It was actually a beta! These days when developers tell you that they're doing a multiplayer beta, it usually means they're doing a multiplayer demo which you can only access by redeeming a code. The price they pay in spreadsheet maintenance is covered by the resulting media frenzy.
But when DICE put out Medal of Honor for testing in June, it turns out the Swedish developer - handling the multiplayer component while Danger Close does the campaign - really was still making the game. Senior producer Patrick Liu admits that Battlefield: Bad Company 2 didn't enjoy the same luxury - you may have fed back, but it was too late for release.
So what's changed? Pretty much everything you bleated about, by the sound of it. Medal of Honor multiplayer is now faster, weapons have more recoil, damage levels have been tweaked, and support actions - allowing you to call in mortars or Hellfire, which you earn through competence in combat - have been tweaked so that it's harder to unlock them and there's greater balance between the offensive and defensive alternatives you're offered.
Hit detection, i.e. whether the guy you just shot was actually shot in the game's eyes, is "significantly better" (Liu blames the poor beta code on Bad Company 2 - poor old Bad Company 2), while there are more weapons, the heads-up display has been overhauled so it's sober and unintrusive, movement code has been tweaked, and animations, sounds and level art have had some work done too... All this since June, eh?
Has it paid off? Over three hours of play with a bunch of random European journalists, none of whom care about working together, it's hard to tell. But we are able to get a better sense of multiplayer overall, because whereas you had two maps and two modes to sample, we get to play all four game modes across five of the game's complement of eight arenas.
The first mode is Team Assault - team deathmatch, in essence. Not very exotic, admittedly, but "that's what most people are actually playing" according to Liu. Then there's Sector Control, where each map has three capture points to take over and hold. There's also Objective Raid - the fastest of the four modes, with rounds lasting three to five minutes - where insurgents try to overwhelm two Coalition positions. Finally there's Combat Mission - the slowest mode - where one team tries to push the other back, checkpoint by checkpoint.
But wait, we've all been lied to, because there's also a fifth mode that we don't get to play. Hard Core mode switches on friendly fire and turns off regenerating health, ammo pickups from enemies, crosshairs and the mini-map (unless you activate a UAV - one of the support actions). It will be fully customisable on PC dedicated servers and there will be a range of configurations available on consoles.
What it all adds up to is a simple and well-designed set of multiplayer battles where life is so cheap that it's on offer at Lidl, played out at a pace closer to Quake III Arena than anything.
As you may remember, there are three classes - the basic Rifleman, Special Ops and Sniper - and they hold few surprises. We end up favouring Spec Ops for his attractive mixture of accurate, heavy firepower (including an RPG), although customising the Sniper's loadout to a slower, longer-ranged scope is also a favourite. And sometimes we just want to use a shotgun.
The menu may be basic, but the meals are still rich with potential, and that's largely thanks to the tasty maps they're served on. Garmzir Town is a rural gathering of clay huts of varying heights, with a river running through it and a couple of bridges. There are lots of shady rooms with exciting sight lines for snipers, and dumb Riflemen seem to enjoy funnelling along those bridges.
Then there's Diwagal Camp, an outpost on top of a hill, bordered by rat runs constructed from supply crates and mesh netting and perfect for close-quarters combat - something many felt Bad Company 2 did poorly, and something at which Medal of Honor seems to be much better. We pick up a good few knife kills here when the shotgun doesn't solve the problem.
Kandahar Marketplace, meanwhile, is a suburban hamlet, flat and strewn with rubble and detritus. Again, there are long sight lines, but this time snipers find it harder to escape violent censure with so many angles of approach to each pocket of cover.
Kunar Base is an old army base piled high with broken down old Soviet tanks and abandoned Coalition goodies, and it goes in phases - great for snipers initially, as one side tries to break through a roadblock with support (though not playable support) from a tank, before things become more intimate in a hangar and then exposed again on an airstrip.
Shahikot Mountains, the fifth and final map, is our venue for Combat Mission. It's a long, snakelike strip of a battlefield, all snow and rock, where Coalition forces have to secure and evacuate a downed chinook at the far end, traversing narrow mountain paths, caves and frozen rivers on the way. Snipers will dine out on it for as long as it takes someone to start throwing smoke grenades.
12 on 12 feels like the right number of players for each, and most modes are available across all five arenas. With limited time we don't get to mix it up that much, but the diversity and quality of the level design is already apparent - each map likely to draw different strategies from fans of each class, which should have you spreading your experience across all three and levelling up equally along the way.
The difference between Medal of Honor and other multiplayer shooters - even DICE's own Bad Company 2 - may be in balance and simplicity. As you progress through the game's levelling arc, your range of options increases horizontally rather than vertically, so a skilled newcomer should still be able to take down an impulsive veteran.
There are still some tweaks ahead - we spawn right into the muzzle of an enemy gun a few times - but this isn't quite final code, and in any event DICE clearly has the patience and appetite to amend its work if feedback suggests it's worth doing. It has done so far anyway.
Does it do enough to drag people away from Bad Company 2, and distract people from the prospect of multiplayer in Call of Duty: Black Ops, which already looks substantial? We shall have to wait and see, but if a fast-moving meritocracy is what you're after rather than killstreaks, then this is worth keeping an eye on.
Medal of Honor is due out for PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 on 15th October.