It works. That's the main thing you need to know: 256 people shooting each others' faces off with extreme prejudice. Quite how, is a voodoo secret Sony must be guarding pretty closely, though. Developer Zipper built an entirely new server system to get such a huge number of people playing together and whatever the hell they did, they got it right.
Above: Zipper's 256 player servers (possibly)
During the course of the beta we encountered very little lag or chugging frame rates. In fact the whole thing's a more solid offering than some 12 player games can manage online. The only real downside is the wait it takes to get everyone in a game; about half an hour on average so have a magazine handy. Once you're in, though, the action's constant and while it takes a bit of a hit visually - with occasionally bland textures and the odd blocky model - overall it doesn't look bad. And come on - 256 people!
You won't immediately notice the immense scale of the battles because of the squad structure. You play as part of an eight man squad, teamed with three others to form a platoon sent out to tackle various objectives. It's a bit like several separate five-a-side matches all taking place on the same field. Only instead of balls crossing between pitches it's grenades and RPGs.
The only time we really got a sense of the magnitude of the war we were contributing to when we dipped into the map to see what looked like a swarm of angry bees fighting. You may only be fighting 30 or so other people but the other two hundred are out there. Although we did have a few games where it felt like all 256 players were fighting to control the same small tin shack. Those were big moments.
Above: There we are, on the left, just between the two red dots. There!
Next: Airstrikes, FRAGO bonuses and why you can't play as Chuck Norris
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