Stop Bugging Me
Now, an admission - we deliberately wanted to play this game on PC rather than console. All hyperbole aside - and excuse us if you believe this isn't a fair comparison (it probably isn't) but BF3 on the beige box is a genuine glimpse into proper next-gen gaming, at least from a technological angle.
If you leave ideas like artistic direction and choreography at the door and simply concentrate on pure engine ability, textures, lighting, geometry etc. then the likes of Gears 3, Assassin's Creed: Revelations, Rage and even Uncharted 3 are simply left gasping. It's a patent generational leap and the kind of experience you could easily imagine as a launch title on the next batch of consoles.
BF3 on 360 and PS3 might be super playable and a formidable programming achievement in its own right but - and this is a feather in the cap for the PC gaming elitists - BF3 on a pimped PC is inarguably the definitive way to experience this masterpiece.
(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).
Alas, the PC version also comes with its own unique problems. For one, controller support is bizarrely still only half-integrated, so while you can run-and-gun from the comfort of your plush sofa, you'll need to leap back to the trusty keyboard/mouse combo when it comes to firing turrets or participating into the (massively incongruous) QTEs. Inexplicable, and crap.
When a prompt that takes up a massive chunk of the screen appears telling you to bang the spacebar to avoid being stabbed in the face by a foe, it's also a real immersion-breaker. Definitely something to fix in a future patch, DICE.
It's also impossible to pen this PC-centric review without touching upon both EA's Steam-alike Origin download manager and Battlelog - a browser window from which you're forced access the game's various campaign, co-op and online modes on PC.
The former seems... /okay - it's still in Beta and obviously comes with all the caveats that entails. Whether Origin is a good thing in general is a debate for another time, far outside of this review.
Battlelog, meanwhile, is surprisingly slick, intuitive and handy when it comes to communicating with other BF3 players, match-making and so on. What's not so hot is the irksome effect it appears to have on loading times - it takes upwards of a couple of minutes to get into gameplay from the initial Origin boot-up palaver through Battlelog and the yawn-inducing splash screens. Ho hum. Hardly a deal-breaker, though.
It's also probably worth mentioning that, during a couple of the game's latter missions, we experienced some irksomely regular crashes that threatened to sour the experience. While we're cognisant that this could have simply been down to our particular hardware config, we thought we'd throw it out there.
That's a bit of a horrid note to end on, though. Battlefield 3 is a dazzling achievement in almost every respect... and a true glimpse into the future of videogames. Rather than a COD-beater (both games have their hardcore fans, their own compelling arguments to play, their own unique pros and cons), Battlefield stands proud as the perfect companion piece.
In other words, there's absolutely no reason why even the most ardent Acti fan couldn't appreciate the brilliance on show here, and presumably vice-versa. Perhaps most importantly, DICE deserve to be appreciated for its pioneering approach to engine tech, and the ensuing impact on gameplay, as well as the manifestation of that tech. After Frostbite 2, it'll be almost impossible to return to the staid, indestructible environs of rival shooters.
Battlefield 3 then, from a campaign perspective, delivers the goods and then some. It's not perfect, but it's bloody close... infinitely more impressive than Bad Company 2 and irrefutable proof that DICE have now firmly stepped into the hallowed ranks of the absolute top-tier developers. COD or not, this deserves a place in your collection - not to mention a place in your heart.
CVG reviewed the PC version of Battlefield 3. For a more in-depth verdict on the multiplayer portion of the game, check back later this week for a post-US release update, when the community is fully established.
We also played in 1080p resolution, but it's worth mentioning that campaign isn't handling nearly as large maps as the multiplayer beta, which probably explains why we were able to maintain a high frame rate with full bells and whistles.
Rather than a COD-beater, Battlefield stands proud as the perfect companion piece.
- Frostbite 2 is every bit the revelation DICE boasted
- PC version feels next-gen
- Some truly genre-topping missions
- Battlelog is slick
- CoD shooting has slightly more 'oomph'