Battlefield 3 DLC : Back to Karkand
Battlefield 2 veterans will most likely be pleased with this; the first DLC of five for this excellent game.
The Back to Karkand pack features 4 of the most popular maps from Battlefield 2: Strike at Karkand, Sharqi Peninsula, Gulf of Oman and Wake Island.
Now, first of all, I would like to say that I clocked in near enough 2000 hours on BF2 (PC version), so I know these maps inside out. Between them, I had over 180hours logged and I absolutely hated Karkand and Wake Island and I wasn’t a big fan of Oman either! Not only that, but Sharqi was just about bearable depending on team balance!
Personally, I would of preferred Great Wall, Operation Harvest, Songhua Stalemate and Mashtuur City, but I realise that I am in the minority of BF2 players with this opinion...
So from the start, I was viewing this DLC with a slight bias towards not really enjoying it. Will the same old rubbish that I endured in BF2 on these maps apply again in BF3?The Maps
Each of the maps play a lot differently now, particularly Karkand and Sharqi as a lot of the buildings can be accessed by infantry. There is no grenade spam by the front fence on Karkand, but Sharqi does retain a little of the old helicopter domination (albeit with scout instead of attack helicopters).
Thankfully a few players with Stingers can keep them pinned down, although the TV station is still a prime target for helicopter pilots. Armour is as vulnerable as ever on these maps, with destruction and accessible buildings providing plenty of hiding places for infantry ready with C4 or AT launchers.
For those not familiar with BF2, Karkand and Sharqi are what you might call “city maps”, similar to Seine Crossing although they are more linear and open.
For the veterans, Karkand still has battles around the factories/warehouse on the other side of the river (to the north-east of the map)
but this area is only accessible on Rush: not on Conquest.
Gulf of Oman is a large beachhead which is partially controlled by both teams, with a carrier out to sea holding the US aircraft. It has to be said that Oman plays better than the BF2 version, purely because most of the US team do not spawn on the aircraft carrier arguing with each other for the jets and helicopters. The new ability of BF3 to spawn straight into vacant helis/jets has really fixed this age-old Battlefield problem, and really helps this map to shine.
The Construction Site has a lot more hiding places now, with several 20-or-so storey buildings under construction making this a sniper and AT-launcher haven. Even the old cranes are still here for snipers to climb up, and the hotel is still here complete with swimming pool!
BF2 veterans will notice a difference with a large highway through the middle of the map with a bridge over giving a bit of elevation to what was always a relatively flat map.
And finally, Wake Island...still the same gameplay as BF2, BF1942 and BF1943, and it’s still garbage! The artillery island is still there in the middle, although minus the artillery, and the flags are the same. The map is darker than its BF2 predecessor, and no, unlike BF1942, the carrier still cannot be moved.
My dislike for this map will always show through, however that is because I have always played it on Conquest.
I am pleased to say that it is great fun on Rush mode. Both the defenders and attackers can win easily; the attackers (US) have an attack helicopter whilst the defenders have a single Mobile AA to counter it. But, if you are forced to fall back to the next MCOM’s and manage to keep the AA alive, you can end up with 2 or even 3 Mobile AA’s!
The maps’ relatively thin islets allow for some games of attrition at times, but just a single boat sneaking behind can ruin the defence of the Russian team.The Vehicles and Weapons
The DLC also comes with 10 new assignments to unlock weapons of BF2. These are mostly from the old Chinese and Euro-Force armies, and most will recognise the L96A1 sniper and MK3A1 “Jackhammer” auto shotgun. Each weapon also features the usual compilation of attachments to unlock.
It should also be noted that these weapons are not restricted to the 4 new maps: they can be unlocked and used on any standard or DLC multiplayer map.
There is also a return for 3 of BF2’s most iconic vehicles: the infamous F-35 VTOL jet, the BTR-90 APC and the DPV transport vehicle.
There is also a “Skid Loader” on Wake Island, which could perhaps be loosely associated with the Forklift from BF2’s expansion pack “Special Forces”.
But perhaps my favourite part of the “BF2 Nostalgia”, are two of the dog-tags. Along with the weapon service star dog-tags, the right-dog-tags have 5 new unique tags, and 2 of which hint at some BF2-of-old.
One of which is named “Diving Dolphin” with a picture to suit. This is relating to the old art of constantly switching between prone and standing up to mimic a “diving dolphin”. This provided players with the prone accuracy bonus whilst literally diving around and making themselves a difficult target to hit. Whilst it was patched early on in BF2’s lifecycle, it was always funny to watch.
Heres an example:
The other is titled “Mine” with a picture of an old MEC solider with text saying “Are Those Subtitles?” This is a hint to a funny BF2 video (the “Mine” part is a reference to the people standing around arguing for helicopters/jets – see Gulf of Oman above), which can be found on youtube:
For comparison purposes, in this video the first scene is at the TV station on Sharqi Peninsula, there are scenes on Karkand (where the medic runs into the fight at 1:10) and also the “Subtitles” part (1:40 onwards) is taken on Gulf of Oman.Achievements
There are 5 new achievements worth a total of 120gs.
Whilst they are mostly easy, it also consists of probably the hardest achievement in the game to earn, i.e. “Complete Warrior” which requires you to kill an enemy with a jet, tank and assault rifle without dying!
There is enough here to keep you going for a while, particularly as the 10 new weapons have to first be unlocked by completing various assignments, and you then have to get 10 kills with each.Summary
Overall, this DLC is an excellent start to the DLC for Battlefield 3.
The lessons of BF2 have clearly been learnt by DICE. The maps look great, the new weapons and vehicles work well and the nostalgia levels for BF2 veterans should be great.
The achievements provide a good mix of dead easy and challenging.
If I could level any criticism, it would be a lack of achievements for the sheer amount of content on offer.Rating: 9.0 / 10