I’m a big first person shooter (FPS) fan. It was the original Doom on the PC that got me into this genre of game. Other games took me into new worlds and let my imagination explore what lie before me, but Doom actually put me into a fluid three dimensional world with ominous sounds and evil creatures that charge at me… I know that Castle Wolfenstein did the same thing, but I never got the same excitement as I did with Doom. Just knowing that there might be something ahead, in the dark, made me cringe while I moved forward using the keyboard and mouse.

I’m always excited to see what new innovative features are released with each generation of shooters. Doom was just a bunch of flat characters, with choppy animations, that attacked on a flat alien space station. At the time, it was amazing, but to see it now just reminds me of how far technology has progressed. Quake and Unreal introduced us to 3D polygon characters. They moved more fluid through worlds that now had stairs, ladders, hills, and cliffs. No more flat worlds. Goldeneye on the Nintendo 64 added better artificial intelligence to the characters. They ducked behind cover when being shot at. You could also shoot them in the leg or arm and see them react differently. Halo on the original Xbox brought us new wide open worlds to explore and battle across. They felt more alive with foliage and life. Characters looked more lifelike and less blocky. It really showed us what could be done using the technology of the time.

As technology grew by leaps and bounds, so did the new innovative features of FPS games. Moving through the current generation of game consoles, we find more realistic games that really pull us into the action. I was blown away by Call of Duty 2, as a release game, on the Xbox 360. Explosions blasted with a force that left you in a cloud of dust. Characters moved more realistically than ever before. Weapons looked and sounded real. I loved this game so much that I played it through a second time just to get all the achievements. This all brings me up to Battlefield 3. I’m not wanting to do a review of Battlefield 3… you can see these all over the web. I want to talk about what new innovative features it has brought to the table. The new standards it has set for future shooters to follow. It has raised the bar for FPS games and others need to pay attention.

DICE, the developer for the Battlefield games, has been making these type of war shooters for a long time. From Battlefield 1942, created in 2002, to the current Battlefield 3, DICE has been creating large-scale FPS war games that pit many online players against each other to win the war. I think that being able to attack from air, sea, or land has help to make these Battlefield games appeal to FPS fans. Starting with Battlefield: Bad Company, on the consoles in 2008, DICE added a new element to FPS games… destruction. Players were no longer able to hide from tank fire by just running into a building or ducking behind a fence. With destruction, walls could be blown away by rockets, grenades, or shells from a tank. Play strategies changed. Players now can make their own path to objectives. Break down doors, smash through fences, or just blast through walls.

I figured this was a single player level until I got to this point in multiplayer. Jump!

While Battlefield 2 was being played on the PC with many of its expansion packs, Battlefield: Bad Company was bringing destruction to the console players. Console players were upset because the PC players had bigger maps and fast hardcore gameplay. PC players were upset because DICE brought a new destruction element to Battlefield, but only for the consoles. Battlefield 3 is finally the game that satisfies both console and PC gamers. It not only introduces Destruction 2.0, but adds some new touches that change the FPS shooter experience.

Destruction 2.0 adds much more… destruction! Rubble flies, buildings collapse, and walls tumble onto your foe, killing them. Did you get that? I can use my grenade launcher to blow the walls off of tall buildings and the debris will fall onto the unsuspecting shooter below, killing them. Are they sniping next to a vehicle? Blow it up and they go with it! What about that guy behind the fence? Shred it up with some bullets and take him out at the same time! The destruction really changes how a first person shooter feels and plays. But it is the sound that envelopes you in the action.

Working with your squad in important in Battlefield 3. There are benefits too, like spawning on your squad mates.

DICE really did their homework when it came to the sound in Battlefield 3. (Now I have to say right here, if you have Battlefield 3, you need to go to the sound options and select ‘War Tapes’ instead of ‘Stereo’ or ‘Surround’. This option uses more realistic sound effects.) They didn’t just put different sounds into the game for guns, movement, voices, or vehicles, they even calculated correct echo and reflections for each sound. A gun shot from in a small building will reflect off the walls. In a warehouse, you will hear echoes. All the sounds are portrayed correctly no matter where you are located. They have also included sounds for just about everything. When flying a jet, not only do I hear the guns rattling outside, I can hear my character breathe heavy when I turn quickly and am affected by the g-forces. When outside, I can hear bullets whizz by my head. I even jumped in my seat once when a rocket blasted by my head. I hear my footsteps when running across the ground, through water, or while snaking through buildings. The sounds really go with every action in the game.

Speaking of action, Battlefield 3 took some queues from the Killzone 3 melee animations. You no longer swipe the knife in front of you and the enemy magically dies. You now have multiple ways to knife your opponent. If you are behind them, you may reach around and slit their throat or pull them back and thrust it into their chest. If they are sniping on the ground, you will flip them over and stab them in the heart. You see this from your own perspective if you are the one being knifed. I was surprised the first time I was pulled back from my gun sights only to have an arm reach over my shoulder and knife me.

This is how it looks when you knife someone in the game. Ouch! They saw it coming too.

Animations are really taken up a notch in Battlefield 3. You no longer feel like you jump over objects like Mario. When jumping over a ledge, you drop your weapon, your hand mounts the object, and your legs swing out as you hop over. This is all seen like you would in real life… from your first-person view. When you are crawling in the ground, you actually see your hands in front of yourself as you pull forward with the gun in your arms. You see everyone’s character do all these actions in-game. DICE used a lot of motion capture to make sure all movements look as realistic as possible. It really adds something to the game and is a sight to see.

DICE has put all this together to make one powerful first person shooter. All your senses get assaulted while playing this game… well almost all of them. I can feel the rumble from my controller, hear the action on my 7.1 surround sound system, and see the excitement of the war on my big screen HDTV. It is this whole package that takes Battlefield 3 above and beyond the Call… of Duty. It is the new standard that other FPS games need to follow. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare was my standard when it came out, but it has now been de-throned.

No Mario hopping here!

This is the point of my whole article. I’m not trying to say what game plays better than the other or what has the best features. This is about a new standard set by Battlefield 3. Even if it was a terrible game… which it isn’t… these new next-generation like features are something other developers need to incorporate into their games. The bar has been set and we don’t need to be looking back as new games come out.

I’ve got both Battlefield 3 and Modern Warfare 3 on my Xbox 360. You already know how I feel about the look of Battlefield 3, but when I play Modern Warfare 3, I feel like I’m playing Call of Duty 4. I know there are many more features in the newer games, but the look hasn’t really changed that much. I got so spoiled by the look of Battlefield 3 that I feel Modern Warfare 3 isn’t finished when I play it. When I jump over objects, I feel like I’m jumping in Minecraft or a Mario game. When I run, my weapon moves up and down faster than my stride. It looks like I’m running, but doing double time with my arms. If I’m crawling on the ground, the screen just moves forward. I don’t see my hands.

These are not your small Call of Duty maps. This is all out war!

What is weird about all this is that I never noticed any of it before Battlefield 3. Like I said, Call of Duty 4 was my standard for games. I had great times with Modern Warfare 2 and Black Ops. But when I look at them now, next to Battlefield 3, it is like night and day. It doesn’t matter if Modern Warfare 3 can do 60 frames per second on the screen. I’ve got destruction, vehicles, motion capture (MW3 may have this too but it doesn’t look as good), amazing sound, 24 players, awesome melee kills, squads, did I mention destruction?… and more in Battlefield 3

Okay, time to bring this to a conclusion. There are a lot of people playing both games. Again, this is not a review of either game but I do play Battlefield 3, and not Modern Warfare 3, so that probably tells you something (My son plays them both). I want to see developers go over and above with game features. We are going to be seeing the new next generation consoles in a couple of years. Battlefield 3 features should be a starting point for all future games. I have to give credit to other games like Killzone 3, Gears of War 3, and Bioshock that also set standards for others to follow. If a new game raises the bar, then that is where others should start.

I want to give credit to the Battlefield3Blog site for these photos. I got them from their screenshot section and the stabbing photo was a ‘Screenshot of the Day’. It is a great site if you are looking for any information on Battlefield 3.

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