Regardless of what loadout you choose, there are a lot of ways to earn points for your actions. In addition to kills and kill assists, you can now earn points for suppressing enemies who are subsequently killed by your teammates. When a player is suppressed by enemy fire, they suffer from blurred vision and decreased accuracy. This disorienting tactic can help you mitigate the effectiveness of enemies who are peppering you from a prone position, which returns in Battlefield 3 after being left out of the Bad Company games. Battlefield 3 may be a successor in name to Battlefield 2: Modern Combat, but in spirit, the competitive multiplayer is a refined version of that offered in Bad Company 2. Nevertheless, it will be immediately familiar to veteran players of either game, though fans of Bad Company 2 will encounter a few other small but notable differences. Buildings are not easily destroyed in Battlefield 3 and underslung grenade launchers are, as of now, far less prevalent. Furthermore, you can't just run up to someone and stab him in the face for an instant kill; you need to get in two swipes or sneak up from behind. Nor can you simply rely on explosives to destroy M-COM stations in Rush mode because arming and detonating the charge is now the only way to progress.
As with the previous Battlefield games, the focus is on teamwork. Diverse loadouts encourage you and your squad to make complementary choices, and point bonuses reward you for working together. Every vehicle is better with teammates in it, and even the simple act of spotting enemies is an effective way to contribute to your team's efforts. Teamwork is woven throughout the fabric of Battlefield 3's multiplayer action, and when your team is working well together, it's one of the most gratifying experiences you can have in a game.
Battlefield 3 also has six cooperative missions that require teamwork on a smaller scale. These stand-alone sorties have a narrative connection to the campaign, but they are tougher to complete than most campaign missions and you can unlock some nice weapons for use in the multiplayer. Chatting with your teammate is helpful here, especially in the stealthy sections, because the spotting mechanic doesn't sufficiently differentiate enemies at long distances. Your foes are fairly tough, even on normal difficulty, though some unexpected quick-time events can also catch you off guard. The most notable mission here puts you in the cockpit of a helicopter, which provides the only chance outside of multiplayer to practice your flying skills. Earning all of the weapon unlocks requires repeat playthroughs of these missions, so it's a shame there aren't more of them to keep you busy.
Finally, there's the campaign. Battlefield 3's single-player adventure tells a harrowing tale of a fictional modern conflict. It follows a familiar formula by delivering a short campaign with diverse combat scenarios and dramatic set pieces. The story is solid and has some good acting, but the "Now tell us about this mission" interrogation mechanic makes the structure feel stale (having made a notable appearance in last year's Call of Duty: Black Ops). The focus on realism makes the unrealistic elements like the heavy-handed linearity, quick-time events, and reckless foes even more noticeable, but most disappointing of all is the campaign's utter failure to capitalize on any of the series' strengths. The lively personality of the Bad Company games is nowhere to be found, nor is the operational freedom on which the series has thrived. When you climb into the cockpit of a fighter jet, you are merely the gunner in an on-rails sequence rather than the hotshot pilot. There are some beautiful environments and a few exciting sequences, but these are outweighed by the overly familiar cityscapes and set pieces that were clearly inspired by other shooter campaigns from the past few years. This contributes to the pervasive sense that this campaign is not only outdated, but also outclassed.
Fortunately, Battlefield 3's competitive multiplayer is among the best in its class, providing immensely rich and immersive combat zones. Though there are still some intermittent server issues that might cause you to lose your connection or put you in an unpopulated game, these are infrequent occurrences that aren't likely to keep you from having a blast online. Battlefield 3 may not offer much beyond the multiplayer, but there are so many ways to contribute and feel like a powerful soldier that after hours and hours of playing, all you'll want to do is play more.