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Battlefield 3: Has CoD finally met its match?

DICE blows GDC away - and then teases more to come...

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A QTE-ridden fight breaks out, which is every big as brutal as it is simple. Once we've squarely decked this revolutionary, we're free to yank the second cable; saving our ass in the process.

From here, the demo skips to a rooftop shootout - and, again, the lighting is both more subtle and more pronounced than anything we've absorbed from an FPS before.

Shards of sun beam down on comrades' legs, as our own elbows are hunkered down in damp, cover-protected patches of stone. The enemy begins deploying sniper rifles, which savagely eat chunks into the bridge area in which we lay - encouraging our unit to shuffle, crazed, on our hands and knees away from the carnage.

In the background, the yellow Arab signage of a hotel hangs a little-too-proudly - and a little too noticeably - for a set piece not to be in the works. Sure enough, we're instructed to pick up a rocket launcher and expel firepower on the skyscraper in our vision; suppressing fire ably provided by our AI team-mates.

Zoom

Although we expect an explosive result, what follows is nothing short of jaw-dropping. A good quarter of an entire glass tower is demolished, piece by piece, as the foundations of the building shake to their core. Glass shards shower into the street hundreds of meters below as, once again, our ears take a kicking.

But even this is nothing compared to DICE's piece de resistance. Having gruffly moaned about slight ground tremors throughout the demo, our protagonist finds himself behind a turret gun on a Jeep; now wildly pumping ammunition at uncontrollably growing aggressors.

Before we know it, our man's gruff barking has transformed into a panicked series of shouts. We learn that the near-future border between Iraq and Iran is an environmentally precarious place - before a full-scale earthquake rips through it.

The demo's final set-piece reminds us of the sheer scale of everything we've just witnessed; from the balls-out explosiveness of Battlefield 3's firefights to the heart-racing circus of violence which hides behind every corner.

Despite the game-changing mo-cap, lighting effects and realism of weaponry, it is perhaps the destructibility - and savage audio assault - that will live longest in our minds.

That, and the cloud-tickling building which comes crashing down towards us, climactically teasing the damage which will eventually shape Battlefield 3's campaign.

Its descent begins with the quake, which pummels its foundations into dust. The giant architecture creaks and groans as its peak gradually bends towards our head - until gravity forces it down, destroying the age-old Iraq landscape its shadows once beautified.

Before the mandatory black screen and fuzzy war radio squiggles, DICE's demo leaves us with gameplay footage of Air Combat jetfighters and a full-scale tank battle - suggesting that the Swedish studio is ready to offer us more than a new, if polished, Modern Warfare emulator.

Graphically, audibly and in terms of blockbuster shock value, Battlefield 3 is has the confidence to suggest it has no peer; that it is breaking new ground for a once-enthralling genre fast becoming stale. And you know what? With this many plus points, it's hard not to believe.

Your move, Activision.

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