Even though DICE/EA saw fit to have most people in the beta playing the linear, infantry-focused Operation Metro, there were about 30 servers running a much bigger, much awesomer map: Caspian Border. This one is the real Battlefield deal, a gigantic, 64-player expanse with enough room for dozens of vehicles, including jets (and that’s not the biggest map in the game). Despite the servers being password-protected, everyone and their mother was trying to get in, thanks to the code words being leaked everywhere, including the Battlelog forums. Succeeding was like winning the lottery, and boy, the jackpot sure was sweet.
If you’re wondering why I’m referring to it in the past tense, that’s because all the Caspian Border servers were closed down today, with the announcement that its “testing has been completed.” What’s worse is that, once you get a taste of the true BF3 experience with 48 or 64 players and vehicles, Operation Metro seems so crappy in comparison! I couldn’t even begin to tell you how long I spent sitting here refreshing the server browser and trying over and over to join a full server that had a slot open just half a second ago... Like an addict trying to get a fix, the slim chance of getting into a laggy game of Conquest was a far better use of time than playing the same old Rush.
Luckily, I was able to play a few hours of Caspian Border over the past couple days, and I have to say it was fan-effing-tastic. It’s the map they’ve shown in screenshots with the jets and towering antenna, plus rolling green hills and a forest complete with babbling brook. The map is so big that you need to use a vehicle to get around, at least from the spawn to the central area where all the control points are clustered together. Yes, this is Conquest, so the point is to capture and hold the flags, not stand around the runway waiting for the planes to spawn, you bastards… On the bright side, everyone wanting to fly means there’s plenty of stuff to shoot down with AA guns and missiles. I had a few lovely rounds where I spent the whole time in a Tunguska or stationary gatling gun, racking up points for “disabling” (I don’t know what that actually means, if they can still fly and shoot) and destroying jets and helos.
More conventional fun is certainly available if you’re set to looking after those flags. As I mentioned, there are dozens of vehicles on this map, including tanks, LAV/APCs, jeeps, mobile AA, attack helicopters, and jets. Each one has its use, but the real strength lies in numbers of boots on the ground, capping and defending flags. With all the foliage, clutter, and buildings, there is no shortage of places to hunker down. Stealthy players will love the ability to hide in the bushes or the shadowy corners of a building, where you can sit quietly while enemies move all around you. It helps that they neutered the “Spot Enemy” spam, and infantry markers will disappear if you don’t have line of sight. Almost makes me feel sorry for the guy in the tank that just couldn’t get a bead on me, despite laying RPG after RPG into him. If he had the sense to know when he’s outmatched and run away, his armor would regenerate just like my health does. Sounds controversial, I know, but it takes about 20-30 seconds after you’ve taken damage to start slowly increasing by about 2 HP/sec.
Though the classes are the same four from Battlefield 2142, with the assault medics and resupplying supports, character progression in BF3 has grown immensely. You’re used to unlocking new weapons and gadgets for each class by playing them, but you also gain new universal equipment and perks by ranking up. Additionally, every primary weapon has its own progression, netting you a wide variety of attachments including scopes, silencers, flashlights, bipods, and laser sights for the weapons you use the most. Add all of that to the usual award ribbons for stuff like kill streaks, reviving lots of teammates, and winning the round, and your post-match report screen will make you feel really good about yourself. The sheer volume of unlockables means the obsessive completionists will take longer than a week to “finish” the game, while normal players might not ever do so.
Needless to say, anybody that is looking forward to the release of Battlefield 3 shouldn’t miss this chance to get an early look at the game. If you’re not dedicated enough to weather the glitches and lagginess, at least experience the technical prowess of Frostbite 2.0 for a round or two. Plus it’s a good opportunity to see if your gaming rig is up to snuff, which it probably will be so long as you’re DirectX 10-capable. You have until October 10th to try it, and after that it’s only a couple more weeks until the full game releases. Even though I’m sad to see Caspian Border go away (those console saps never got a chance at that one), I still plan to play some more throughout the weekend, so maybe I’ll see you out there, soldier!
Elemental: Fallen Enchantress Preview Elemental: Fallen Enchantress is a standalone expansion pack and follow-up to developer Stardock's previous game in the series, subtitled War of Magic. That 4X strategy game was highly-anticipated and slated to compete with games such as Sid Meier's Civilization V for your turn-based strategy play-time, but was released in an incredibly broken and unfinished state that it never fully recovered from. Lead designer Brad Wardell apologized profusely to fans and set out with his team to go back to the drawing board and try again.
Almost two years later, the result of that proverbial mulligan is currently undergoing closed beta testing. In today's article, Will reports his thoughts on how Fallen Enchantress is shaping up, and will tell you whether or not you should be keeping an eye on it as it nears release later this year.
The Elder Scrolls Online Details Leak - Should Fans Be Excited? The Elder Scrolls Online, long rumored to be in development, was officially announced yesterday. Still in development at Zenimax Online Studios, this MMO aims to combine traditional genre mechanics with the spirit and sensibilities, not to mention setting and lore, of the immensely popular series of single-player RPGs. Though the game is set for a full unveiling in the next issue of Game Informer magazine, what appears to be the entire cover story article has been leaked to the interwebs already. In today's article, you'll find summary and analysis of all the alleged details, as well as feast your eyes on the very first screenshots and concept art from the game. Of course, the burning question now is, should you be excited?
ANNO 2070 Review
The year is 2070. The majority of life on Earth was devastated when global sea levels surged after the melting of the polar ice caps. Swaths of previously habitable land are now deep underwater, and sovereign nations are a relic of the past. But there is still hope...
This city-building RTS/simulation game from Ubisoft tasks you with re-colonizing what little land areas are left on the planet following a global warming apocalypse. Does it have what it takes to be worthy of your time and money, or should it be cast out to sea with the rest of civilization? Find out in today's review!
Mass Effect 3 PC Review
This latest release from EA/BioWare is the final entry in their trilogy of sci-fi action RPGs, putting you in a dire situation: rally the troops to save Earth at all costs. There was a lot of hype surrounding the final act of what has been a vast and highly-customizable story-telling experience, and the reception among many hardcore fans has been less than stellar. Even people that haven't played the game have probably heard about all the nerd rage going on over Mass Effect 3's ending...
If you want to cut through all the crap and find out whether or not the rest of ME3 is worth playing, come check out Will's spoiler-free take on the first blockbuster game release of 2012.
Batman: Arkham City PC Review Batman: Arkham City is the sequel to 2009’s smash-hit action game Batman: Arkham Asylum. As the name suggests, you will be reprising your role as the Caped Crusader and going against an even larger 'prison' filled with Gotham's criminals and villains. A textbook example on how to do a proper sequel, Arkham City takes what worked in the original, excised or improved upon what didn’t, and elevated everything to an even greater scope. The PC version suffered from a few months of delay, but in that time, Rocksteady worked closely to NVIDIA to implement some familiar technologies from the last game, such as PhysX and 3D Vision, along with new DirectX 11 optimizations. But how well was the whole package executed? Read on to find out!
Saints Row: The Third PC Review Saints Row is one of most unique series of games to build upon the open-world action template forged by Grand Theft Auto, and has met with plenty of critical and commercial success since it began on consoles back in 2006. This latest iteration, titled Saints Row: The Third promises the most outlandish fun and freedom of customization of them all, and in a much more PC-friendly package than its predecessor. Does it live up to those expectations and, more importantly, is it worth the price of admission? Find out in Will's latest review!
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim PC Review The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is Bethesda Softworks’ latest offering in their series of epic fantasy RPGs, as well as one of the most highly-anticipated PC titles of 2011. As the Dovahkiin, or Dragonborn, prepare to take the fight to the mythical beasts that have returned to the realm after centuries of slumber, all the while exploring a huge and highly-detailed open world.
The PC version of the game promises enhanced graphical fidelity, standard RPG trimmings such as hotkeys and quick-save, as well as unbridled mod support, something we’ll all be thankful for once they release that SDK. Skyrim has already sold millions of copies and set records for play-time on Steam... Find out why in today's review, which happens to be one of the biggest and most in-depth articles on the subject out there!
L.A. Noire Complete Edition PC Review L.A. Noire, as the name clearly states, is a video game built on the tropes of one of the greatest periods of American cinema: film noir. Developed by the now defunct Australian developer Team Bondi and published by Rockstar Games, this title has been out on consoles for a full six months before finally making its way to the PC. This “Complete Edition” of the game features improved graphics, keyboard/mouse controls, and every bit of previously-released DLC for free. But was it truly worth the wait? Read on and find out!
Mass Effect 3 PC Demo Impressions Mass Effect 3, EA/BioWare's third iteration in their series of sci-fi action RPGs and one of the most anticipated titles of the year, is fast approaching its March 6th release. This week, though, they released a playable demo on PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 that offers a glimpse into both the single-player and multi-player portions of the full game.
Whether you're waiting impatiently for your download to finish or don't have the time to check it out yourself, go ahead and read some impressions of the demo from resident FSers Synch and Vandy in today's article!
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Xbox 360 Review
The self-appointed "most anticipated game in history" launched worldwide this past Tuesday. Why, it's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, of course (of course), what else? Unsurprisingly, the military FPS debate between this and Battlefield 3 rages on, but now that both have been released, surely we can take a look and objectively evaluate them both? Luke's taken the Xbox version of MW3 for a spin this week, so to find out what he thinks of it in today's review!