I don't usually play FPS games, in fact I almost never do, but I decided to give it a try, and on the strength of the trailers, I bought BF3 when it was released about a month ago. At first it was much as I expected. I played the single player campaign, and found it was rather short, too short in fact, and I was left feeling disappointed. I hadn't understood how heavily the game rested on the multi-player function, and my xbox wasn't connected to the internet at the time, mostly because I didn't want Freja straying online.
Then last week I upgraded our internet connection and as a result was able to connect my console to the net. It turns out I can do this in a way that doesn't allow unwanted access to the internet by the simple expedience of disconnecting the USB cable. I was then able to connect to the to BF3 online servers and for the last four nights, once the kids are asleep in bed, I've been playing against people who have obviously been playing FPS games a lot longer than I have.
On the whole I score lowest in each game, often with no, or only a few kills: Its a steep learning curve but it is also great fun, even though one or two things jar against my wargaming mind set. The first, and most obvious is the way in which the game is played. I think the idea is for players to work together, but there doesn't seem to be any means to communicate so any notion of a plan goes out the window from the get go. There is probably a team speak option which I have yet to uncover but even if there is, I see no evidence that most other players are aware of it either. People run around like unguided missiles, blasting every one they meet, and whilst I can see the merit of this, since it gives a higher kill score, it also means they die just as fast as they kill, which sort of defeats the idea of simulated combat (unless we are to accept that all soldiers are suicidal in nature). Its been difficult for me to adapt to this mentality, I prefer to move slower and in a team, and win by the default of still being alive after the firefight is over. Consequently I die frequently as skilled players, usually with far better weapons than mine, sprint around to come from behind, and not caring if they then also die when my fellow team players return fire. Dying in BF3 carries little penalty for the player.
The weapons are another problem. Often the skilled players carry a small but rather unrealistic arsenal and its not unusual to be killed by some one carrying a .50 sniper rifle with laser and optics, whilst carrying a javelin missile launcher on their back. I've never hefted either, but I have carried a Carl Gustav recoilless rifle and a MG3 light machinegun (both about equal in weight I think) and I defy any one to sprint about whilst carrying both. Obviously encumbrance doesn't exist in FPS games!
Back blast is another small niggling detail, conspicuous by its absence. I usually play an engineer, since this means I get to fire AT weapons (and since noob rifles don't seem to have any effect on experienced players) and I've often found it convenient to fire my RPG7 (statistically my most effective weapon) whilst in a room, up against a wall, surrounded by other players, and with no ill effect on any one at all. For some reason this irritates me more than a host of other unrealistic details, possibly because I was trained to always check behind me before I fired the Carl Gustav. I actually did this the first few times in BF3, but I've stopped now I realise there is no back blast in FPS games.
The truth is, I'm like a child with a new toy though. I haven't played any online games since my computer (and my fingers) gave up on EVE, and its going to be interesting to see how long the novelty lasts. The graphics are good (though the fighter aircraft move too slow in the sky) and I have not had any of the connection issues people complain about. The sense of impending danger is ever present, but so too is a feeling of comraderie when ever players work together, though this would be even better I think if I was in a dedicated team. On the whole, I'm glad I bought this game, not least because at some point I hope to connect with my brother and play against him. It shouldn't be too hard for him to beat me. My 'combat efficiency' is 4%