The 360 controller is more than up to the task at hand, allowing for smooth strafing and pin-point targeting, and, elsewhere, while the traditional range of classes has been pared down, the trio that remains seem tailored to the game's scenarios. Alongside the close-combat Infantryman, you can also choose from a mid-range Rifleman, and the sniper-like Scout class. All three come with a load-out of familiar weapons, ranging from the M1, to the Thompson SMG, and the guns are typically vicious, firing with a weighty kick, before chewing through wood, plaster, and bone.
But it's further inland that I get a reminder of what truly makes the series so special: in this case, it takes the form of an opportunity to be comically mown down by an American tank. Battlefield's vehicles are entirely present and correct in 1943, with jeeps, transport boats and airplanes all adding to your tactical options. Taking to the skies, lining up a gun turret, or racing over the ocean in a six-seater, are all flawlessly handled, and the game hops between different scales of combat with the same easy skill it's always possessed, crouching behind a rock one minute, and then, a mere respawn later, soaring out of the horizon to strafe the beach from above. This time, there's also a new air-raid option, accessed via capturing an airfield, which allows you to briefly hop out of the action and pilot a formation of bombers on a fly-past, gently steering them towards their target before loosing the cargo. Played at just the right time, it's a trump card, capable of confidently turning the tide of a battle, so there's a significant cool-off period after each attack to balance it out.
The risk for DICE is that, in paring Battlefield 1943 down so tightly, an audience might look at the numbers alone and feel slightly cheated. And yet even a half hour of play is enough to suggest that this is a strategy borne of focus rather than cheapness. It remains to be seen whether three maps and one mode are enough to keep an audience satisfied over any real length of time, but it suggests that DICE at least is entirely confident in its abilities to create explosive, replayable sandboxes from the barest of bones.
And there's a real sense of equality to 1943, too: although there will be a levelling system of some sort, it will be largely used for bragging rights, since every weapon and vehicle is available from the start, with no ponderous chain of unlocks, and we've already been told that future DLC, if there is any, will take the form of new maps rather than ruin the careful balance by allowing you to purchase better guns. As for the maps available on day one, Wake Island, along with Iwo Jima and Guadalcanal, may ground the game firmly in one combat theatre, but DICE is promising strong visual distinctions between all three.
So 1943 may end up being too slight, but it's already got that classic Battlefield feeling nailed. This is a sport as much as a game, and long term success may eventually lie with the players rather than the choice of courts. Whatever you decide, the fact remains that, on XBLA or PSN, there's simply nothing else quite like Battlefield.