Up Close And Personal – Battlefield 3: Close Quarters Review

Our Rating
out of 5.0

This game was reviewed on Xbox 360

Lock and load, Battlefield 3 fans, as Close Quarters is now publicly available.  If you are a premium member, then you’ve already had this expansion for two weeks now, but for everyone else let me take you on a tour of what to expect should you choose to partake in the close-quarters battling fun.

One of the key features of the expansion is the inclusion of four new maps: Scrap Metal, Operation 925, Donya Fortess, and Ziba Tower.  These levels are somewhat different for a Battlefield game, focusing on tighter indoor settings as opposed to wide open fields or towns.  Make no mistake though, the fundamentals of play that set the shooter apart from other games are still there, and shine through wonderfully.

Starting our lineup is Scrap Metal, which is set in two conjoined, five-story industrial factory buildings.  The map features a shadowy, rusted aesthetic, making it the darkest themed level in the expansion.  Players will be fighting through tight and windowed skyways, dusty rooftops, and large rooms crowded with machines.  While there are a few areas for players to get some range, the majority of the map feels like a frantic maze and gives little breathing room for combatants.

Next up is Operation 925, taking place in an urban office building in Iran.  Consisting of about three floors, this map’s key features include an underground parking garage, cubicle rooms, and a small food court.  The design of this map is a lot brighter and cleaner, with more sunshine and shadows stretching across many areas.  Although the level is set indoors, there are still many long/wide hallways as well as large rooms for longer-range combat. Generally the map is less crowded with multiple small skirmishes taking place throughout it.

Moving on, we have Donya Fortress, a rural fort-turned-palace complex also set in Iran.  While both this map and Operation 925 share the same country, their appearances are totally different.  Donya Fortress sports a lavish, older design with a taste for arches (which can be found on just about every window, door, or hall).  Multi-floor fighting is very common here, as the map features courtyards and rooms with encompassing balconies, as well as close-quarter battles within a stretch of underground halls and various upper rooms.  This level is the smallest one in the expansion (and perhaps even the entire series) but is still varied enough to keep players coming back.

Last but certainly not least is Ziba Tower, once again set in Iran, though this time in a rooftop resort.  Something players may note the second they step in is just how much the map resembles sections of another DICE game: Mirror’s Edge.  The level (though utilizing a wide array of colour overall) takes a slight preference to a mix of white and red, and the general layout encourages a lot of vaulting which gives a nostalgic nod to the free-running title.

Ziba Tower features a central open courtyard complete with patio restaurant and swimming pool, and is surrounded by several balconies.  Past these terraces are several different areas including bathrooms, bars, and personal bedrooms; the majority of which are either lined with glass or feature a skylight.  While generally a tight-spaced map, a few long hallways and potential machinegun/sniper nests allow for some hold-out action or sharpshooting battles.

All of Close Quarters’ maps are incredibly well-designed, sporting a wide array of combat situations, even for smaller levels.  What really brings them into their own, however, is the attention to detail and destructibility.  Maps may not feature full destruction of buildings, like the majority of Battlefield environments, but the amount of micro-destruction is through the roof (literally in some instances).  Each round on the new maps is like stepping into The Matrix, with concrete pillars flaking off shot by shot, or wooden structures sending splinters to cloud the air.  Just about every set piece in the main environment is to some degree damageable, including drywall blasting away from small arms fire, allowing for players to create their own windows in walls.  Levels start out looking amazingly clean, but by the end of the round will lie as a total wreck, creating a super-realistic atmosphere that fans everywhere will certainly enjoy.

Destructibility isn’t the only thing augmenting the new maps, as small details give them amazing life.  Different background features, both in audio and visuals, take everything forward an extra step.  Whether it’s a tank driving down the street just outside your window, a jet flying overhead that shakes dust off the room clouding your vision, or simply hearing phones ring in nearby cubicles, these levels go above and beyond to deliver an amazing combat experience

Of course, maps aren’t the only thing included in the CQ expansion, as a total of ten new weapons and three new game modes are also included.  These new weapons (unlockable through the Assignment system introduced in Back to Karkand) feature many new guns including: the AUG assault rifle, MTAR-21 carbine, M417 sniper rifle, L86 light machine gun, and Spas-12 shotgun.  Each gun has its own ups and downs, and all are balanced fairly well compared to the main title’s original lineup.

Complimenting the smaller maps are the three new game modes: Conquest Domination, Team Deathmatch – Close Quarters (TDMCQ for short), and Gun Master.  Conquest Domination is a variant of the main title’s Conquest mode, with a few slight changes: tickets will only decrease by bleeding (holding the majority of flags), while bases neutralize considerably quicker then usual and capture almost instantly.  This leads to a frantic battle across the entire map in an attempt to hold all locations, making for fast-paced (yet still tactical and team-based) gameplay.

TDMCQ maintains the same rules as Team Deathmatch, but with different settings and team styles.  The overall size of teams is diminished and levels are given a considerably smaller in-bounds area, leading to more frantic infantry battles.  Several maps across the main game and B2K expansion are also featured in the mode, adding a great sense of variety for locations.

Perhaps the most interesting mode though, would be Gun Master, Battlefield 3’s counter to Call of Duty: Black Ops’ Gun Game wager match.  Players start with only an MP443 pistol, and must work their way through all of the guns of the CQ expansion, ending in a single knife kill.  To be promoted to the next weapon, gamers must get a kill with their current one.  This mode is a bit of a challenge compared to other modes, and really tests a player’s ability to adapt to different situations.

The only thing that really holds back the CQ expansion is its theme, namely how map design relates to the rest of the game.  Due to the less-linear layout of these smaller maps, both standard Conquest and Rush modes are unavailable on them, meaning players won’t see them on an average server or map playlist.  What this leads to is either playing BF3 or CQ, with them rarely being side-by-side.  Not truly a big deal, especially now that gamers can rent their own custom servers, but it is still frustrating to have to go back to the main menu and switch between the game and expansion.

When the dust finally settles and the debris hits the floor, it’s clear that Battlefield 3: Close Quarters is a fantastic expansion.  Brilliant new maps ride in to battle with an arsenal of shiny new guns, and a few interesting game modes.  If you’re not a current Premium owner, then this add-on should be the next thing in your download queue.  So load up your new weapons, strap into your gear, and let’s light this place up!

Final Score: 4.75 / 5.0

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Our Rating
out of 5.0

About This Post

June 27, 2012 - 8:00 am