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E3 Coverage 2011 : Battlefield 3

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Out of all the reviews, previews and interviews I have written at this years E3, none of them have been anywhere near the challenge of the one I am about to write.

The reason for this is simple. The game has built up a bit of a reputation, it is one of the most anticipated first person shooters of all time (incidentally known as the Modern Warfare killer) and the long lines played testament to the gravity the game holds in fanboy and girls hearts. Walk past them even smelling like the Activision stand and you feared for your life.

So what if I now told you that Battlefield 3 is the biggest disappointment at E3 2011? The response to this article would be very different if I had to say that Battlefield 3 is one of the best games (let alone first person shooters) to come out of the show in a long time. So what do I really think? For the whole truth and nothing but the truth, hit the jump.

A lot of what I will say in this article you probably already know. So I am not going to harp on the history of the franchise or how the predecessors played, but rather focus on what matters from the social gamers perspective. Presentation, gameplay and recently a few scandalous actions from EA that fans are less than happy about.

The closed room session for Battlefield 3 was nothing special, and besides having customised dog tags made up for each of the attendees, I was a bit disappointed (from a designers perspective) at the lack of any artwork, posters or advertising within the room. I probably wouldn’t have cared if I hadn’t seen the work the guys from Square Enix did for the Tomb Raider room the day before, but you know me, I can ramble.

The mammoth television sprung to life and we were presented with the same Battlefield 3: Thunder Run gameplay trailer we had seen the day before at the EA press conference. With the new Frostbite 2 engine the graphics were outstanding and the sound did a fantastic job in complimenting the games general ‘time to save the world’ theme. If you haven’t seen the video yet, make sure you check it out above before moving on.

8 minutes and 11 seconds later the lights came up and everyone in the room was buzzing with excitement. But before we could make our way into the next room we had to go over the game plan. We would be heading into Paris to take back the country from the evil Russians in a 16 vs 16 team death match called ‘Operation Metro’ where the objective would be to rally at home base and then push up and take over each MCOM station to secure a waypoint. In other words, your typical Rush game mode. 4 classes, 16 players, 6 MCOM stations, infinite spawns and a crap load of bullets, Hooah!

The doors opened and we were taken into a separate room where 16 computers were set up in two lines against each back wall. The stage was set and it was time to dive right into the action. Unfortunately because most of the players in the room were nothing more than simple journalists (except for one guy who was dressed up in full camo-gear) we weren’t very good and only took three of the stations before the time ran out. So I only got to play in three different areas and they were a abandoned park, a crumbling subway and the typical, cobbled-stoned streets that Paris is known for. All these levels were very well presented, however I did come across a few textures that I wasn’t all too happy about.

Gameplay wise, Battlefield 3 flows brilliantly. The transition from your primary and secondary weapons are fast, responsive and not once in the online play did I experience any screen tearing or lag – but that probably says more about first world internet than the game.

With four classes to choose from including Assault, Support, Engineer and Recon, I decided to start my Battlefield 3 experience in the Assault role. The game dropped me into heavy fire and after about 2 or 3 minutes of scrambling for cover I turned around only to find 4 other players with me and the rest were camping out on a hill as the Recon (Sniper) class. But this wasn’t the time to start a class war, so I picked up my rifle and headed for the first MCOM station.

A small but noticeable feature in Battlefield 3 is the way the player interacts with objects in the field. Instead of magically leaping over walls or fences, now the players legs and knees can be seen and adds a lot to the realism of the game especially when seeing other players do the same from a third person perspective.

Speaking of realism, it is clear that EA have spent a lot of time getting the action and sounds of the wide range of guns just right. Fire a shot and you feel the recall as the gun jumps back. Pop the bipod and the sand shifts and dust floats into the air as you set the gun down. All of this, including a very realistic flash light amalgamates into a synergistic combination covered in awesomesauce.

We also got a run-down on the updated dog tag feature. Each player in the game will get a set and can be customised with a range of in-game stats such as the number of kills you have with a knife to the number of head shot with a sniper rifle. It adds a personal touch to the game especially when snagging other players tags, viewing his stats and ranking up a few of your own.

Battlefield 3 has definitely set the bar when it comes to the FPS genre and really had far more of a presence at E3 than its competition. Unfortunately I didn’t get to play MW3 (that was in Geoff’s section) so don’t ask me to compare the two, but after talking to Geoff over a few $4 Margaritas we came to this conclusion.

When it comes right down to it, Battlefield 3 simply offers more. More destruction, more detail, more interaction, and most importantly more content than any other FPS out there and for this reason, will deliver a great gaming experience.

Update: Recently EA announced that the latest DLC is now available for pre-order even before the game has been released, and has subsequently received thousands of protest and retaliation. The main problem being that the DLC comes with new weapons that are a grade higher that are completely unattainable throughout the full release of the game. EA has since clarified that those weapons are mostly cosmetic, and won’t unbalance the game – but it’s still an interesting move.

Last Updated: June 15, 2011

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