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Battlefield 3 first-look

When you get a group of video game journalists and industry insiders together, and you can make them all gasp in surprise at how awesome a particular game looks, you can pat yourself on the back, high-five your coworkers, and immediately ask your publisher for a raise. With the (possible) exception of the raise, that is exactly what happened tonight when DICE took the stage for an EA hosted event at Game Developers Conference, and showed off gameplay for the upcoming Battlefield 3.

To begin the presentation, members from DICE explained the engine they have created that will debut with Battlefield 3, the Frostbite 2 Engine. Now, while that might not make much of an impression on non-gamers or casual gamers, to those that follow these things, it would be akin to Ferrari announcing that they have decided to reinvent the V12 engine.

The Frostbite 2 Engine is a big step forward for the series, as well as several other games that will be using this engine for the next few years to come. To put that in perspective, the original Frostbite Engine debuted in 2005, and is still going strong. Expect to hear more about this engine in the future, but the practical results are that the game will be able to render certain effects like fire and lighting much better, the sound (which uses a Frostbite audio engine) has been upgraded, and in terms of actual gameplay, expect the destruction of surroundings to be improved. A lot.

Where in Battlefield Bad Company 2 most houses can be destroyed with effort, and walls can be picked apart, expect entire buildings to fall, and rockets to decimate the whole front of skyscrapers. In a word, it looks epic.

As for the trailer below, it was a small part of the presentation from DICE, which showed off the first few sections of the game. Battlefield 3 takes place in 2014 as the Iran/Iraq border has become a global hotspot, and a group of insurgents calling themselves the PLF are gaining strength. Your squad is sent to help out another squad that hasn’t checked in, and on the way you are ambushed by ground troops, rockets and snipers. The ambush is shown in the video below.

Not shown below is what happened after the ambush. After a quick detour through a school (to show off the new lighting effects), your squad emerges on top of a building where a rocket ends the resale value of the neighborhood, and also takes out a sniper (along with the front half of ten-ish story hotel). A fast jaunt to a street sets up a climactic battle against enemy forces, when an earthquake hits, and suddenly everything goes to hell.

The video below is a shorter and edited version of the same video shown to the press, but it does give you an idea of what to expect.  The clip is still being considered as pre-alpha, so the final results should look even better (especially with character animations and minor graphics tweaks).

Battlefield 3 is due out on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 later this year, and those that purchased the Limited Edition and Tier 1 Edition of Medal of Honor will receive an invite to the beta later this year. Expect to hear more about this game. A whole lot more.

[Warning: Trailer may not be suitable for all audiences]