The multiplayer beta may be officially under way for Battlefield 3, but don't forget that the game still has a single-player story campaign. EA certainly remembers, having just shown us a little taste of the game's Paris level. We've written quite a bit about the game already, so let's just get right into what stood out most about this demo compared to what we've seen before.
Anyone who was introduced to the Battlefield franchise through the Bad Company titles is going to have a bit of adjusting to do when it comes to this game's storytelling. Whereas the Bad Company games--especially the first one--featured a cast of loveable misfits who weren't afraid to make a joke or three about the nasty predicaments they found themselves in, Battlefield 3 is all business. The Paris demo started off with a cutscene showing a few stern CIA types grilling a military officer about a recent incident, and the whole thing felt extremely Tom Clancy. Yes, the days of Haggard ranting about communist sunglasses are indeed behind us. At least for this game.
Lighting in a Bottle
You can tell that DICE is in love with the lighting system in the Frostbite 2 engine from the way it is featured in strategic gameplay situations. One of the moments that stuck out most from this demo involved just such a scenario. For the early part of the level, you and your squad are running and gunning through the parking lot of a giant office building. Cars are overturned, enemies are hiding behind concrete pillars, and the whole thing is a mess. At one point, the EA rep guiding the demo got caught behind a piece of cover with only a small opening to look through and peer at nearby enemies. As luck would have it, though, that small opening pointed directly at the blinding headlights of a parked car that had to be shot out to see the nearby threats. It was one of those perfect moments that would only happen if the player chose that piece of cover at that very moment, but somehow we're inclined to think that the EA rep holding the controller knew what he was doing. And with good reason. It was a very impressive little action scene.
Much has been made about the fact that players won't be able to kill civilians during Battlefield 3's story campaign. But it's worth noting that they're not gone completely. At one point in the level, you'll be running through the Paris office past corpses of white-collar workers lying on the ground after a gas attack has gone off in the building. So if you really, really want to kill civilians in Battlefield 3, you can rest assured that they were probably still alive before you popped the game into your console or started the Origin download. At least very indirectly, you're responsible for those poor dead 9-to-5ers. Congratulations!
One of the office interiors features plain white surfaces punctuated by the occasional bright green support pillar or doorway. In other words, it's the exact same aesthetic from Mirror's Edge. Now you're just toying with us, DICE.