Battlefield 3 Hands-On Preview -- Deep Into Operation GuillotineBy Miguel Concepcion - Posted Sep 19, 2011
With all the coverage we've done for Battlefield 3's PC version and multiplayer, it is a fine change of pace to revisit the shooter's promisingly robust singleplayer and on a console no less. EA's latest hands-on opportunity was just that, where got to play the same mission from the Operation Guillotine trailer, now on the PlayStation 3.
The initial set-up speaks a lot to the immersive documentary vibe of Battlefield 3, which makes for a great foil to the Hollywood production excesses of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. The immediate goal of Misfit Company is to raid an apartment complex, which is part of an retaliatory measure against the PLR, the opposition force of BF3.
"The wheels of fate keep turning...." muses one squad member as we play a brief waiting game before storming down a hill on the outskirts of Tehran. Often it's these moments of downtime and anticipation that make the difference to lending authenticity in these modern shooters.
It didn't take long to get the go-ahead, making immediate use of the L3 button to hoof it down the hill. There was certainly a rush in getting to the apartment complex wall ASAP. As I kept up with my mates, it's easy get caught up in the cavalcade of gunfire in the background and watching scripted (and presumably harmless) mortar rounds explode in front of you.
Having reached the bottom of the hill, the next goal was to launch a mortar illumination shell, a simple one-button task. That done, it was now time to scale the wall, which also needed just one button to pull off with the help of an NPC to act at my stepping stool.
Over the wall, I was able to truly see what stood between my squad and our target: a river bank and a modest dirt hill, albeit one with a number of machinegun nests. The sniper in me took full advantage of the scope on my G3 assault rifle as I first dispatched a few enemies across the shallow river. And no game in its right mind would let gamers run a straight shot across such a river. Nope, in Battlefield 3, it's an S-shaped path where I had a blast using the G3, both with scope and shooting from the hip as well as mixing it up with my grenades.
Finally on the other side, I used what was left of my grenades to help my squad begin to take out the machinegun nest. I also noticed that one grenade-assisted takedown event appeared to be scripted. Like the river, this dirt hill portion was another indirect S-shaped route and made up the meat of the action. Using cover was certainly helpful in spots, though I could see more skilled players not use cover if they were aggressive and proactive enough. Whatever the case, there were enough enemies in both nests and in general darkness to keep my heart rate up.
Having reached the more well-lit exterior of the apartment complex, I had a much better view of my squad, who were already busy fleshing out holded-up PLR soldiers. At least one scripted grenade toss was effective enough to have one screaming, flaming foe open the door for us.
Once inside we found another door which was barricaded, but nothing that a rapid single-button mash couldn't handle. There was at least one surprise awaiting me and my squad, although my shotgun (the secondary weapon I started with) made short work of it. Having both that and the G3 made a compelling case to ignore the myriad inferior enemy weapon drops.
It only took killing a few guys on the ground floor hallway of the apartment to accomplish the goal. It felt like it was over too soon (shouldn't we check the other floors?), but games like Battlefield can justify such brief engagements by implying that other Marines did their part in taking out other enemies you. Yup, don't look for one-man-army theatrics here.
Exiting the building, the game again does a great job in reminding the player of the world beyond your character, where NPCs are busy tending to the wounded while the uninjured are up and ready for the next objective like a well-oiled machine with a sense of urgency. That's where I hopped in a Humvee as this brief tease of a demo ended.
It was enlightening to see more of how the Frostbite 2 engine translates to the PlayStation 3. The performance is nothing that would make PC gamers jealous, but I did marvel at the game's bleeding light effects and how believable it is when light tries to break through dust and dirt tossed by explosions. It made for an effective glare contrast and a challenge in trying to spot foes trying to stay out of the light.
As teases go, it more than does its job in making me a whole lot more excited for the single player. Much like Battlefield: Bad Company 2 and a number of other recent shooters, BF3 structures its single player pacing with dips in the action to create build-up, not to mention variety in the mission objectives that places the player both on foot and in vehicles. We’ve been promised at least one more hands-on session by EA before Battlefield 3’s October 25th release, so we’ll surely keep you posted.