The Battlefield series has always been about large maps, crazy moments, and battles across huge and open environments that leave you filled with adrenaline and pumped to delve right back into the next round.
Based on that, “Close Quarters,” the first of Battlefield 3‘s Premium DLC packs is quite odd; seeing as it rips out everything that makes Battlefield what it is, and throws it into a whole new environment.
“Close Quarters” is a set of four maps, all of which are tight and cramped. Mid-to-short range combat in an office, a rooftop penthouse suite, and even someone’s historic villa, “Close Quarters” puts you into small environments and lets you wreak havoc with Frostbite 2.0. I’m going to go ahead and give an insight on each map, in order of my favorite to least-favorite.
Operation 925 is set in a half completed office complex. The three level structure features hectic gameplay, most of which takes places spontaneously as the action shifts from choke point to choke point. An underground car park throws players into a dimly lit environment as car sirens reverberate off the claustrophobic walls, while RPGs and explosions send metal everywhere.
If anything, Operation 925 is too big. It’s right on the borderline of just being a traditional rush map, but too small to do so. Conquest Domination, one of “Close Quarters'” two new game modes, players perfectly on it, but the complex and intricate spaces makes it hard to navigate the map with ease.
Donya Fortress suffers from much the same fate: it’s a well designed map and looks absolutely amazing, but too many of the movement areas are difficult to get at and leave you prone to gunfire from the sides. Action is intense, concrete being blown away, the pond area absolutely obliterated by the time the opposing forces are done with it.
Something many people might miss is the fact most doors start shut, and you can now shoot them out to enter rooms from tactical points. Shooting the bottom out lets you crawl through it, or you can go for the shotgun approach and blow the whole frame out. With the multiple points of entry in most areas, you’re often on the edge of your seat just hoping you wont get shot in the final seconds of taking each flag.
Scrap Metal is probably the most recognisable map, with it’s four storey factories facing one another, a freight train blasting away on the railway below, and the smoldering ruins of a US helicopter bellowing a thick black plume of smoke into the sky above. Right away you feel part of the situation, and the action is absolutely frantic.
Players rush between the two buildings, tight gunfights erupting on the narrow walkways and pipes, while grenades clear out the tiny spaces inside the buildings. As with the other two maps, you can access the flags and different hotspots from various angles, so you can often team up with a friend and overwhelm the enemy before snatching points away from them.
Finally, we have Ziba Tower. I often heard the expression “big things come in small packages”, and Ziba Tower is definitely the best example of that. The fastest gameplay Battlefield has ever seen, Ziba Tower is the most intense map you will ever play on. The lines of sight are long outside, but inside it’s like a rabbit hole.
Offices branch out in numerous directions, a courtyard plays soft music, while bullets rip giant holes in the paper thin walls separating the cramped environments. Ziba Tower feels like a Call of Duty map done right. The attention to detail is excellent, and I’d say it’s one of the best FPS maps I’ve ever played.
At times it’s easy to get frustrated with your teammates blocking doorways and hallways, which will more often than not get you killed due to the cramped and tight movement spaces. It’s hard to fault the maps for that though, as it really boils down to players being aware of their surroundings.
As I mentioned before, there’s two new game modes included in the pack. Conquest Domination is exactly like Domination from Call of Duty. Capture the three flags and whittle away at your opponents’ ticket totals in classic Battlefield style. Finally, there’s Gun Master, Battlefield‘s take on the classic FPS mode Gun Game.
Gun Master is probably the most disappointing aspect of the whole content pack. Yes, the interface is shiny and it gets incredibly competitive towards the end but losing kills to assists, and the fact you need two kills with each weapon just slows the whole experience down, leaving it feeling rather forgettable.
In addition to this, there’s also 10 new Battlelog assignments, each of which gives you a new weapon. They’re fun for the most part, and I definitely look forward to completing them all for the “Jack of All Trades” dogtag.
All in all, “Close Quarters” is the start of a bright post-launch content future. The maps are fun, fresh, and most of all enjoyable. Back to Karkand was great, but the content wasn’t reinvigorating. “Close Quarters” is. It’s the fresh face Battlefield needed, and I can’t wait to get my hands on “Armored Kill” in September.