad holds them off until the extraction team reaches the school alleyway. After eliminating the sniper, the squad is unable to make their way down through the building they were on, as the PLR are pushing in on them. Using a wooden plank, Matkovic and Campo cross to another rooftop, with Blackburn following. Montes crosses last, and kicks the plank off of the roof, blocking pursuit. The squad then makes its way down via the rooftops, and arrives at a large market building beside the hotel. Entering the building, the squad engages a group of PLR insurgents in the hallway, and find two members of the missing patrol. Confirming both as dead, the squad move out onto an open road, where they see a heavily-damaged HMMWV and the rest of the Viper unit, also dead except for one, who is in critical condition. Heavily exposed, the Marines once again get agitated by their position and the attention of the surrounding crowd. As the squad continues to check on the members of the patrol, Matkovic notices a red wire leading from under a van into a building by the side of the street. Asked to trace the wire, Blackburn crawls through a ventilation shaft and arrives in a basement, where he finds a detonator. Pulling the wire out of the detonator box, Blackburn is ambushed by an insurgent. Fighting in hand-to-hand combat, Blackburn knocks the insurgent out cold, and removes the final wire just before the IED explodes, cancelling the detonation. After defusing the IED, and hearing gunfire outside, Blackburn is tasked to regroup with the Marines outside. As he moves outside into the street, Blackburn and his squad clear a bridge of PLR combatants, while other Marines secure the street-level. As he pushes the insurgents back with gunfire from a M249, two AH-6 Little Birds arrive and open fire on two PLR technicals. The Marines then pull back as a unit, and Misfit 1-3 holds the flank as the Marines await extraction. While Blackburn mans an abandoned technical, using the KORD machine gun to hold off the PLR flankers, a huge earthquake strikes the region, tearing up the road and causing a tall building to collapse onto Blackburn and his squad, crashing into an AH-6 during its fall.
- After exiting the LAV, the first thing that becomes apparent are the graphics: the textures look amazing, as do the lighting effects. While some have expressed that the Battlefield 3 build in the “fault line” trailer looks better than the final build, I myself prefer the final build.
- Upon seeing the trailer for the first time, I was already impressed, since the game’s pre-rendered trailers and gameplay looked nearly identical. Even as early as 2011, graphical technology has reached a stage where the cutscenes and gameplay are nearly identical, and indeed, the graphics were a major selling point in Battlefield 3.
- Any carelessness here will result in an instant death, forcing the player to start out at the door on the rooftops again. The key is to get up and fire the AT4 at exactly the right time (i.e. after the suppressive fire has been laid down), otherwise, the sniper will down the player in a second (in-game, it looks like the player has died for no apparent reason). The dialogue here was pretty amusing for me: the squad is not merely content to merely just shoot the sniper.
- Get a gander at those dust effects. While some have complained about how using an anti-tank weapon to take out a sniper, this is how it’s done in some situations, and of course, I use the RPG to blow holes in buildings where there are snipers on the multiplayer component.
- The Mk 11 Mod 0 is a variant of the SR-25 sniper rifle, which uses 7.62 x 51 mm NATO rounds. Capable of semi-automatic fire, it’s the first rifle in the recon class kit, and the first time I used it in Battlefield 3‘s campaign, it was on a console, so I kept missing half the shots while trying to cover the Marines below. On a PC, with mouse and keyboard, every single shot I fired hit their mark.
- In the campaign, weapons come with fixed attachments. “Operation Swordbreaker” gives Blackburn an M4A1 carbine with a holographic sight, although my personal preferences for attachments in the multiplayer are the red dot sight and a foregrip for most weapons: the red-dot sight offers more precision and the foregrip allows me to stabilise the weapon and reduce recoil somewhat.
- For one reason or another, Battlefield 3 reminds me a little of my time in the introductory Japanese class. It is quite possible that this association occurred because one of my group members played the game on his PC when it first came out back in the day, and we were doing a short skit of some sort for the class. I ended up learning quite a bit from that class and occasionally do self-study, although a lack of general use means that I’m slower when it comes to reading. Of course, when it comes to hearing and conversing, I’ve retained some of my skills.
- The same thing has happened to me for Cantonese: I speak and listen better than I used to, although I am largely illiterate as far as reading and writing go. The first time I played through Battlefield 3, this is about as far as I got: I reached the IED and died twice at the quick time events before cake and tea were served. I subsequently beat this part in Christmas 2012 on Playstation 3 and got as far as the next mission before the traditional post-dinner tea.
- The M249 LMG is my most-used weapon in the multiplayer so far, and I’ve unlocked every attachment for it. Its strongest point is its high rate-of-fire, which makes it incredibly useful for suppression and taking down a large number of enemies in succession. I’ve found that with the right attachments, it is effective even at medium ranges where fired in short, controlled bursts.
- Frostbite 2 doesn’t really get to shine from a destruction perspective in Battlefield 3: major destruction events are scripted in the campaign, and even in the multiplayer, destruction is limited to blowing walls out of buildings, whereas Bad Company 2 featured entire buildings collapsing after enough of the load-bearing walls were taken out. Battlefield 4 is supposed to have increased the level of destruction, but for what it’s worth, Battlefield 3 is still a great game.
This is the first true mission in Battlefield 3, and as with “Semper Fidelis”, is one of the only missions I’ve played on a console before obtaining my PC copy not too long ago. The first instance was back during Christmas 2011. The second was during August 2012, when one of the researchers at the lab brought in his Xbox 360. The last instance was during Christmas 2012, where I played up to “Going Hunting” at the annual Christmas party before setting down the game for chocolate cake and tea. Showcased in the Fault line trailer, “Operation Swordbreaker” showcases some of the more interesting lighting and particle effects early in the game and gives players a chance to use an assault rifle, a sniper rifle and the only instance of the AT4 anti-tank weapon anywhere in the game. This first mission also sets the pacing for the game: the player is and will be largely dependent on the squad, as doors cannot be opened without them. In addition, carelessness during scripted scenes (such as crawling over the rooftops to reach the sniper or the melee with an insurgent while disarming an IED) results in an instant death. However, skills and a bit of an open mind generally carry the day, and indeed, this first mission proved to be quite enjoyable. Of course, the fact that “Operation Swordbreaker” reminds me of Christmas generally helps. Upon acquiring Battlefield 3 for PC, I played through this on a cloudy November Thursday afternoon and rocked a solid 50 frames per second in the game with full graphics settings at 1080p. Reasonably impressed with the performance, I would set Battlefield 3 aside until after my proteomics exam ended in mid-December.