Aiming through the holographic scope, I check my corners again as I fiddle with the zoom button. Up, down, up, damn… I fire a bunch of erratic shots narrowly escaping death; presumably killing my target only because he didn't see me prone. As he fired a wild spray of shots himself every which way before he went down.

A sniper shot whips by my head, knocking out my hearing and I run toward the bridge I was covering only to have the second shot, hit me square in the head killing me. The dying animation comes up, which is my hand rising futility for a second. Almost trying to fight back with the last little bit of effort or reaching for some invisible salvation. It's hard to say, but the first few times you see it, it is definitely moving in a strange, subtle way.

This is not some dream or excerpt from a novel. It's a typical episode one might encounter in the Battlefield 3 Beta for the XBOX 360, PS3, and PC. For full disclosure I was in the Battlefield 3 PC Alpha. But I haven't pre-ordered and I have no other link to the game or it's developers.

Most people, the developer included, would probably say that this multiplayer flavor of Battlefield is extremely challenging. I would say it's very difficult. It's not Bad Company 2, it's not Modern Warfare 2, no it's harder than that. What makes it so hard? Well, bullets do a realistic job of killing you. If the player gets shot more than 3 times, they are dead. The weapons have appropriate kick; the heavier your gun the more recoil there is. There are bipods, steadying devices for lighter weight guns, and a whole slew of different scopes. All of this help you aim and shoot better. But you NEED to get incredibly used to playing with your gun in order to use it accurately.

There is terrain deformation; which means that if you stand behind a glass or wooden barrier. Your going to die. If an RPG hits the wall that you happen to be hiding behind; you are probably going to die as well. You can crawl, go prone, and of course crouch. If you don't do these things your also going to die. In some FPS games you can run around stabbing people, and narrowly escape death, if you are lucky enough or skilled enough to do so. This WILL NOT work in Battlefield 3. Mostly because people see you coming and their squad sees you coming and they shoot you before you can get anywhere close to stabbing distance.

In fact, in the mode we were playing, Rush (Where one team must defend computers from being destroyed while another team tries to destroy those computers by planting C4 on them. It is a classic Battlefield mode.) I've seen guys run toward one of the computers only to be literally mowed down by the hail of bullets flying through them.

There were a few small problems with the Beta. Firstly, during one match some of my progress wasn't saved from one round to the next. Which was a small thing, but a little annoying. There were a couple of cases where once the sound was interrupted due to environmental reasons; it didn't come back in an appropriate amount of time. Again, this was a small thing. Finally, the water effects in the game where it comes to a small pond in one area of one of the maps, seemed static and unmoving. Certainly this was probably an area that simply needed more polish. But again, not a big deal. I've been playing the XBOX 360 version of the Beta since it went wide and other than some annoying matchmaking issues when connecting to servers I never experienced any truly serious bugs. The game was playable and fun. Even if it took quite a while to get used to.

While not currently having access to vehicles is annoying; it might have been a way for players to get used to the new controls and game mechanics in this new Battlefield; before throwing even more complexity at them with the learning to use the vehicles. I can only wonder if the vehicles will be an absolutely essential part of Battlefield the way they are in Bad Company 2 . Tanks, planes, and helicopters win matches. No matter how good an engineer or group of engineers are it usually boils down to who has the most armor and the ability to use it in the end.

Here's hoping the next phase of the Beta has vehicles. If not, I'll be there the first week to give you the lowdown on the final version. For right, other than some network issues(EA please, just across the board, fix that stuff will you!). Battlefield 3 is looking like an excellent game and one certainly equipped to compete with the a little more arcade-like Modern Warfare 3.