By Alexander Saucedo, La Crosse Public Library Gaming Assistant
The last quarter of the year is a big season for games. Some of the most popular games are “First Person Shooters” (FPS). Two are currently in a pitched battle for Blockbusterdom: Modern Warfare 3 (MW3) and Battlefield 3 (BF3). Whether buying for a gaming group or for yourself or someone else, you want to know the differences between them. A third, small company has made its own overlooked entry, Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad (RO2). Although it won’t make as big an impact, it’s a quality game worth considering.
Players can have very strong debates over which is better, but you can’t think of one as better than another if you think of each as a different kind of game. Each of the three runs on a different style of play. MW3 is comparable to an arcade game, with flashy gadgets and a central “deathmatch” mode of play that involves beating the other team’s/player’s killcounts. Its players typically are looking for a quick thrill or a contest of twitch-reactions. Battlefield 3 is a big-battles shooter. It’s appreciated the most for its large variety of vehicles and big, 64-player battles. RO2 is a simulator, where you don’t heal at all after being wounded and everything is modeled to be similar to the Battle of Stalingrad. The choice audience is people who enjoy more patient, challenging shooter games or historical reenactment.
Each has its own feel. The MW3 single-player story modes often end with a “yay-America” note, and since its first installment (Call of Duty: Modern Warfare) it kills off successively more of the characters you play as, usually with nukes. It was powerful in the first game because most games don’t kill off the character you play as, but since then it hasn’t exactly been known for its stories. In its multiplayer you want to be the best; if you win you feel “like a boss”. The feel in BF3 is of being one of a group. Completing things for your squad is rewarded more than if you complete things outside of it, and most games involve objectives that are hard to complete solo. RO2 simulates the Battle of Stalingrad, and it gives a very full feel. It’s so easy to die that the tension can be palpable, and your soldier has many heartstring-pulling lines.
All of them can be fairly demanding if played on PC. MW3 and BF3 are available on consoles, RO2 is exclusive to PC. From most to least demanding is BF3, MW3, and RO2. Battlefield 3 is undoubtedly the most impressive, especially considering that most things in a level can be destroyed. I showed my boss a trailer for it and he couldn’t believe it wasn’t “pre-rendered”, a term that means it was made outside of the game.
For parties or a quick game with friends, MW3 works well if you are playing it on Xbox. Four players can use one TV and jump in and fight each other for a few minutes at a time.
For larger games players can get invested in, play BF3 on PCs. I’ve played it since its Open Beta, and each battle is a war of attrition.
For a challenging game that encourages, or maybe forces players to work together, play RO2. In MW3 getting a kill on another player is a casual thing, but in RO2 getting a kill (or surviving long enough to complete an objective) is satisfying because of how hard it is. It is the only game on this list without the possibility of bringing an allied player back to life after dying. It is also the cheapest on this list.
Each game has its own appeals, and all of them are competing for your purchase this Christmas. The game-snobs’ consensus is that MW3 is too casual, and BF3 at least doesn’t have as many promotions and purchasable content to sully it, and RO2 is hardcore. But everyone has their own tastes. If you give up, I would personally recommend Team Fortress 2 for PC. It’s free!
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 will be available for Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Wii, and PC on November 8. It retails for $60.
Battlefield 3 is available for Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Wii, and PC. It retails for $60.
Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad is available on PC. It retails for $40.