You can call it DLC if you want, but it's just an expansion. That's not a bad thing.
Battlefield 3: Armored Kill is the latest release from DICE and EA for their lovely BF3 title. This time the focus is mainly on map size and what armored vehicles (thus the name) you can play. There is no room for Call of Duty grunts running out trying to take out as many people as they can; this is purely for the military strategist.
That's a good thing, right?
Well, Armored Kill fits the bill for those who are diehard military folk. It allows you the luxury of finding the best possible solution to a problem, and almost forces you to have a good plan before you strike. Taking control of light tanks, ATV and even an AC-130 Gunship is a huge plus when it comes to finding different ways to attack. It's good to have armor options when you're playing a an expansion called 'Armored Kill'.
The lighter vehicles in the game, which are new to BF3, include the 2S25 Sprut and the M1128 anti-tank vehicles. These vehicles offer a lighter solution to battle and make it seem less of a drag (literally) than the normal heavy armored vehicles. They're quick, precise and they strike fast and hard. That's what keeps Armored Kill exciting, and it makes the maps, which we'll talk about shortly, fun to roam.
In addition to the above vehicles, you also get to fly the AC-130… sorta. The AC-130 is a powerful weapon, as you know from CoD days, that allows you to strike with an iron fist from above. To access it, you must capture a base and then you can sit nicely in the gunner seat. You have the ability to respawn in the AC-130, but the downer about that is it flies in a set pattern. For multiplayer games, set patterns are REALLY bad. Unless you can catch people completely off guard, more than likely your stint in the AC-130 would be short lived. Why DICE decided to go that route is anyone's guess, but I think with the amount of weapons that players have at their disposal in BF3 that it's very feasible for someone to shoot down a plane without a hitch. Thus, you could probably make that 'set pattern' unset, and trust it won't be an unfair advantage. I'm sure DICE had their reasoning, maybe it was a programming issue or hardware issue, but regardless it shouldn't be set. The AC-130 is still neat, but not as useful and exciting as it could have been.
That complaint aside, this game was made for heavy armor people, especially Tank Superiority, which is the new game mode for this release.
For those tank folk who were feeling mighty unappreciated in all other facets of the BF3 universe, this one is for you. TS allows you to stretch your tank legs and travel a wide variety of directions without running into annoying limitations. Much like in the single-player campaign when you raid the enemy bases with a massive amount of tanks cruising through an open desert, Tank Superiority is just a whirlwind of tank terror that will put smiles on heavy armor folks faces.
Having said that, I'm a sniper by trade in these FPS games. I enjoy hanging back and taking people out from a distance (yes, I know most of you hate my kind). So to say I had a blast jumping inside of a tank and trying to aim the gun perfectly, while the tank across the map is taking me out systematically, if not methodically… well, it made the game more difficult to love completely. I understand its purpose, though, and fully respect why it was released.
Anyway, Tank Superiority focuses completely on ONE checkpoint in the game. The goal is to capture and defend that checkpoint. Having one checkpoint on enormous maps creates for the perfect amount of chaos. You will have to be strategic in TS mode and make sure that everyone is doing what they can to keep the enemy armor out of the captured area. For me, I sat behind (as a good sniper does) and targeted tanks from above. While this usually ended up in death, it was still fun to be that sniper in the background helping out the folks who were in the nitty-gritty of tank warfare.
Now, as I discovered as I kept playing Armored Kill, the real treat of the expansion is that it adds new maps to the gameplay. BF3 fans know that BF3's maps, when it was originally released, were pretty enormous to begin with. You get four new locations, which include Bandar Desert, Death Valley, Almorz Mountain and Armored Shield. All of these maps are enormous, with Bandar being the biggest. Each one will certainly add more flavor and value to the overall BF3 dish. Each one of the maps brings an advantage and disadvantage to the gameplay of AK.
With the Bandar Desert, the capture point is right in the middle of the map (or close to it). You have to travel a nice, open distance to get to it. Along the way, you will find mortar holes in the desert that allow for crouching down (if you're on foot). You will also find rock formations on the outskirts of the inner portion of the map. This allows for sniping, shielding and targeting. Everyone has a right to be excited about this map because of its size, but it does leave you open a bit more than the others. With that said, it also allows you to gun the **** out of your tank's accelerator. Flat ground means that you can build up a good amount of speed. Fast attacks mean more points and quick getaways, which fits this map perfectly.
The next map is Armored Shield. You get a nice green field with a wind farm (wind turbines everywhere) that is hilly, contains plenty of cover (especially for the targeting/sniping folks) and allows for quick movement in heavy armor. Out of the four maps, this is number three on my list.
After Armored Shield, you have Death Valley. Death Valley is just what it says it is… death… in a valley. You are placed in a valley with two bridges sprawling over them. There are plenty of places to go to and hide, plenty of shields, but if you want to go to the capture point then you're going to be left wide open under a bridge that doesn't allow for good movement. I consider this map more of a challenge than anything else, which is a great thing.
Finally, the last map you have is Almorz Mountain. If you can picture a bowl shape map then you have AM on your mind. What I like about this map is that it's snowy, it's got a LOT of large peaks to it (it's a freaking mountain) and it allows for many different ways to attack. What's also nice about this is that the attack waves come fast. Since everything is literally downhill in AM, you pick up speed on the attack. For tank folks out there that love to run and gun, this one will be right up there as your favorite. It may not have the expansiveness of the Bandar Desert, but it has many places to attack, and attack quickly. Out of the four, this one is my top map.
With all of this said, is Armored Kill worth the extra dough if you're not a premium member? It is, but you should really consider being a premium member, as it's only $50. You would pay $14.99 for this add-on and it might just be worth the extra dough to get everything (and all future BF3 items). Getting back to Armored Kill, the maps along will be worth the price of admission. Everything beyond the maps (the new vehicles, new mode) is a bonus. Wait until you see this game in action, if you're a Battlefield 3 fan then you're going to love it. For me, I appreciate the value of the game, and while I don't love Tank Superiority (just not my cup of tea), I understand the diversity it adds to a genre that desperately needs it.
DICE is thinking outside the box with Battlefield 3 and Armored Kill shows it.