Thursday, 27 October 2011

Battlefield 3 & MW3

Can short development times hurt a game's overall success?
 With the release of two heavy hitter FPS titles on the horizon, not to mention a bevy of other brilliant games soon to follow, fans of the soon to be released Battlefield 3 and Modern Warfare 3 seem to be arguing on every forum and board they are allowed to mix in. Debates over which is better, gameplay wise, graphics wise, etc., seem to sprout up everywhere and, well, though I'm no expert I thought I'd toss in my two cents.

After playing the Battlefield 3 alpha and beta extensively, as far as I have experienced, the game itself has very few things wrong with it cough in-game menu replaced by battlelog cough. Gameplay is realistic yet smooth, though took some getting used to after paying MW2/BLOPS for so long, controls are tight and the graphics are fantastic. Large maps also facilitate sniping in a way that I felt the last two Call of Duty games did not and the vehicles really add another dimension to the gameplay that makes squad tactics important and the overall experience left me excited.

Now it may not be fair to have an opinion on MW3 already without having played it first, using only the videos released (actually it isn't but it's what I and you and most others have to go on), but from what I've seen so far leaves me with an uninspiring feeling of over-familiarity. Don't get me wrong, I've watched all the videos multiple times and I know about the different strike packages, the change of kill streaks to point streaks, survival co-op mode, “gun experience” levels (or whatever they'll finally be called), etc., but despite these interesting changes, when I watch the videos I just think to myself “yup …. yup that's Call of Duty alright”.

So in short, overall I thought BF3 yea, MW3 meh. However, after reflecting on my nonchalant attitude towards the next instalment of a FPS franchise I had previously enjoyed I realised that it really boiled down to issues related to development time. The graphical and gameplay differences between Battlefield 2 and Battlefield 3 are staggering, seriously, go to youtube and watch videos of Battlefield 2 gameplay and you'll see what I mean, it is immediately apparent that BF3 is the result of a long period of refinement and development (and a new engine). Also as I haven't played a Battlefield game (Bad Company does not count to me as it feels more like a deviation from the main Battlefield franchise) in a long time the experience was also fresh.

Now in comparison, and I'll probably get screamed at by you CoD fans for this, MW3 when compared to MW2/BLOPS looks like it could have been made by a (very talented) modding team, this is probably due to the fact that (as far as I know) it still uses the same engine as MW2 and BLOPS, not to mention that the last Call of Duty title came out not even one year ago. Leaving a taste of bland sameness to the whole thing.

I understand that by releasing a CoD game every year Activision has kept the franchise in the public's attention and its fanbase is growing and growing year to year, but is the amount of innovation between instalments suffering as a result or is the gameplay not being perceived as new enough? I can think of two other popular Activision published titles that were released with increasing frequency before finally seeing an amazing drop in popularity: Tony Hawks and Guitar Hero.

Of course a longer development periods doesn't always spell success, I still think about what Duke Nukem Forever could have been compared to what it is, but most games seem to benefit from a dedicated team taking its time between instalments to really produce something amazing, i.e. Skyrim (another game that left me saying wow). My suggestion to Activision would be to cool its jets and not milk the cow dry in five years when it could last for 20, to take the time between instalments to produce sequels or new titles that leave gamers saying damn, that’s impressive, instead of merely ah okay, cool.

I.P.S, CeX UK Contributor
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