Above: Jet gameplay. Not pictured: the pilot crashing immediately.
Ahoy-hoy! My review of Battlefield 3 is up at Paste. It is nice to be back at Paste.
This was a tough one to write, for reasons that I think will be clear when you read the review. When things go well, Battlefield 3 is stunning. The problem isn't just that things don't always go well, it's that sometimes they don't go at all. My play experiences tended to fall into one of five categories.
From best to worst:
- Time of my life -- awesome squadmates, great connection, action-movie moments that make me weep with joy.
- Dumbass teammates, but an incredibly fun shooter with constant surprises.
- Connection troubles, lag, lost XP and unlocks. Starting to wonder if it's worth it.
- "Joining Server" loop for three goddamn hours. Rebooting and cursing.
For instance, I once paired up with a squadmate who was a virtuouso with a tank. He was driving, and pummeling our enemies. I was acquitting myself serviceably in the turret, and ended the match with something like 10 kills to 2 deaths. (Usually, for me, it's the reverse.) Not only did we win the game, but we earned the ribbon for the best squad, and even though it was all him, it was a feeling of satisfaction that lasted me through many worse performances.
Even when there is little or no cohesion, the game is still somehow incredibly fun, if only because so many variables are at play. At times, I held down capture points by myself, just a solitary man lying in some tall grass with a heavy machine gun. Once, after respawning, I wiped out the entire squad that had cut me down just moments before. And then, of course, there are those magical moments when you accidentally crash a helicopter onto somebody. I find it hard not to run upstairs and recount these things to my wife in excruciating detail.
There's every reason to believe that the Battlefield experience will get better, and I hope it does, because right now the thin candy shell is not properly supporting the chocolatey middle. I don't think I'm done with this game, not by a longshot.