In: Articles by Nick "Alsop Live" Dinicola11 Mar 2011
So begins the live demo for Battlefield 3 at this year’s PAX East in Boston.
Kevin O’Leary from DICE played the single-player demo in front of an audience of fans and media. Theoretically this demo was only supposed to be for members of the Gun Club, DICE’s community club, but no one in line was deterred and no one from DICE was actually checking. EA would be foolish to turn fans away and everyone knew it.
The demo was split into three parts. The first was almost identical to the Fault Line gameplay trailer that’s been making the rounds across the gaming blogosphere in recent weeks, but with an extended firefight at the end. The actual graphics are just as stunning as the trailer, so no graphical tricks were used in the video to make the game look better than it is, and this is still pre-alpha. The extended firefight shows off some of DICE’s new tricks.
The guns have a heft and kick as expected, but the physicality of the character is a pleasant surprise. At one point a rocket blows up a nearby car sending the character flying backwards. His arms and legs flail briefly into view before he hits the ground, and the effect is reminiscent of a backwards jump in Mirror’s Edge. DICE is obviously using what it learned in that game to make Battlefield 3 intensely personal. Even in this short demo there were multiple moments where the character was knocked off his feet, and every one looked powerful without being dizzying.
The second part of the demo had the squad on a rooftop dodging sniper fire, and showed off DICE’s attention to detail: The sniper hit a potted plant and sent a small puff of dirt into the air that then blew away. Next he hit a nearby pipe and steam rushed out, letting off a soft hiss as the character moved closer. But the most impressive new touch was the blurring effect that happened when bullets hit nearby. The screen went blurry with a fish-eye lens, as if the player was suffering from tunnel vision. It’s a scary effect that made me think he’d been hit, but without the telltale blood on the screen it was obvious he was fine. Instead of just using sound to signal that a sniper’s shot is dangerously close, this effects makes you feel how close the bullet is.
This part of the demo ends with the player shooting a rocket at the sniper’s building, and here it’s worth mentioning that Battlefield 3 uses the new Frostbite 2 engine. Instead of just taking out a wall like in Bad Company 2, this rocket takes out the entire side of the building. As the smoke clears I can see into multiple floors, and it’s obvious the sniper is gone.
The final part of the demo is a big battle, but the most noteworthy part came at the very end: The player jumped onto the back of a truck with a 50-calibur gun and started to unload on a street full of bad guys. Then someone shouted “earthquake,” and the ground cracked open. The truck was thrown into the air and the player fell off, again looking like a scene out of Mirror’s Edge, and when he stood back up the audience was rewarded with the destruction of a skyscraper that crumpled in on itself before falling towards the player. While this seems like scripted event, it successfully shows off the power of the Frostbite 2 engine and DICE’s attention to detail, and gives me great hope that I’ll be able take down things just as big in multiplayer.
The demo ended with a few quick clips of the game: Explosions, people shouting, gunfire; but the very last clip showed a scene of air combat in a jet. While Battlefield has always let you fly planes, this would be the first time they put you in a modern jet. There’s no indication that you’ll be able to do this in multiplayer, but it does prove that vehicles will still be a big part of the single-player.
I’ve been cautiously optimistic about Battlefield 3 since it was announced, hoping that it’ll be more than just the same game with better graphics. While that’s exactly what this demo looked like, the improvements were so major and so many that they awoke the fanboy inside me. Way to go, DICE.
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