Soldiering on the job
Nonetheless, as you move through the upgrades and get the better weapons you do feel like you're becoming a better soldier, and along the way you're becoming a master of the battlefield because of the experience gained from spending time on the maps. Getting access to vehicle specialisations, such as heat-seekers, thermal optics and reactive armour, is great reward for your efforts and the accessories and modifications really do improve efficiency on the battlefield. Indeed, the more you play Battlefield the better it gets and the deeper the experience becomes as you learn the strengths and weakness of classes, vehicles, weapons and gadgets.
The four game modes: Conquest, Rush, Team Deathmatch, Squad Deathmatch and Squad Rush are predictable, but offer more than enough depth to ensure you get a varied Battlefield experience. While Deathmatches can be extremely fast-paced - especially if playing in a random server where team-work might not exist - series favourites' 'Conquest' and 'Rush' offer a slower-paced, more strategic alternative across some large maps.
Pushing defences back in 'Rush' and playing a cat-and-mouse game in 'Conquest' can be very intense and exciting, and each of the maps gives plenty of opportunity to utilise the strengths of the various classes and vehicles to create war on an unprecedented scale.
Indeed, when engaged in a game of 'Conquest' or 'Rush' with team-mates that communicate and work together, there isn't a game on the planet that can compete with BF3's heady mix of vehicle and infantry-based combat. The convoluted menu system for switching classes, changing weapons and customising load-outs could be simpler - and not being able to get back to the server-browsing page without quitting the game entirely can be annoying - but overall DICE has created a massive production and compelling multiplayer component that rarely fails to excite and entertain.
Seek and you shall find
The fact that Battlefield 3's multiplayer can often feel like an isolated experience, rather than a team game, is more of an indication of the changing attitude of gamers, who evidently prefer run-and-gun thrills to measured, strategic attacks. And, yes, DICE has pandered to their needs to a certain extent with the likes of sprint specialisations, which also applies to vehicles now - especially for those who just can't wait to get a taste of the action.
Overall though, Battlefield 3 offers an in-depth and rewarding multiplayer component for those who seek it. And, once the run-and-gunners disappear, probably to play Modern Warfare 3 when their parents buy it them for Christmas, we should see 2012 develop into a memorable year for Battlefield fans. Just remember to be a team player and we'll all have a good time.
The GoodRewarding unlock and upgrade system
Brilliantly-designed maps and weapons give you freedom of choice on the battlefield
Quality audio and visuals
Some people play it like Call of Duty - sprint specialisations now apply to vehicles too
Difficult to master aircraft controls No easy way to get straight to server browsing once you're in a game
Battlefield 3 is available to buy from Play.com
At HEXUS, we invite the companies whose products we test to comment on our articles. If any company representatives for the products reviewed choose to respond, we'll publish their commentary here verbatim.