Battlefield 3: Aftershock is so bad that it probably violates the Geneva Convention

Whatever you do, don’t play Battlefield 3: Aftershock. Don’t look at it. Don’t even acknowledge its existence. I cannot stress this enough. The game is beyond awful. Not only does it not include a bunch of features and content shown during previews, it’s utterly unplayable and broken. This is the sort of game that comes along once in a blue moon: It’s so bad that it digs a new bottom of the barrel to measure games against.

For some inexplicable reason, Battlefield 3: Aftershock is a Battlefield game that doesn’t have a story or any kind of single-player campaign. Remember how there was supposed to be a campaign that followed the adventures of a military rescue group stationed in the Middle East? That’s nowhere to be found, nor is there any other type of narrative. Instead, the game is a free multiplayer shooter that’s sponsored by the upcoming film Act of Valor. In most cases, that’d be fine, but it makes no sense that a premium game brand is suddenly being used to promote a movie to which it has no real connection.

 Aftershock

Even as a free multiplayer title, the game’s a failure. All three variations of the control scheme feel awkward and unintuitive. The content, too, is anemic. There’s only one game mode (Team Deathmatch), one map to play on, and a total of five weapons to use. Actually, the promise of five weapons can’t be verified: You’re provided with three when the game starts, and you can unlock a fourth when you watch a promotional video, but exactly what the fifth gun is or how you unlock it is never explained. The sole level is also particularly disappointing, since it consists of a labyrinthine building and some tunnels, but there’s no real way to navigate its twists and turns.

Part of the problem with navigation is due to the game’s graphics. The upper levels of the map look fine and are reasonably well-lit (showing a lot of identical, run-down factory rooms filled with boxes), but the subterranean areas are so dark that you can only make out details when the iDevice’s brightness cranked up to the max. The character models look fine, but I still have no idea how they’re animated since they never seem to actually move. Oh, and don’t bother trying to bring up a HUD or in-game map to check out your position and/or player activities, since neither option is included.

Now, if you’re playing a multiplayer game, don’t expect quick load times. Aftershock can’t even deliver these basic things, assuming that the game doesn’t freeze and crash while you’re still using the game menu. Connecting to an online match will sometimes take two to three minutes, and there’s no guarantee that you’ll stay connected for even one round. Random disconnections occur more often than not; out of seven or eight online matches, only one stayed connected the entire time.

 Aftershock

The lag, too, is astounding: There were several times during gameplay when enemies would disappear after an entire clip of bullets had been unloaded into them. Presumably they died, but it’s kind of hard to tell since there was no blood, no movement, and no congratulatory message. Meanwhile, there were several instances when I was told I’d died due to an enemy attack, but there was no warning, no shots fired, nor any explosions. When your multiplayer game doesn’t let players actually interact with each other, you’ve got a serious problem.

Battlefield 3: Aftershock is worse than a bad game. It’s an insult; a colossal middle finger from Electronic Arts to mobile players. There’s literally nothing here to enjoy, only an awful lot to hate. The fact that multiple people looked at this game and decided it was good to put on the App Store is astounding, and they’ll have to live with the knowledge that they’ve irrevocably damaged the Battlefield brand for a lot of fans.