Battlefield 3's booth at Gamescom was not fucking around. Inside its cavernous hall, at the end of an hours-long wait, were 64 personal computers and an 18-minute round of the game's multiplayer.
It's quite the experience.
Taking place on the game's Caspian Border map, an enormous expanse of creeks, hills, plains and buildings, the demo throws 32 American soldiers against 32 Russians in a classic game of Battlefield's multiplayer, each side scrambling to control points on the map.
This is a map that's been shown off before in trailers and screenshots (like the one above). It looked great there, and in person (admittedly, on a monster machine), it looked...just as great. It's not often you get shot in a multiplayer game because you got caught staring at the effect a tree's shadow had on the running water in a small stream.
More importantly than its looks, though, this played like the same old Battlefield. Playing as infantry, aiming is sharp and responsive. Vehicles were easy to learn but hard to master (though I did shoot a helicopter down with an Abrams at first attempt). There's great and constant visual feedback on where everybody on your team is and, more importantly, where all the spotted bad guys are as well.
Prior to the match kicking off, I had access to the customisation system, which had many items and weapons already unlocked. There was a great deal of scope for individuality here, players able to create their own ideal loadout of weapons, gear and powerups but since I only had one game to try it out on, there's not much more to report on it.
Amazingly, considering I only had 18 minutes of play time, I managed to man a buggy's machine gun, drive a tank and even stroll uncontested into the cockpit of an F-18 (then fly uncontested into the side of a building). Just like the infantry, control of a vehicle and the aiming of their weapons was smooth as butter, especially the tank.
Like the PS3 version, this was supposedly "alpha" code. I have my doubts in this case though, since this looked absolutely ready to go, but whatever! Oh, and since some of you will have some very particular questions about the nuances of the mode, ask them in the comments below and I'll do my best to answer them.