Anomolous Materials: War and what it is good for
For the most part of this year, a war has been waged across internet message boards.
As with the many others which have plagued our species, this war is over a subject both pointless and accentuating of the stupidity of mankind. Sleepless, Reddit-addicted fiends froth at the mouth while vehemently arguing with one another over which blockbuster war simulator to be released this summer will be more supreme. WAR! I am talking of course about the currently infamous Modern Warfare 3 versus Battlefield 3 debate.
In one corner, as the newest iteration of Activision’s yearly Call of Duty cycle, Modern Warfare 3 seeks to appease the masses of gamers who belong to the strange generation of online multiplayer that permits terrible manners and a worse sense of humour. These games are massively popular. Each consecutive release effortlessly shatters the sales records of the last and, amongst said gamers, becomes (as the saying goes) the new black. It’s an immense market, and, while the game itself looks unsurprisingly to be as minimal a departure as possible from its predecessor, Activison have woken up to the fact that people are as competitive and celebratory about these games as any form of physical sport. MW3 will be the first CoD release to work in total accordance with the new Call of Duty: Elite subscription. What this is, is essentially access to a maintained electronic sports community for CoD games for a $50 US per year fee. The subscription includes all of the basic features that you would expect it to, such as lifetime tracking of statistics and social networking options (did somebody say Facebook integration?). While it’s easy to paint this as the latest method by Activision to suck money from its army of loyal followers, the inclusion of more interesting elements, such as frequent competitions with both virtual and real-life prizes, monthly additional content, and professional strategies available to improve your skills make it seem like exactly the service it presents itself as—an option for those who consider themselves ‘elite’ (trust me, they exist) to take their gaming hobby a step further into a well designed, accessible community in which they could become legendary.
In the other corner sits Battlefield 3. To the untrained eye, both of these games look to deliver a homogeneous experience. However, as virtual recreations of modern combat go, there is much more to this comparison than a Pepsi/Coke situation. Where CoD can be seen as a sort of arcade-esque desensitisation of war, with an emphasis placed on arena style level design and pulling off ridiculous feats of skill, the Battlefield series embraces large-scale warfare and realism. In Battlefield 3, real-world physics alter the course of bullets, firefights are sudden and lethal, and structures are entirely destructible. It’s quite disconcerting knowing that, after having spent my entire gaming years safe from danger if hidden out of sight behind a wall, in BF3, an explosion could send the entire building crashing down upon me. Speaking of explosions, unlike MW3, BF3 lets the player pilot a number of different vehicles, including tanks, jets and helicopters. All of this will be delivered on the brand new, much-touted Frostbite 2 engine. This technology is set to raise the bar in terms of the technical strength behind game worlds. BF3 seems to be a perfect initial showcasing of what we can expect of the future in videogame visuals and sound, delivering an as-yet unmatched level of intensity and adrenaline in gaming.
While both of these games have an appeal in their own right, many fans of each have taken the view that the two are mutually exclusive experiences, and are quite up in arms about it. This is not an exaggeration; Anthony Abraham, a Battlefield fan, took it upon himself to buy the rights to modernwarfare3.com before Activision could, and provide both slanderous remarks towards the game and a redirection to the Battlefield 3 website. Needless to say, Abraham found himself slapped with a giant lawsuit. There’s a lesson to be learned here: rampant fanboyism achieves nothing. Let’s just pick one and keep the war to playing the games themselves, eh?