Battlefield 3: Armored Kill DLC review

battlefield 3 armored kill dlc review  1

Look, Close Quarters was alarming. DICE took the framework of Battlefield 3 and dropped it into a set of maps built for small-team engagements. Tight confines, few open spaces, zero vehicles. It appealed to a certain type of shooter fan, no doubt, but it didn’t tap into what Battlefield excels at as a series: grand-scale warfare.

Enter Armored Kill. For its second DLC release in 2012, DICE gives the fans what they want. The maps are massive and they’re filled with all sorts of new vehicles. You’ve got tank-killers. Mobile artillery and anti-air. An AC-130 gunship. If it can cut a wide swath of destruction on a battlefield, it’s probably in this expansion pack. Premium subscribers get the new content for free — and they already have it, in fact — but the rest of the gaming world has the option of buying it a la carte on September 18 for PlayStation, or one week later on September 25 for Xbox 360 and PC.

The four new maps are as sprawling as you’d expect them to be for this vehicle-focused affair, with “Bandar Desert” being the largest of the bunch and, what’s more, the largest in the history of the series. That one and “Armored Shield,” set in a bombed out section of the Russian countryside, offer the most open spaces. If your idea of a perfect Battlefield match involves a three-wide line of tanks speeding up and down over rolling hills, you can certainly get it in those locations.

battlefield 3 armored kill dlc review  2The other two new locations are “Death Valley” and “Alborz Mountains.” They’re both sprawling environments with lots of ground for players to explore, but they’re also more constrained in some ways due to the mountainous terrain. You’ll crunch through many forested areas in your heavy vehicles, and seek cover under those same trees when the gunshipsFifa starts raining hell down from above.

How about those vehicles? The AC-130 is a beast of a flying fortress, circling the maps repeatedly for whichever team controls a specific point (or simply for the attackers in Rush games). It’s very powerful, with fixed anti-vehicle and anti-infantry emplacements plus two anti-air defense turrets that anyone can jump into, but that power is balanced by minimal armor and the fact that it sticks to a set flight path.

The rest of the vehicles simply add more depth to the armored portion of the game, as everything that’s new is grounded in concepts that players of the core game are probably familiar with. The mobile artillery vehicles amount to giant mortars, though a newly upgraded leveling system eventually allows you to unlock close-quarters defenses for the otherwise unprotected trucks. Wheeled tank-killers offer increased movement and firepower for taking on the heaviest armor on the field, though at the cost of some protection. Quad bikes also make a return from Bad Company 2, offering ground infantry a quick way to zip into combat.

The maps all support Conquest and Rush, but the DLC pack brings a new mode as well: Tank Superiority. Essentially a King of the Hill match, the new mode puts one control point in the center of the map that two teams fight over. There’s no gunship in this mode, and so the focus is really on trading cannon shells and mortar fire back and forth.

Battlefield 3 - Armored Kill review 3Much like Close Quarters, Armored Kill is laser-focused on a particular niche style of Battlefield play. Where the previous DLC favored assault classes almost exclusively, Armored Kill matches are populated almost entirely by engineers. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this, though some would argue that the great strength of the Battlefield series is its ability to deliver a multi-faceted warzone where infantry fights alongside armor fights alongside air support. Close Quarters cut that out entirely by design; Armored Kill cuts it out more by necessity.

Console players get it the worst too due to the significantly smaller maximum player count in a given room as compared to the PC version of the game. You just don’t get the same sense of epic warfare with 24 players running around these sprawling maps as you do with the 64 on the PC side. Armored Kill also returns to the era of camping your team’s deployment point as you wait for vehicles to spawn.

Armored Kill is at its best when you’re playing with a large group that knows how to communicate. That’s really true for Battlefield in general, but it applies moreso now than ever due to the focus on heavy vehicles and long-distance engagements. It’s my favorite DLC pack released so far for Battlefield 3, but it’s also very easy to end up in a horribly unbalanced room where one team simply can’t get its act together. Overall, I’d say the new DLC offers more welcome improvements than Close Quarters did, but you should still prepare yourself for plenty of frustrating match-ups as well.

(This game was reviewed on the Xbox 360 on a copy provided by EA)

Product Review

Brutal and emotional, 'God of War' is everything a blockbuster game should be

In a new land, on a new journey, God of War evolves beyond the button-mashing action of its youth into an action game with engaging combat and an engrossing story.

The N64 was an all-star console with a line-up of all-star games. These were the best.

The Nintendo 64 introduced a long list of top-tier games, but which were the iconic platform's best? From Mario Party to Ocarina of Time to NFL Blitz, check out our picks for the best N64 games.

Get your first look at ‘Royale’ mode in the latest ‘Battlefield V’ trailer

The latest trailer for Battlefield V, released in time for Gamescom, gives players a taste of what to expect from the game's battle royal mode. The mode will release after the game's initial launch.

‘Call of Duty: Black Ops 4’ gets battle royale ‘Blackout’ beta September 10

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 will hold a beta for its battle royale Blackout mode in September, and it will be available first to those who pre-ordered the game on PlayStation 4. The game releases October 12.

‘Diablo III’ is bringing loot-filled goodness to the Nintendo Switch this year

Blizzard's acclaimed action-RPG Diablo III will be coming to Nintendo Switch later this year and it will include four-player cooperative play on the console, the legendary game studio announced.

Blazer5 Gaming has dominated the NBA 2K League. Now they prepare for the playoffs

We spoke with Blazer5 Gaming, the NBA 2K team that currently tops the professional 2K League, about their journeys to playing the basketball sim for a living. We also played a little game of overrated or underrated with NBA 2K19's ratings.

Blizzard wants to see Diablo characters join fray in ‘Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’

With Diablo 3 coming to Switch later this year, is it possible that we could see Blizzard characters in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate down the line? Blizzard would very much like to see Diablo characters in the Nintendo brawler.

Blizzard changes its tune, says ‘Overwatch’ could run on Nintendo Switch

Blizzard's hugely popular multiplayer shooter Overwatch isn't available on Nintendo Switch, but one of the studio's senior producers says that it could technically run on the hybrid console.

‘Warframe’ adds a trio of minigames, including a 2D fighting experience

Digital Extremes has added a new 2D fighting mini-game to Warframe, its free-to-play science fiction title. The game can be unlocked by using the Standing resource and features a surprising amount of depth.

New 'Fortnite' challenge is among the most difficult yet, but we know the solution

Where are the Stone Heads looking? That's the challenge posed by Fortnite's sixth week of season five. It's an easy challenge in concept, but difficult to manage in execution. If you don't want a hassle, no sweat. We've found the solution.

The PlayStation 5 rumors are heating up, and the console may arrive by 2020

Recent rumors suggest the launch of the PlayStation 5 is closer than you might expect. Predictions range from 2018 to 2021, and some reports are already making definitive claims about the hardware.

Federal judge puts the brakes on ‘Grand Theft Auto V’ mod that allowed cheats

The GTA series brought us the lawlessness of Los Santos, but U.S. District Judge Louis Stanton handed down an injunction against David Zipperer of Georgia, maker of the Menyoo and Absolute mods.
Home Theater

They’re not just for gaming: Watch Blu-rays on the Xbox One S and Xbox One X

While the Xbox One S and Xbox One X boost the visuals of your games, they also can pull double-duty as Blu-ray players, but there's a bit of set up needed. Need help? Here's our guide on how to watch Blu-rays on the Xbox One S and X.
Product Review

'Battle for Azeroth' lets you play Warcraft without canceling evening plans

‘Battle for Azeroth’ promises to put you in the middle of a new war between the Alliance and Horde. The plot too quickly unravels into dull fetch quests, but the game’s variety keeps you itching to log in it even as the story…