Battlefield 3 is a tale of two games. Bland campaign action is counterbalanced by thrilling online play. Fortunately, the greatness of the multiplayer slate far outweighs the single player and co-op action, making Battlefield 3 a wonderful game that falls just short of immortality.
Let's get the bad news out of the way first: Battlefield 3's campaign is nothing new. Something something terrorist group, plans to blow up a major city, step in and save the day, something something. There are very few memorable moments or anything to make you say "WOW!" Add in some forced quicktime events (press X, then R1, then X to fight off this attacker) and remove all personality and character from the Battlefield Bad Company games, and you're left with 6-8 hours of trophy hunting. For those looking to pile up PS3 trophies and Xbox 360 achievements, have at it. For those wanting a Hollywood-esque plot and huge thrills, this story won't have it.
With the bad news out of the way, it's on to the meat and potatoes of Battlefield 3, online multiplayer. Huge maps, great visuals, terrific team play, persistent unlocks... it's all here. I wish I could be playing Battlefield 3 multiplayer right now, instead of writing this. There's always something new to explore, classes feel balanced, and vehicle play is a ton of fun. All of the items you can unlock, such as new guns and visual customizers, feed that "just one more round" mentality. Be aware of the Online Pass, though. If you don't buy the game new, you'll have to pay $10 to play online. Another thing to note about downloadable content: it will be available about a week earlier on PlayStation 3. Sorry, XBOX 360 users, you’ll have to wait.
About the only drawback to online play is that there isn't any sort of introduction. No robot modes and a lack of training grounds/lobbies can have rookies feeling confused and left out. Don't be discouraged though. You'll get the hang of things in less than an hour, and won't put that controller or mouse down for weeks.
From a technical standpoint, the graphics and sound are stellar, some of the best around. Lens flares and shadows are jaw-dropping, with blinding flashlight attachments and laser scopes playing critical roles in multiplayer. The sound of bullets whizzing by or sticking into your skin is second-to-none. Solid dialogue accompanies online battles, with a sailor's worth of swearing found in each match. The game is rated 'M' for a reason.
Battlefield 3 is an incredible shooter, and one of this year's best games. However, a mundane campaign and uninteresting co-op mission list keep it from a place at the top of the charts. If you're only interested in multiplayer mayhem, then you've come to the right place. Battlefield 3 is out now for the PS3, Xbox 360, and PC.
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