First Day Impressions: Battlefield 3 Beta (PC v.s. Xbox 360)
After a single day of playing the beta for Battlefield 3 on both P.C. and on the Xbox 360 (Mind you, the Xbox servers were having trouble, so more time was spent with the P.C. Version), here are the big, blatant differences that I noticed when playing. Let’s remember that this is based on the Beta and not a full version of the game, so there will be parts that are only because of the beta.
The P.C. Version obviously has the huge advantage of being more graphically enhanced. The color palette was used to a much greater extent, the detail to small things like blades of grass was not overlooked, the amount of destruction and the intensity of the destruction all looked like near-real world encounters. Sniper lens’ actually have a flare if they hit the light, scopes actually reflect the background rather than use a static image that rotates. All of these elements lend to an absolutely amazing visual experience that takes your breath away as you frantically run out into the battle and try to achieve your goals.
The sound is full and flourishing. It leaves no room for imagination as every grenade explosion and piece of gunfire seems to fill every second of your time playing. There is no music (Except for when you rank up, but even then it’s the typical music we’ve been hearing at the end of every Battlefield 3 commercial) and this ambiance really gives you the sense that there’s no heroics in this game, but teamwork.
The gameplay is smooth and surreal. It really seems to capture the true feeling of sprinting across a battlefield at full speed, avoiding bullets and keeping the enemy from arming bombs at given locations (The beta is only the Rush mode and only one map). Zooming in with the sniper rifles gives an incredible sense of distance, shooting either from the hip or in iron sights feels heavy and realistic. Every shot counts. Now to the cons of my experience with the P.C. Version of the Beta.
As it is a Beta, there were some of the usual quips occurring. People were falling through the floors, animations didn’t quite render correctly (Numerous times I found my character failing to load the gun holding animation so I saw no gun and therefore had to guess where to fire), being able to actually detach from your character for a moment or two like an outer body experience and pretty typical lag issues. Other than those, the one thing that’s always seemed to turn me off to computer gaming, personally, is how quickly people seem to be able to react using a mouse and keyboard. Many times you’ll pull around a corner and someone shoots you instantly and kills you, almost as if one bullet was all it took. We’re used to having to shoot a couple of times to kill a character in a video game and, while this may be more realistic, it did seem to make respawning a very common event.
Another part of the overall design of the way the game plays (Specifically to the P.C.) is how you have to join a game. In order to join a game, 1. You have to get Origin (Kinda like Steam but made by EA) 2. Sign up for an EA account 3. click the game to play in Origin which brings up an internet tab with the available servers. From here 4. Choose the game you want to join in your web browser and then the game will startup upon choosing a game. This means that, unless you have multiple processors or a decent amount of RAM, you’re going to have trouble running an open web browser and the game at the same time. I always like to make sure I have nothing else running when I start up a game, so this came as a surprise. Thankfully, the experience wasn’t horrible as Dice seems to have really streamlined the game to be able to run on less processing and making sure you can switch back and forth without a hitch.
The final problem I found was within the start menu of the game. You cannot use the pause menu during certain moments in a match where it seems most useful, such as while you’re waiting to respawn or choosing your loadout. You have to wait until you’re actually spawned and out in the open of the field to open up the pause menu to mess with any settings. The game also starts in window mode rather than full screen, so to remedy this you will have to be a sitting duck to change that, change your resolution, get your gameplay settings to your specification, all while you’re standing, sitting or prone where ever you may be in the game itself. Overall, however, the P.C. Version of Battlefield 3 blew my mind from the moment I loaded up my first match and I’m still being amazed by it’s abilities.
To give you an idea of my P.C. And my settings when playing the Beta.
- Gigabyte GA-990FSA-UD3 AM3+ 990FX 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX AMD Motherboard
- AMD Athlon II X4 640 Propus 3.0GHz Socket AM3 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor
- G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory
- SAPPHIRE 100296HDMI Radeon HD 4670 1GB 128-bit DDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card
- HITACHI Deskstar 7K1000.C 0F10383 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5″ Internal Hard Drive
I was running the game at a resolution of 1440×900 with the game graphical settings all between medium and high. Motion blur was on.
The Xbox version is clearly going to be less impressive graphically, given the specifications of the console, but I was shocked to see just how much of a difference there was between the two beta’s. The moment I jumped into the battle on the Xbox I instantly was displeased at what I was looking at. Colors were bland, detail was nowhere near what I saw on the P.C., in some cases even bad for the Xbox and the sense of realism was all gone. The blades of grass that previously were a wonder to stare at in the game were now nothing more than a green patch with some odd sense of blades. Smoke effects were less intense along with grenade explosions. Destruction in the game is extremely toned down and doesn’t give the kind of satisfaction that you get out of the P.C. Version. Overall, as a visual experience, deciding between this and Modern Warfare 3 on this platform is more of a close race, whereas the P.C. Version blows MW3 out of the water from what we’ve seen so far, visually.
The sound also seems to be toned down. The amount of bass and fullness that was felt on the P.C. Version seemed less in the Xbox. Gunfire didn’t hold the same satisfying sound of a full clip being dispensed into an opponent, explosions didn’t have the intensity that they could do a great deal of damage and the overall ambiance wasn’t there. It seemed that the levels of bass were taken out and left with nothing but the treble levels of each sound.
The gameplay for this title, however, is solid. I am a console gamer by history and so there’s nothing quite like a controller in my hand as compared to a keyboard. Aiming down sights were smooth and without any problems. Sprinting still worked well, but didn’t seem to give the same frantic feeling from the P.C. Overall it felt more like an every other shooter type of game minus some decent animations (Such as leaping over obstacles and seeing your legs kick out). Working your way through the battlefield seemed more able in this version and didn’t seem like any second you could be shot down. It felt more like I could observe the terrain. It’s a shame that terrain had to be the Xbox version of the Beta.
As part of the Beta, I expected to be seeing just as many problems as I had been seeing with the P.C. Version. People falling through the ground, animations going crazy and so forth. What I saw was much less than that. In fact, except for occasional problems with hopping fences and an occasional frame of an entire green screen, the beta ran rather smoothly. Perhaps this is do to the less intense graphics, but for whatever reason, it ran rather well. Certain animations like dying seemed a little off when killing an enemy, but nothing that would really detract from the gameplay experience. I didn’t get a chance to test everything I would have liked in the Xbox version of the Beta, but from what I could see and what I could experience, the gameplay seemed more ready for Alpha, smooth and without too many hiccups, but the rest of the game seemed like an entire let down from what we’ve been seeing for months from Dice.
Here are the specs for the new Xbox S console (As sourced by Wikipedia)
- 3.2 GHz PowerPC Tri-Core Xenon
- 512 MB of GDDR3 RAM clocked at 700 MHz
- 500 MHz ATI Xenos
I do not own a Playstation 3 to try that version out.
It’s not that surprising to say that if you really want to experience Battlefield 3 (Even with all the bugs that the beta has), the P.C. Version is the way to go.