Battlefield 3: Back to Karkand
17th Dec 2011 | 12:30
The Back to Karkand maps predate the series' PS3's outings, but thanks to Frostbite 2's excesses, the game we're most reminded of is Bad Company 2.
Destructible buildings may not be more plentiful - we haven't gone back and counted - but they are more prominently positioned than those of the on-disc maps, and the results impress. At one point a whole apartment block is chewed to pieces right under us by tankfire. Yikes.
Where Gulf of Oman is centralised around a bridge, handily visible from rooftop at the Russian end, Strike at Karkand is more dispersed - its grid layouts evoke Seine Crossing, with open tank country due south.
Wake Island offers the least to actually destroy, but is probably the best designed. A curved strip of land enclosing a swimmable bay, the map holds up just as well here as it did in Battlefield 2, as it's easy to navigate without feeling boxed in. The fourth, and least iconic, map is the also slightly watery Sharqi Peninsula.
Besides the maps and a few new guns - unlocked by nailing Assignments or mini-objectives between bouts of whack-the-tank - Back to Karkand packs a fancy new jet (capable of taking off vertically), the DPV buggy and a super-APC that's great for thinning out enemy engineers. The skittish DPV proves entertainingly suicidal, as it attacks vindictive helicopters like mice attract hungry cats.
New mode Conquest Assault plays like a mix of Conquest and Rush - one team starts with all the flags under control, while the other has more spawn tickets and vehicles to play with.
It's a quiet but significant addition, because in truth Battlefield 3 has plenty of great maps already - what it needs is more ways to play them.