Considering the bombastic presentations of Battlefield 3 these past several months, you'd think our ears would still be ringing from all the rifle, cannon and mortar fire. We've gone over the game's relatively deep single player, as well as the squad-based gameplay in both single player and multiplayer. Our latest dose of hands-on time came from EA's Summer Showcase, where the publisher was finally ready to show off the previously unveiled Operation Metro map, but now on the PlayStation 3.
Unsurprisingly, Battlefield 3 performs well through to PlayStation 3 controls, which also conforms to a traditional console FPS button layout. While we do realize that Battlefield 3 has been redesigned with the PC as the lead platform, it was a mild downer to see a noticeable down-res in graphical quality with this PlayStation 3 version. It’s still in prealpha so we're hopeful for visual improvements come October.
One well known change in the series I was more curious about was the melding of the assault class and the medic into the so-called "combat medic", a well-equipped frontline soldier with defibrillators and health packs. I spent quite a bit of time trying to observe how this affected the whole team dynamic. Sure enough, there were moments where I felt very self-reliant, let alone more aggressive than I normally play. Our group session wasn't maxed out to a 24-player game, so I'm still intrigued how this change will work with a packed deathmatch with more recon, engineer, and support classes in the mix.
Like our past hands-on sessions, the game ventures beyond the familiar open environments of past Battlefields by including tighter urban areas. The Operation Metro map, for example, features a solid mix of outdoor and underground areas. It feels like a positive evolution of the best parts of the multiplayer from last year's Medal of Honor, where much of the quality comes courtesy of the latest Frostbite Engine.
Having had considerable time with the previous iterations of Frostbite through Battlefield: Bad
Company and Bad Company 2, and Battlefield 1943, this demo was an opportune time to really test out its latest version as Battlefield 3 marks the debut of Frostbite 2.0. Among the engine’s touted five pillars of
animation, scale, rendering, destruction, and audio, the one area I methodically tested was destruction. With the help of a media colleague, I got to see how my combat medic would survive standing a room as the room collapsed on him. Understandably enough, I died two out of three times. It also sounds natural for EA's various studios to share notes, so it was a good fit for DICE to use the same ANT animation technology used in Madden.
In all, it's good finally see the console version's multiplayer in action, although it would be great to revisit this in a couple months and see how (and if) the graphics have improved. Given the October 25th release date (on PC, Xbox 360, and PS3), we're pretty sure we'll have a couple preview opportunities to delve deeper into the game.