The Battlefield Gets Real
Battlefield has been somewhat of a niche series that has historically only been appreciated by those who already know its awesomeness. And with almost five years since the last numerical release of Battlefield, it’s easy to forget about it. But if you are sleeping on Battlefield 3, it is time to wake up! We were recently able to participate in a closed-door presentation and subsequent gameplay session, and let’s just say Battlefiled 3 may be one of the best playable games on the E3 2011 show floor. Yeah, it’s that good.
What is initially striking about Battlefield 3 is the size and scope of the world. The mission we were on had us fighting our way through Paris and hitting several rally points throughout the world. However, though it is possible to run and gun through each level, we actually took some time to explore the city of lights. Unlike other shooter franchises, Battlefield aims to create a warzone that consists of more than linear stages with checkpoints that dot the landscape. You can approach targets and checkpoints in any way you want, and the feeling of freedom in the game is something that is certainly rare in shooters. The open world makes Battlefield 3 feel like an experience unlike any other shooter out there.
Battlefield 3’s world wouldn’t be as impressive though without Frostbite 2. By now you’ve certainly heard about DICE’s new engine that brings realistic animation and unprecedented detail to the world of Battlefield. However, you can’t really appreciate the game’s new engine until you see it yourself. Everything in the world of Battlefield is rendered amazingly, from dilapidated subway tunnels to the streets of Paris. Oh, and everything is destructible too, which makes your combat possibilities endless.
Although it is nice to talk about how beautiful the scenery is, and how much we love to walk around, the point of Battlefield is to shoot and kill enemies. And in case you were wondering, the shooting is fabulous. We played the game on PC, which I’ll admit I wasn’t immediately proficient with (I’m a console gamer), but once I got used to playing with the keyboard and mouse controls, I was able to really get into the game. Like other Battlefield games, you are able to pick one of four classes with their own loadouts. I was able to play as the run and gun medic class, as well as a support class that gave me extra ammo to share. Though I never really used my ability as an ammo cache, when I had the medic ability I was able to chuck health packs at teammates who had been gunned down. We played in teams of four, and while everyone was kind of going their own way, it is admittedly cool that even while we were splitting up everyone was able to get to the checkpoints and take out enemies. If you are a strategic player, Battlefield 3 will give you plenty to work with, as there are an infinite number of ways you can approach simple, complex, or just plain brutal combat situations. And because things on the Battlefield can change so rapidly, having options is crucial to the gameplay and makes playing Battlefield feel more like an active experience rather than just more “going through the motions.”
Unfortunately, during our demo we were only able to play with generic assault weapons and handguns. The guns we used felt tight and devastated our enemies, but we weren’t able to play with anything beyond basic firepower. However, what we did get to test out was the destruction physics. Though the goal was to move forward, I couldn’t help but get sidetracked a few times and throw some grenades in the direction of some support beams and watch squat buildings fall. And of course, like in the real Battlefield, when you start kicking up a fuss and taking out buildings, people are bound to notice, which meant the AI was on to my position, and I had to get to some cover. However, cover in Battlefield is hard to find, and hiding spots can be destroyed by enemies in a matter of seconds.
Battlefield 3 is an extremely impressive game, and if you are a military shooter fan, it will likely be the best game you’ll play this year. The open levels, destructible environments, and of course the incredible visuals make this a can’t-miss game. I know all the buzz is about Modern Warfare 3, but if you are looking for a higher class of shooter that is unafraid to do things a little differently and has enough technical advancement to feel like a true sequel instead of an annual cash-in, then Battlefield is your game. Yeah, I went there. Look for it this fall.