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GDC 11: Battlefield 3 is easily the best-looking FPS yet

3:20 AM on 03.02.2011 // Hamza CTZ Aziz

I was at last night's GDC preview event for EA DICE's Battlefield 3, and holy sh*t, does it look insane. DICE showed off the PC version of the game, and I can say without a doubt that this is the best-looking first-person shooter to date. Sadly, they didn't let us play it ourselves.

DICE's Karl Magnus Troedsson talked a little about the game and really wanted us to know that DICE is all about "quality, innovation and fun." The studio didn't want to just make another simple sequel here. They wanted to "surpass what [they] did last time" and "challenge [themselves] to go further."

Battlefield 3 (PC [previewed], PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)
Developer: EA DICE
Publisher: Electronic Arts
To be released: Fall 2011

The demo began with the footage released in the recent trailer. You can easily see just how great the visuals are, but perhaps most impressive of all is the audio. Bad Company 2 had amazing sound design, and Battlefield 3 goes beyond that -- to the point that it damn near blew my ears off.

Battlefield 3 is making use of the Frostbite 2 engine, and DICE has spent over three years working on this title already. The studio has obviously busted ass here, to the point that I know for a fact that I'll be converting to playing shooters on the PC once BF3 launches this Fall. There's just no way the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 versions will look anywhere near as good.

Battlefield 3 takes place in 2014, with the US military maintaining peace on the Iraq/Iran border. There's been a recent spike in terrorist activity from the PLR insurgency group. The PLR are suspected to have engaged a group of soldiers that haven't reported in, and your squad is ordered to investigate.

After the carnage you see in the trailer, the group makes its way to a rooftop, all while the sniper continues to shoot at the squad taking cover. Every time the sniper rifle is fired, the screen blurs just a little bit; it's a nice touch that gives a real sense of urgency.

The squad belly-crawls to the furthest point on the roof, where the player is given a rocket launcher and takes down the hotel across the way, where the sniper is holed up. Boom, no more sniper. Multiple stories of the building explode; it looked really impressive, but I'm not sure that it wasn't just a scripted scene. The Frostbite 2 engine may very well be able to pull this off, but I want to get my hands on the game and just go crazy taking down buildings with rockets to see if the game can really handle it.

Later on in the mission, the player has to defuse a bomb. While doing so, he's jumped by an insurgent, and a quick-time event kicks in. The two trade blows in a mostly scripted scene with a few QTE prompts popping up.

After this part, the player is thrown into a large-scale fight, where he has to man a .50-caliber gun and mow down waves of terrorists rushing his position. A helicopter is providing cover, and there's just complete carnage everywhere.

Then, all hell breaks loose when an earthquake hits. The ground cracks wide open. The player falls down. A building collapses on him, taking a helicopter down with it to mark the end of the demo.

The credits kick in, and we're teased with some more footage of the game, including vehicle combat in tanks and jets. The jet footage was maybe three seconds long, but good god, did it look badass.

Aside from some uncanny-valley facial features, BF3 is just insanely detailed. You can even see reflections in your gun's scope.

It's still early, but Battlefield 3 is shaping up to be one amazing-looking ride. The only nuisance I want to point out is the overuse of slow motion. Seriously, there were at least a half-dozen times the game slowed to a crawl for that unnecessary "cinematic effect," and that was in a mere 20-minute demo. That aside, I can't wait for BF3.

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