3 is not a religious experience. But at times it can be spiritual.
During the fifteen minutes we spent with it at Eurogamer Expo, there
were perhaps five when we didn’t feel like we were a young, confused
young man caught up in madness he hadn’t signed up for, but steeling
himself to see it through and get the job done. Slightly unusual for
your run of the mill Deathmatch game, that.
If there’s one axiom when it comes to FPS games,
is that they use visual effects as either a blunt instrument or a back
of the box bullet point generator. Most of the successful ones do both.
Battlefield 3 felt, for that brief period, like a shooter that forgot
itself and accidentally went subtly wonderful all of a sudden. We’re not
sure what map we played, but we’re okay with that. The experience was
much too well orchestrated to be limited to one map. We bet our wisdom
teeth every map has its own equivalent of the delicate curtains of
smoke, free-floating debris and carefully teased areas of shadow
squeezing every ounce of potential from DICE’s near flawless simulation
of the human eye’s responses to rapid light/shadow transitions. This has
design philosophy written all over it.
If you’re looking for the military porn, it’s all there, snug as a
bug in a rug. Weapons clack satisfyingly, just like they’re supposed to,
and apart from some wonky animations and misplaced meshes, both level
and character design checks out. DICE have been doing this long enough,
heaven knows. But when you do get your hands on it, do your atrophied
sense of awe a favour and stop to take in the quiet atmosphere before
the death starts flying. You might discover the best and very last thing
you thought you wanted in an FPS – serenity.