Sorry about the long layoff - my birthday was last week and I didn't get much extra work done. Speaking of - you didn't get me anything. What gives?
But I'm not just here to talk about me (seriously, though, I'm waiting on those presents) - I'm here to talk about the recently released in-game footage DICE showed off of Battlefield 3 at the GDC. The video can be seen here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ChJnbQstAE4) provided it hasn't been taken down yet.
Itís hard to be unbiased when writing about video games. Everyone whoís in the field got there because they love video games, or tech, or both. Itís because of this obvious bias that we all share that itís so hard to be objective about certain games or franchises. As I watched the recent footage of Battlfield 3 from DICEís developer presentation at GDC, it was all I could do to not drool, let alone keep my jaw from dropping. Donít expect much unbiasness (is that a word?) out of this post Ė Iím going pretty crazy for BF3.
One of the most amazing things I noticed about the footage was how improved the visuals looked. Even though it is a YouTube video of a shaky, hand-cam filming a screen and projector, the visuals looked crisp and sharp Ė I canít imagine how good itíll look firsthand on an HDTV.
The animations and lighting also look to be greatly improved with the Frostbite 2.0 engine. The characterís movement was all very smooth and the engine kept up when the action picked up. The video started off with the player in a dark room, lit by flickering fluorescent lights and a gun-mounted flashlight. Itís great to see that even little elements like lighting will be getting better polish in BF3 but the most amazing lighting effects were saved for the end of the video.
DICE showed off the engineís ďparticle lighting effects - the effects fully integrated into the world lighting model.Ē What that means, in regular people words, I honestly couldnít say for sure but they also included a visual aid in the form of two different colored lights (one blue, the other orange) above a city as smoke and dust swirled around them. The light refracted and bounced off the smoke, creating new lighting patterns in real-time.
The lighting in general was also shown off, with DICE showing an overhead view of a vast city at different times of the day. We got to see how the lighting would interact with the environment in daytime, morning, in fog and also at night (with and without city lights on). Not only were the lighting effects impressive and smooth, but the draw distance of the city was incredible Ė hopefully indicating the massive scale of the maps in the final game.
Perhaps the addition most immediately noticeable is one that people on the internet have been screaming about Ė both negatively and positively Ė is the return of the prone position. We got to see the player crawling through a vent, which isnít very exciting, but its closer to the earth than you got in Bad Company 2, so I guess thatís something.
After exiting the vent, the player sat down to (what seemed like) disarm a bomb. This indicated there could be minigames or other such quick-time events in the single-player campaign of BF3. Of course, DICE didnít let us watch any of this and skipped ahead to the player exiting the building and we get to see some action.
Everything about the gameplay Ė player movement and animation, character speed and gunplay all seem to be refined even further giving the game a feel distinct from Modern Warfare.
As the player worked his way down a street of a large city, which seemed to be in the Middle East but couldíve been anywhere, we got to see a few different guns, with different sites, in use as well as the player dispatching a few enemies. A helicopter flies overhead and, taking a look around the city, you can easily tell that this game will easily stand heads-and-shoulders above Bad Company 2 in terms of visual eye candy.
Soon, the player hopped onto a mounted gun and began unloading down a street where enemies were camped. We got to see not only the smoke from the mounted gun silkily waft through the air, but also got to see the impressive smoke effects at work in real-time. A few seconds later, an earthquake rips through the area, throwing the player from the mounted gun. As the shockwave approached the player, we got to see the Frostbite Engine at work, ripping up the pavement as it rippled toward the player like a wave. A moment later, a smoking building begins to collapse, falls sideways, crushes the chopper that had been flying around as well as the player.
Not only did I go nuts watching a skyscraper smash into a still flying chopper but I noticed something that I hope is indicative of all the destruction in BF3 Ė the building toppled to one side. While that may not sound like anything special, keep in mind that buildings in BFBC2 collapse in on themselves Ė not in whichever direction has the least support. If this means that buildings will be crumbling all over the place in multiplayer, I may just cry tears of joy because thatís the coolest thing Iíve ever heard.
To wrap up the video, quick snippets of footage were shown Ė a night-time missile attack on a city, (what seemed to be) the first person view from the main gun of a tank as it thundered through a desert among a few other tanks, soldiers diving off the back of an airplane and, most spectacularly, being inside the cockpit of a jet fighter during a dogfight!
I still play BFBC2 every now and then but after seeing whatís in store for the Battlefield series, I donít know how Iíll be able to not compare my current favorite FPS to whatís bound to be my next favorite FPS. Battlefield 3 is set to release Quarter 3 or 4 2011.
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