It’s the penultimate level. It’s been a long, long, long slog, fighting alongside a couple of AI to infiltrate a bad guy’s base. Eventually, my buddies send me off on an entirely different route for a couple of minutes. They don’t explain why. The just start blind-firing into the corridor ahead and tell me to find another way around. I look into the corridor. It’s empty. They’re firing at no-one, though there is a small fire there for some reason. Probably a token gesture to put me off investigating the empty corridor. I head to the door they mentioned (which spookily opens right in front of my eyes if I get there a few seconds before the game is expecting me). I fight my way through the alternative route and eventually end up at the other end of the empty corridor that had so intimidated my friends. Right on cue they bust through the door, having valiantly fought their way through the combined forces of absolutely nothing for the last couple of minutes.
Incredulous, I duck my head round the door just to confirm that I haven’t missed anything. Immediately catching up with them, I die in the next firefight, seconds before the end of the level. And I restart not where I died, but back in the empty corridor, alone, behind the now re-locked door, and find that the alternative route I took before is now blocked off by an invisible wall. Because staggeringly, the game seems to register checkpoints based on the AI’s progress through the level rather than the player’s. And the AI have obviously triggered the next one while I was a little way behind. And the game has made no provision for me being a little way behind, and has saved the state of the level exactly as it was when its beloved AI were in position. Because it just expects me to play along exactly as it wants me to.
There is no way to fix this problem. I have to start the whole level again. It takes another 40 minutes. Because Battlefield 3 is so obsessed with its own scripting that it hasn’t thought about me at all. And when game scripting is chokingly restrictive without being tightly enough designed, you have a recipe for an infuriating, immersion-killing shambles. This is 2011. This is a big budget, tentpole FPS. This is inexcusable.
If I was going to review Battlefield 3's campaign on its own? It would probably get about a 6/10.
The fact that the crappy nature of Battlefield 3's campaign doesn't matter half as much as it should.
Above: I never get bored of watching this trailer. Just as I never get bored of playing this map
Basically, Battlefield’s legendary multiplayer is as good as it’s ever been. If you’re already a BF player, then that’s all you need to know. If not, then let me explain to you exactly why this is the finest competitive FPS offering available.
It’s the sheer sense of purpose in everything you do that makes it. Where other online shooters can be a maelstrom of panic, frustration and revolving-door respawns, Battlefield’s vast scale and beautifully interrelated class and objective system means that every move you make is infused with gratifying meaning and a nourishing sense of importance.
Despite the frenetic chaos of the warzone, despite the multitude of sudden surprise deaths you’ll suffer (and you will), Battlefield 3’s multiplayer is one of the warmest, most benevolent online experiences around. Because a Battlefield match is a long, drawn-out, ever-shifting tactical power struggle rather than a simple race for kill points, the real glories, successes and victories achieved through the moment-to-moment, micro set-pieces that gradually turn the tide. Those are what matter rather than the final scorecard.
You might spawn in as a sniping Recon class, complete with long-range rifle and a radio beacon which acts as a placeable spawn point. You might set up camp on a quiet rocky outcrop a couple of hundred metres out from the objective your team is going after. You might never move from that spot in the ten minutes it takes to destroy that objective. You might only kill two guys before being wiped out. But if they’re the right two guys. If they’re the two who happen to be holding back your ground troops from rushing the building, and one of them has the rocket launcher that’s giving your incoming tank trouble… Right there, you have a huge personal and team win, however the rest of the match plays out.
So what if a scout chopper looms up behind you, and peppers you back to the load-out screen the second after you’ve made the shot? Your troops will be moving in. You might even be able to spawn straight into their squad as an Assault class and immediately reap the frantic visceral benefits of your set-up work. The tank that was being kept at bay will be able to start intimidating the incoming enemy support who are now trying to come to their base’s rescue. The friendly Engineer who wanted to repair the tank but was pinned down by rocket fire will now be able to. The Assault guy who was keeping the Engineer alive with med packs while he waited for an opportunity to get to the tank will now be able to break off and help elsewhere. You think you’ve barely made a dent in the battle, but in truth you’ve changed everything.
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