Maybe you’ve been holding off on your purchase, eagerly anticipating the end of term, when you can guiltlessly indulge in FPS mayhem knowing the essays have been eradicated and the problem-sets pulverised. Or maybe you’ve been living under a rock. Either way, you will have to make a decision soon, lest your online gaming brethren far surpass you in those all-important experience points. Yes, the annual titanic battle between fanboys and fangirls, FPS and FPS, Battlefield 3 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is here.
For the less informed but no less curious “non-gamers” among you, two of the most eagerly anticipated titles in the first-person shooter (FPS) genre have arrived. As always, a selection of high-tech US Army (or indeed, Russian) approved weaponry is complemented by geopolitical scandals and terrorist plots of epic proportions. The premise is simple: pick your team, pick your weapon and kill as many of the other team as you possibly can.
The decision this year is definitely tougher. While most would agree that the Call of Duty franchise has held the crown for some time now, Battlefield 3 is stepping up its game by including a more extensive, cut-scene orgy of a single-player campaign, bringing it in line from a value for money perspective at least. It does seem, however, that developer DICE is displaying its relative inexperience in crafting truly engaging single-player campaigns. It feels somewhat linear, with an A.I. that leaves much to be desired. Having said that, Battlefield 3’s single-player campaign is a real visual treat. From watching a point-of-view Sgt. Blackburn ease himself into the sea-sprayed, slippery cockpit of an F-18 fighter jet to the consequent dog-fight over a spectacularly rendered, violent Atlantic Ocean.
Call of Duty doesn’t disappoint either. As the third instalment in the Modern Warfare franchise it brings the epic trilogy to a decisive, fearless end with a little more continuity than Battlefield 3’s less engaging campaign. The single player campaign is still based on the same slightly ridiculous but thoroughly engaging plots with students of international relations wondering if its problems would not be better solved through the application of a little soft power. While its improvements including crisper and clearer visuals, Battlefield 3 has the edge graphically.
Both games bring a solid multiplayer experience to the table and any FPS fan will tell you that after those always-too-short campaigns, this is where the real meat of your purchase resides. Battlefield 3 continues its focus on vehicular combat with an array of twisted metal at your disposal. It also has a steeper learning curve, encouraging and rewarding team-based co-operation and consequently a deeper experience than Modern Warfare 3. Having said that, the latter remains easier to pick up for beginners. “Killcam” still teaches you the same painful but important lessons and the experience system of both games appropriately rewards the lengthy investment of time you will inevitably make. In both cases, sacrificing your social life is obligatory.
Battlefield 3, DICE/EA, on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Infinity Ward/Sledgehammer Games/Raven Software/Activision, on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC.