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.
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