Well the Battlefield 3 servers have been positively bursting at the seams since the beta launched last week, unsurprisingly, and I think by now everyone is as prepared and ready for the game as they are going to be. So with that in mind I think it is time for the definitive Midlife Gamer BF3 preview.
In this piece I will be incorporating the age old war between the Battlefield and Call of Duty franchises, the latter of which has their newest instalment arriving on the scene right after former’s title, as well as my view on the beta, and finally my hands-on impression with the game’s multiplayer mode from Eurogamer, which saw myself and some 30 other Midlife Gamers teaming up across two rounds to duel it out, BF style.
BF vs COD
It’s really difficult to separate the two franchises and crown one as a winner, because for every good point each one has, there’s a bad one to follow. Each series has a huge number of incredibly loyal fans; pre-order and purchase records have been smashed on numerous occasions; the hype that surrounds any release from these two franchises is equivocal to a Justin Bieber cameo on Glee, and let us not forget that both Activision and EA are two of the biggest video game companies in the world today. So what does BF3 have to help put it above and beyond its arch rival?
I touched on hype just a moment ago, and that’s where I think a big difference lies here between BF3 and MW3. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and MW2 might have set the bar too high when it comes to the games being bigged up prior to launch. And let us not forget then the somewhat disappointing start MW2 had when it came out of the starting blocks. The game was buggy and needed several quick patches to get everything to how it should be, and there was the overwhelming sense that it all seemed just a little too familiar. It could be that Activision have set the hype bar too high, ahead of the release of MW3, which, I feel, hasn’t been as widely publicised as BF3 has been in recent weeks and months.
There is also the big multiplayer showdown. Many COD fans have been left with a bitter taste in their mouth, following the issues with cheating and imbalance in the multiplayer, particularly for MW2 and Black Ops. Don’t get me wrong, the multiplayer functions of the game are partially why the COD franchise is one of the biggest and most popular shooters in the world. That doesn’t mean it still hasn’t had such major complaints from those in the know, which is doubly problematic for Activision when you consider how critically acclaimed the multiplayer for Battlefield: Bad Company 2 was, and still is.
Finally we have to consider that, with the power of the Frostbite 2 engine on it’s side, BF3 could surpass MW3 in the graphics department, not only in how things look on a static basis, but also how smoothly things operate when it comes down to the online multiplayer and massively destructive set-pieces in-game. As much as we gamers and writers hate to admit it, the visual appeal of a game does have a lot of weight to it still, especially in this day and age when just about any game can look pretty good. Only time will tell if these possible advantages will put BF3 out on top.
Not being a PC owner myself often proves annoying when it comes to situations like this. However, having tracked down a friend of mine with a great PC, we played through the beta together and I got a few hours with it.
First big thing for me, the guns! Oh my, the guns! Is it just me or do they seem to have a lot more kick than they did in BF:BC2? I don’t know if it was just the PC version, but I seem to remember my Eurogamer experience of the Xbox 360 version felt just as weighty as well. I’m looking forward to what else I get to play around with in the actual game, because I didn’t get an huge sense of the destruction that can be caused from some of the more heavy duty weaponry I am expecting to have access to.
Up close and personal, the PC graphics were stunning on a top-of-the-range home-built machine, but I’m not sure how much of a downgrade would occur if the machine was not quite as powerful. There were a couple of minor bugs (some shaking issues when lying down next to obstacles, for one), and one invisible corner that blocked my path on a couple of occasions, but these will certainly be ironed out before the finished product hits the shelves at the end of the month. One thing I will say impressed me is the running in the game, which felt very fluid and, combined with the enhanced graphics and lighting technology, made it feel more like watching a recording of somebody running, as oppose to just me playing a game.
Midlife Gamer Multiplayer Mash-Up
The Midlife Gamer community members present at Eurogamer were allowed to cut into the queue to form two large BF3 groups to each have a fifteen minute play-through of the multiplayer. So, taking up my seat next to Adamski, I got myself ready for what I certain would be fifteen minutes of– oh, so I’m dead already? Erm… Okay.
In fact dying made up a large chunk of my experience with the multiplayer mode. We all started off running around a large park, split into two groups, some of us attacking and some of us defending. There was quite a large chunk of time between dying and coming back onto the field of play, so having died an embarrassing twelve times over the course of my play through, I lost out on about six minutes of gameplay.
Adamski fared much better than I, so I watched someone a little more expereinced in my downtime. The fluidity of the movement seen in the beta was ever present in the multiplayer, with all of us crawling across the field of play like militarised ants. From the park, we soon descended into an underground tube section, where the gameplay became a little more frantic as we were introduced to a myriad of hiding spaces, piles of debris to use for cover, and not to mention a different view on the graphics. Everything got a bit darker, with fluorescent orange lighting showing us the way back onto the over-world and bringing the battle to a ruined city scape.
And so, final thoughts? All I can say is, Call of Duty fans better get their best ammunition prepared, because they’re gonna have a tough fight on their hands.