With Call of Duty: Black Ops, the Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Vietnam expansion pack, and Medal of Honor all slated to release this year, fans of military shooters will have no shortage of options for fragging their friends this holiday. We got our first taste of Medal of Honor's multiplayer on the E3 showfloor.

After a few rough games that hardly registered a blip on the online charts, EA stopped messing around and handed the multiplayer mode over to DICE, the studio best known for its critically acclaimed Battlefield franchise. Rather than create a straight up Battlefield clone, it seems like DICE is shooting for a Call of Duty/Battlefield hybrid. Like Call of Duty, the fast-paced action takes place on smaller scale maps, bullets do more damage so death comes quickly, and players can earn killstreak attacks. Like Battlefield, Medal of Honor uses the Frostbite engine, features a soldier class system, and rewards your tactical prowess with medals, ribbons, and awards.

The first part of my hands-on demo featured a 24-player team deathmatch that took place on the streets of the decimated Afghani capital, Kabul. Like Battlefield, before you join the map you must select one of the three soldier classes. The rifleman class looks to be the jack of all trades, with assault rifles like the AK-47 and M-16 and a grenade launcher attachment. The Special Ops class uses a similar assault rifle, the M-4, but you can also use combat shotguns. The sniper class uses -- wait for it -- sniper rifles. You can also tweak your loadout by altering the rail attachment, barrel, or ammo clip. Choices include a laser sight, red-dot sight, ironsights, and hollow point bullets that increase your deadliness in close quarters areas but lose effectiveness when shooting from long range.

The Kabul City Ruins map reminded me a lot of Call of Duty maps in that the level is designed so that you're never safe from getting sniped. With multi-story buildings, decimated storefronts, and tight back alleys you always need to be aware of a potential bullet to the back your head. If you string together an impressive score chain, you can unlock a tactical support option. Like the killstreaks in COD, these give you access to devastating attacks mortar strikes and cruise missiles. If you'd rather give your team a boost on the battlefield, you could set aside your head count quest to give your teammates health or armor bonuses.

Medal of Honor's ranking system has a unique angle in that you start as an Army Ranger and are angling to become a Tier 1 special forces expert. Your reward for proving your worth on the battlefield is a sweet bushy beard.

The second portion of our hands on demo shifted from the Team Assault mode to an objective mode. Like Battlefield's Rush mode, the teams are divided into attackers and defenders, with the aggressors moving to capture and objective in a timely fashion. If they succeed, the map area enlargens and a new objective is created. The map we played, Helmand Valley, required the attacking team to capture five total objectives up the side of a mountain pass to win the skirmish.

As we moved through the area, gaining even ground with our insurgent enemies was paramount, as they had the vantage point to thwart our advances. As we pushed the frontline toward our ultimate objective, a weapons cache that needed destroying, we gained access to some Bradley tanks that made quick work of our enemies. Though you can control the tank, the area was very narrow and restrictive so the advantage only lasted until the opposing team switched to their rocket launchers and blew our million dollar vehicle to smithereens.

As a big fan of the Battlefield and Call of Duty franchises, my hands on time left me very excited for Medal of Honor's potential. You can check out the action for yourself on June 21 when DICE kicks off the multiplayer beta.