While we are waiting to post T3's comprehensive 3D tech review of Battlefield 3 on the PC, we are posting a shorter version of CVG's excellent review of DICE's stunning action title
DICE has just made one of the best online military shot em ups out. And, thanks to the revolutionary Frostbite 2 game engine, it is the prettiest way to do battle - as long as you play it on a PC rather than a console.
Battlefield 3: Game Engine
Put simply, it's every bit the revelation DICE boasted, though it's true impact is most telling on the small-to-medium scale rather than the epic one EA felt compelled to show off in the game's marketing.
For instance, the much-vaunted ability to level tower blocks manifests just the once, and still feels inorganic - much like the way the tech was deployed in Crysis 2, for instance. Our favourite mission in the entire game - the peerless Parisian foray that is 'Comrades' shows off Frostbite 2 at its most devastatingly effective.
BF3 appears to signal that the next step in videogame realism - at least when it comes to blowing stuff up - resides in destructible environments, making a rival shooter like, say, Rage feel both painfully antiquated and impotent. There's also a visual breadth to, well... battlefields that's simply unparalleled. We bought the farm countless times just because we were too busy standing in stunned reverence at the sheer destroyed majesty of our surroundings.
Battlefield 3: Multiplayer
One thing that definitely feels genre-leading is the multiplayer. If you're confident venturing online (and to clarify, it feels much more polished and traditionally Battlefield than the recent open beta) this game is essential. We've said it before of Battlefield games, but the team at DICE know how to create compelling, perfectly paced online experiences. Actually, scratch that - DICE know how to craft the tools and environments, which can be transformed into near-perfect multiplayer.
However, despite being so accommodating, Battlefield 3 loses none of its online savagery. If anything, we found this game to be slightly more aggressive than Bad Company 2. That's encouraged by some of the smaller maps, such as Grand Bazaar - a finely balanced maze of dangerously open squares and twisting kill-zones, and by the wealth of kit on offer.
Battlefield 3: Single player
Compared to the outrageous scale of the grander multiplayer maps, BF3's campaign might initially - surprisingly - come across as rather claustrophobic, despite the convincing smoke and mirrors and illusion of sprawling battlegrounds. In short, there's tons of handholding, and at times it frustrates. On the one hand it'd be easy to criticise BF3's campaign for its unoriginality - sniping, bombing, flying, tank-driving, one-man army, squad-based sections all say 'hello!' at one point or another - but, heck that's the nature of war... and the way the majority of these are executed is mind-blowing.
Battlefield 3: Weapons
The fabulously fleshed-out weapons roster all sounds dizzyingly authentic, explosions rock the room, screams rend the battlefield... gamers with a decent 5.1 (or better) surround setup will revel in an aural feast. Sound design is often underappreciated by gaming critics and gamers alike, but even if you're fairly ignorant when it comes to the various booms and bangs it's impossible not to be smacked of gob here.
The Battlefield series' campaigns have always been unapologetically tricky; fail to respect the enemy and the screen will rapidly fade to black. For this reason it's a mite tricky to discern BF3's length - there are twelve missions in all, but two essentially frame the narrative and whiz past in a jiffy.
Battlefield 3: Gaming on a PC
As an aside for the tech-heads, we were able to play BF3 at a steady 30+fps on an i5 750 overlocked to 4.1GHz, 4Gb of DDR3 PC3-12800C7 1600MHz Dual Channel RAM and a Radeon HD 6850 with Catalyst driver set 11.9 with all settings on Ultra plus full antialiasing and anisotropic filtering with ambient occlusion set to HBAO but Vsync off. In other words, damn-near full eye candy. Not bad for a machine that's powerful but hardly bleeding-edge. Considering that BF3 looks significantly more impressive than any other game we've played on our rig this year - Witcher 2 arguably aside - that's all credit to DICE).
Battlefield 3: Verdict
So Battlefield 3 isn't quite perfect incarnate and console gamers are already complaining that it's much better than on a PC. But across the board, the multi-player action is the best you can find online
Full Battlefield 3 review on CVG
Battlefield 3 availability: Out now
Battlefield 3 price: £29.99 on PC and £39.99 on consoles
Can Battlefield 3 compete with COD: Modern Warfare 3? Find out in our video below as we put the pair head-to-head