I’ve played about 20 minutes of Battlefield 3. I was with some friends and they handed me the controller during a multiplayer match. We were playing on a TV from the early 90’s that would occasionally, randomly, flip the display upside down, requiring someone to hit the thing to right the picture. It was rather brown, I shot a guy or two, got shot a bit more, got blinded by a flashlight as bright as the sun, and spawned in a jet piloted by a teammate that would awkwardly crash into the ground seconds later. Then I gave up the controller, presumably to go do more fun things.
That being said, I enjoyed playing Battlefield 3’s Close Quarters downloadable content at GDC last week! Though I only got to play one map in the DLC pack, the scaling back that is inherent to a confined, close quarter space was right up my alley, simultaneously reminding me of the local multiplayer of yesteryear and impressing me with modern, hi-tech contrivances.
Battlefield 3: Close Quarters DLC Pack (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC [Previewed])
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Release: June, 2012
The map I played is called Ziba Tower, a ridiculously swanky rooftop level suite of some sort. There’s a bar, a pool, and a wonderful view, and, I suppose, a lot of heavily armed men running about. Several times I found myself just gazing off into the distance, hoping I wouldn’t get shot in the back, because there seems to be a veritable metropolis below. You can even see cars, albeit not in great detail, driving in traffic on the streets below. And this is just the tertiary, background environment.
The map is pretty. Ziba Tower is the embodiment sleek modern design, with its ambient lighting and lavishly cool blues and whites abound, while the brazen reds of bar stools adorning the map’s highest point pop starkly in contrast. It’s a lovely reprieve from the color brown. It also drove me wild, as it let my imagination get a clearer picture of just how amazing a potential Mirror’s Edge 2 could look running in the Frostbite 2 engine. Seriously, that’s a thing that needs to happen.
Speaking to how amazing the tech was, I was in awe with the level of destruction the map afforded. The aforementioned red bar stools leaked bronze foam when peppered with bullets while the bulbs of elaborate, ornate light fixtures could be satisfyingly shot out one by one. Glass walls shatter, yielding to gun-toting players taking the quick route onto patios, and rebar is exposed, protruding further and further out of demolished concrete. I constantly found myself pulling out my pistol just to shoot something and see how it would react to being shot, and I was rather delighted each time. Watching the transformation of this luxurious, extravagantly decorated architectural marvel to a tattered, bullet ridden, blood stained killing ground left me curiously bemused each round. The juxtaposition was deliciously droll.
The matches I played generally hovered around eight combatants on eight combatants, which is more in line with what I want out of competitive multiplayer, as impressed as I was by games earlier in this generation that crammed a ridiculous amount of players into one game. The interactions were always more personal and the action more taut, with a chance encounter potentially waiting around every corner. The map never felt overbearingly suffocating or overly clustered, but I always felt like I had to be on my toes and that each firefight organically led into the next.
Ultimately it’s Battlefield 3 on a new map (and with ten new guns), but that’s strangely enough to distinguish it from the game’s other efforts. Anyone who doesn’t feel the close quarter combat is their scene will be happy to know DICE is working on two more DLC packs to be released before the end of the year, with the next one focusing on vehicular play and some of the largest maps DICE has ever done. As for me, I would love to stay in a rooftop suite in Ziba Tower because it was one classy joint, and I wouldn’t mind playing Battlefield 3 with people on this map. Even if I’m still much more interested in how its design aesthetic might translate to Mirror’s Edge 2.