“He didn’t stop it.” — Henry Blackburn
The GRU agents begin by infiltrating the PLR staging area for the gas attack, the EURONEXT Paris Stock Exchange. The three – Dima, Kiril, and Vladimir, make their way through the parking garage of the building, but quickly lose the element of surprise and engaging the PLR operatives without care for stealth. Once inside, the agents move and clear various offices and rooms, killing all of the PLR operatives to be found. As they move, they try to stay within range of Dima’s jammer, which would prevent the nuclear weapon from detonating. However, as they find the bomb carrier on the basement area, the man flees, and subsequently begins the gas attack, prompting the GRU agents (and any PLR operatives remaining) to put on the gas masks they had brought along. The gas begins to seep in through the walls, and very quickly, kills anybody who does not have a gas mask. Dima and his team continue to move and pursue the bomb carrier from the different areas of the building, with the chase starting from the gas attack, to different office rooms, and up the main control room up to the main entrance. When they come across a PLR assault on the police who had taken up a position outside the Stock Exchange, initially the GRU agents wait, believing the police would drive the carrier back towards them. However, as Dima attempts to apprehend the carrier, he turns again and successfully darts through the police blockade, leaving the GRU agents and the remaining PLR operatives to contend with the Gendarmerie. Dima and the others attempt to move quickly through the wreckage and abandoned cars where the police are taking cover. They engage and kill any of the police who stand in their way, including several GIGN officers who arrive on scene to assist the police officers on scene. As the GRU agents come near to catching the operative, who had taken off down a small alley, an RPG streaks by, nearly striking Dima and Kiril, but instead hitting a bus behind the two. Vladimir is struck, both by the blast and by a large piece of shrapnel resulting from the blast, which impales him through the chest. As he dies, Dima moves Vladimir to rest up against a wall, and then continues with Kiril, although his hearing is temporarily deafened from the RPG explosion. Dima and Kiril keep moving after the bomb carrier, killing anybody who gets in their way, even as the PLR and Gendarmerie trade fire in the streets. Finally, Dima manages to catch up to the carrier. After a melee fight, Dima kills the operative by tossing his body onto the nearby metro tracks. Dima and Kiril then open the duffel bag the nuclear weapon was supposed to be in, only to find it was a ruse. After several seconds, the real nuclear weapon detonates some distance away at the EURONEXT exchange.
- I played through this mission a couple of times now: of all the missions in the game, Dima’s are the most exciting and well-designed.
- Exhibition screenshots often depicted the firefight in the EURONEXT parkade to showcase all of the lighting and water effects. Dima is equipped with the AS-VAL, an assault rifle with a built-in suppressor and the AKS-74u carbine. The suppressed assault rifle indicates that this is supposed to be a stealth mission, although as the mission wears on, the stealth element becomes less critical.
- I typically choose to lose the AS-VAL for a shotgun a ways into the mission, since much of it is at close quarters. Again, carefully note the water effects imparted by the sprinkers. The parkade fight is one of the missions in Battlefield 3 that got the most attention following its release, and most searches for screenshots will yield images of this phase in the mission.
- After the PLR use chemical weapons to gas the building, Dima and company don gas masks, complete with the light effects of having a mask over one’s face. Dima cannot take the mask of manually during this phase of the game, so there’s no need to worry about accidentally taking it off mid-firefight.
- On the other hand, the heavy amounts of enemy fire are something to worry about. The destruction in Frostbite 2.0 makes a minor comeback here, as walls and office cubicles get blasted apart by gunfire; although it’s nothing like Bad Company 2′s destruction, it contributes to each gun having a powerful feeling.
- The reds and greens of the EURONEXT building are a fine example of modern Western European architecture. Ever since I was in middle school, I took an immediate loving to the modern, minimalist interior designs found in modern European buildings, which combine function and simplicity to yield futuristic-looking buildings.
- The campaign offers the player a chance to see a chandelier shatter in the lobby. Outside, a small army of SWAT officers wait, and though it is unfortunate to do so, Dima must open fire on the local law enforcement to clear a path towards the escaping PLR bomb carrier. I’m equipped with the Heckler and Koch MP7 here, a weapon that can be unlocked for use in multiplayer upon acquiring enough points in the co-op missions. I’m itching to try it, but insofar have not attempted the co-op missions yet.
- My curiosity about Paris led me to begin reading about the Paris Quarries, an abandoned tunnel network sprawling below the streets of Paris. Originally, these were stone mines on the outskirts of Paris that provided building materials, but over time, the city grew over them, and they were abandoned. A small portion of this network houses the Catacombs of Paris: housing the remains of some six million individuals, visitors have noted ghostly chills and shadows watching them while taking guided tours of the mines.
- Visitors with the courage to dive into the uncharted mines often find themselves lost, although for a group of individuals, exploring the mines is a hobby in the same way that I game as a hobby. Returning back to Battlefield 3, Vladimir’s death came as a surprise and put a dampener on the mission: suddenly, finding that nuke became all the more important.
- A game that can project emotions beyond the screen is an excellent game: although Battlefield 3 is only able to do this on some occasions, when it does, it adds a depth to the game and for an instant, makes the player feel like they’re a part of the world. Kiril’s discovery and sudden sense of fear, coupled with helplessness, permeated the screen and evoked memories of an exam that did the same for me.
I got my copy of Battlefield 3 after the major campaign bugs were patched, and as such, I got to continue experiencing the campaign. Contrasting “Operation Guilliotine”, “Comrades” is one of my two favourite missions in the game. It has beautiful graphics, taking place in Paris. Complementing this level is a solid shooting experience and above all else, captivating atmospherics. After shooting through the EURONEXT building to hunt down the bomb carrier, the fighting carries over to the city streets, and the GRU operatives note the moral implications of their actions as they gun down the Parisian law enforcement and PLR alike in their efforts to stop a nuclear detonation. Even after losing Vladimir and coming close, their efforts fall short. The kind of helplessness that Kiril feels when seeing the dummy suitcase was very contageous, and despite knowing how the story goes already, I nonetheless got the same feeling I had the misfortune of experiencing long ago on an exam. This is the atmospherics that Battlefield 3 has at its finest; although the campaign isn’t revolutionary, there are moments where it shines, and very few other places in the game shine quite as brightly as “Comrades” in terms of execution. This ended up being the mission I opted to play once again on New Year’s Eve 2013 after a dinner of seafood rice in Alfredo sauce and Alaskan King Crab; for a moment, I forgot that 2014 would soon be upon us, for my goal was simply to stop a nuclear detonation that I knew wouldn’t be stoppable…