Quote of the Day

"We're only here briefly, and while I'm here I want to allow myself joy. So fuck it."
- Amy, Her.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Battlefield 3: Beta Impressions

Overhyped, mayhaps?

The public beta for the highly anticipated Battlefield 3 launched earlier last week, and after a good few hours of hands on time with the demo (via the Xbox 360 version), I think I'm ready to share my thoughts and opinions of the so-called "COD Killer".

   The Beta contains one map, with one game type on, and provides players with an uncapped level limit within the four available classes to go nuts on. The map in question, Operation Metro, is based on a French metro line and the outlying areas. The gametype, Rush (which BF veterans will be accustomed to), has the 16 player attacking team destroying each base to move up to the next one, until all bases are destroyed (in this map's case, it's 5). The 16 player defending team meanwhile, must whittle down the attackers' 100 lives and prevent them from destroying the bases. Simple stuff.

     The map however, is somewhat lacking in "Battlefieldy-ness". By which I mean, it doesn't really contain the core things that Battlefield typically represents itself with, and what sets it aside from the likes of Medal of Honour and Call Of Duty. When entering my first match, I was expecting tanks and helicopters, maybe even a jet or two, to tear up the landscape with. Instead we get... nothing. No vehicles what so ever; not even a quad! Seeing as the vehicular aspect is one of Battlefield's biggest selling points, this really is quite the surprise.

Click To Enlarge
  Then there's the sudden disappearance of the great destructible environments that previous installments have prided themselves on. Don't get me wrong, they're still in there, towards the back end of the map, but it's very minimal all things considered. But still, the close combat corridors of a bombed out tube station provide real tense firefights between the dark, flamelit rails, and can usually more than make up for the sloppiness of the open ended park area at the start of the map.

Thankfully the core gameplay has stayed relatively the same from Bad Company 2. You pick from 4 classes; the heavy MG "Support", sniping "Recon", medical capable "Assault" and of course the "fix 'n' blow up" style of "Engineer". Each has a distinct feel to themselves, and gives a nice tactical element to the play, especially when teaming in a 4-player squad with spawning capabilities.

  New additions to the gameplay include the ability to go prone (very handy when going stealth) and lay down 'suppressing fire' to blur opponents screen. Although only minor features, these make for a more immersive and realistic experience, as you make a slow progressive crawl behind enemy lines or fire off suppressing rounds to cover team mates making a run for the base.

'Prone' to a little sniping, are we?
On the graphics side of things, I can't help but feel a little let down, and there's a good reason for it. You see, all the gameplay we've seen thus far through trailers and such have been taken from the PC version; a system harbouring graphical capabilities well beyond that of regular current gen consoles. And so, as the lack of detail and pop-in texture filters the screen, the sting of deception is naturally felt.

 Connectivity problems are to be expected and getting into a game with the squad you actually joined with is near enough impossible. More than a few times I've had the "loading screen of death", where by quitting and restarting is the only way out. Bugs are unfortunately commonplace throughout matches, with all manner of 'Under The Maps' and a rather hilarious Inception-esque glitch where all dead bodies slide slowly across the floor in a strange, unannounced gravity vortex.

The new Giraffe gametype was a blast
Of course, this is all in the Beta stage, and so most of these problems should be ironed out by the release of the full game at the end of the month (that is one of the main aims of a beta, after all). It just frazzles me why they'd pick such an uncharacteristically Battlefield map to basically sell their game upon. The logical answer is that they're trying to appeal to the Call Of Duty crowd, who just want to shoot at each other with no added gimmicks - but it's those very gimmicks that makes BF the preferred choice in many a gamers' collection.

Although it will undoubtedly sell  millions of copies, this beta has got me a little worried; has Battlefield 3 been overhyped? Can it really overcome the shortcomings of the beta to become the game it's been anticipated to be? Only time will tell; not much mind, as you can expect it to hit shelves (and swiftly leave them to become sold out) October 28th (UK).


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