Battlefield 3: True Depiction of War
Today I had the chance to spend three hours with the single-player and co-op components of Battlefield 3, easily one of the most talked about titles due for release in 2011. With mixed reactions from the open beta, how does the single-player experience stand up to its fiercest competitor Call of Duty?
Operation Swordbreaker was the mission we had been shown in that famous trailer - and by and large you know how it plays out. The mechanics are tight and intuitive, but are hardly groundbreaking, and dare I say offer up a similar experience to another modern warfare franchise. While the trailer showed off some tight and well thought out combat, actually playing through the mission was a totally different story. Just as a I ate a rocket for breakfast, a barrage of enemies started flooding the area until I had taken out two RPG wielding bandits. Obviously games are scripted experiences (most of the time), but there's a fine art to being subtle about it.
The following mission, Uprising, left me in the dark with nothing but a knife to protect me. What started out as a survival mission turned into a turkey shoot as enemies started barreling towards me. It was here that I was introduced to some rather cunning AI; one of them blinding me with a flashlight while the other three tried to flank me. I actually managed to die a number of times thanks to some rather clever tactics by my foes, which was refreshing coming from the previous mission. I then made my way through the destroyed streets on my way back to the extraction point, marvelling as dust and trash were blown into my face.
This is where Battlefield 3 excels; it provides tense, urban combat. Even though the gameplay was quite linear, there was the illusion that these were living, breathing streets. That did a lot to create a compelling experience, one that I look forward to spending some more time with.
The final mission I was handed was aptly named Going Hunting. It placed me in the shoes of a different soldier as we took to the skies. The AI piloted our jet though some gorgeous looking clouds while I worked as a gunner. While this segment started out great it became stagnant and boring, almost to the point where I wanted to turn the game off. There are only so many times I can look at a jet and fire a missile and get the same amount of satisfaction, even an on-rails shooter provided more kicks than this mission.
Leaving the single-player with a sour taste in my mouth, I jumped into the co-op component of the game. On full release Battlefield 3 will feature six missions for you and a friend to tackle, and they seem quite fun. The mission I played was set in downtown Iraq as my team-mate and I made our way through waves of enemies onto our objective. The ability to spot enemies for the benefit of you partner is very welcome, and could definitely add some strategic backing with the difficulty cranked up.
All in all, how is the single-player and co-op campaigns of Battlefield 3? It won't revolutionise the genre like so many of us anticipated, and the similarities to Call of Duty will be made, but it provides a fun and well developed shooting experience. The Frostbite 2 engine has allowed DICE to make a harrowing depiction of war, yet it seems to lack that final bit of emotional connection to see it succeed. At times I fell in love with what was happening, however at others I was ready to leave the game completely. Of course it's hard to judge from only a few hours, but if you were buying Battlefid 3 for the single-player, you would be crazy anyway.
By Stephen Heller
Stay tuned for our comprehensive breakdown tomorrow!