How much fun is the hoo-ha between Modern Warfare 3 and Battlefield 3? The disguised mud-slinging! The faux-manly posturing! Bobby Kotick trying to play BF3 at E3! I’ve been in fanboy arguments before and they aren’t particularly pleasant, but in this case I don’t give a monkeys about either title, so the whole shebang is just ludicrous fun. The FPS champ takes on the past master; it’s like watching José Mourinho against Brian Clough in a match laid on especially for my benefit.
Oh fine, I’ll lay off the footballing analogies.
Today it was the turn of the COD-ites (I’m copywriting that) to have a swing, but amusingly enough the punch missed the point entirely. Glen Schofield, the boss of Sledgehammer Games, which is giving Infinity Ward a helping hand on Modern Warfare 3, stuck with the current trend of this particular debate by focusing on the technical side of things, which I honestly thought the industry had grown out of – but not these guys! Here’s a little of what he had to say in a recent Ausgamers interview:
“…bottom line is, [Modern Warfare 3] will run at 60 frames a second. Not sure any of our competitors will.”
“I’d be a little scared at this point – in June – if I was looking forward to a particular game that wasn’t on the console and running at 60…”
“60 is our competitive edge and you just don’t throw that away.”
So the only thing that makes MW3 better than its rivals is…[drum roll]…the frame rate. Pow! Biff! Boom!…hang on – isn’t that a bit, well, naff? True enough, the human eye can notice the difference between 30 and 60fps, but to make it the crucial point of differentiation between one game and another? No amount of technical guff is going to mark MW3 as a better product than BF3. The ‘competitive edge’ of Activision’s series is obvious: it’s the name, a name as recognisable as anything in popular culture at the moment. Battlefield might be a venerable, revered old series, but in terms of impact outside of the core gaming community the title ‘Call of Duty’ is leagues ahead.
This sort of technical points-scoring is undertaken pretty much solely for the ears of the hardcore market, the readership of magazines and news sites like CVG or Eurogamer, so it’s understandable that such issues are raised. Yet hardcore gamers are just as likely to side with gameplay over graphics than even the biggest gaming luddite. So why bother even mentioning it? This sort of comment has the faint smell of nervousness about it, the need to grab any advantage and proclaim it as loudly as possible, however meagre it is.
Then comes the funniest comment of all.
“You don’t ship an engine, you ship a game.”
Sound the contradiction alarm! I have a feeling I’m being snide and tacky in this post (a big feeling, but hey, I’m having fun) but is this not a colossally stupid way to end an interview in which you have just touted the technical capabilities of your game? Schofield attacked BF3‘s highly regarded Frostbite 2 engine throughout the interview, and this last comment is a seemingly worthwhile counter – were it not for his own championing of MW3‘s technical chops throughout. The BF3 team are on record as having said that their lower framerate was in place to accommodate more players, detail and destructive capability in their game, but bizarrely Schofield equates better fps, an arbitrary technical figure, with better gameplay, which requires far more creativity. To be honest, he’s had a bit of a shocker.
If I was a loyalist on either side I’d be jubilant or raging at this news. As it is, the whole thing can only get more hilarious if the BF3 team respond with a ‘your mum’ taunt.