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Fun, replayable but lacking punch
on 1 November 2012
For the short version; the sound is fantastic, the graphics are as good as the trailers suggested and the gameplay is still pretty reasonable. However limits of these current generation consoles become apparent in several ways, with regular sound freezes and limited destructibility on larger maps, not to mention the multiplayer is still limited to a middling 12v12. With a frustrating lack of starting weaponry and equipment, it is pretty hard to maintain parity with long term players due to their huge advantages in vehicles compared to a new player, which means compared to Bad Company 2, you will essentially have to 'grind' in order to get anywhere.
For anyone who buys a non-premium version of Battlefield 3 you will be looking forward to a long slog to unlock anything useful, but will have great fun attempting it.
Compared to Bad Company 2, the graphics are hazy, with many maps being covered in floating dust clouds that make long range aiming harder, combined with many indestructible buildings, makes some maps a little irritating and counter productive at times. Aiming also appears to be different as the autoaim seems to have more gravity, in other words unlike on BC2 where you can press aim and line up a headshot for yourself, Battlefield 3 seems to instantly teleport your sight to the enemy's chest. Great if you can't aim but I preferred the more subtle guidance BC2 gave.
The spotting system is just as glitchy, not always registering something you have been staring at for a minute while hammering the spot button.
The upgrade system is probably more intuitive in a way, as weapon upgrades are unlocked for the specific weapon you are using rather than overall. Ofcourse this means if you want to try out a different weapon you have unlocked, there won't be any gadgetry on it to make it as useful as whatever you used before. The benefits are quicker upgrading for the weapons you do use, but at the cost no overall upgrades for the weapons you don't. I'm not entirely sure it was executed properly.
The same holds true for vehicles, with each vehicle having it's own separate set of upgrades. Hoorah I thought originally, however I then realised that the much vaunted jet was an absolute terror to try and upgrade. With only a machinegun to start with, expect a lot of crashing and pointless deaths just to unlock the heat seeking missiles that would actually allow new players some sort of parity with the resident server airheads.
The maps for BF3 are varied and interesting, there are a couple of Call of Duty-esk boxing ring matches that I usually avoid but for the most part, the maps allow for that productive, team based effort that is the hallmark of the Battlefield series. There are also a lot more
The vehicles, despite some annoying points already covered, are great fun. The jeeps are extremely useful, being mobile heavy machine guns, the tanks are still solid and require some taking down. Helicopters fly a little differently to Bad Company 2 but seem much more responsive to commands. Jets are great fun to fly about, even if you can't hit anything. APCs still are the bane of terrain and hiding infantry.
The return of the squad leader is fairly interesting, you can still spawn on any squad mates but the squad leaders are the only ones who can do attack/defend orders on points, this means everyone benefits from following orders are they all gain the experience boost of a fulfilled order - a good incentive to act as a team.
To summarise, if you haven't played Battlefield before, you'll probably not even notice most of what I have mentioned, if you have played Bad Company 2, I'd recommend BF3 if you want a slightly less intense feeling game. There are elements that will frustrate any player but they are counterbalanced by the fluid gameplay and the engine is still a glory to behold.