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Battlefield 3

Gamescom 2011: Battlefield 3 Co-Op Hands-On Preview – Buddy Up!

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DICE and EA’s Battlefield 3 promotional campaign has been almost flawless thus far. From announcing and debuting the single-player to the press at GDC way back in March this year, to showing off the multiplayer at E3, DICE has really chosen each trade show to highlight one of the three main pillars of the game. The only thing that’s been off is its lack of console willy-waving – after all, we’re a console site and the vast majority of you are console gamers! Gamescom then was not only DICE’s chance to show off the console version, but also its chance to push their co-operative campaign mode, the third leg of Battlefield 3’s tripod and something that is slowly becoming a staple for DICE’s Battlefield franchises – from BC2’s Onslaught mode to this.

In a mission called ‘Extraterrestrial,’ we head behind enemy lines into the city of Tehran, Iran’s capital, to capture a People's Liberation and Resistance (PLR) VIP, a Hamid El Zakir, to evac and use in the on-going war against terror… or something like that. In a campaign that is completely separate to that of the single-player, using similar environments, but with new objectives and set-pieces, players must buddy up with a mate to take it to the oppressive forces… or something like that.

Starting on the dimly lit streets of Tehran, we move silently under the cover of night, opting to take it as silently as possible before the proverbial faeces hits the fan. Creeping through the first door into a garage, trying to ignore the poor textures and focus on the stunning lighting capabilities of the Frostbite 2.0 engine, we slowly creep through a series of doors until we’re upon our first two PLR assailants, both of whom are watching TV. Communicating with our co-op partner we line up a headshot and on the count of 3 we take them down with relative ease and continue on, unnoticed.

As we descend through a laundromat and storage room, our lax approach, although still rather stealthy, meant that we weren’t able to stay under the radar for too long as we inadvertently got caught on camera, which instantly alerted the troops. Regardless, we power on up a flight of claustrophobic concrete stairs while assailants power round every blind corner. While most of the PLR we encountered were happy to either lie down rather quickly or return fire until they were eating a face full of shotgun shells, it was one lonely insurgent that really had us wowing. This brave soul managed to dodge our off-the-hip shotgun blast only to see an opportunity to fly at us with a knife to plough into our skull. Thankfully, our co-op partner wasn’t as callous as us with his shot and painted the wall with the aggressor’s skull. Was it scripted? Who knows? In fact, who cares? It was in fact a moment of awesome.

From there we slowly close in on our first objective, to free the El Zakir from the iron fist of the PLR. While regrouping outside the door, waiting for our co-op partner before we crash through the room, the second wow moment occurred. The PLR guarding El Zakir, obviously aware of our position start blasting with shotguns through the door that stands in our way. It not only demonstrated the depth of the Frostbite 2.0 destruction aspects, but also showcased the AI's ability to think out the box. Sure, it might not have saved the PLR from a certain death and protect the VIP, but it was worth a shot, right?

From there it was a matter of escorting the VIP through the remaining rooms of the building, with one of us staying on-point and the other staying meticulously close to the VIP, all the way through to the convoy that awaited. From there, on-foot we trudge down the dark streets of Tehran, only to be ambushed on a nearby corner as one of the PLR shoots a rocket at a nearby abandoned car. It’s here where all hell breaks loose.

Grabbing the SVU sniper rifle that sits at a nearby ammo cache, we spend the next 10 minutes engaged in intense combat down a narrow street with little cover. In the next ten minutes alone we die multiple times and fail to revive our teammate in time, meaning several restarts. Working together is a must and although we were unsure what difficulty we were playing at, it was a challenge for even a veteran BC2 player like myself. Sticking to cover, moving when the barrier had been whittled away and sneaking out to pop shot at the PLR – making full use of the thermal scope – seemed to be the best way forward. However, because we hit this bottleneck point and stayed there for too long, by the time we’d defeated the ten or so snipers and RPG specialists that lined the street level and hid in cubbyholes on the adjacent roof, our hands-on was coming to a close.

As far as Battlefield 3 goes from a control perspective on consoles, it truly can’t be knocked. Quite easily one of the most fluid, free-flowing and responsive shooters on the market, and it’s here where Battlefield 3 really doesn’t put a foot wrong and only goes to show why DICE has been loved by gamers for so long. Prone is back, yes, but the more tuned destructible environments mean that camping in one spot in prone is no longer an option. Teamwork is more important than ever though.

I know what you’re thinking though… sure, it plays great, the mood is spot on, but how the chuff’ does it look? Well, honestly… not great. With poor textures that were often muddy or hugely pixelated upon closer inspection, and with not enough anti-aliasing, it screamed substandard… especially from a studio like DICE. In fact, it actually looked like a step back from Bad Company 2, which we can’t quite comprehend, so at this present moment in time, we’re going to chalk it up to early pre-alpha code. After all, the visuals are one of the last things to get refined, but hey, at least the lighting was truly stunning. It could also be a case of refined and streamlined code to allow for better performance online, you know, considering this is an online co-op experience. That said though, Bad Company 2 looked a hell of a lot better than this online.

The visuals aside though, Battlefield 3 seemingly offers a much more impressive co-op experience than we’re used to with DICE’s key franchise. Onslaught might have been fun for a short while in Bad Company 2, but having multiple objectives that are more than just a horde style mode in a much more diverse environment in Battlefield 3 now means that DICE has seemingly raised its game tenfold from a co-op perspective. Now if DICE can get the visuals up to scratch then we’ll be cooking on gas, because at the moment, that’s our only gripe with DICE’s return to the Battlefield.

Battlefield 3 is scheduled for an October 25th and October 28th release in North America and Europe respectively.




 
 

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Game Info
Developer:
DICE
Publisher:
Electronic Arts
Genre:

Release:

US October 25, 2011
Europe October 28, 2011

Backward compatible on Xbox One: Yes
Price: Retail Only
Collection:3774
Wishlist:508
 
 
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