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Battlefield 3 – Operation Guillotine (TGS Preview)

EA and Dice released a teaser trailer for Battlefield 3 called “Operation Guillotine” several days ago. It shows Sgt. Blackburn running down a hill, firing an illumination round, killing some baddies, a knife kill, and a room being blasted with a frag grenade.

Tomorrow we're supposed to see the next trailer.

This campaign mission was presented at the Tokyo Game Show, and was one of the playable demos at both the Sony and EA booths. Both booths had the PS3 version. It made a lot of sense to present a campaign mission at TGS rather than multiplayer because the Japanese gaming scene isn't very big on online shooters. At the same time, other game shows so far have been focusing on multiplayer modes, so it's great to see a single player mission. And being on a console, Dice was able to show the visual quality that they've achieved for home systems.

To get people to try out the game (like I said, the Japanese don't really play FPS), EA gave away some Battlefield 3 dogtags. They look pretty good on the picture, but the actual product looks kind of cheap. The tag itself is so thin that the edges are a bit sharp.

The mission starts out at night on the top of a hill somewhere in Teheran. You play as Sgt. Blackburn, a member of the Misfits squad, and are tasked to clear an apartment complex. When you receive the go signal, you make a run for it down the hill as you are bombarded with mortar rounds. A few your guys go down, but you will make it unscathed to a checkpoint where you'll have to place your mortar and fire an illumination round towards enemy positions in order to let your guys see in the dark. After this you are ordered to climb over a wall, behind which are enemy soldiers lying in wait. A gunfight begins as you approach the riverbanks beside the apartment complex. Your next goal is to clear the riverbanks in preparation for the breaching of the apartment.

Take note that this is a night mission, and it's very dark. And by dark I don't mean video game dark where you can actually still see things. What I mean is DARK dark. Most of the time you only see the silhouette of the enemy, which sometimes makes it difficult to determine friend from foe. The tracer rounds being fired everywhere help you see a little bit at times though, and there are a few light sources here and there. I remember one enemy lying prone in a bush and the only way I was able to find him was because I was watching for muzzle flash. This may all sound very annoying to you, but in my opinion, it creates for a very realistic and immersive environment.

After clearing out the riverbanks, you make your way up to the apartment complex and eliminate some MG nests. Stacked by the apartment, your squad prepares for entry and a soldier from your squad tosses a grenade into a room on the first floor. This moment is seen in the trailer above at 0:41. After the explosion, a soldier in flames steps out the door in front of you and dies. Why he was in flames, I have no idea. Frag grenades don't burn people, as far as I know.

You make your way into the apartment complex, where you will breach a door with a surprise waiting for you. An enemy is lying in wait; the game goes into slow motion and your character slowly drops to the ground as you send a couple of rounds into your opponent. There are two other targets down this hallway, and after taking them out, you exit the building through the other side, where a soldier is performing CPR on a casualty, and a Humvee is waiting for you. Entering the Humvee ends the demo.

You can watch part of the gameplay below, which was recorded by Gamespot at TGS. Not everyone with press passes are allowed to take videos or pictures of the games at TGS. You need to get permission from the exhibitors, and they normally only give big name publications such rights.

Throughout the mission, I did not experience any slowdown or glitches (I played it twice). The graphics were really good, much better than Bad Company 2, which was surprising as I didn't think they'd be able to pull it off on a console. Of course it's not as finely detailed as it is on PC, but it's still quite impressive.

I played around the prone action, and felt I had no problems with it. Going into and out of prone position was smooth and did not affect gameplay negatively in anyway. Mounting is also a very welcome addition as it was always annoying to get your character stuck somewhere because of some low obstacle in front of you that you couldn't see on screen. If your character is not advancing, chances are there's a rock of some sort at your feet. Just press the X button and your character mounts over it in a way similar to the Call of Duty series.

Then there is the new knife sneak attack. I deliberately sneaked around a few enemies to catch them off guard and try out this new feature. The knife button remains as the R2 button by default (which is the default button of Bad Company 2). Pressing it makes your character perform a quick slash, and not a deep stab with a long delay like it is in Bad Company 2. It's not as quick as Call of Duty, but definitely faster than Bad Company 2, which required some timing to it.

However, to do this special sneak attack knife kill, you'll need to catch your opponent off guard, and you need the knife equipped in front of you. To do this, you hold the R2 button. Doing so at first executes a knife slash, but then you won't re-equip your gun automatically. You'll end up just holding the knife in front of you. You then must approach an enemy from behind (or from the side), hit the knife button again, and a special knife kill sequence is initiated, which can be briefly seen in the trailer at 0:29.

I also noticed that as you are doing the knife kill, your character appears to be invincible. Right before I had done a sneak attack, another enemy was shooting at me and I could see that it was causing damage. But as the knife kill sequence occurred, the damage stopped. I wonder if this goes for multiplayer?

Gunplay was also further improved as I had mentioned in a previous post. The guns feel heavy and feel like they are actually pumping out lead. I'm not exactly sure how this sensation is translated into gameplay, but I think it has to do with the combination of the sound effects, controller vibration, and recoil. Recoil feels like it's been increased (at least with some of the guns), but rather than becoming a pain in the ass, I think it contributes to the overall experience of realism in Battlfield 3's gunplay. I picked up whatever weapon I could in the game, such as a UMP-45 and a G3, and while each had a different feel, what they all had in common was that somehow they felt like real guns shooting real bullets.

Movement and aiming speed seemed to be similar to Bad Company 2. I did not notice an increase or decrease. That's probably going to turn off Call of Duty players as they have always complained about Bad Company's supposed “sluggish” movement. There also appears to be no limit to running, unlike in Battlefield 2 where your soldier can only continuously run for a limited amount of time.

As for the sound effects, I think there is no need to talk about this. After all, this was made by Dice, the people who perfected the art of sound effects in shooters ever since the original Bad Company. It's the most realistic sound effects I've heard in a game. Or maybe I should say it's closest to my image of how a war would probably sound like if I were in it.

The one thing I worry about this game is the storyline and voice acting. While in the preview I didn't really notice anything off, I have, however, heard some not so great voice acting and terrible script from some of the demos that EA has presented. I'm probably asking too much if I wanted a great experience for both multiplayer and single player modes, but still I hope they spend a bit more time on single player even though they'll likely only put in a half-assed 8-hour campaign.

Battlefield 3 is out on October 25, 2011 for PS3, PC, and Xbox 360

1 comment:

  1. what's with dark video game shooters? i hate them. it feels like the developers are cheating on the gamers.


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