I've been a bit slow on the uptake with Battlefield 3. I actually had the game thanks to Amazon's release day shipping which had the game to me on October 25th. However, I didn't get around to actually trying to install it till the following Friday. Trying is the operative word.
I guess I should have dug a bit deeper into the system requirements as I received a surprise when I went to install BF3 after updating EA's Origin Steam clone.
Unlike Modern Warfare 3, Battlefield 3 allows nothing lower than Windows Vista to install on the PC platform. This is because the Frostbite 2 engine requires nothing less than DirectX 11 which isn't possible on anything lower than Vista.
Here's the Wiki link on the game engine by the way...Wiki page on Frostbite
My desktop gaming rig is currently Windows XP. So, pardon the pun but No Dice...
That's not where the story ends, however...
The game rig that resides at a friend's house is Windows 7 on a slightly better hardware platform.
I'm not sure if it was just me not paying attention or that I'm getting old and think XP is going to last forever but I do know a change has to come. The change for the home game rig is an obvious need for an upgrade. That doesn't mean I've had to do without, well mostly.
It's almost amusing to admit but the last time I had to upgrade a game rig it was for another game in the franchise, Battlefield 2. I swore I wouldn't do that again for just one game but ultimately I ended up in a better place. So it is with Battlefield 3.
Since my experience at home was cut short I sought to redeem myself with my game rig at my friends house. I felt fortunate that I spent the extra 8 bucks on the physical media as the game install itself is 12 Gigabytes. I'd hate to waste half a day just to download a game. To Origin's credit, however, I was allowed to pre-authorize the game on my home XP rig which saved me trying to type 20 characters of weird algorithmic nonsense in the dark just to start the installation.
Once installed I was at a disadvantage as my friend had already put a few hours into the game. I came into it cold launching immediately into a co-op mission. I have no idea what the single player missions hold but at this point I really don't care.
I was instantly at home in this game and true to the franchise I had to spend a few minutes customizing the myriad of controls before I could do anything. Of course that meant my friend died in the first co-op run but that was his problem. I don't do anything till I've assigned my crouch and grenade throwing keys.
The visuals may be breathtaking but I didn't notice. I was instantly immersed in the environment without any distractions from control or settings issues. Once I had my controls set I was able to join in the fray and didn't look back.
There's something to be said for DIrectX 11 as this is the first game I've seen that capitalizes on the platform and justifies the extra $100 you spend on a card with support for it. I was never distracted by artifacting, anti-aliasting or anything else that gets beat to death in a benchmark. It works and with my short exposure I'm thrilled with the fully fleshed out and very playable co-op.
Somebody at Dice was listening as there has been no co-op option in a Battlefield game since BF:1942 and it appears someone paid attention to this glaring omission.
I do have to wonder, however, how well this game translates to the Xbox platform which is at its core at least 5 years old which takes us back to the days of DX9. While I appreciate Frostbite 2's advantages why can I play Modern Warfare 3 on XP but not BF3?
One thing that Call of Duty does right when Infinity ward is in control is Co-op. I'll give up visuals for good gameplay any day. Since my exposure to BF3 has been limited I have to reserve final judgment until I have a few more hours under my belt.
Article first published as Battlefield 3: The Launch on Technorati.