Say what you like about EA’s emergent monetisation of the Battlefield series (actually please don’t, I hate it when you fight), it’s hard to direct the same vitriol at DICE. They have been supporting this bad-boy like demons with some excellent DLC, and although that goes some way to justifying EA’s whole Premium deal, so far it’s been mostly worth it.
Back to Karkand was good for retro thrillage, personal fave Close Quarters ruffled a few feathers with its CoD methodology (but look at all the things that explode), Armored Kill made the rivetheads that much happier, and Aftermath’s environments went full retard. Sounds like there are no more bases left to cover, but End Game finalises the quintet of extra bits with something mostly alien to Battlefield’s considered advance: speed.
Your embrace of End Game will largely depend on just how much you like burning around on dirt bikes and chucking sick wheelies. Its four seasonal maps feel primarily built around the belated appearance of Capture the Flag, which means crossing vast distances from your base to theirs and trying to come back again with the goods. The only way to consistently do this is by way of all those frequently respawning bikes, and you’ll have to learn to love ‘em if you don’t already or quit the cigs and go jogging. The latter is not fun, especially when you clock a few K’s and a sniper pegs you with his crappy silenced pistol at your destination.
Luckily two guys can perch on one bike, and while they scream along at a solid pace and can pop the front wheel up to get extra air off angles (and curious ramps), they don’t respond well to a few bullets. It can start to make some maps a little predictable, particularly on the more linear A-to-B affairs like Operation Riverside: Everyone’s Engineers mine up the main roads, so you take your bikes off the beaten track where the opposition is invariably waiting for you. Doesn’t take long to learn the best places to stake out, either.
That aside, CTF itself is one of the biggest highlights here, and if nothing else End Game is an even mightier throwback than Back to Karkand because of it. It’s a reminder that one of the earliest FPS multiplayer modes arguably remains its best, with neither the cut ‘n thrust intricacies of Rush nor Conquest’s tidal ebb and flow anywhere near as artful as: YOU HAVE THE FLAG. It’s genuinely thrilling stuff. It’s a long way back to base and even when you get there, if your own flag is missing, you have to dodge probable death until someone retrieves it before scoring.
Epic great escapes ensue: Moments after hooning into the enemy’s base and ditching your bike in the face of one too many RPGs, you make a mad scramble for the flag. You get it, but your bike is a smoking wreck and they’re coming for you. BAM: Some guy power-slides right up next to you, honks in a comical way, and you jump on, speeding away through the smoke and debris and near-misses of rockets. At its best, there is nothing else like it. If End Game boasted the same “HD” destruction seen in the likes of Close Combat (why doesn’t it?), it would go from “This is insane” to “Who needs employment?”
If it wasn’t for Air Superiority, this whole deal would unquestionably rule BF3’s DLC roost by leagues. You don’t have to play this sky-centric variant, but in your online journeys you’ll undoubtedly get stuck in a few games of it. Some peeps love BF3’s jets, but they’re a minority if the lacklustre efforts on display here are to be believed. It can be really tedious, and immediately favours anyone who’s managed to rank up their jet with badass accoutrements. You spawn in a flyer and can’t eject, so no creative maneuvers like this classic. You just sort of have to fly around dying until your drunk housemate trips over your power cord. It actually ends up being kind of funny, with people doing all kinds of stupid stuff in the air to amuse themselves. It doesn’t speak that well of the mode itself though, and for those looking to take it seriously, there will always be a tobosaurus nuzzling your exhaust with the nose of his F/A-18 Super Horny.
If you can avoid ever having to attend Top Gun, End Game is a must. Happily spend your money. Parachuting out over the snowy wastes of Sabalan Pipeline from a mile-high dropship dutifully requisitioned by the taking of C is a buzz and a half.
- CTF on motorbikes is a great addition
- New maps offer great opportunities to catch sick air
- Some maps are a little predictable
- Air Superiority needs rebalancing and shouldn’t be played seriously
Product for this review supplied by the author at their own expense.