Battlefield 3 is a top shelf game that unfortunately has a few problems.
Battlefield 3 launches from Origin but all that really does is open your internet browser to Battlelog. I think the idea was to be like Blizzard's Battle.net and have a browser to manage all your Battlefield 3 needs but does it work? Yes and no. It's fast in the sense that the game loads up quickly from the time you press launch. Otherwise the site itself moves quite slowly though I have a feeling its from so many players online at once. Numerous refreshes had to be done to get the server browser to work sometimes, the site returned error messages just as often, and sometimes when connecting to a server it would disconnect me and tell me that perhaps I should update my game. Not the best start but when it works it works well.
Singleplayer was first since I'd heard it was quite short from professional reviews. It really is a case of all flash no substance. There are some really impressive visuals that the campaign cranks out but the gameplay itself is severely lacking. The AI is your garden variety braindead CoD enemy. They pop out from a spawn point, run to a predesignated point of cover and shoot mindlessly at you until they're dead. Occasionally I'd see enemies who literally just stood there doing nothing even when I walked up to them to knife them, other times they'd take cover on the wrong side of a wall leaving themselves completely exposed. The levels themselves are small and linear. The first level literally takes place on a train, once again, impressive visuals, really boring gameplay. The second level is the fault line mission you've probably seen from trailers and it too is quite lacking. Also its worth mentioning that the game sporadically throws cheap deaths at seemingly random times. In the third level I would encounter enemies who could literally kill me with one shot even after my health had regenerated only to restart the checkpoint to see them empty half a clip into me and me to survive. Then comes mission four, you're in the seat of an F-18 taking off from a carrier in a storm. It looks very very cool. Then you get in the air and realize its really just a minigame. All you do is center your view over enemy planes and fire missiles and when they fight back you just have to press a button to pop flares. I can't express it enough, it looks very awesome, the graphics are amazing, but it's boring. I wish I could comment on the campaign more but I can't because in the very next level I hit a game breaking bug. There's a point in which your convoy is ambushed and enemies are shooting down at you from a bridge. Your teammates push past them and crouch at the base of the bridge waiting for you, a follow command is given. When I approach them nothing happens, there's clearly a path underneath the bridge we're supposed to take but it leads to a door that I need them to open for me. No matter what I do they don't move past this point. I tried killing enemies on the bridge, they respawn infinitely, I tried restarting the mission, same bug. Others have finished the campaign but I'm sure I'm not the only one who has hit this issue. From what I did manage to play, however, I can't recommend this game based on the campaign alone. Luckily Battlefield is about multiplayer.
Multiplayer is great. It's chaotic, it's fun, the maps are well designed. Performance is good, it's pretty, it's explosive, it's big. It's not unusual to join a game of Caspian Border and see jets dogfighting in the sky as jeeps dart through trees and rockets and bullets fly everywhere. It's quite a spectacle but again there are some drawbacks. Hit detection and damage are spotty and it's actually kind of annoying even when it works in your favor. Numerous times I heard gunfire and the familiar thud of bullets hitting my body. Yet after an entire clip was emptied into me, I was still alive, barely injured in fact, giving me ample time to turn and dispatch my opponent. It's very frustrating as well when you sneak up on an oppenent not even five feet away to fire into his back, you see his body jerk from the bullets, he should go down with just a burst or two. He's fine after emptying 20 rounds into him, he turns, he kills you. Lag spikes are also a big issue. I've joined servers with pings of 40 and below and lag still ended up being a nightmare. Once I went to throw a medic bag and I got locked into the animation endlessly throwing medic bags for about 30 seconds before the game resumed. The vaulting animation is also especially prone to lag locking you into a repeated animation that sometimes gets you stuck in the level geometry. But those are really the only issues with the game. The unlocks come much harder now and there's a bigger variety of things to get. The game rewards both skill with individual weapons and teamplay. It's definitely a game you can sink a ton of time into. Also if you were turned off by Bad Company 2's sniper epidemic I haven't experienced the same issue in Battlefield 3. In fact despite the large size of the maps the vast majority of players play assault and engineer. I see only a handful of support and recon players.
If you're looking for Battlefield 2 with better graphics this game isn't it. It's basically Bad Company 2 on Battlefield 2's scale. Features like six man squads, commander mode, and deployable support like airdrops, artillery, and uav scans are not present. The game uses Battlefield 2142s four class structure and combines medic and assault. Some of the diehard Battlefield 2 fans hate this but honestly 2142 had the most balanced class system of all the games so I'm glad they used it. Jets make a return but people watch them like hawks so getting into one is a game of patience and luck. For one final nitpick I will say that the game did recognize my joystick, but for some reason having it plugged in means I cannot fire my weapons or move properly despite it only being mapped to aircraft controls.
That was my experience with the game. I can definitely recommend the multiplayer despite the problems as all of them can be fixed with patches. The sound and graphics are impeccable, the gameplay exciting if a bit frustrating at times. The campaign has been a definite let down but Battlefield has always been a multiplayer focused title anyway. I highly recommend the game though if such problems cause you to rage you might want to wait for a patch or two.