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Battlefield 3 preview: Consoling myself on the PS3


Guys, I love Battlefield. And like a lot of you, I was concerned about Battlefield 3 on the home consoles. I play Bad Company 2 on Xbox 360 regularly and since EA came packing a PC build at E3, after months of flaunting the high-powered PC version, my concern over the console release grew.

So when I learned that EA would be showing off the E3 multiplayer demo on the PS3 at its Summer Showcase event earlier this month, I went in with no small amount of trepidation and curiosity. Rest assured, not only does it run smoothly on the console, it also looks amazing. Console players have nothing to worry about come October 25.

The game was running in a LAN setting: eight PS3s hooked together, four to a team. I was able to check out the Rush game mode -- where one team attempts to destroy designated objectives, while the other defends -- on the Operation Metro map, the same level that my colleague Alexander previewed for PC back at E3. At the conclusion of the one match I was permitted to play, I got a sense that the game's multiplayer goal is a refinement of the Bad Company formula; an intimate multiplayer experience in a large-scale war setting.

This refinement of Bad Company is executed flawlessly in the Operation Metro map, which opens in a large courtyard and immediately calls upon familiar Bad Company tactics. The defenders are dug-in well and assaulting the objectives demands a mixture of classes and teamwork before the attacking team can even dream of progressing. I jumped in and immediately felt at home.

I was playing Battlefield, but I also felt like I was playing Team Deathmatch in Call of Duty.

Then something weird happened: we captured the first two objectives. Nothing out of the ordinary, I know, but it was then that the map funneled players underground into an enclosed subway system. Down there, the game called for far more twitchy reflexes than the "go anywhere, do whatever" style of emergent sandbox gameplay so prevalent in the Bad Company games. While sneaking through storage rooms and methodically checking every nook and cranny for potential murderers, the mindset was very different down below: if I'm seen, I will be instantly killed.

It added an unfamiliar, yet welcome sense of tension to the conflict. I was playing Battlefield, but I also felt like I was playing Team Deathmatch in Call of Duty. I could still spawn on my squad, I could change classes at will, but this kind of "quick, turn and shoot!" style of gameplay, demanding hawk-like eyes and a quick trigger finger, just came out of nowhere. Where did my Battlefield go?

Now, don't get me wrong, it's not that I didn't appreciate the transition. In fact, it was the opposite: I thought it was a bold, sudden transition, one that took me aback by changing the experience and taking me out of my comfort zone. I love my big, open maps and messing around with all of the vehicles, but such a well-placed choke point called for a sudden change of tactics and, in the end, presented a more overall unique experience, showing that fans shouldn't look forward to the same, albeit fun, experience over and over again. It also shows me that EA's got a few surprises up its sleeve, which I can't wait to experience for myself come October 25.

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