Right, so for anyone who doesn't know what Battlefield 3 is, it is Modern Shooter developed by DICE and published by Electronic Arts. Despite it being the numerical successor to Battlefield 2, it plays much more similarly to Battlefield: Bad Company 2 and is in fact the eleventh game in the series so far. (My Battlelog account can be found here.)
We'll start off with one of the game's main selling points; destruction. Destruction isn't nearly as common as it was in Bad Company 2, any actual instances of this so called "destruction" is indeed merely scripted. You can't blow a hole through a wall; you walk through the door with the marker on top of it.
Whether DICE meant it or not, you don't feel like Superman in this game. The AI are relentless to fight and are annoying at best; whilst they aren't that smart when it comes to moving about, they do have a habit of throwing 5 grenades in your general direction and using aimbot to shoot you in the head as you run away from them. The campaign is more trial and error than anything else.
As you can see, the tank missions in singleplayer actually look pretty nice. That's assuming you're playing on a high spec PC and actually have any real patience with the game's murderous enemies to get to this point in the first place.
The campaign itself doesn't even feel all that interactive in the first place. One particular level sees you fly in an F/A-18F Super Hornet for about 15 minutes. The only catch is that you don't actually fly the plane; yes, the graphical demonstrations are lovely on this mission, but you're the guy in the other seat who merely sits there and does fuck all. The mission itself consists of you button mashing the left shoulder button to deploy infinite flares whenever an enemy fires a missile at you, before you yourself hit the right shoulder button to retaliate with a missile. Parts of the campaign are literally a prolonged quicktime event. The game tells you to jump onto a machine gun? Good news, you won't be able to get off that gun until the vehicle it's on gets blown up by an RPG.
So yes, it's a very scripted campaign. In Modern Warfare 3, to breach a door you place some good 'ol explosives on the door and shoot everyone to death as the guy who brought a knife to gunfight tries to stab you in slow motion. To put this into context, if you somehow manage to run ahead of your squad, you'll be forced to wait for them for 20 seconds before the squad leader kicks a door down for you.
The plot itself doesn't even grip you overly that much and is filled with plotholes. Yes, it does bring you to some rather interesting locations, but neither the story nor the characters managed to engage me in any meaningful way. The game plays much more slowly than other comparable shooters, you just don't connect with it. Sure, there is that odd glimmer of hope action scene that gets the adrenaline pumping, but those moments are few and far between.
This all contributes to one thing. The campaign feels very linear, much more so than any of the Modern Warfare games. I'm going to be absolutely frank here; the singleplayer sucks. If you're solely into singleplayer then you'll probably hate this game. I've had my Playstation 3 since 2008 and this is the first game I've bought brand new that I haven't bothered completing the campaign on.
One of the most major reasons why I stopped playing is that dying in the campaign is in fact a very time consuming process; whenever you die you are faced with a 10 second long loading screen. Every. Single. Time, and like I said before, you will die a lot. Dying this frequently is annoying enough, being penalised with loading screens goes too far.
But let's be honest. We all know you didn't buy this for the singleplayer; the campaign doesn't need to be played. I'd have much rathered they sold the game like MAG or Dust 514 where the campaign wasn't included (but still had a rough back story) and the game was either A) cheaper or B) had more content. All and all though, the campaign is there and might tempt you if your internet is down.
A somewhat personal note containing spoilersEdit
However, I was surprised at one particular thing that wasn't actually picked up by the media. In the mission Thunder Run, you play as Jonathan Miller. In this mission it makes it evidently clear that this man has a family, namely young son who is he dearly attached to. In the next mission, it then proceeds to show him being executed on world television. I'm sorry, but that is far worse than anything Modern Warfare or Fallout or even 4chan throws at you. Want to know why? Because when something like that happens in one of those games, you know it's fake. No Russian (Modern Warfare 2) is purely make believe. Davis Family Vacation (Modern Warfare 3) is equally done in a fictitious manner. But it is far too close for comfort to pluck a random Marine out of a hat, make clear he has a family and proceed to kill him.
The first thing one will notice is that the co-op campaign is rather short; all in all there are only 6 missions. The enemies in co-op are again the amazingly accurate enemies with aimbot who like lobbing RPGs at you, but unlike singleplayer, you'll have a friend to bout them bout.
At the time this review was made, communication over Battlefield 3 sucked balls. Skype is a very good alternative to VoIP; I myself used my iPhone's Skype app to talk to my friend over a loudspeaker as we went through the campaign, which actually worked very well. The AI are actually a good talking point; having to revive each other endlessly is actually a rather good source of entertainment, as is yelling at each other to do stuff while in the helicopter on the second mission. Yes, co-op overall is the polar opposite to singleplayer; it's rather fun provided you're doing it with someone you know, and when it's over you'll probably be wishing it was longer, something I'm expecting DICE to capitalise on.
Multiplayer is a breath of fresh air from the singleplayer campaign, being what is unquestionably the main feature of the game.
The sound and graphics are both very nice, and unlike most other EA games, the servers work; you can generally join a match faster than you can with the lobby system and there isn't overly that much lag. These are basics, I know, but they're the foundations of a good gaming experience. The beta was a nice feature because it actually sorted out monumentally massive bugs, namely no-clipping and hitscan detection.
The guns are, for the most part, rather well balanced. While there always will be those two guns which you rage at every time you get killed, they aren't seen as much as say... The Nooby Piss Sprayer and its partner in crime in Black Ops (i.e. the Famas and the AUG). Most of the attachments have interesting tradeoffs when using them, such as how Assault players can't use medkits when they choose an M302 as an attachment, or how silencers reduce recoil in exchange for poorer hipfire. It's not a matter of slapping on an attachment and going from there. Having said things are balanced though, 50% of the time you are killed it will either be by a derivative of the HK416 or a sniper rifle. Recon has far too much ammo, and as a result a good run can be smashed to pieces by that sod loitering in the background with the SV98.
Battlefield 3 has some pretty solid foundations, with good sounds, graphics and servers.
Destruction however, compared to the last game, is indeed lacking considering the hype that was built up around it. Buildings don't collapse that fluidly, where you can and can't blow holes in walls is really scripted. A good example of the latter would be to place three pieces of C4 on a very long wall and detonate them all at once; odds are you'll only see one or two holes. Likewise, there'll be buildings which are impervious to even 155mm tank shells. Whilst I wouldn't normally have been overly disappointed with destruction normally, when it was flogged so much and with experiences of the destruction Frostbite can pull off from the previous title, I'm sorry, but it's a real letdown.
Squads are also an interesting issue; a good squad can make a game and likewise a bad squad can ruin a game. While this is an issue with the playerbase and not the game itself, it's annoying to try detonating an M-Com station when the other 4 guys are using Recon and a bolt action rifle. Yes, it's not that common, but when it happens it's gameruining.
Battlelog, DICE's stat tracker for Battlefield 3 is a nice one, but at the same time is overrun by immature elitest assholes.
Battlelog is also a nice addition. It's simple and it works, and unlike ELITE, it isn't heavily dependent on as much script so flows better. One huge plus about the service is how it displays your Win/Loss ratio before your Kill/Death ratio, which is a start when it comes to tackling kill whoring rather than playing the objective. The forums provided by the service however, lead onto my next point.
One of the worst things about the game isn't something you overly notice when playing the game; it's when you're trekking across the internet you notice it. Simply put, Battlefield has one of the worst communities in gaming. Yes, they might not all be 12 year olds like in that game, but in the process the most vocal part of the community is made up of PC elitists that, despite the game selling better on Xbox 360 than the other systems combined, think anyone who doesn't play their game on their system is the dirt under your feet. It's ok in small quantities, but the majority of vocal PC gamers act like they're crusaders on a quest to force you to pay $1500 for a new computer, and will remind you at every single opportunity why you are inferior to them. I don't like that.
There's some simple things DICE put in which really make the game its own. Explosives make your screen shake, driving a vehicle off a small cliff and continuing on with your 1337 driving skills; in the end, when it comes to multiplayer as a whole. I could complain or praise more aspects of the game, but for a tl;dr summary, it's a pretty fun game.
All in all, despite the criticisms I have about the game, it's fun to play and is a nice change from everything else out there. Whilst co-op and singleplayer aren't anything for DICE to overly brag about, who cares? If you bought the game, you probably bought it for the multiplayer, and while I can't say it's faultless, no game is, and the somewhat unfun singleplayer might still be good for those trophy hunters out there.
So, if I only could buy three games a year, I'd probably have spent two weeks deliberating whether to buy this or Modern Warfare 3. No, it's not the prophesied best thing since sliced bread. If you're the guy who's into singleplayer or mucking about with a mate against AI/12 year olds, I'd buy Modern Warfare 3 in a heartbeat, but if you're into a structured multiplayer that doesn't make you yell at the TV however, this might be the game down your street.