Editor's Note: We ended last week at Kotaku without any review copies of Battlefield 3. So did a lot of other outlets. Console and PC copies arrived in our laps today, a day before release, but a select few outlets, including our pals at Joystiq, got a PC copy last week and reviewed it today.
We weren't the only ones puzzled by this, which brings us to Joystiq's Battlefield 3 PC reviewer, Arthur Gies, who explained on his personal blog, Pragmagic, his own unusual review experience, which we're republishing here. He gave the game a 4.5 out of 5, criticised the campaign but praised the multiplayer highly. He got flack, of course and wanted to set some things straight. Take it away, Arthur...
The times where Battlefield 3 does its damnedest to go toe-to-toe with Call of Duty are the times it stumbles the hardest. But when DICE is doing what it's always done best, Battlefield 3 is a uniquely mesmerizing multiplayer game with a seemingly endless number of ways to feel like a success.
Man, what a mess. Battlefield 3 might be the biggest game I've ever reviewed, and I can't imagine a way in which the review situation could have gone worse. 3 days to review the campaign and finalised multiplayer is doable. Obviously, since I put a review up. But it's not ideal.
But less ideal has been everything surrounding the review and Battlefield 3's release. I won't dwell on the weird goalpost moving that DICE and EA have tacitly encouraged over the last few days by insisting that console reviews can't be done because of a day one patch that, I guess, would fix anything anyone could possibly find wrong with the game? That's practically unheard of before a game comes out, and having reviewed… one, two, three, four EA published shooters over the last two years (Bad Company 2, Medal of Honor, Bad Company 2 Vietnam and Crysis 2), it was especially surprising here. Put more clearly, EA has never done this with any of the games of theirs that I've reviewed. Even Bad Company 2, which I believe also had a day one patch, was reviewed on debug hardware with a near-final version of said patch.
I just think, having played it, EA made some huge miscalculations in aligning it so closely to Modern Warfare 3. It seems obvious to me that they were scrambling to get it done, and they pushed it right down to the wire. I guess we'll see how things pan out, in that regard.
I think the hardest thing in all of this was scoring my review. Usually it isn't so difficult, but here, the lows were so low, and the highs were so high…
I wonder if I was nicer to the campaign than I should have been. It's not actively bad, usually, but it's nowhere near what I would consider good, or even acceptable, really. And co-op stinks.
I essentially had to write off two out of three modes in the game. It's a situation where I have to hope that someone wondering about the game who sees the score will read the review and understand what I tried to say. If they skipped the text, saw the score, and bought the game expecting great singleplayer, then yeah. I feel bad about that.For the number, or stars, or whatever, I just looked at the joystiq rubric again and again, going back and forth between four stars and five.
That sounds silly, I know. But I take my job seriously. A four on our scale is a must play for (and I hate this phrase) fans of the genre, a five, a must play for everyone. So eventually I just decided to split the difference. Battlefield 3 is a must play for anyone who likes multiplayer games. So I gave it the four point five.
Is that a cop out? I don't know. I hope not.
Other things… I wonder why I got a copy of the game when so many other people in the press didn't. Joystiq is a big, big site, don't get me wrong, but still. People I greatly respect got shafted, and it's hard to understand why that would be. I'm hoping I wasn't selected on the basis of what EA thought I would give the game. That's the kind of shit that keeps me up at night, figuratively speaking.
Speaking of being kept up at night, it's late, and I worked all weekend. So I guess that's all I have to say about it for now.