Monday, January 23, 2012

Battlefield 3 PS3 v. PC Observations

I've been playing Battlefield 3 since its release in late October 2011.  I've been playing on both the PS3 and PC platforms.  Some things that need to be stated up front, because neither platform is equal...and they both have their good and bad things.

Things that are equal:
  • Playing at 1080p, 30fps on both platforms
  • Potential for good K/D ratios
Things that are not equal, and better on the PC:
  • Anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering work beautifully on the PC with a decent video card
  • Textures are better on the PC
  • Fire, smoke, explosions, and particle effects are beautiful on the PC
  • Lighting effects are a little better, especially in that they chose to allow light to shine through windows in the PC version.
  • Potential frame-rate is tons better, though I had to keep vertical-sync on to stop all the tearing and blur looking horizontally
Things that are not equal, and better on the PS3:
  • Building designs.  Though the textures of the models are clearly better on the PC, it appears that EA acknowledged this and gave us more complicated building models as a gimme.
  • Load times.  Unless you are running a SSD for Battlefield 3 on your PC, all load times for maps and matches are faster on the PS3.  I wager this is because the models are simply lower resolution on the PS3.
  • Match-ups.  Quick-match works beautifully on the PS3...balancing teams pretty well, and picking populated servers.
  • Simplicity of the interface.
I mention all the graphical notes because there is something very important to realize prior to thinking that clearly the PC version is the version to choose.  The biggest thing to realize is that when you are quickly moving from place-to-place on the terrain, from kill-to-kill, etc...you are (for the most part) NOT going to notice all the graphical strengths that the PC offers.  Frankly, you lose most the added richness of the PC version in the motion.

I've had a couple people argue with me on these notse, and I'm sure more people will, but largely when you are very active in gameplay, like the game encourages...you don't notice the graphical differences.

Other annoyances on the PC version:
  • You must use Origin to play, plus a web-browser plugin to pick your match.  Once you pick the server you want, then it spawns the Battlefield 3 game.
  • Long load times.  Again, beautiful models mean more load-time.
  • Connection problems.  Often I get failed connections with Origin.
  • Crashes.  I've had the game crash on many occasions.
  • Quick-match doesn't seem to work.  I've had friends say I'm wrong about this, but I've never had quick-match for a conquest map put me on a server with any population.  Perhaps if you have ZERO criterion checked, then it works...dunno.
  • The web interface for choosing a server is just poor altogether.  You can check a bunch of criteria for what server you want to play on pretty easily, but the interface is busy and doesn't refresh itself especially well.  Also, there is no 'link' between your BF3 web-page chat and Origin's chat.
  • The web interface lies to me.  It says very specifically this text:  "You own Back to Karkand. get ready to play it!"  But I don't own it.
Another thing that I have to spout about is the cultural difference between the PS3 players and the PC players.  A friend of mine has said that hardcore gamers are playing on the PC.  I believe him. People seem much more serious on the PC, to the point where they are pretty much angry, or at least so it seems. So, the volume of angry chatter and trash-talk is off the scale...so thankfully most of it is just in the text window.

So, as I continue to play both versions (actually, I've given the PC version more actual hours of gameplay), I am more and more frustrated with the PC version, perhaps because of the annoyances...perhaps because of the people.  When I play games, I really am looking for a stress-free diversion and a bit of fun.  Long load-times, more cluttered interfaces, occasional crashes,  connection failures, differences in map limitations, and lots of trash-talk make the PC version more of a chore that a diversion to play.

If you are a hardcore gamer, by all means play the PC version, because you will get all the graphical enhancements and server choices that you probably want.  If you are more of a casual gamer who loves Battlefield, but just wants to jump in for a few diversionary matches, then a console like the PS3 is definitely more for you.