Previews

Battlefield 3 beta: The series at its online best?

We infiltrate the Battlefield 3 multiplayer beta...

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The visual contrast between the underground and natural upper areas is quite startling. As expected all the features of modern day subway, such as advert boards, floating signs, litter and bright, uncomfortable looking plastic seats are present. But there's also an atmospheric change, it's a lot darker and, as the battle progresses, a thick layer of dust develops and damage to the fixtures and trains results in flickering lights and sparking electrical boxes.

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In terms of the impact on gameplay it means you've got to be a lot more mindful of your surroundings and pay attention to sounds. Since your visibility is severely lowered, the occasional uncharacteristic flicker of light, slight movement or distant sound could be the tip off you need to defend yourself against an ambush.

Of course, as always, it's also important to stick with your teammates and spot your enemy at every opportunity. We can't count the number of times our spot alerted a better positioned friendly soldier, who went on to save our behinds from being riddled with bullets.

If we're being honest, from what we've played, there aren't any huge additions that fundamentally change what Battlefield is about. DICE has spent years crafting and honing this core experience and, given how popular the multiplayer is, it wouldn't be smart to alienate its substantial fanbase by making massive changes.

Much of the appeal comes from the new wrapper, the power of the new Frostbite engine is undeniable. The game looks absolutely gorgeous and runs silky smooth. While we did come across some odd hitches here and there, that's to be expected at the beta stage.

Overall it's an exhilarating, dynamic and constantly challenging multiplayer experience. The tactical, precise nature of the Battlefield games has always been what sets them apart from their competitors and Battlefield 3 feels like it could be the series at its best.

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