I Got a chance to sample Battlefield 3 the Irish Preview night in the Workman’s Club. Watch a gameplay trailer for the Exfiltration mission here.
What I did get to see from the gameplay is that it's intense. It's noisy, frantic, and dirty. It might have been the choice of the Workman’s Club as a venue, and there was a band rehearsing two floors below, but playing in a crowded room with the sound of gunfire and chatter coming from every direction only adds to the fun of the game. That said, its not really a spectator game – it's stylish, but the realism and constant visual barrage, all delivered in first person perspective, make it jarring to anyone but the player in control.
The attention to realistic detail is impressive. Your choice of weapon, depending on the real weapon’s weight balance, will affect your centre of gravity, your recoil, even your running speed. The graphics forsake the recent trend in brown and grey grit, instead you get a lot of blue-grey concrete with some washed out patches of colour here and there, complimented with detail like ethnic posters and shop signs that aren’t necessary but add to the verisimilitude. The lighting engine compliments the environments, and even in the really dark areas, there’s always light leaking in from some angle, and its hard to get completely lost (though I managed that once).
Gameplay is easy enough, a little too easy in some ways – in co-op, even when you’re injured and the other player needs to come rescue you, you can still fire your pistol. Though there are varying levels of difficulty, with friendly fire activated on the higher levels. It could also be that what little we saw was just a beginner’s introduction, and that later gameplay will require more tactical approach –you can get fairly far with a Rambo charge and only get riddled towards the very end, and then have your mate come heal you up while you cover him.
One clear problem I had, however, is that Battlefield 3 has been built with the PC as its core platform and we were playing on Playstation 3s. The PS3 makes a heroic go at it, with lovely graphics and flowing gameplay, but a game like BF3 isn’t meant for a console controller. There’s a sense the controls are simplified to accommodate a dozen buttons instead of a keyboard and mouse.
If Gears of War 3 is a Hollywood action movie, Battlefield 3 is a back to back viewing of Band of Brothers, The Pacific and The Hurt Locker. Military realism is the name of this game, and this is not going to be a game for someone wanting a quick ten minutes of mindless button mashing. Also, given the sheer size of this game, updates and disc changes on the console versions could be a persistent nightmare. But if you’re signing for Battlefield 3, you should know what you’re in for.
- Baz Nugent