Versus: Battlefield 3

Oh, you know it’s time for another edition of Versus, Dear Reader. You feel it in your bones. And far be it from me to deny you. For the uninitiated, here’s the straight dope: in an act of mental cannibalism, I attempt to simultaneously champion opposing positions of an argument, yelling from both sides of my face until I psychologically implode and no longer know what to believe. Then you, my Beloved Reader, decide which side holds more weight.

And what is the topic today? “Battlefield 3,” the upcoming DICE release! Hit the jump, and let the games begin.

Battlefield 3: The Coming Masterpiece

Sometimes a game comes along, and the momentum it builds is so electric, so undeniable, that you can feel its presence months before it comes out. “Battlefield 3″ is one of those games. You don’t have to look at this thing for more than ten seconds to know it’s special. You can already feel it. The gaming community has a collective unconscious, we’re hooked into one another, and from the first gameplay trailer we’ve known something extraordinary was happening.

We’ve known BF3 existed for some time, and honestly it wasn’t that big a deal. BF is an almost alarmingly sequel-happy franchise, with a profoundly schizophrenic nature: from the downloadable gem “Battlefield: 1943,” the web freeplay oddity “Battlefield Heroes,” to “Battlefield 2142″ on the PC, the series is something of a journeyman by nature. If anything, a plain ol’ sequel was almost tedium.

And then we saw it, and everything changed. Here’s a game that took realism and cinematic immersion to a level no one had ever seen before. It wasn’t just the new engine, it was the ultra-real animations, the spot-on voice work, the incredible sound design, and the harrowing set pieces. In an age of “re-using assets,” where Activision and EA pound ten identical games out of a single, outdated engine, DICE was pushing forward like the Devil was on their tail. It made “Medal of Honor” look like a sad joke.

The original Frostbite introduced an ideal, but never quite achieved it. It was a great engine, and we gave it an A for effort, but we all knew there were plenty of trees that wouldn’t fall down, and the odd structure that magically ignored hollow points. With Frostbite 2, DICE is back with a vengeance. It represents the fruition of a simple goal: to make the world inside a video game not just visual, but tactile. Make no mistake, it will change absolutely everything we know about what’s possible in-game.

And let’s not forget, all of this will be slammed onto a 64-player multiplayer combat experience, replete with jets, Humvees, helicopters, tanks, and buildings that collapse on your face. “Battlefield 3″ is the next level of progress in an industry that has grown too comfortable sitting in place. Brace yourselves for November, Dear Reader. The future is coming.

Battlefield 3: The Coming Tech Demo

“Battlefield 3″ is the hot girl at the bar with no personality. And she’s really hot. She’s Mila Kunis in “Black Swan” multiplied by Helen of Troy. But start talking to her about her English degree or her job as a receptionist, and the truth comes out: there’s nothing going on beneath the surface (no offense, English majors and/or receptionists).

Yes, BF3 is the hottest looking game on the market right now. It’s breathtaking. But what do you actually know about the game itself? What is it offering that’s never been done before? Wait, I’ll tell you: nothing. It’s exactly the same BF game that DICE has made before, with a massive face-lift. The biggest news I’ve seen is that they’re re-introduing jets. So they took something away, and now it’s coming back. Joy.

EA’s press releases have been a maser class of misdirection: you’re so busy drooling at the shadow rendering, that you don’t notice you’re seeing gameplay tropes that were worn out in 2004. I’m not a slave to innovation, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with strong fundamentals, but in a genre as worn-out as the gritty, military FPS, there’s no excuse for treading water.

And don’t tell me about Frostbite 2, or as I like to call it, “Frostbite 2: The Frostening.” Don’t get me wrong, I can’t wait to finally shoot that errant tree that refused to fall in “Bad Company 2,” and fulfill my lifelong dream of becoming some kind of homicidal lumberjack, but how exactly does this equate to sixty, hard-earned American greenbacks? It doesn’t.

You know, Epic released a sexy video full of amazing graphical showboating recently as well, but they at least had the decency to call it a tech demo. These guys have created an entire game just to show off some animation software they stole from “FIFA.” So yeah, it’s gorgeous. And yes, maybe I’d even like to take it home. But I don’t see “Battlefield 3″ being marriage material.


Let the dice fly high

  • Brendan

    You know I’m a Battlefield fan, but I still have to disagree with the assertion that, thus far, there has been no substance to the little they’ve shown us.

    If you’ve watched any of the developer interviews with DICE, you’d know that Frostbite 2 was built from the ground up FOR BF3. They took what worked with Frostbite in BC1, BC2, and 1943, and redid it all better. Furthermore, what makes this game so exciting from a technological standpoint is that they’re not porting the game to any platform. Every multi-platform game engine has common code, and that’s still there, but none of the platform specific code is being ported or adapted to any other console. They’re using the unique features only the PC can provide for that version, and pushing the limits of the console hardware for the PS3 and 360 versions.

    Granted, none of that says anything about the gameplay. However all signs point to this game going back to the core Battlefield roots of large-scale combat.

    But — when has there ever been a Battlefield game (made by DICE) that wasn’t fun?

  • Andrew Allen

    As you know, I never reveal which side I actually favor in a Versus piece. With that said, I think your arguments are essentially in line with what both sides of the debate argued: that the game is exceptionally beautiful, and pretty much hems (so far) to established lines of gameplay.

    Whether this is the sharpening of a formula to the point of perfection, or a redundant tech demo, is hard to say. Both sides could be well argued.

    I definitely agree with you about their development policy, however. Leading dev on the PC is a bold move and I wish more cross-platforms would employ it.