The mortar rounds illuminate enemies - including sandbagged machinegun emplacements - camped on the riverside and at the tops of stone staircases leading in the direction of the presumed apartment complex, so we all try to flank them.

One of our colleagues tosses a grenade into the first nest and it explodes in a convincing flash of pyrotechnics, the leftover enemies spilling down the riverbank into our gun-sights. Then we move up on the last MG nest and, as its occupants pump rounds out over the bags into the gloom, we move alongside and let rip with our assault rifle, leaving them in a bullet-ridden heap. Then a grenade lands and blows them up for good measure.

With the MGs out of the equation, the remains of the assault force advance to the apartments through rough, knee-high scrub. We switch to a shotgun with a laser sight and slap down enemies trundling out of the building, then climb some stairs to get to the front door.

There's another machinegun poking out of a ground floor window, so one of our squad-mates creeps up beneath it and tosses a grenade inside. Enemies tumble limply out of the window and, as we go to open the door, another one emerges sheathed in flame and falls at our feet.

Inside it's a mess, with lots of scattered papers and old mattresses among the debris. We kick open a door and it knocks over a filing cabinet with a hollow metallic clang. As we move through the hallways over slick wet floors, another enemy kicks open a door and puts us on our back, but the action thickens into gloopy slow motion so we can park a shotgun round in his chest. Beyond, there are more enemies cowering behind boxes for cover, and they yelp like frightened animals as they get shot.

2
The lighting remains one of BF3's greatest assets. It always looks pristine.

With the ground floor apparently cleared, we head out into an alley behind the building and discovered the wounded. One guy is being dragged along the ground while a medic puts a tourniquet on another.

We jump in a Humvee, and it's the end of the demo. We still don't know much about what's going on - our eight minutes of gameplay have been sandwiched between story sequences we weren't shown - but it has been another polished, surprisingly low-key spectacle; a violent assault pocked with little dashes of scripting and wrapped in gorgeous dynamic lighting and atmospheric sound.

There has been less environmental destruction than we've seen elsewhere, but that makes sense in context, because Battlefield 3's campaign seems to be less about making sure something explodes or shouts at you every five seconds and more about throwing in its party tricks when they suit the occasion. Like the dark and unflashy co-operative mission shown at Gamescom, this latest level speaks to a game with more than one speed setting.

It remains to be seen whether the context of your actions is anything more than a blockbuster film script that never made it to celluloid - and you could argue that it's almost incidental in context of the "1000-hour game" Bach promises the multiplayer will constitute next to it - but what we've seen so far does suggest that there's truth to DICE's claim that Battlefield will be a very different game to Call of Duty in every respect. Now, if only somebody would tell Jeff Brown...

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About the author

Tom Bramwell

Tom Bramwell

Contributor

Tom worked at Eurogamer from early 2000 to late 2014, including seven years as Editor-in-Chief.