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Battlefield 3: Poised to take the throne from Call of Duty?

Victory is near...

"We've been investing for three years to build Battlefield 3. I think it will stand up as the best product in the industry this year."

So says EA's CEO John Riccitiello, essentially whipping his manhood out and inviting Activision CEO Bobby Kotick to put up or shut up.

Yes, we've got yet another 'Is shooter X this year's Call Of Duty killer?' situation - but the main difference here is that, if DICE can deliver what they're promising with Battlefield 3, there's little chance that CoD will be able to keep up.

For many, ourselves included, Battlefield is already ahead of Call Of Duty when it comes to online. Bad Company 2 offers a unique blend of unrivalled design, simple but effective game modes, and a selection of toys that tease out the creative side of shooter fans.

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The result is an incredibly well populated multiplayer game with a dedicated, friendly, but competitive community that fervently swears by the Battlefield name.

In fact, the only real reason Battlefield doesn't already sell in the mega-millions like Call of Duty is that Bad Company 2, the latest entry in the series, was the first time DICE offered the proper Battlefield multiplayer experience outside of the PC.

STAY FROSTY
And we haven't even reached the good part yet... Battlefield 3 looks a step up from Bad Company 2. Not just a small step either, but a giant, size-12 military grade boot step forwards.

It's the proud stride EA are hoping will take the franchise over the headless body of Infinity Ward and onto top spot in the charts this Christmas.

The thing that's giving Riccitiello and all the folks at DICE confidence is the Frostbite 2 engine. It's the tech they've spent three years creating, and it's looking to be worth every penny.

It provides the already talented devs with Crysis 2-topping visuals (the lighting and colour palettes are incredible) and the ability to destroy each level in a way that makes even Red Faction seem amateurish.

Technically, it's so far ahead of Infinity Ward's CoD engine, they seem a generation apart. However, it's what DICE can craft with these tools that will make the difference between resounding success and merely 'doing well'.

The Swedish dev's Achilles' heel has always been single-player, mainly because their brand of open, creative, team-based warfare just doesn't translate to the 'corridor full of fireworks' style of solo missions we're accustomed to in games. Battlefield's best moments emerge from gameplay - they aren't scripted set-pieces.

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BREAKING BAD HABITS
This time around the Bad Company moniker has been ditched, so don't expect a return tour for Marlowe, Sweetwater, Redford and Haggard. It's all about serious warfare in serious locations.

EA have announced missions in Tehran, but details of conflicts in Paris and New York have also leaked out. Yes, we've fought in NYC hundreds of millions of times before, but no, we can't wait to see how Frostbite takes those skyscrapers apart... Other details on the solo campaign are scarce.

Levels are being designed to accommodate both troop and vehicle combat, so expect much wider corridors than the ones you see in CoD, but aside from that little is known. Pacing is a key issue for the team, meaning the story won't be a continual assault on the senses, allowing you to appreciate the hectic firefights more.

Oh, and there will be a full-on earthquake during one level, which we're calling now as a potential 'genre-defining' moment. Multiplayer info is more fleshed out, and let's face it, that's what you showed up for.

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