Battlefield 3 and the war over war

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Battlefield 3 has nothing to lose and everything to gain, but can it dethrone Call of Duty? I wish I knew.

Battlefield 3

And in this corner, the challenger, Battlefield 3

Shooting things will always be fun

First-person shooters (FPS) sure have come a long way since the days of Wolfenstein and Doom. Heck, they’ve come a long way since Goldeneye and Half-Life, but even with all the advances in technology and on-line play, one thing remains constant – you’re just shooting things. Gamers’ desire to shoot people is sometimes baffling but I admit my guilt to enjoying such fun as well. It doesn’t matter if I’m shooting space aliens, World War II Germans, or modern-day terrorists, I cannot not play these games.

The reigning champion of the FPS for the past several years has been the Call of Duty franchise. It has covered just about every theme there is to have in real world-based war, from WWII to Vietnam to the Middle East. Regardless what you’re interested in shooting, Call of Duty can deliver and they’ve gone somewhat unchallenged for nearly five years, but this year that changes with the release of Battlefield 3 from EA.

Battlefield 3

Battlefield 3 is looking good so far.

Too much of a good thing

Let me disclose that I am a Call of Duty fan, although I’m not one of the guys that sits on the couch for six hours chatting with a headset. That being said, since the first Modern Warfare game, the gaming experience in the franchise has been fast, fun, challenging and exciting. They are good games, period. Yet after five years of playing what is essentially the same game over and over, you can’t help but start to get a little bored and even wonder if it’s time to give it all up. After the latest Call of Duty game, Black Ops, was released I was decidedly done with the franchise. I go into greater detail about my reasons at Morning Toast, but to sum it all up, the time between new games was too short and it felt like little more than a cash grab. So I started hoping for an alternative.

Battlefield 3 might be that alternative and it is coming out at a good time…when many are getting tired of Call of Duty. However, just because you are a fresh face in the crowd doesn’t guarantee success. Rather, it just means a lot of hype. Can Battlefield 3 live up to its “Call of Duty killer” hype? On one hand I would like to think so, but on the other I’m not sure but only thanks to varying information. Everything you’ll see online talking about Battlefield 3 shows gorgeous visuals, great sound and lots of shooting action. Looking at Battlefield and Call of Duty side-by-side, Battlefield seemingly has the edge…but…if you play the Battlefield 3 beta that is currently out on Xbox 360 then you might be scratching your head. I know I am.

Not enough of a good thing

After watching that video you’re probably thinking this game is going to look awesome, but, you see, the Battlefield 3 beta demo just doesn’t look that good. You’ll find roughly rendered character models, weird clipping problems, and just an overall lack of awe. The game I’m playing certainly doesn’t match up to the trailers and videos seen online. I know it has the “beta” disclaimer but in my head (and my world) beta means this is the last iteration of development before the game gets to stores. So by all rights the beta of any game should be the closest thing to being final as it’s usually going to be, shy of weird bugs and technical glitches. Especially considering the full game is released on October 25, only a couple weeks away, I would like to think that a beta would be the carrot at the end of the stick that gets me to plop down $60 at the end of the month, but right now I’m not sure. Of course, visuals are only a part of the recipe.

The game play of Battlefield 3 is pretty solid and doesn’t stray too far from what you would expect with any FPS game. This button shoots, that one jumps and the other reloads your gun. The game also comes packed with the expected customization of your characters with various guns, grenades, and supplies…again, nothing too extraordinary and at this point in time, not even a lot of different than you’ve seen in other modern-themed games. The beta for Battlefield 3 is limited to a single map and game mode where you’re either on a defending team or an attacking team. The game mode and map are pretty decent but the nature of the mode means it won’t be uncommon to have half hour or longer sessions, and over a single map it gets kind of exhausting and tiresome. I’m sure a normal deathmatch mode would be more exciting in the long run. Once nice thing that is a trait of the Battlefield franchise is respawning where your teammates are located. Unlike Call of Duty that randomly drops you in a location after you die, in Battlefield 3 you can choose a person to respawn next to, saving you the time and trouble of getting into the action.

Battlefield 3 beta

The Battlefield 3 beta...not quite what I expected.

I’m a loner, Dottie. A rebel.

So those are the normal things I expected to find in Battlefield 3 and they’re all done really well, but the one difference I noticed quickly compared to Call of Duty is the focus on teams to succeed. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but it’s not really my bag. I was raised on Doom and Quake, and all of those titles were played solo, Rambo-style…just run and shoot. For better or worse, I take that attitude into modern FPS games and that doesn’t always bode well for me. Call of Duty can lend itself to lone wolf gamers like myself but Battlefield 3 doesn’t appear to follow that same formula. Sure, you can go out and do your own thing but don’t expect to last very long. I experienced many a quick death in Battlefield 3 and not just because I’m not very good but because I have no patience to work in a team. Call of Duty is just a little more forgiving and I like need that.

Flip a coin

The new Modern Warfare 3 coming in November promises to be a great game but more of the same. Battlefield 3 boasts something new yet all I saw in the beta was more of the same and nothing too spectacular to set itself apart from Call of Duty. Do you go to something new just for the sake of it being new? Or do you go with a tried-and-true franchise knowing all too well that you’re paying $60 for a game you’ve purchased three times before? I don’t believe the Battlefield 3 beta is truly representative of the final product and that’s a shame because I wanted it to be awesome.

I’m not one of those gamers that shows up at midnight to buy a game. I don’t even pre-order. I always take my time when choosing what new games I purchase. With most games, they don’t get any less fun in six months, but these FPS games are the exact opposite because their fun and success relies entirely with online multiplayer gaming. You have to go where the people are. If you don’t jump on these games sooner than later, you’ll never catch up and you’ll waste your money. Nonetheless, I’m going to have to sit back and watch the battle that begins October 25th and goes through the end of the year. Before too long I’ll have to choose a side, but right now, I don’t know what side that will be.

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About Author

Brian is a staff writer at TMA. He races Hot Wheels at RedlineDerby.com while watching cartoons with his kid. You can follow @morningtoast on Twitter.

2 Comments

  1. Consoles are getting raped on this one. PC graphics look as photo-realistic as any game out yet. Specifically Caspian Border. The videos I’ve seen of console footage has obvious FPS issues and just doesn’t hold a candle to what new video cards are capable of showing.

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