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DICE has always pushed the bounds of PC gaming, back in the day with the release of Battlefield 1942 there was nothing that could even come close to the gameplay or the size of the battleground. Battlefield 2 took what they learnt from the mod Desert Combat and brought the style of gameplay to the modern battleground. I think the company lost its way after that though. Battlefield 2142 although doing quite well in terms of sales, didn't have the longevity of the others. Then, like most other developers, DICE headed into console land, creating games that work well on consoles - at the expense of PC gaming. Finally, Battlefield 3 is a well-welcomed, long-overdue return to form for the Battlefield series on the PC.
Although available for console also, DICE has said that this is a "PC first" game and by looking at it, the console would have a hard time keeping up with the graphic quality that PC can now push out. It is good to see a game being focused on PC (and what the PC can do now), without limiting what's included just to meet the console market.
Saying this, I've now had the opportunity to play both the PC and PS3 versions of the game. Multiplayer on PC, and single player and co-op on console. The console version of Battlefield 3 looks and plays like a Russian ballet, just with added guns and explosives. It is beyond smooth and is simply amazing visually, but one of the things that really stands out is the audio.
We have all gotten used to certain sounds in these titles, however Battlefield 3 just takes it to another level. The crack of a gun, the bang of a grenade... they all have a crisp, clean sound, which really sounds like the warzones you see on TV.
This is Reason One why you should get this game. Reason Two: Lighting. Lighting is something that always lets me down in game. Quite often the way things are lit up is done with almost medical precision. While this is good to help find the right door, or to light up a key area perhaps, it just isn't realistic. Light in the real world comes from all directions, and that's reflected in Battlefield 3. Walls are randomly lit up where the sun hits naturally, light shines out of windows, and there's even the dazzling flash of gunfire. It all looks spectacular.
And finally, Reason Three? The gameplay! The single player map we had the opportunity to look at was an urban environment on the edge of a field, at night. Your mission was simple - clear out the building. Down a hill into a building, all under enemy fire. I played the map over a couple of times, both because it was fun but also to see if I'd missed anything.
It played well, epically well. The enemies were intelligent, even the triggered events were good. A grenade goes off, and a bunch of enemies fly off the edge of a ridge. Another goes off, and a burning man falls from a building, all giving the effect of a real battleground. It also ran super-smoothly. For a pre-release there were no frame drops, no jerkiness, no nothing. It was one of the smoothest gaming experiences I've seen especially with the massive depth of field that you can see.
As for co-op, I found myself rescuing a prisoner, and clearing out rooms one at a time using some of the coolest night vision weapon scopes in gaming history. From the small amounts of the game we have seen it really does appear that we are looking at one of the best titles for the year. Smooth graphics, epic scenery, amazing lighting, and great gameplay to top it off.
And that's just on console. Multiplayer on PC is a totally different level of visuals to what we are used to. The game looks like nothing that I have seen today - I really think there must be some very smart cookies over at DICE to create the effects they have.
My one piece of advice? Start saving to upgrade now, you will need it. If you want to take full advantage of the PC version of Battlefield 3, you really want to have the biggest and best computer. Anything else just won't give you the full experience, and trust me, you want the full experience.
And of course it's not just the visuals. You can expect 64 player multiplayer, some of the great sound effects we mentioned from the console version and huge open areas. The gameplay method synonymous with the Battlefield series is back. However once you have captured one area, an entirely new space opens up to you. You might go from an open field to urban sprawl to an underground rail system, in one map. This will help mix weapons up too, rather then using the same weapon the whole time, you will now need to rotate weapons. A sniper rifle might be useful in open areas, but it won't be much good in tunnels - you will want to change to an assault rifle, or something that is better-suited to close range. The maps are really what made early Battlefield games so good, and it appears DICE haven't dropped the ball on this. Great maps with the gameplay to match.
It has been a long time since Battlefield 2 came out, and it looks like DICE has been spending the time well. This isn't the same game with some slight tweaks and a new number. This is a new game on a completely different level. DICE have always created great games, and it looks like this one is no exception.
I was a little worried that the console port would impede on the PC version of the game but it look like DICE are bringing the goods, and this time they are sugar coating it, with dancing girls, a smooth bottle of Scotch, ice cream and strawberries and a whole lot of hardcore, kick-arse gameplay. This one is a must-buy for any fraps player with an ounce of self respect, and after playing it you won't even care about Dancing girls... for a while anyway.
I'm what you get when you cross a Pig and an Elephant. I like Video Games, Video, and tormenting small creatures. Twitter me, Punkley