A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Battlefield 3 is a gritty and authentic first person shooter that glamorizes all forms of military violence, from melee combat and firefights to large-scale destruction with tanks and jets. Characters writhe realistically as they die, and blood sprays from bullet impacts. There are several disturbing scenes, including a nuclear blast, and terrorist execution, and a firefight with innocent police that the game’s protagonist -- controlled by the player -- reluctantly kills in an attempt to avoid a greater tragedy. Online multiplayer, meanwhile, sees players openly speaking with one another via headsets and then finding each other outside the game using a new online game community called Battlelog, which permits Facebook wall-style communication.
What's it about?
BATTLEFIELD 3’s single-player campaign tells a story of terrorists threatening the Western world with nuclear weapons. Players take control of several soldiers fighting the menace in locations around the world, from Tehran to Paris. Some of these warriors are ground troops specialized in sniping and front line assaults, while others are masters of military hardware, including a jet gunner and a tank driver. The narrative is filled with terrifying moments, including unexpected knife battles and horrific events experienced from a first-person perspective.
Online play, meanwhile, sees players engaging in massive and frenetic fracases with up to 64 players in the PC version and 24 players in the console editions. Players work in teams to capture control points, defend or take objectives, or simply rack up the most kills. Battlefield 3 also introduces Battlelog, an online community that can be accessed outside of the game on a computer and allows players to track their progress and communicate with other players.
Is it any good?
Though visually spectacular -- imagine an urban warzone in the midst of an earthquake -- Battlefield 3’s single-player campaign is a bit of a mess. Its pulled-from-the-headlines story strives for a resonance that it never quite achieves. It’s plagued with minor glitches -- we experienced suddenly muted weapons, characters moving through walls, and even a sequence where we were swimming in the air. Most frustrating of all, enemies are at once extremely predictable and extraordinarily good shots, which equates to an unfair challenge and diminishing surprises. It’s seven hours of merely moderate fun.
Multiplayer, on the other hand, is extraordinarily satisfying. Matches populated with dozens of players covering enormous maps filled with a broad range of military hardware make for epic combat experiences. Weapons, vehicles, and soldier classes are diverse but finely balanced, allowing players to experiment with different styles of play. And expertly designed character progression means players will be enticed to continue playing for months to come. While gamers devoted to well-crafted single-player experiences may want to take a pass, Battlefield 3 is an essential play for adults with a passion for online first-person shooters.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence in games. How do you determine which games are too violent for your teens? How do you ensure that they don’t experience these games outside your home? Do you try to explain why some games are unsuitable for their age?
Families can also discuss online safety. What would you do if you ran into a bully or predator online? What sort of markers should you look for to identify them?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.