EA is at war. Everybody knows this, of course, as an unrelenting year of hype and a multi-squillion marketing budget has made sure of that.
Like all wars, it's the people caught in the crossfire who suffer most - and in this instance that's the player. Battlefield 3 is often a giddying experience, but as an overall package it's marred by an insistence on some very unsavoury additions. Instead of focusing on what makes Battlefield such an iconic experience and refining it further, DICE became obsessed with its pursuit of Call of Duty and devoted time and resources into an unsatisfying campaign, the frankly needless addition of team deathmatch, and a woeful co-op mode.
It should tell you all you need to know that DICE has titled the multiplayer DVD as disc one. This is with good reason, as when you hit your stride in multiplayer Battlefield 3 is simply phenomenal - it's an incredibly satisfying experience unlike anything else on the market, and in these wonderful moments of bliss the game's myriad problems simply fade away. The requirements for this giddy happiness might be too high for many, however, as I would say you need at least a full squad of you and three other friends to really get the most out of your time.
There is also the rigmarole of a lengthy initiation process players will have to endure. Your basic equipment lacks any attachments, and you'll need to be playing for a few hours before you're able to properly customise your loadout in any meaningful way. The breadcrumb trail is widely spaced, and while there is plenty to unlock across the game's four classes you'll have to invest plenty of time to get access to it all.
You'll find yourself, for the most part, fighting at longer ranges than Bad Company 2 or Call of Duty, meaning bullets have to be fired in the most precise bursts seen since Counter-Strike, and a basic scope will be an absolute necessity for many. The weapons themselves have a fierce kick, wide bullet spread, and the game takes a good long while to look down the sights of your rifles.
Four classes are offered to accommodate a variety of tactical styles, with Battlefield 3's most significant roster change coming from its decision to blend the Medic's resuscitating abilities into the aggressive Assault class - which makes perfect sense, seeing as the Medic in Bad Company 2 was a frontline killing machine.
Also making a return from Battlefield 2 is the Support class, who lugs a machine gun and can be absolutely devastating when used to disrupt cheeky snipers and suppress enemies behind cover. This new mechanic causes the screen of players to blur when exposed to nearby fire, which can completely disrupt both attacking and defending teams when used in combination with a competent flanking force.
Combine this with the laser sight and flashlight attachments, which can be used to completely blind players - including your own team - at close range. A pair of charging attackers can obliterate an encamped group of defenders with judicious use of these attachments.