Battlefield, dull? You’re just not playing the right bits…

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I haven’t been one of the lucky few who have got their hands on an almost complete version of Battlefield 3 but have read a number of posts from those who have over the weekend. So how’s it looking as a usurper to the Call of Duty thrown? Well opinions will always be divided on which is the better game but B3 to me has lost foothold in their climb to the top by having what a lot of people are calling a dull single player campaign.

But how can this be when the multiplayer looks and plays so very promising? As did the gameplay videos EA have touted in various trade shows and conferences this year. Kotaku asked executive producer Patrick Bach the same thing and was told

“To be honest, a big part of what single-player in Battlefield is is a tutorial for multiplayer, quickly adding “It’s not a training mission, it’s not a shooting range—it’s an emotional roller-coaster at the same time as it shows you all the bits and pieces of the game. It’s a great introduction for the multiplayer. Because when you go into multiplayer for the first time, it’s very dry, it’s very ‘Here I am, with my gun, what do I do?’ While single-player brings you more on a journey.”

The Call of Duty franchise is equally guilty of this and despite the added narrative and Easter eggs in Black Ops, it felt the most like a free-flowing shooting gallery. However, according to the previews, so does Battlefield 3 only it sounds as if there’s even less personality to it. But does that even matter? The vast majority of gamers who will buy either of thins year’s big military shooters won’t touch the single player component and dive head first into multiplayer. They don’t need or want a tutorial for online play and will most probably find both games to be the most fun they’ve had since the previous title so a weak campaign isn’t really a big deal. Plus Battlefield has always been a multiplayer-focused game and it was the Bad Company series that introduced a grand storyline to follow. Personally I fall into the minority with shooters as I tend not to play a lot online preferring to fight on my own. So a good campaign is more important to me and it sounds as if, once again, I’m going to be a little disappointed.

That’s fine, these games aren’t made for me, they’re made for the millions of competitive multiplayer fans charging across Xbox Live, PSN and PCs every day. I had hoped that the direction which EA appeared to be taking the series in was to be an all-encompassing FPS, combining a Bad Company campaign with traditional Battlefield online battles but the latest buzz from The Guardian paper is that Bad Company may make a comeback after all. I also hoped that all the trash talking from Jeff Brown towards Activision would actually mean something and EA would release a game superior to Modern Warfare 3 in every way. I get the impression that in reality we’ll be getting something that fall short in all the same ways Call of Duty does.

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Then I saw this trailer, now I’m a believer

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I don’t think I’m alone when I say I enjoyed the hell out of Call of Duty 4 Modern Warfare and was pretty excited about a sequel, side-stepping World at War due to my fatigue of playing WWII shooters. When Modern Warfare 2 came around the buzz was immense with it going on to break all sorts of records for first day sales and the oodles of money Activision made off the franchise. Then things got ugly. Activision fired two of Infinity Ward’s studio heads, Jason West and Vince Zampella for reasons still not entirely known which caused a great deal of unrest within the develop team behind what are considered the ‘real’ Call of Duty games.

Doubts of the franchise’s future were hushed when Black Ops came out last year and despite feeling like someone’s grabbing you by the shoulders and screaming in your face when playing, Black Ops smashes all previous sales records. But the ill feeling towards Call of Duty as a series and shooters as a whole is seemingly at the highest it’s ever been so with a crippled Infinity Ward expected to release Modern Warfare 3 later this year, I for one doubted whether they’d be capable of producing something to top what I’ve previously played.

The game leaked in almost its entirety not long ago with Kotaku revealing the details of the storyline from start to finish. It’s world war 3, Captain Price will return to kick some mean Russian dude’s butt visiting various locations around the world in typical CoD form. That was pretty much to be expected and to be honest, not all that interesting. I mean, really, is there much love for the main protagonists for the franchise or are they cleverly voiced vessels to continue a Hollywood pleasing storyline? EA’s Battlefield Bad Company series was better at giving personality to its heroes and the big contender for CoD‘s crown, Battlefield 3, is looking stunning and might just come out on top this holiday season.

Or that’s what I thought until I saw the first gameplay trailer for Modern Warfare 3 which debuted last night. It’s big, brash and bold and as you would expect for a CoD game. But something about it has rekindled my desire to play another CoD experience. I don’t know what exactly it is either, I can’t quite put my finger on it but the short snippets of footage do a really good job of winning back some of the hype that Battlefield has won. Modern Warfare 3 takes players to America, England, Germany and France and it was the turmoil in London that roused my interest. Not because I’d wish that level of harm to the capital of England (yeah it’s busy and a bit smelly in places but still a decent place), but seeing familiar landmarks and recognisable features like British Police cars used as cover extends the feeling of realism when playing games like this. American and some European locations are often recreated in video games with a striking level of detail but little old England isn’t aways greatly portrayed and if Infinity Ward – together with Sledgehammer Games who are lending a helping development hand – can do the city justice, UK gamers may get that fuzzy sensation of feeling like really being a part of the action.

I know I’m picking up on one, possibly minor part of a trailer that shows some awesome graphics and summer blockbuster action sequences but it’s a part that stood out for me the most and if that’s all it takes to reignite the flame in a departing fan, the trailer has done its job and more. Modern Warfare 3 is coming November 8th this year and if Activision keep pumping out trailers like this, I may be forced to go to another midnight sale for a Call of Duty game. Something I promised myself last year I’d never do again.

Codemasters introduces Bodycount

Codemasters today gave confirmation that their secret new IP is indeed Bodycount, a FPS by creative director Stuart Black. If his name sounds familiar then that could be due to his co-creation (and possible name lending) of the 2006 bullet fest that was Black. Scheduled for a Q1 2011 release, Bodycount features destructible cover, co-op options and the obligatory multiplayer mode as you follow a task force of the ‘Network’ taking out their targets or just anyone that stands in their way.

“[We] believe that there’s room for a refresh of the shooter experience,” Said Stuart “If Race Driver: GRID was all about the purity of racing, then everything in Bodycount is absolutely centred on the bullet and its impact on the world. Our shredding tech enables us to create a different kind of gameplay, where players and AI can’t hide behind indestructible cover and rely on whack-a-mole mechanics. Here the environment is constantly changing as the game world is shot to hell; it’s going to be a huge amount of fun.”

Exciting stuff eh? It’s clear that Stuart wants to further the cinematic explosions found in Black, but will it be a all too familiar considering the Battlefield Bad Company series has already made commendable strides in this area? I’m quite happy to see another FPS since I’m a big fan of the genre and if it shares a couple of ideas with an existing brand then there’s few better than EA’s group destruct-em-up.

Bodycount has only been announced for PS3 and Xbox 360 so far but a PC port isn’t out of the question. Read on to see the second screenshot released.

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