Battlefield 3 Hands-On Preview – Cutting to the Chase in Operation Guillotine
Written Monday, September 19, 2011 By Dan WebbView author's profile
Believe it or not, despite having covered Battlefield 3 numerous times now - aside from playing the co-op at Gamescom on console last month - we’d never actually got our mitts on the console version of the single-player campaign. Enter the Tokyo Games Show and Battlefield 3’s ‘Operation Guillotine’ on PS3, an interesting place for DICE and EA to thrust the single-player campaign back into the limelight for the world’s gaming press to lap up, but hey, we’re not complaining. In fact, EA were actually one of relatively few publishers who brought anything remotely new and interesting to TGS, so we’ll take that as a win.
Operation Guillotine sees you step into the shoes of Sgt. Blackburn who has been sent behind enemy lines with his compadres in a joint operation to capture key members of the People’s Liberation and Resistance (PLR). Kicking off overlooking the neon-soaked skyline of Tehran from a nearby hill, Blackburn and a squad of marines discuss the upcoming mission with a battalion known only as the Misfits. Your job? To provide the necessary backup to allow the mission to be a fruitful success.
Taking hold of the mortar, the mission goes from a standstill to a sprint in the space of a few seconds as the marines are ordered to charge down the hill to their first objective. Charging down the incline towards our first waypoint is a cinematic affair, watching squads of soldiers as far as the eye can see charge alongside you, with explosions galore from PLR mortars littering the grassy knoll like something out of a Hollywood movie.
When at the base of the hill, it’s a case of setting up the illumination round in the mortar and providing much needed lighting for the Misfits amidst the dusky back passages of Iran’s capital. After being given a leg up over a nearby 10 foot wall by a fellow marine, we start to charge towards our next objective – a river bank which we need to clear out – and it’s only then that we get to see the full effect of the illumination round.
A piercing and falling ball of light illuminates the way for the marines as they descend upon the river bank, much as if one of them had used a fishing line to yank the sun from the sky and bring it crashing down to earth. It’s action time! With the way now lit for a short period of time we bust out our assault rifle and start to mow down the hostile PLR forces that come into sight. Like at Gamescom, everything from a control perspective was right on the money and with its fluid, tight and intuitive controls we were able to make quick work of the crew defending the riverbank. From there, and a few short grenades later, we were able to disable a machine gun nest that had hampered our progress and continue towards the apartment block.
Considering that we’d probably spent 4 minutes of an 8 minute demo running to objectives, doing nothing but setting up a series of set-piece moments and cinematic events, the pace changes here dramatically and thrusts you into a series of bottleneck gunfights. Remember, this is Battlefield and not Call of Duty, so charging out and thinking you’re Arnie isn’t going to help you here, so sticking to cover and ducking in-and-out is as necessary as ever. At the base of the steps that lead up to one of the apartment blocks, we got to test a bit of Battlefield’s trademark sandbox gameplay out too.
Thankfully, Battlefield 3 isn’t your traditional corridor shooter – although it does have its corridor moments – and at the base of said stairs, we opted to take a much more intelligent approach and flank the steadfast remaining PLR troops instead. Opting to go prone, we manage to sneak unseen up a hill, through and around a series of bushes, to take position in a slightly elevated position at the side of the remaining PLR troops. From there, it was a case of executing a classic pincer manoeuvre, making fast work of the remaining troops before they could realise what hit them. Battlefield 3 then, like its predecessors, is a shooter that rewards the intelligent gamer.
With the coast clear, we meet up with the troops at the exterior of the apartment block, moments before they use a number of open windows to gain access to the party through a series of well-placed explosions. The authentic looking clouds of smoke that filled the tight corridors and as-impressive-as-ever lighting as we entered the apartment block were enough to distract us from the danger at hand, if only for a moment, but after a series of breaches – one, being a typical and almost horribly cliché slow-mo breach – we had returned back to the streets in an efficient fashion. Distracted by a solider giving a fellow marine CPR up against the wall of the dimly lit backstreet – which may I add was a fantastic little touch – we had met up with the convoy before the demo abruptly ended.
As many of you will be aware, one of my… wait, my only complaint from Gamescom was how the visuals were shaping up – which on first inspection appeared to be worse than Bad Company 2. Yes, we know it’s pre-pre-pre-alpha code and yes, we know the PC version is looking like hot stuff, but we’re just over a month away from release and it admittedly concerned us that the console version wasn’t shaping up to be anywhere near as nice as we had expected. Operation Guillotine on the PS3 may have been a slight improvement visually – mostly down to the whole atmospheric vibe DICE had nailed – over the Gamescom code, but it still wasn’t up to par with the recent impressive Xbox 360 gameplay video that DICE released last week, leaving us not knowing what to expect with the console version. Could it be a case of the Xbox 360 version being far superior to the PlayStation 3 version then? Who knows? I guess it’s a matter of 'wait and see' for the visuals.
While it may only have been a short gameplay demo, it was definitely a satisfying one at that and only went to highlight the different experiences Battlefield 3’s single-player campaign is going to offer players. You know, different to a certain other shooter on the market that will be hitting stores a few weeks later. While Modern Warfare 3’s campaign may offer something more akin to a Michael Bay movie, Battlefield 3’s focus is on realism and authenticity – being part of a big military operation, rather than being the hero on the frontline – something that we’re genuinely excited about.
Battlefield 3 is scheduled for an October 25th release in North America and an October 28th release in Europe.