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Two pictures show how far Battlefield 3’s 3D graphics have come

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A picture is worth a thousand words. Electronic Arts is launching Battlefield 3 on Oct. 25. The screenshot above shows you what the images in the 3D combat game will look like on a PC. Compare that to a shot from Battlefield 2 (pictured below), which was released as a state-of-the-art game in 2005.

Battlefield 3 is one of the best-looking titles being released this fall, and it will compete with some of the best games of the holiday season for the hearts and minds of gamers.

Of course, rival Activision Blizzard, maker of Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 debuting on Nov. 8, will likely point out that it’s how those images move during actual game play that will determine just how cool they are to gamers. Activision Blizzard says its game will look great at 60 frames per second, while Battlefield 3 will run at 60 frames per second on the PC and only 30 frames per second on consoles.

Gamers are going to expect graphics that look as beautiful as Battlefield 3 from this day forward. That means game companies are going to have to make heavy investments in graphics or just go home.

It’s quite possible that Battlefield 3 will sell some high-end PC hardware. Valve’s Steam digital distribution service conducted a survey of gamers recently and found that only 16 percent of its customers have computers capable of running Battlefield 3 at the recommended hardware specification, requiring an Nvidia graphics chip at the level of the GTX 460 or better.