Iraqi Kurdistan, 2014. Following increased insurgent activity in the area by the paramilitary People’s Liberation and Resistance, a detachment of US Marines is deployed to restore order.

Then weapons of mass destruction, guns, jets, firefights, the CIA, Arab fundamentalists, bombs in New York, barely disguised GO GO TEAM AMERICA propaganda, some sort of vaguely commie conspiracy, almost a nuclear holocaust, and man, I wish they’d just get over the Cold War already because it’s kind of getting a bit old.

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Battlefield 3’s campaign plays like a series of My First Call of Duty Clone checkboxes on a list, linking one perfunctory plot point to the next in an ostensibly complicated, even convoluted plot that’s actually quite simple and really rather stupid when you think about it later. So basically, it’s exactly like Modern Warfare but – significantly – without whatever it is that makes the Modern Warfare campaigns heaps of fun. Instead, it’s just somewhat bland and, for the most part, instantly forgettable.

But whatever, it’s not like Battlefield has ever been about the single-player anyway.

Getting down to the big business then, and really, Battlefield 3’s multiplayer index hasn’t changed all that much since Battlefield: Bad Company 2, although Team Deathmatch has made its first reappearance since Battlefield 1942.  There’s also Rush, Conquest, Squad Rush, and Squad Deathmatch, but really, it’s all about Rush.

Oh, it’s always been about Rush. <3 <3 <3

Classes have seen some reorganising, with the Engineer and Recon classes more or less what you’d expect, while Bad Company 2’s Medic is now incorporated into Battlefield 3’s Assault class, and Battlefield 2’s Support class has been reinstated, but actually closely resembles Bad Company 2’s Medic in terms of weapon loadout and is able to resupply allies with ammo like Bad Company 2’s Assault class. It’s not as confusing as it sounds, either, and whatever your preferred playing style, you’ll find something to match.

There’s definitely some barrier to entry for rookies, though, and it’s not a point in the game’s favour. Like most military FPSes these days, it seems, ranking up unlocks new weapons, and more often than not, those weapons are much better than whatever weapons you had before. Honestly, it’s hard to feel motivated to keep playing when every time you think you’re getting somewhere, suddenly G36C. There’s a challenge, and then there’s a tediously repetitive, no-fun-allowed process of attrition, and Battlefield 3 sometimes skims dangerously closer to the second. I don’t know, maybe it’s all part of the Battlefield experience, but that doesn’t mean it’s one above some criticism.

As a kind of value-added extra, there’s also a two-player co-op mode, featuring a bunch of 15-30 minute missions that play out very much like the single-player campaign missions, but with one major difference – no checkpoints. It’s all fun and games until you’re turned to red paste on a wall somewhere in the final minute and have to start over.

Oh, yes, and the graphics are pretty good on console, even better on PC, etc. Everybody knows that already but if I didn’t point it out, somebody would complain, so there it is.

Gripes aside, however, there’s simply no reasonably denying that Battlefield 3 is, in total, a super package, and its squad-based multiplayer component remains totally unique in its class. Simply, nothing does a battlefield quite like Battlefield.

It’s going to come down to Battlefield 3 versus Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 this launch season, and the first contender is looking good.

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