“Hey Miller, you should collect that guy’s salary. You just did his job for him.” — Miller’s tank Commander.
Jonathan Miller riding in the open hatch of his M1 Abrams tank, staring at the sky with a toy dinosaur from his son. After being brought back to attention by a crewmate, he watches as the Marine tank column cross the Kavir Desert. A pair of AH-1Z Vipers fly overhead as the tanks cross the desert, but soon rockets are fired from over a sand dune. A Marine identifies them as old Soviet BM-21s, but they appear to be no threat to the tank column. As the Marine tanks push forward, the unit leader reports that scouts had sighted PLR tanks ahead of the Marines. Miller takes up his position as tank gunner and drives the tank forward. As the Marines continue their advance, ten T-72 tanks arrive from behind a sand dune, and fire on the Abrams. The Marines halt and return fire, destroying all ten tanks. However, as the Marines resume their advance, two more T-72s fire on the Marines from behind a cloud of dust. However, the Marines activate their thermal vision, and the battle quickly goes in their favor, destroying both tanks quickly. The Marines continue their advance, pushing forward, but are halted by an artillery strike ahead of them. Miller then switches to video feed from a MAV and lazes the enemy encampment housing the rocket artillery. Two A-10s perform a strafing run, with minimal damage. Miller returns to his position while a loader loads High Explosive Anti-Tank rounds. The tanks proceed towards the enemy encampment at the berm, losing Anvil 3-2 to artillery. The tanks destroy several enemy BMPs and foot soldiers, before reaching the other side of the encampment and destroying the rocket artillery battery which explodes with multiple secondaries in succession. After the battery is destroyed, AAV-7A1s deploy friendly infantry to the position. The Anvil tanks proceed onwards, pursuing two fleeing enemy tanks. The T-72s bait them into an ambush, where six tanks assault the Abrams unit from a ridge line. Miller’s tank destroys the ambush force.
Miller’s unit reaches an enemy convoy with multiple enemy armored vehicles and infantry. The convoy is subsequently destroyed. The tanks drive to checkpoint ‘Tarmac’ while a B-1 bomber performs a run over a nearby position. The Anvil unit reaches checkpoint ‘Kilo’, a highway lined with burnt-out military and civilian vehicles. Then they reach overpass ‘Alter’ where they are hailed by a USMC engineer. Miller gets out of the tank and meets with him on foot with, equipped with an M4A1 carbine. The engineer tells Miller that his unit was ambushed by the PLR after laying minefield-clearing charges and were subsequently unable to detonate them. The tanks drive up to the frontline and cover Miller while he retrieves the clapper and detonates the charges, clearing the minefield. He re-enters the tank, this time manning the M2 Browning machine gun on the top of the tank’s turret and eliminating enemy infantry while they proceed towards the city. They come across a large amount of enemy infantry wielding RPGs and a tank at a petrol station which Miller promptly detonates with the machine gun, destroying the petrol station and tank. While approaching the overpass on the road to Tehran, Anvil 3-3 is destroyed by a Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device (VBIED), a civilian car loaded with various explosives. The other tank commanders report a catastrophic kill, meaning the tank was completely destroyed. They halt under the underpass while Miller destroys four more VBIEDs and anti-tank infantry on the overpass. The tanks then proceed towards downtown Tehran after receiving a command for mission reorientation.
- Apparently, the inclusion of dinosaurs was something the Battlefield community had really wanted, although I wouldn’t have found the inclusion of dedicated game-types to be particularly suited for such a game. On the other hand, by including dinosaurs as Easter eggs, the developers have found a way to incorporate fan-inspired elements into the game without affecting the game itself.
- In the multiplayer, I’ve spent a total of an hour and forty minutes in a tank (of my 21 hours of accumulated play-time so far) and have nearly enough points to unlock the 50-caliber co-axial machine gun.
- The M1A2 in the campaign comes with the 7.62mm co-axial LMG, as well as both the thermal optics and zoom optics. Owing to the way the tank performs, it appears the tank also comes with the maintenance perk and an auto-loader. In multiplayer, armour players have are limited to a passive and active perk, as well as one secondary weapon.
- Earlier, a squadron of A-10 Thunderbolts strafed an enemy position, emphasising that warfare is seldom conducted with just tanks: there is a great deal of support from air forces, as well, and while all of the branches are very proud of their roles, the effectiveness of present-day war machines arise largely because of the use of a combination of ground and air superiority.
- With these elements in mind, setups like Girls und Panzer or World of Tanks are hardly ideal representations of proper military tactics, although that isn’t to say they lack merit. From a personal perspective, the former is meaningful for the same reason Saki is meaningful, while my stance on the latter has not changed and is now unlikely to do so because of unnecessary interference from an unqualified individual that will likely negatively affect gameplay even further.
- Assuming we duel on skill alone, this is the outcome of what would happen if I skirmished the entire “Mädchen und Panzer” World of Tanks clan all at once: a pile of flaming wreckage with me as the sole victor.
- I’ve now reached the freeway at this point, which means switching off as the tank operator and returning to machine gunner’s role. A long time ago, when I still drafted articles for TV Tropes, I got into a scuffle with another contributor over the passive voice: whereas they believe that the active voice is the only means of writing, there are several cases where the passive voice is preferred, switching emphasis to the patient rather than the agent. Naturally, a skilled writer uses both voices when the situation calls for it (an unskilled writer only knows one style and fails to see the merits of other approaches), rather like how a skilled programmer will know when to use iteration and when to use recursion.
- Of course, I haven’t contributed anything since May 2013, with most of my time now dedicated towards my own endeavours (like playing Battlefield 3 and reading Tom Clancy’s novels) rather than exchanging blows with individuals who can’t even write over something I won’t gain credit from. Thus, we may return to Battlefield 3, where I have now detonated the mines and are thanked for doing so. While the soldier who was originally tasked with priming the trigger might be seen as not doing his job properly, listening carefully to the tone of his voice suggests at the kind of fear he’s experienced, hence his (understandable) lack of inclination to grab the detonator. This is a subtle moment, but one that again, contributes to the atmospherics in Battlefield 3.
- The .50 Browning Machine Gun (12.7×99mm NATO) cartridge is one of the most powerful rounds available. Originally designed as an anti-air round, its stopping power made it suitable for stopping ground vehicles, as well, and the ballistic coefficient of the round is sufficiently high as to make it a good choice for anti-materiel rifles.
- The mission ends once this overpass is reached. “Thunder run” was one of the missions showcased early on during the Battlefield 3 marketing campaign, and having completed the mission, I can say that the mission does not disappoint. It’s the perfect balance of giving players autonomy over a tried-and-true 61.3 tonne war machine, and allowing them to relax a little during linear scenes.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is how tank missions are done. The seventh mission in the Battlefield 3 campaign is, very simply put, stunning: nowhere else in the game (besides the next mission) allows players to take control of an M1A2 Abrams that feels like the real deal. Whereas in the multiplayer, the M1A2 is balanced such that it is statistically identical to the Soviet T-90 Main Battle Tank, the campaign sees the tank given performance similar to the real world, being able to sustain several grazing hits from the enemy T-72s, and returning the favour to them using sabot rounds that blow them out of the water in a single hit. The M1A2 is a solid piece of military hardware known for its durability, and the campaign is the one place where players get to experience this. Compared to Bad Company 2‘s “Heavy Metal” mission, “Thunder Run” feels much more satisfying, giving players access to the M1A2’s full suite of tools needed to down enemy armour: simply put, the tank feels powerful and thus, very enjoyable to operate, whereas in Bad Company 2, it took several HEAT rounds to down enemy infantry fighting vehicles. Besides the tank combat, the player also has the chance to kick back during the rail shooter phase of the mission, eliminating enemy vehicles along stretches of the Tehran freeway. These elements give “Thunder Run” solid atmospherics and execution, and indeed, I wondered if Battlefield 4 would feature a similarly fun mission set in the freeways of the Suzhou-Hangzhou region; many summers ago, I was on a tour of the area and thoroughly enjoyed the setting. One evening, after a dinner with a deep-fried whole fish as the centerpiece, our tour group boarded the bus and made its way along the freeway by night. With Rie Tanaka’s “Soshite Sekai Wa Kyou mo Hajimaru” playing on my iPod Touch, we drove along the freeway, lit with LED-railings that alternated colours periodically. Those moments have never left me, and I have since wondered if games will go about capturing those feelings in their settings. How does this pertain to “Thunder Run”? Technically, it doesn’t, as this is me reminiscing about one of my favourite freeway trips, although I will say again that “Thunder Run” is one of the most entertaining missions in the campaign, if only because it is able to really capture the power of the M1A2 to conclude this post.