The Recon class will also be delighted to hear that going prone has returned to the series after being omitted in both Bad Company games - turning faraway snipers into single-pixel dots lingering on the horizon. This will ultimately frustrate as much as it delights, the invigorating sensation of dropping to the ground to avoid enemy fire balanced out by the teeth-grinding agony of repeated obliteration at the hands of invisible snipers.
Engineers might be concerned by the overall scarcity of vehicles for them to defend or destroy, but the class is more important than ever for ensuring the team's expensive military hardware isn't promptly smashed to pieces. A new damage model for vehicles allows them to automatically recover from low-level damage but to constantly bleed health when under a more sustained attack, requiring a nearby Engineer to stop these from becoming expensive write-offs.
DICE has chosen a traditional outfit of vehicles, ranging from tanks and buggies to helicopters and jets. Much has been made of the inclusion of the latter, though most players will be completely unable to effectively use them because of their terrifying speed, but you can expect to be frantically running for your life in a couple of months when the air-fit minority have mastered the craft.
Battlefield has always been a compulsive multiplayer experience because it offers an incredibly broad suite of options and objectives for players of all talents and ability. While being able to fire in a straight line is always a neat skill to have, players who don't fancy themselves as expert marksmen can still become invaluable members of the team thanks to a wide, and absolutely vital, range of supporting roles.
Tactical players can turn matches without firing a single round, identifying enemy positions and exploiting the weaknesses of trigger-happy enemies with steely patience and opportunistic objective runs. Matches can easily become lengthy wars of attrition, and the heart-pounding exhilaration of snatching a victory because half the enemy team got cocky and ran off to score some easy kills is virtually unmatched in gaming.
Five modes are available, but only the large-scale objective-based skirmishes of Rush and Conquest are worth playing - play on team deathmatch and the game is stripped of its scope and scale to become a bland and inferior Call of Duty imitation, and the four-versus-four player limit of Squad Rush and Squad Deathmatch make the massive environments feel like uninhabited wastelands.
Nine maps are supplied on the disc, with almost all of them offering the wide, multi-faceted environments the Battlefield series has become famous for. The only bum note is Operation Metro, the one map bizarrely chosen for the game's recent open beta. Metro is an uninspired Call of Duty knockoff, stripping out everything that makes Battlefield excel and replacing it with rote tunnels and staid linear constructions.
Like the best multiplayer games, Battlefield 3 sets a stage for you to create your own personal stories. You'll remember that time on Caspian Border when you and a friend accidentally stumbled onto a tank while driving a buggy, and won, or that bit when the squad got lucky and managed to gun down half the enemy team as they base jumped off Damavand Peak, and these individual stories will live on for months and years in conversations down the pub or when spending lazy weekend afternoons on message boards.