I've been making it a point lately to play things I wouldn't otherwise play. You may have noticed my "Is it really that bad?" series, which is far from over, but in addition to playing games that were widely panned I wanted to push my boundaries and play genres I don't normally like (or at least, don't think I like).

For years I've just cast aside the military shooter genre. I've seen them covered to death all over the web, commercials, magazines, etc, but they never really interested me.

A week or so ago, I saw a deal for Call Of Duty 4: Modern Warfare for $7, and I realized that I already had a free copy of Battlefield 3 from some Origin promotion months ago, so I paid that $7 and got both games downloading. I was going to see if I was right about this once and for all.

Going into things, I had some preconceived notions about the two series, and the genre in general. It seems every winter we get a new Call of Duty game, and everyone who doesn't play every single one (and some who do) make fun of the constant releases. The Battlefield series is much more varied. It has about as many titles, but nowhere near as many in the main series (three so far) and things like the Bad Company series change the gameplay significantly. Mostly, I just figured it was more of the same either way you went. Just bro-games that wouldn't appeal to me.

COD4 has an interesting premise, taking you through many different POV characters as you flesh out the story. The graphics for the time were amazing, and the voice work is good convincing, but not memorable. You can definitely "feel" the weight of the guns, and the mechanics are smooth and definitely praiseworthy, but sometimes they just aren't intuitive. Nothing major, but it's there. One thing I loved is that in your first real mission, you're going through a training course with cardboard cutouts and plywood walls, and based on your performance it recommends a difficulty level. I love in-canon explanations for menu options. I played some single-player until I felt I'd gotten way past the point of getting my bearings, and then popped into multiplayer for a bit where I was kindly handed my own ass, over and over. I switched servers and was doing much better for a while, then a couple more people joined and I was getting creamed again. It seemed impossible. I'm not sure what the servers are like these days, but I suspected some kind of botting/hacking was going on.

Battlefield 3 has a much more focused story, told through Sgt. Blackburn while he's getting interrogated. The gameplay is damn good here. It has a few years on COD4, so I realize it isn't exactly a fair comparison, but I was in love with the mechanics. The graphics are stellar, and the voice acting is memorably good. The sound design in general is worth mentioning. I was impressed with how well it affected the setting. The foley seemed realistic to me, but I've only shot a gun a handful of times, and never military-grade rifles. Again, I popped into multiplayer for a bit, and while I wasn't doing well, it at least seemed like what was happening to me was possible for a human to do.

So all told, I don't think I was fair with my preconceptions. In COD4, the elements were all there, but it just didn't grab me. Again, I'm judging a game that has had 5 games to improve since, so I'm perfectly willing to be convinced to try it if any of you have experience with them (I'm looking at you, scrypt). I don't like how Activision milks the series, but that's kinda what they do. The oversaturation of Guitar Hero kinda killed the whole genre.

Battlefield 3, on the other hand, actually pulled me in, for a lot of reasons. The story seemed far more compelling to me, the controls didn't seem to get in my way as much and seemed tighter overall, the pacing was perfect, and I actually feel compelled to keep playing. And EA seems to be a bit more reasonable with releases, not milking it for all it's worth. Battlefield 3 came out in 2011, and they've been supporting it well ever since. DICE, the development studio behind the series, is also responsible for Mirror's Edge (and the upcoming sequel, which I can't wait for), as well as the new Star Wars: Battlefront games coming our way soon. Having seen what they can do with assault rifles, I can't wait to see what they can do with blasters.

So yeah, if you've felt like I did, give it a shot. The Humble Origin Bundle is still going, and you can get BF3 along with a slew of other games for really cheap.

scrypt   Supporter wrote on 08/19/2013 at 02:27am

My experience with most FPSs is limited to the Xbox 360, and have only in the past year or so made the transition to PC. I'm finding it difficult to get the same precision with mouse/keyboard due to the years I've put into the controller mechanics, so if a game offers controller support (which I believe these do?), I take advantage.

Of the two series, I pulled away from COD and started to favor BF sometime after COD:MW2 came out. I loved the first Modern Warfare (I think I only Prestiged twice, maybe three times), but the design of the later games went too frenetic for my taste. The difference between COD and BF is similar to the difference between the Tony Hawk games and the Skate series. One is more of an arcade, fast action experience, and the other is more realistic. Nothing wrong with either, but my taste at the time was bringing me to Battlefield. I was really interested in the Black Ops series, though. With what little I played at a friends house, I was tempted to jump back over, as I'd caught a glimmer of that original Modern Warfare feel, but I never jumped. Instead, I abandoned the military shooters altogether in favor of what was going on with Halo. These days I'm on my PC more, and can't get enough of games like Blacklight: Retribution, and Planetside 2. Planetside 2, especially, has an amazing community, partly because the game reinforces that by emphasizing and rewarding coordinated attacks as a team, which is all I really want out of a good shooter.

Really cool that you are revisiting these, Travis! Now that you have COD4 on PC, you might be interested in the Star Wars mod that is out there, called Galactic Warfare ( ). It's a complete re-skin and rebuild of maps and characters, sounds and everything. It's pretty amazing!

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