I hate EA Games. I hate Origin. I hate Click & Buy. I
REALLY hate Paypal. And I hate BF3.
Why ? you ask, submerged with bewilderment at such bile (in
case you are not bewildered, please go to one of your favorite
Why ? Let me tell you why (warning for the lily-hearted: a
light dose of totally-overused-all-over-the-Internet strong
language will follow).
DICE made its name with the Battlefield series. Then, at the
height of their glory with the success of BF Vietnam, EA bought
them and started ruining the franchise.
BF 1942 was a great game. It was fun, fast-paced and a joy to
play. With friends, of course, because I hate the online morons
who play my team but shoot ME in the back when there are enemies
all around simply because I got to the tank first, only to get
themselves killed two seconds later because they ran into a ditch
and an enemy tank took that as a friendly invitation to end their
sense of entitlement. Tank that I had seen and was intent on
thwarting before being traitorously shot from behind by . . .
okay, I'm getting slightly sidetracked.
So, BF 1942 was great. BF Vietnam was loads of fun too,
especially once they had finally found out how to make foliage
opaque to bots - before that it was a bit of a crapshoot with
enemy bot snipers who could see you but you hade a snowball's
chance in Hades of seeing them. DICE corrected that, and the world
was fine and dandy on the battlefield. With bots, of course,
because those foulmouthed, traitorous morons that infest . . no,
not again. Stay the course.
BF 2 was simply gorgeous, and it was getting better to play
online with the 3 strikes program. Remember that ? Kill three
teammates and you're ejected from the server. I loved that one. Of
course, it took some for EA/DICE to fine-tune that functionality
to ensure that engineers didn't unjustly get kicked for having put
a bomb on the road and seeing, horrified, one of their own jeeps
blow up on it, but EA/DICE managed to correct the niggling issues
and play was grand, with bots, and just about bearable with those
sub-humans that grief the battlefields from their mom's basements.
Okay, enough about them.
BF 2, as gorgeous and fun as it was to play, was also the start
of EA's trend into locking down the battlefield (literally). No
longer could you pit any faction against any other, as you had
been free to do in the previous versions. No, here the excuse was
that the units were coded into the levels, so you had to use the
faction that was coded. Bollocks, I say. They had done it
differently for two full versions before, changing things now had
no technical reason whatsoever. It was political correctness, pure
and simple. All of a sudden, having a game where US troops could
be set against Euro troops was not acceptable. Yeah, right.
Anyways, that was one minor point that demonstrated the
downward trend. The other, major point, was the map sizes, which
were EA's excuse to force players to use official servers. Yes,
this is where the battle against free servers started, people.
That battle was fought ferociously, thanks to stalwart warriors of
the likes of which we may well never see again (thinking of you,
WCC Squad). Thanks to some resistance fighters with unmatched
spirit and not just a bit of PHP skills, my friends and I enjoyed
a private, ranked server for over two and half years, with 80 bots
and zero griefers. The maps we played were full-sized, and we had
the Warthog as favorite bomber.
Glorious days. Well, in between game patches, that is. Yes,
because EA knew about the private servers, and didn't like it. So,
with every patch, there was something done especially just to
break private rankings, and every time the PHP resistance fighters
reviewed their code and made it work again. Kind of like the
Apple/jailbreak thing today. Even in the end, when EA implemented
some low-level OS calls to some file in order to lock things down
and force players to only call their official (ie paying) servers
(by the way, the method used was to hijack the hosts file to bend
it to their evil purposes - sorry, where did you get the right to
do that, EA ?), intelligent people found the way to get around the
lockdown and continue using private, ranked servers. And, with
each patch, I wasted a week and a half implementing the patch and
the server updates to get it all working.
We lasted over 30 months in that battle, then BF 2142 came out
and it was all over. Since BF 2142, there are no more private
servers because you can't play solo anymore. That's how EA finally
locked the chastity belt. All previous versions had a solo mode
against bots, so it wasn't too difficult to get that solo mode to
accept multiplayer. But, if there is no solo mode, if there are no
bots in the game, then it's game over for private servers and for
bots. Of course, it was only a question of time before the crafty
EA money-grubbers put two and two together, and BF 2142 was their
From then on, EA has gleefully rubbed its hands in piles of our
money every time they sell a new version of their BF series,
secure in the notion that they have finally screwed us over good
and we can no longer retaliate.
Since that time, I vowed I would never again buy another EA
game, vow which stood the test of time - until one of my close
friends admitted to having bought BF 3 to play with another group
of friends. Hemming and hawing, I was finally dragged into this
hell once again (what one doesn't do in the name of friendship)
and I bought BF3.
And this is how it worked out for me.
*** The Purchase Experience
BF 3 can be bought online from Origin. At first, I took that
as a good thing, because I had had it with EA Downloader (or
whatever else they call that crap these days). Because of EA
Downloader I had lost my right to install BF 2142 (the digital
installer kept asking me for the CD key, wtf ?!?), and when I
complained about it too much, I found that my copy had been
purely and simply invalidated. My money, on the other hand, they
kept. Thanks EA, I won't forget that one.
So, with touching naiveté, I thought to myself "at least I
won't be going through all those hassles with Origin". Yeah,
right, we'll see how that goes shortly. And no, I didn't know
that Origin was just EA with a facelift. Now I do.
Anyway, armed with my VISA, I boldly stepped up to Origin's
site to purchase BF3 Premium. I created my Origin profile,
entered the purchase into my cart, and went for checkout. There,
I noticed that I had the choice of checkout operators : Click
& Buy, or Paypal. No VISA option. Hmmm. Well, since I hate
Paypal, I went for Click & Buy. Of course, I had to input my
credit card details. Then, I had to create a Click & Buy
profile, and input my credit card details AGAIN. By the way,
Origin, since you only deal with Click & Buy or Paypal,
would you mind explaining why exactly it is necessary that I
give YOU my credit card details ? I'd really like to know.
So I went back to purchase BF 3 Premium. Yes, with all this
account creation stuff going on, of course my Origin session had
expired and my cart was empty. Going back through it all again
(uselessly inputting my credit card details ONCE AGAIN for
Origin), I end up at the purchase validation screen, only to see
that my purchase is refused "for security reasons".
Now, let me remind you that, when purchasing with a VISA,
there is this thing they call 3D Security (yeah, because Virtual
Security probably didn't give that SECURE vibe they were looking
for, whereas everything being 3D these days . . .). Basically,
what it looks like is this : you go to pay for a purchase, and
the cart operator opens a session with your bank to validate
said purchase. You input your 3D Secure password and the bank
reports that the purchase can proceed.
In other words, your banks is now called to validate your
online purchase, meaning that the scumbags that skim your credit
card number are now (theoretically) screwed. Yay for security.
So, going back to Click & Buy, I saw the "security
reasons" message and wondered what exactly did they mean ?
Opening my C&B profile, I saw that they were asking for me
to "confirm" my bank account. Oh, okay, I thought (always with
touching naiveté), C&B wants to ensure that I am not trying
to skim from someone else's account. Fair enough, I said to
myself, this is a security measure I can bear with. I click on
the "confirm" option. I then get the explanation that I need to
find two "purchases" on my credit card statement. Each purchase
contains an amount of €1.xx, and when I see the two lines, I
should come back and enter the two xx amounts. Fine, I think,
this'll be done in a jiffy. I log into my webbanking, and check
my statement. Nothing.
An hour later, I check again. Still nothing.
I had started this thing on a Friday night. It took until the
following Tuesday for the purchase lines to appear. By that
time, I was done with gritting my teeth, I was grinding my
molars to fine dust. Finally ! I thought. I was going to finally
get my BF3 Premium (touching naiveté).
Oh how wrong I was.
Having found the amounts that would validate my account, I
opened my C&B profile and followed the instructions for
completing the confirmation process. Lo and behold ! my bank
account was confirmed.
I rushed back to the Origin store and went through the
process once again - entering my credit card details ONCE AGAIN
as uselessly as before - and got to the validation/checkout
page. I gleefully submitted to the 3D Security check and watched
as my purchase was finally validated . . .
Screw that, I got the "security reasons" denial message
again. WHAT !??! What "security reasons" could possibly exist
for this denial of my right to spend my money ?!
Let me see, in order to buy this single game, I had to create
my 3D Security profile, I had to create a Click and Buy (hah!)
profile, I had to give my credit card details countless times, I
had to CONFIRM the validity of my bank account with a
transaction that C&B approved, AND I WAS STILL SUBJECT TO
"SECURITY REASONS" ????
Needless to say, the message I left for C&B support
helldesk was slightly less than perfectly polite (full
disclosure below). I called into question their ability to
program as well as their ability use cognitive reasoning and,
catching my breath, demanded an explanation.
First name: xxxxxx
Last name: xxxxxx
Your email address: email@example.com
Your ClickandBuy account number: xxxxxxxx (authenticated)
Subject: Purchases and subscriptions
Please enter your question or comment here:
I subscribed to your "service" in order to purchase Battlefield
3 from EA/Origin in digital form.
When I first tried to make the purchase, I ran into the 3D
Security thing for the first time - had to set that up and my
purchase was cancelled. Fine with that though, my bank is
directly authorizing the purchase - that is a good thing and I
applaud the effort.
Then I had to confirm my bank account with you. That took no
less than four days and I can't help but think it is a rather
redundant step since 3D Security is my bank telling you
everything is OK. But fine, lets confirm this bank account.
So I waited for the transactions to appear on my statement and
lo, today they did.
And now I am trying once again to make my purchase and what do I
find ? You are telling me that the transaction cannot complete
for SECURITY REASONS ?
Which ones ? You can't trust my bank ? Or you can't trust your
own code ? WHAT ?
I've jumped through all your bloody hoops. I have the money,
give me my game already. What more do you need ? A blood sample
I want to know what "security reasons" are preventing you from
performing the service MY BANK is TELLING YOU you CAN. Please
explain. And it had better be good, because right now you're
looking more of a useless nuisance than anything else.
This is the answer I recieved, in full :
reference number is: xxxxxxxx
Dear Mr. xxxxxx,
Thank you for contacting
ClickandBuy and for your message.
Please note that at
ClickandBuy you may only use credit cards which has been
issued in your country of residence.
For this reason, please
enter a French credit card instead of the one issued in
Luxemburg and try to purchase again.
The verification amounts
have been refunded to your credit card, so that you may suffer
So, if I read that correctly, C&B had no problem charging
my card from another country (hey, I work in Luxembourg but live
in France - it's that thing called Europe, remember ?) without
asking for any 3D Security validation, but when I wished to do
the same thing with MY OWN MONEY, then all of a sudden there
were "security reasons" ?
How about you give me that "security reasons" bullshit when
you try to CREDIT MY ACCOUNT (twice) in the first place ?
Right, useless nuisance indeed. Needless to say my answer was
short and to the point : I cancelled my Click & Buy (re- HAH
Which, of course, now left me with only one option : Paypal.
Ye gods, the things one doesn't do for friendship.
Grudgingly, with as much reticence as a wary cat, I went to
Paypal and, <shudder>, created an account. Holy shit, I
now have a Paypal account. Damn you, Origin ! Damn you to Hell !
Going through the Ts & Cs with a fine-toothed comb, I
soon found that "confirming" my bank account was once again on
the cards. Wasting no time, I launched the procedure. Paypal
only took one day to have the charge show in my credit card
statement - Paypal 1, C&B a big fat 0.
Back to the Origin store. Place BF3 Premium in cart. Go to
checkout. Enter my bloody credit card details uselessly ONCE
AGAIN AGAIN AGAIN. Choose (bleargh !) Paypal. Validate with 3D
Security and . . . it is approved !
BF3 Premium is MINE ! All mine ! Wait, why am I happy again ?
I just gave yet more of my money to a pack of bloodsucking,
joykilling, game-cloning vampires. Sheesh.
Oh well, the damage is done, time to download.
*** The Download Experience
This is the perfect time to specify that, each of the
numerous times I had set my BF3 Premium item into my cart, I had
clearly indicated that I wanted my version to be in English -
which was the principal reason for all this rigmarole in the
first place. Indeed, if I was not hell-bent on having an English
version, I could have just gone into a store and bought a DVD
off the shelf in my nearest French supermarket (and maybe I
could have done that anyway - I'm just beyond all that
putting-a-bloody-disc-in-the-cup-holder-thing). Knowing that my
game would be in French in that case (and having to use a DVD to
most likely authorize the same download anyways), I tried the
online way, hoping to get my copy of the game in English. Right,
and I also play the Eurolottery every week. But I'm getting
ahead of myself.
Downloading is done via the Origin Downloader client. I fire
it up and see that . . . my BF3 Limited Edition copy is ready
WHAT ?!? Limited Edition ??? I
bought a Premium
Edition you bastards ! Ye Gods I can't believe this is happening
! <pant><pant> Reigning in my fury, I start the
download. All 17GB of it. Sheesh, better not want to watch TV at
the same time. Oh well, another all-nighter for the PC.
A few weeks later, uh, the next day, I check the download
status. The Origin client had indeed downloaded the game and all
five packs included in the Premium Edition, so there's that.
It's still listed as Limited Edition though - I guess EA didn't
have enough money to pay a graphist to make a teensy little
Premium banner on the icon. They had the money to do it on the
Origin Store, though (proof here
Funny that (for a moronic value of funny, that is). Cheap
Anyways, I could finally start my BF 3 experience ! Somewhat
excited despited all my wrath against EA, I fire up the client
and find that . . . it was the French version.
What followed that discovery was a series of soundly-expelled
expletives that are most definitely not fit for public
consumption, so I shall spare you their recall. Let's just say
that I was incensed. But there I was, so onward I went.
*** The Battlefield 3 Experience
My first choice was a bit of Multiplayer. That is where I
noticed that there is no more in-game server selector. Nope, you
do that in the web page. Kudos to EA/Origin for having extracted
a normal game function and placed it in a totally different
application. Well done, guys, really. By the way, could you tell
me how gamers with only one screen on their rig manage ? Okay,
they manage, I know, but sheesh, am I happy to have two screens.
Oh, and congratulations on the totally useless desktop icon that
launches the game while I still have to go to the web page to
find the server. That is soooo useful, instead of, for example,
making the icon launch the web page, since it's going to end up
launching the client anyway. But no, that would be logical, and
we can't have that, now can we ?
That said, I have to admit that the teething problems that
were to be had with server filters in BF 2 and BF 2142 were
finally gone (after two complete games, maybe more but I never
did play online with BF 1942/Vietnam). The server filters now
work as advertised, so when you search for empty servers you
find a list of empty servers. You can refine to a single map, if
you are so inclined. Nice to see that, since 2004 (at least),
they finally got that part down pat. Well done, EA !
So I chose a few maps where I could prance about without
dying for more than three seconds. Having an empty battlefield
helps when you wish to discover the game. What a shame there is
no single-player mode, where one could train oneself on the maps
before submitting oneself to the harsh realities of war. I
wonder in what far future such a functionality could possibly -
wait, we had that functionality and EA took it away. Well done,
EA, way to improve the player experience.
Anyway, I discover the maps. Beautiful maps. Absolutely
gorgeous, detail-filled maps. Breathtaking, really. The BF 3
world is fantastic, it must be said. I revisit Karkhand and
smile fondly at the memories, whilst admiring the new version in
its nip-tucking splendour. Well done there, guys, sincerely.
In my various map explorations, I hop into a troop carrier
and explore a bit faster, then switch to tank and go medieval on
some buildings just to see what happens. Holes happen. Great big
bloody holes in almost every structure (some remain curiously
indestructable). And trees no longer kill tanks ! Neither do the
flimsy wooden barriers along the roads ! They bow down meekly
before the might of my 60-ton beast ! And you can actually DRIVE
THROUGH a building now ! Joy !
So there I am, shooting holes in buildings and watching roofs
tumble down, when suddenly my tank shudders. Hmm, didn't know
that the blast had been that powerf - BAM ! Tank shudder again.
Wait, that was no asteroid . . . I turn the turrent around and,
sure enough, some sneaky bastard had logged into my game and
found me. Not that I had been particularly difficult to find,
given the amount of explosions I was causing. Oh well, I was
dead and my server was contaminated. I left him my dog tags and
Okay, EA, I have to admit, the game world is near-perfect.
Well done there.
What a shame one cannot play against bots
*** The BF 3 Campaign Experience
Having been thoroughly wowed by the multiplayer world, I deem
that it is about time to do the campaign and get some training.
I start a new campaign and witness a rather nice cut-scene
placing me in a subway train. Okay, nice intro, now I game. Pick
up the gun and wipe out terrorists. Too bad there is no
explanation to my acts, I'm just thrown into the action. Not
that I'm complaining - yet. I grind through the baddies until,
at one point, I'm totally blindsided by this one guy that I
could never, ever have seen in a real subway train. Okay, we
wants some actual surprise, I get it. Some melee action too, got
it. Except that I'm not meeleing for squat, it's a cutscene. I
am told to press the left mouse button at one point in my
pseudo-struggles, I press LMB and witness, breath baited, to see
how the totally predictable outcome would proceed. The terrorist
ends up through the window of the subway train in a manner that
totally convinces me that I can do this in-game (not). So I now
have an AK-47, yippee ! Die, terrorist scum ! Onwards I plow,
piloting my actions myself once again.
I get to the end wagon where, on the other side of a
bullet-proof window (yeah, I've never been in a subway train
where the windows weren't bullet-proof, I can totally feel the
immersion there, guys), a terrorist is priming some explosives.
After wasting my clip shooting him (yeah, because I was totally
expecting bullet-proof windows, like in real life), I notice
that I have to exit through the window. Okay, I find the window
and exit (pressing E to use said window). Wait, didn't I just
get rid of a terrorist like that a minute ago ? Too late ! What
follows is a cut scene with a pseudo quick-time action, where my
character jumps from one wagon to the next and avoids the
explosion. I'm sure I can do that in-game too. Right.
My character watches the explosion, the seperated wagons
receed into the dark, and the cutscene moves my characters'
vision to the left, where the terrorist who was priming the
explosives is standing intact, barely a meter from where they
blew a train apart, and raising his arm to shoot me down. Oh no!
He fires ! Down I go ! And catch myself on what is probably the
last foot rail of an external ladder. God only knows where my
legs are at this point, but hey, now I'm swaying like a monkey
on a branch. Oh, and there's a subtext : Press SPACE. I press
SPACE. The screen jerks around, apparently I fall, and catch
I press SPACE a second time and the screen jerks around
again. A third time and I fall to my death. Wait, what ? Uh,
that can't be right. I'm the hero. I can only die if I'm shot at
too many times, no ?
No. I start the sequence again, going through the whole
escape-through-the-window thing a few more times and each time I
end up dead. Frustrated and dead.
Thankfully, the Internet is now available and I don't have to
wait a month for some solution to be printed in a magazine. I
fire up YouTube and find what I want, a walkthrough for that
scene. Except the guy who made the "walkthrough" is not saying
anything about what he did, he's just showing the result, like a
magician doing the same trick slower for the dumbass that I am.
Yeah, I can see you do the trick, but that doesn't tell me HOW
you did it.
Then I tell myself that it must be a throwback from the
console era. Meaning, I should probably mash that space bar
endlessly until I get to the top of the wagon (because, thanks
to the walkthrough, I know that's what happens). So I fire up
the campaign mode again and get to the monkey point where I
start mashing that space bar like there's no tomorrow.
And I die, again.
Fuck this, EA, I am not amused. I don't have the time to fool
around with this shit. Half-Life was way better than this. I
leave the campaing mode in its dust. I'll be playing with my
buddies next Monday anyway.
*** Summing it up
The BF 3 engine is simpy wonderful. With all the games that
have promised a "fully destructable world", I finally have one
that actually delivers on its promise outside of the promotional
videos (note to MoH gamers : I'm not saying MoH doesn't do that
now, I haven't the faintest idea if it does or not and I won't
be playing that anyway).
The server finder, for all the faults I find in its
implementation, is well done and its filters are reliable. Good
The campaign is way too full of cutscenes that take away the
immersion and pretend that I can do things I don't have a chance
of accomplishing in the multiplayer game. Three minutes of
play time and as many immersion-shattering events. Shame on you,
EA, for ruining this game like that.
I hate Battlefield 3.
*** Post Scriptum
I did find out how to get my BF3 in English - no thanks
to proper Origin support though. It's a hack, involving
downloading the right dll file, and downloading and using a
registry file with the proper settings.
So, Origin, would you care to explain just how it is that it is
so difficult for you to give people the language version they
ask you for ? I mean, if there's a semi-official hack
immediately available via search engine, then you can't be too
good at delivering the goods as they are requested, now can you
I've got a bad feeling about this game.