With the release only a week away, Battlefield 3 videos are popping up all over the show lately.  The beta’s been cranking too, showing off the Metro and Caspian Border maps, and other than people who don’t know what “beta” means, everyone seems pretty excited about Battlefield 3.

Last night, courtesy of Sony, I got my hands on a short single player section of gameplay on the PS3.  The mission was from Operation Guillotine, and involved storming an apartment building in the middle of the night.

It was an early build, and wasn’t exactly super stable or glitch-free.  Dropped weapons sometimes hovered above the ground as if by magic, and parts of tall trees, silhouetted against the spectacular city skyline, would flicker in and out of existence.  Overall though, the graphics are pretty much as advertised, which is to say really effing good.  The lighting effects trump anything I’ve seen in a shooter, and add immeasurably to the atmosphere.  The texture resolution is such that you can see the weave of the canvas sandbags (behind which you cower from enemy fire) in unnecessarily excellent detail.

Speaking of cowering, the blur effect from suppressing fire is well and truly present in the single player.  It’s kind of a pain in the arse, making it easy to get pinned down in a crossfire… which is of course, the whole point.  Realism there.

I made a point of grabbing as many different guns as I could from fallen enemies, and speaking of realism, each of them feels like a different gun, and as much like a real gun as is possible via a TV screen and Dualshock controller.  The recoil is very much a thing, though fine aiming wasn’t too difficult once I’d turned the sensitivity down a touch.  One little feature I noticed was a sort of snap-to when zooming in.  I found if I had an enemy soldier more or less in my sights, hitting L1 to zoom into the iron sight (or whatever was equipped) would leave me aiming straight at the target, dead centre.  At first I thought it a bit of a cheat, but it makes snap shooting one hell of a lot easier; on a par with using a mouse, which I suppose was the intention.  I haven’t played the multiplayer beta on console, but I’m guessing this doesn’t happen in multi.  Because, damn.

DICE have said all sorts of words about character animation, and those words have turned out to be true, which is nice.  The AI soldiers move about in an impressively realistic fashion, and watching an enemy stumble to all fours after copping a 5.56mm round through the leg is just… just a joy.  “Take that,” I’d say.

The demo section was over all too soon.  After busting through some doors (in slow motion, no less) and capping some more dudes, my squad emerged into a street, jumped into some Humvees and drove off into the loading screen.

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