It’s rare for me to walk into a demonstration room and become totally awestruck just by a game’s technical feats alone.
Indeed, when I was given the introductory spiel about how advanced Battlefield 3
would look thanks to DICE’s new Frostbite 2 engine, I was preparing myself for a bunch of overblown hype on EA’s part.
But then I saw it. Game-play of the opening mission. Checkpoints and city streets packed with military officers spot-checking Iraqi and Iranian civilians. Explosive scenery that sees chunks of concrete fly in all kinds of directions. Vast maps, with every nook and cranny given a high-detail graphical fidelity that bests anything I’ve seen to date, and even more visceral, thumping audio direction than in Bad Company 2
Yep, Battlefield 3
is looking - and sounding - absolutely incredible. From the moment you watch the obligatory ‘sitting-opposite-your-squad-in-a-convoy’ opening sequence, checking out the facial expressions and animations of the fellow soldiers who will be with you throughout your campaign, you know you’re in for a visual feast.
Keeping with the slightly-futuristic warfare theme, Battlefield 3
takes place in 2014 near the Middle Eastern Iraq/Iran border. There’s a new insurgency group that’s making a name for itself called the PLR, but allied forces don’t exactly know what their motive is just yet. They do know that the PLR is capable of blowing shit up though, which is good enough reason for the marines to kick some butt. For freedom!
This opening mission in particular seems to set the stage for a series of chaotic events which will suggest that the PLR shouldn’t really be underestimated, either. Playing as one Sgt Black, the level begins with the disappearance of a fellow squad in Sulaymaniyah, and your orders (whether you choose to accept them or not) are to locate the missing soldiers and pacify any threats.
In the first area I was shown, the squad had to traverse through the warring city border, exposing themselves to the open road in one section. Burning rubble surrounds them as they quickly sneak their way across the conflicted highway, before stopping at a car park only to watch some cheeky insurgent bugger blast a bullet through one of the soldiers.
As you would expect, things get a little crazy from there with gunfire shredding walls apart and the only cover available on ground being the stacks of tyres right in front of them. The player’s immediate goal is to get the downed squadmate to safety by dragging him to cover, before getting involved in the action and taking out all the balaclava’d PLR hostiles.