Battlefield 3 Xbox 360 Beta - Does It Live Up To The Hype?
I wasn't going into the Battlefield 3 beta especially excited as I'd already played the game quite extensively at E3. I knew what to expect, what the game looked like and how it played, but I was definitely interested to see how the game performed on consoles, namely Xbox 360.
Much of the feedback so far has been mixed: many are being critical about the game's presentation on consoles, while others are citing lag and other connection issues.
How Does It Play?
Having played both the PC and console versions, I can notice the differences in gameplay right off the bat. The size of the maps aren't so obviously different between the two versions, but the compounded design, implemented to better suit console gaming, definitely distances the Xbox experience from the PC one.
Games seem to start off in a similar fashion to COD: everyone was running and gunning initially, but matches seemed to cool down towards the end as players became more accustomed to the weaponry and map designs. It's definitely more team-focused, and I haven't played in a match where so many random players were actually using their headsets. Before long, players were directing each other and it really did feel like a team game. I wasn't striving for the kills, and I didn't mind if I only had the 5 kills in a match, as long as my team won.
On the topic of the weapons, I found it difficult at first to handle the recoil. I know a lot of people are saying that it plays like Bad Company 2, but the experience is considerably more unforgiving, even (especially?) when compared to COD. Using the AK47, for example, is no easy task initially, and it took me a while to get used to it.
The reward system seems to work well, and the initial unlocks happen quickly, but that is to be expected. I actually really like that if you unlock an attachment as a Russian you can't use it as an American, and think this adds another layer of depth to the experience, pushing you to strive for all weapons across both factions. I've seen a few people complain about this, but I think it will actually keep me playing for longer.
How Does It Look?
As soon as I started the beta up I immediately thought of Bad Company 2 (and I don't think that's a bad thing). How does it hold up next to the PC version? Not very well, but that had to be expected. The Frostbite 2.0 engine doesn't seem to be used in the same capacity as it is on PC: destruction and lighting look great, but textures are very low.
Bugs are aplenty. Dead soldiers mysteriously disappear into the ground, players spin like ballerinas across the screen, and weapon ironsite can lock into place leaving you vulnerable to attacks from the sides or behind.
This is a beta though, and it's hard to judge the game as a whole based on what is supposed to be testing software. One would hope these bugs are ironed out for the final release, and while there seems to be more bugs in this than in other betas I've played recently, I'm not especially worried.
It's probably also worth mentioning how this beta sounds: using my SteelSeries Spectrum 5XB headset, the game sounds superb. Crisp, clear, loud and explosive, adding considerable worth to the experience whenever I was in the heat of battle. Having such superb sound really did have me on the edge of my seat, as the never-ending sound of crippling bullets and rippling explosions made for a very tense, but incredibly cool, combat experience.
And Next to the PC Version?
I really enjoyed the beta on Xbox 360 despite its numerous bugs and connection issues. However, the experience is considerably different on PC, so much so that they actually feel like different games. It looks, sounds and plays better on PC, and the pacing makes for a very different, and even more team-focused experience. That said, I feel that Dice has made a console game that suits console gaming and the traditional controller, and while the experience is definitely optimised for PC, it still offers a very enjoyable offering on consoles.
By Gaetano Prestia
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