For months, EA has been pitching Battlefield 3 as a Modern Warfare killer, an aspiration reviews and sales figures have punctured none-too-gently. Beating Call of Duty was only one of the publisher's objectives with Battlefield 3, however; the other was to establish the Frostbite 2 engine as an in-house middleware platform, readily adapted to a range of game types.
Does EA have an Unreal Engine style success on its hands? According to Need for Speed: The Run producer Alex Grimbley, the answer's yes.
Powered by DICE's building-toppling tech, The Run is a handsome game. "We've been working on it for two and a half years with DICE, and we love it," Grimbley told us during an interview. "It's really easy to work with, it allows us to iterate really fast, so when the creative group have an idea, we can throw it in there really quickly and see if it works. The more iteration we can do, the faster and quicker you get to quality, and have more time at the end, so that's really useful for us.
The Run is built to exploit certain of Frostbite 2's headline features. "There are cool things we got with the engine, where it's how do we manipulate the design to take advantage of that, like the destruction of the environment - the avalanche level is an idea of how we can go down that route, play to the strengths of the engine. And obviously it looks amazing, we really like the look of it."
At this stage in the Xbox 360's life, publishers are commissioning engines with one eye on what next generation consoles may offer. "I don't really know what the plans are for next gen, but I think as an engine now it's fantastic, definitely leading its class," Grimbley commented when we asked whether he agreed with Battlefield 3 producer Patrick Bach's claim that Frostbite 2 is ready for Xbox 720. "We wouldn't have picked any other engine to reboot the action driving game."
Our Need for Speed: The Run review will be with you shortly. Read the rest of the interview here.