This week's EA Winter Showcase saw Battlefield looking to the past and the future – the former by way of a Vietnam-themed DLC expansion for Bad Company 2, and the latter with an extremely ambitious free online title, Battlefield: Play4Free.
People often assume that if you can rattle through dozens of first-person shooters then you're well placed to kick arse online. Hilarity. Whether or not you've aced the single-player campaign on the hardest difficulty level, going online is almost always a humiliation endurance test as you spend most of your time waiting to respawn.
EA DICE producer Gordon Van Dyke is talking about first-person shooters. "Nobody wants to be Charlie Brown," he says. "Everybody wants to be Snoopy."
Digital Foundry "hearts" DICE and has a particular penchant for Nordic developers in general. There's always a sense that we'll see something unique in the games that hail from this part of the world, and we're pretty much always guaranteed some lovely technical curiosities to set these games apart from the norm.
DICE in particular rarely disappoints. Even its utilisation of the ubiquitous Unreal Engine 3 middleware in Mirror's Edge resulted in a game that was innovative in both its technical approach and its core gameplay. The firm's latest - Battlefield: Bad Company 2 - is the third title to use its proprietary Frostbite engine, and it debuts in the form of a downloadable PSN beta exclusive to the PlayStation 3.
Eurogamer has already covered this multiplayer sampler from a gameplay perspective, but as usual the DF focus is on the Frostbite tech and its general performance. In his piece, Dan Whitehead lauded the improvements made to the destructible environments, but also commented on frame-rate and tearing issues, so let's tackle that straight away with a six-minute montage of clips from the beta.
Jumping from Modern Warfare 2 to Bad Company 2 isn't recommended. While both are broadly similar in concept - modern military shooters set in an imaginary land war between America and Russia - the difference in style couldn't be more pronounced. Infinity Ward's big-bollocked blockbuster has the bone-rattling volume and GRAAAAAGH KILLING SPREE! adrenaline rush, but try those bombastic Hollywood heroics over in DICE's theatre of war and you'll be shot to ribbons before you can say "danger close".
After watching and reading about Volition's Red Faction: Guerrilla earlier this month, you could be forgiven for turning your nose up at Battlefield: Bad Company 2's "Destruction 2.0". It goes further than the first game's technology, allowing you to flatten whole buildings, but it rather pales next to the insane calculations going on in Guerrilla, where legend has it that designers had to be given structural training because their unrealistic buildings kept falling down under the weight of real physics.