E3 2011: Hands-on with Battlefield 3

Battlefield 3 was front and center at Electronic Arts' booth at E3 2011. The next game in the modern military first person shooter series could give the Call of Duty franchise a run for its money when it is released on October 25. Behind closed doors we got a chance to get hands-on with the game from developer Digital Illusions for a few minutes as we played a 32 player multiplayer match on the PC platform.

The match took place on the map called "Operation Metro" set in Paris. The match was objective based as an offensive team charged through the map to complete missions while the other team had to defend the positions before time ran out. The map starts out in a part setting that's similar to the outdoor levels that Battlefield fans are used to. Then the second part of Operation Metro switches gears and takes place underground in Paris's subway system where there are lots of tight corners, dark tunnels and lots of choke points for defenders to take advantage of. If the offensive team survives the Paris subways the final part of the map takes place outside again in the tight streets of central Paris. As usual you can choose what kinds of weapons and items you can equip in the game; from pistols to machine guns to rifles to rocket launchers.

Playing the game is certainly a little different than the typical Capture and Hold maps that most Battlefield fans are used to but the level's design has a number of different pathways to achieve goals. The game certainly looks incredible, thanks in part to full DirectX 11 support on the PC version. Character animations, level art textures and more are highly detailed and realistic and easily blows away what we have seen of Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3. Ultimately, though, the game still looks, feels and plays like a Battlefield game should. There are a few things we can quibble about (the death animation from the first person viewpoint is still a bit odd looking) but overall Battlefield 3 is looking impressive and we can't wait to play more when the open beta for the game is scheduled to begin in September.

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