Every Battle Is Won Before It Is Ever Fought - Sun Tzu
There is something completely different about tactical first-person shooters. Something that sets them apart from conventional FPSes and makes us forgive them certain shortcomings that would drown a conventional shooter commercially. Being perfectly aware of that, game developers are eager to implement tactical elements into their good old kill-‘em-all shooters.
Battlefield 3 is yet another tactical first-person shooter and a direct sequel to the 2005 hit. Released over 6 years ago, Battlefield 2 has been enjoying huge popularity to this very day, by the way. The large scale of gaming has always been the key feature of the series and the third installment carries this trend on. It wouldn’t be easy to name another game where there can be as many as 64 players on the same battlefield.
What do you need to enjoy such gorgeous fighting right now? First, you need a computer with Windows 7 or Vista, preferably a 64-bit version. Second, you need Electronic Arts’ distribution service Origin. Next on the list are a quad-core CPU, a few gigabytes of system memory and a graphics card. What card exactly? We'll show you in this review.
Battlefield 3 features a very advanced game engine we haven't yet encountered in our tests. It was developed by EA's Swedish studio Digital Illusions Creative Entertainment AB, also known as EA DICE or simply DICE. Let’s browse through the studio’s profile.
Battlefield: Frostbite 2
The Frostbite 1.0 rendering engine was introduced along with Battlefield: Bad Company in 2008. Destruction 1.0 and HDR Audio were its two key features. The former allowed to destroy various in-game objects while the latter helped create an atmospheric virtual world by monitoring the volume of different sounds and emphasizing those of shooting and shouting.
Battlefield 1943, released in 2009, ran on an updated version of the same engine. The Destruction module was upgraded to version 2.0 for Frostbite 1.5 and enabled the demolition of whole buildings rather than small objects. Finding a shelter in that game wasn’t easy. You can learn more about the engine’s capabilities in our special report Contemporary Graphics Cards Performance in Battlefield: Bad Company 2.
Talking about the new version of Frostbite, the developers call it a gaming industry milestone. Frostbite 2 is the first rendering engine that has abandoned legacy technologies such as DirectX 9. Instead, the focus is on the cutting-edge features: DirectX 11 and x86-64.
The Destruction module has been upgraded once again, to version 3. As before, you can move furniture around the way you like by just firing a few hundred bullets. New in Destruction 3.0, you can change the battlefield landscape and tear down your enemy’s fortifications. Besides the marked interest in mass destruction, the game developers have extensively employed DirectCompute 5. Here is a list of the engine’s features:
- Tile-based deferred shading acceleration via DirectCompute
- Morphological antialiasing (MLAA) implemented with DirectCompute
- Real-time approximated subsurface scattering
- Separable bokeh depth of field
- Temporally stable screen space ambient occlusion (SSAO & HBAO)
- Large amounts of data can be streamed from the disk to system memory (512 MB per each 100 meters in the game)
- HDR texture compression
- Landscape and character model tessellation
- Multi-core CPU optimizations
As a result, Frostbite 2 can easily run in parallel on multiple CPU cores, utilizing more than two cores of our Intel Core i7-975 Extreme Edition processor. Hopefully, other game developers will take up this trend to give us a reason to buy six- and eight-core CPUs in the future.
Besides Battlefield 3, which is an important event in itself, DICE's rendering engine is going to power the upcoming Need for Speed: The Run and Mirror's Edge 2, both potential hits. So, our today’s tests will give you a general notion of system requirements you can expect from the next generation of PC games.