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Let’s start with the single player campaign, you play most of the story as Henry “Black” Blackburn, a Staff Sergeant in the Marine Corps and a member of a misfit company. Turns out that Blackburn is trying to stop World War 3 from taking place and may have shot his C.O. along the way, most of the game takes place as flashbacks as Blackburn recounts the events that led him to fragging his C.O. during questioning by the CIA. Yep, one man fighting to save the free world, betrayal, conspiracies and Rambo moments, all the pieces to a great Call of Duty story… only we are talking about Battlefield 3. The story is well written and levels are quite creative but there are still a few flaws within the campaign. One of the biggest issues I continued to encounter is bullet tracking, on hard mode you are forced to pick off enemies one by one since you can only take roughly 3 bullets before getting to watch the familiar death scene over and over. I found that sometimes enemies wouldn’t register getting shot until I stood in certain places, unfortunately this meant having to step directly into their line of fire. The other issue that was throughout the entire campaign was that everything you do is scripted, blowing up buildings, shooting down planes and even air combat is all guided and pretty much ‘on rails’ more or less. That means that single player won’t ever differ from the first time you play it, but there are a few special achievements for doing something special in each mission that will make you return. Well, at least once…
There is also a co-op campaign that is much more interesting, the story is weaker but the gameplay differs slightly on each playthrough. I had quite a bit of fun playing with friends even though each mission is very demanding and quite dependent on teamwork. I don’t recommend the co-op missions until players have completed the campaign and spent some decent time on multiplayer too. I played the mode with a friend who hadn’t experienced any of the game yet, unfortunately for me he repeatedly crashed a helicopter during one of the missions way too many times.
The bulk of the game is really on the first disk (on Xbox 360), and for those who haven’t figured out yet, that is multiplayer. As expected, Battlefield 3 delivers one of the best multiplayer experiences that I have had an opportunity to experience. The new, rebalanced classes are all have their own strengths and weaknesses with a ton of different unlockables available for each class. I found myself usually playing as an engineer, since I like to use the SMGs and I am very skilled at taking out heavy vehicles, plus I get the EOD bot that can arm and disarm objectives. The different game modes consist of Rush (which has players capturing points on a map while trying to push the defending team back), Conquest (which is a capture the flad/king of the hill mode) and Deathmatch (you shoot the other team until they die). There is a variant on each mode with the squad versions, which pit 4 different 4 man squads against each other.
Multiplayer utilizes vehicle combat quite heavily, which is great since it really opens up the tactics used in combat. Parachuting into an enemy base or taking out some heavy armor with a jet is an exhilarating experience. Just like the different character classes, vehicles are customizable as well by leveling up your experience in using them. You can get different weapons, improved firing rates and even better armor by gaining experience with your vehicles of choice. Getting to that point can be a slight pain, but the risk/reward is well worth it when your efforts finally pay off.
The destruction seems to be toned down in all the levels I’ve played so far, that is to say, I have blown up plenty of walls and littered streets with rubble but the always familiar complete destruction of buildings seems to be missing. There has also been too many experiences in which a concrete wall is still left pristine after I have hit it with a rocket launcher or a tank shell. I actually feel like Battlefield 3 took a significant step backwards in comparison with this feature. Now, just to make sure everyone understands: the destruction that is within the game IS incredible and realistic, but for every amazingly realistic situation you encounter there is another less accurate situation as well. Try filling a bus with C4 and hit it with a rocket in Operation Metro, the results are… underwhelming.
At the end of the da, Battlefield 3′s success is dependent on what features you are looking for. The single player campaign was ok at best, a huge detour from the Bad Company storylines, no connection to characters, most the time they are just following orders. The multiplayer campaign is the diamond in the rough, giving players many different options across different game modes. With that being said, if you are a FPS fan and enjoy squad based combat, this is the game for you, unfortunately though, I cannot crown it the FPS of the year until seeing the competition.
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- Story has enough plot to see you through to the end
- Multiplayer is fucking amazing
- Fully customizable characters and weapons
- Separate co-op campaign
- Poor hit detection at times during campaign
- Predictable and cliche gameplay in campaign
- Destruction looks great but seems limited