Ever since the dawn of the FPS age, I have longed for a war game that was as intense as it is in real life. I needed guns that fired and sounded like real guns, photo realistic graphics and multiplayer that brought your friends together for hours and hours of play. While that’s a tall order these days, DICE has answered my prayers with Battlefield 3.
Graphically, Frostbite 2.0 is doing some amazing things, some things I don’t completely understand. For instance there’s, Quasi-realtime radiosity. Radiosity is light that illuminates surrounding objects. For instance, if there’s a lamp in the corner it should reflect light off of the table it’s sitting on, the ceiling, the walls, etc. So with Radiosity, you get more realistic lighting. That’s just one of the many things they’ve added to the engine. As you know, when you have realistic lighting, you get more lifelike scenes, indoor and out. Some of the scenes in BF3 are breathtaking. I’m constantly pausing during game play to look at how beautiful this game is. I’ve been playing since October and I still do it. BF3 is today’s Crisis. It is the next benchmark PC game and I doubt anything will take that crown for some time.
The one thing you can always count on when it comes to DICE games is game play quality. The minute you fire a gun for the first time you can see the amount of detail that was put into the mechanics of this game. The weapons have a very accurate and small cone of fire. In core mode you can take someone out with 3 bullets which makes it a very tolerable mode to play. While the console versions of the game may be locked to 30fps, the PC version can get to 60. The vehicles are equally impressive and there’s something there for everyone. You can use tanks, jeeps, boats and other armored vehicles. If you want to take to the skies you can fly jets and helicopters. It’s almost like this game is part FPS and part flight sim. The jets can fly places that foot soldiers can’t, so there’s plenty of room to make turns and get a better vector for your attacks. Jets start off with a 30mm canon and then later can unlock missiles. It’s VERY hard to level your jets if it’s not something you play all the time.
Speaking of leveling, you’ll be doing that for some time. DICE says the game has over 145 total ranks. After level 45, each Colonel rank takes 230,000 points. There are a total of 50 weapon unlocks from rank 1 – 45. So there will always be some type of goal to reach while playing the game.
DICE introduced a web-based game launch tool called Battlelog. It’s the hub for Battlefield 3. You can check your stats, find games through the server browser, chat with your friends, setup a platoon and launch your Co-Op and Campaign games. All updates are initiated through Battlelog. There will be browser plugin updates and game updates which will be downloaded via Origin.
The classes were changed somewhat in BF3. They dumped the Medic class and moved healing to the Assault Class. They then created a Support class which handles ammo distribution. This works well because in BFBC2, there were medics who would never heal or resurrect or there were never enough medics in the game at all. With the switch and the goal to unlock the better weapons, the Assault classes in BF3 are more active healers. Recon and Engineer classes are still intact and very flexible. The Recon class is NOT a sniper class. Recon encompasses many different things like setting up spawn points in safe locations and locating enemies. Some gamers don’t get this though and continue to use the Recon class for nothing but sniping.
The single player campaign has been under fire by many. I can only think it’s because most of these so called gamers and journalists were expecting the typical Michael Bay style campaign that you see in other shooters. I’ll make it simple for you. BF3 is more like The Hurt Locker and less like Pearl Harbor or Bad Boys. It takes a more serious approach to war and leaves the Hollywood fanfare to the safer FPS games. I applaud DICE for that and absolutely love the single player campaign. It does a fine job of bringing more realism to the game and putting you in impossible situations that you have to resolve with a quick trigger finger. Even in Normal mode the single player campaign plays like it’s on Hard.
Multiplayer is BF3′s bread and butter. It’s what draws all the fans to the game. The MP in BF3 is no joke. Let’s take the maps for instance. Some of the maps, like Caspian Border, are 4 to 5 times bigger than your largest map in Halo 3 or MW3. Some of these maps are so huge that a vehicle is required. Game play modes are Rush, Conquest, Squad Rush, Squad DM and TDM. They introduced Conquest Assault with Back To Karkand. They added TDM to appease the Duty Heads and in my opinion is the least desirable mode to play. It also caters to that asinine theory that a high k/d ratio means you are a better player. This is not something we needed in a BF game.
The stats that are posted on Battlelog are pretty deep. I wouldn’t say it’s as deep as Bungie.net, but it’s pretty deep. You can also view your platoon’s and individual’s stats. There’s also a post game Battle Reports so you can see everything you’ve done. If you want to play with a friend, just join them or drag and drop them into your match that you are about to play.
One of the other things DICE excels in is sound design. They have some of the best sound design in the industry and sometimes I think I’m taking crazy pills because it’s almost like no one else notices this. The sound design in BF3 is unparalleled. While most games of this genre have to add ‘fake’ background sound for battle sequences, everything you hear in the background in this game is really someone firing a weapon. It’s like they’ve created a dynamic sound design. You get this awesome sense of immersion and everything you hear around you, near and far, is someone firing a gun or shooting shells out of a tank. To my knowledge, no other game does this!
DICE has been consistent over the years. They took the genre into new directions and added a realistic sense of war by sticking to historical battles of 1942, 1943, the more current Modern Combat and the futuristic 2142. Battlefield has grown with the times and with each new game we get new tech. Battlefield Bad Company was the test bed for the Frostbite engine. While the mp lacked in balance, the engine had much potential. It changed the game by giving people the option to take out buildings as a strategic alternative. Battlefield Bad Company 2 nearly perfected what they were trying to achieve with Frostbite 1.5. They balanced the game play, enhanced the graphics and had some truly unbelievable destruction. Frostbite 2.0 is on another level with photo realistic graphics, some of the best gun mechanics I’ve seen in years and a very well balanced multiplayer game. DICE has proven themselves once again and I can’t wait to see what their going to do next. Maybe another Rallysport Challenge game?