"Hell is other people"
Multiplayer war games tend to confirm both of
these adages. Having 15 teammates madly bunny-hopping around flags, camping
planes, teamkilling, and jacking rides makes for some demented gameplay.
Battlefield 2, the third in EAís Battlefield series, tries to craft a
workable way to meld a loose association of far-flung gamers into an
effective fighting team. You see, thereís more to gaming than running down a
teammate to get to a plane firstóthere is indeed a thrill and substantial
level of gratification in assembling a squad of varied soldiers, advancing
toward the enemy, healing, resupplying, laying covering fire, and winning a
flag by assault.
know the drill, gameplay is essentially the
same as the first Battlefield game. BF2
encompasses present day warfare with the same overall style and technique as
its predecessors. Three sides at war, the Chinese, a Middle Eastern
coalition, and the USA. Each side has seven soldier types and several
aircraft, armor vehicles, and transport vehicles. I find it disappointing
that the vehicles are so similar and balanced that thereís no distinct
advantage to flying an Super Cobra (where's the Apache?) over a Chinese
"WZ-10" (which apparently is a Chinese rip-off of the Apache). I would
prefer giving the vehicles and weapons more realistic capabilities and
balance the gameplay by automatically limiting the number of players with
the best weapons. You would suppose the US weapons are superior to the
Chinese and Middle Eastern armies, and could be offset by greater numbers or
better logistical advantages. Certainly would add to the strategy and
The game is played on twelve maps and the fighting
takes places in urban locales, the countryside, marshlands, oil refineries,
and a showpiece map featuring a partially constructed dam. The maps are
auto-scaled to match the number of players so a map for a 64-player game
would be larger than the same map for a 32-player game. Single player is
limited to 16-players, I would consider it as practice mode for brushing up
on flying. Where's the fun capping bots?
game intro is thrilling with a touch of humor. Strains of the olí
Battlefield 1942 anthem punctuate the action but thatís about the only music
worth mentioning. There is game loading and after-action music (Chinese
banjos?) but it doesnít fit with the game. Whereas the Battlefield anthem
was stirring, compelling, and martial, the Battlefield 2 themes are not.
The most significant innovations BF2 brings to the
series are the Team Commander mode and Squads. Forming a squad increase
objective awareness and cooperation. I've been in several squads that
operated like a real unit--covering each other, surrounding a flag, mounting
up and racing to the next. Additionally, the Squad leader serves as a mobile
spawn point, greatly increasing the ability for the squad to pour it on by
quick and close respawning. At the outset of a battle, a player can apply
for the Commander role for his side. The Commander can use a host of tools
and support features to augment the work of his troops on the ground. He has
real-time map info that can be zoomed down to see individual players. It's
like being God, or a CIA operative somewhere covert. He can issue a scan and
bright red blips pinpoint every enemy soldier, which he can click on to
alert nearby allied troops (if they are paying attention). He can rain down
artillery fire on enemy positions with devastating effect. Another tool is
the UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) drone which highlights enemy positions for
all the troops to see. Used intelligently, the Commander role can position a
side to sweep the map.
old fixed medic and ammo lockers are goneónow the only way for a player to
be healed or get more ammo are through assistance from the Commander, Medic,
and Support soldier. Medics can dispense healing packs and defibrillate dead
comrades back to life but beware, the life of a Medic is hazardous. Enemy
troops relish taking out the guys with paddles in their mitts. The Support
soldier packs extra ammo which he can share with other player. Finally,
squads can communicate with the Commander and request resupply which the
Commander sends in the form of a crate dropping in by parachute. The crate
heals, repairs, and replenishes ammo making it the most important function
of the Commander.
BF2 awards points for individual effort in addition to
capturing flags. Players who resupply and heal teammates get additional
credit. Get promoted and additional weapons become available. Victims of
teamkillers can choose to punish the teamkiller, or forgive. All these
factors are combined into player ranking. Even with these enhancements some
of the same frustrations you lived with in BF42 or BF Vietnam still exist.
You still have to put up with planecampers, teamkillers, and guys who jump
in a helo or jeep and race away leaving three or four teammates to hoof it
down the road. It would be ideal if Dice could add a function that allows
servers to reject low ranking players from joining so you could ensure a
server would have more capable and less idiotic players.
biggest battle a fledgling BF2 player will face are the system requirements
to play the game. Nothing but a top flight graphics card will even start the
game. To the dismay of many older card owners, the game will not even boot
upóit displays the load screen and then flashes black and youíre back to
your desktop with no explanation. Donít ask, donít tell, indeed. GeForce4
cards donít even have the option of scaling back the graphics options to
play. The ReadMe cautions that the game requires
NVIDIA GeForce FX 5700 or ATI Radeon 8500 and
up. Ya want the good-lookin' games, ya gotta bring the goods.
Assuming you have the hardware to run Battlefield 2,
the graphics are outstanding, impressive, and totally believable. The water
textures are spot on and the buildings and vehicles are great--highly
detailed, much closer to photographic quality than previous Battlefield
games. Iím beginning to wonder how much better computer game graphics can
get. The game runs without a hitch using an nVidia 6600GT with the settings
at high. The only complaint I would register is several maps have too much
fog and visibility restrictions. This is especially annoying when piloting a
2 backs up the graphics with very good sound effects. The usual explosions,
arms fire, jet and helo engines, and tank sounds envelop the player. Other
notable sounds effects include panting (when you run short of stamina) and
the way your footsteps sound when traversing different types of terrain.
Good attention to detail.
BF2 includes Voice over IP. The only thing worse than
playing with a smacktard is having to listen to him. Especially if he has an
accent you cannot decipher, even more so if he sounds about 14-years old. If
you can get in with a group of mature players who will use it correctly and
sparingly, it could be fun and useful.
Iíve heard a lot of complaining about the in-game
browser but it does not seem to be a problem with me. There are times when
it appears slow to respond but generally it works. There are filters that
allow you to weed out servers with zero players, servers using a different
version of the game, etc. I would like to know what happened to the
"Favorites" filter, that was handy. The game takes a good two minutes to
load, which I suppose is slightly less than outright unbearable. Whoís going
to argue a complex game should load faster than is possible. Still, wish it
soldiers now have two modes of foot travelówalking and sprinting. Sprinting
really moves you along but you are limited to how far you can sprint. A
stamina meter lets you know how much energy you have for sprinting. Limited
stamina means the absurd bunny hopping still exists but at a price.
Of all the kits, I found the snipers to have been the
most changed since BF Vietnam. As a sniper, I had little luck getting
one-shot kills on the enemy, even head-shots on stationary targets. Perhaps
it is a critical skill now, that the "kill zone" is smaller, etc. Perhaps,
but it does subtract from the incentive to be a sniper.
rule in Battlefield. Mere grenades are no longer a threat to an Abrams,
thank god. The Anti-tank soldier can take out a tank, especially if he
targets the rear of the tank. Tanks sport a warning system to let you know
if an anti-tank missile is pointed your way. BF2 tanks can survive a frontal
hit and have ability to pop smoke, which is a wonderful addition to the
gameplay. The tankís machine gunner can now crouch and avoid being easily
picked off by lurking infantry, one of the reasons why no one in their right
mind chose to be a gunner in the BF42/BF Vietnam tanks. I find playing as a
tank extremely gratifying. You can count on getting a 5-to-1 kill ratio
using armor properly.
What keeps tanks from devastating the gameplay? Helos!
The Super Cobra and variants can swoop in on a tank and lay it to waste,
provided it is flown by a decent pilot with a comparable forward gunner. The
gunner controls the M230 30-mm cannon and a TV-guided missile, which is
effective but daunting to use properly. The missile travels so rapidly that
getting it to hit the target is a tough task. The pilot has unguided Hydra
(not Hellfire, to be sure) at his command. Helos are vulnerable to jets and
ground-based anti-aircraft missiles so you will need some assistance from
your infantry. With some aircover from the ground troops, a skilled helo
team can break the opposing team.
As with Battlefield Vietnam, jet aircraft are not as
interesting as the rotary wing craft. Ripping the sky at 750 knots doesnít
give you much time to spot ground targets and even on the largest maps you
donít have much room to maneuver at full speed for dogfights. It does appear
that the out-of-game boundaries are stretched a bit for jetsóI flew into the
red zone often without immediately drawing the "leaving combat" warning. If
you get on the enemyís six your targeting system will lock, sounding a tone,
and you have a decent chance of taking him down with air-to-air missiles.
Naturally, if he gets a lock on you, you get a warning tone and you can jink,
kick in the afterburners, and throw out flares.
Naval vessels are pretty much limited to a stationary
carrier used as a base and some rubber boats which are useful in the island
maps. There are no Midway or Coral Sea maps, no subs, no destroyers. It
appears the dev team has decided the fast-paced, team-based action doesnít
lend itself well to naval action.
overall Battlefield experience is good, very good, but
anticlimactic. Upon firing up the game the first time I should have been
blown away and enthralled the way I was when I played that first BF1942 Wake
demo in 2002. Instead, a Battlefield 1942 mod Desert Combat already
stole this spotlight. Playing BF2 feels like a new version of Desert Combat.
To be sure, EA graciously permitted third-party mods by leaving the core
game open to tweaking. They even encouraged mods. Thatís a good thing. But
one does have to wonder whatís in it for them? With the high system
requirements I imagine a lot of potential BF2 customers are still playing
Desert Combat. If a mod attains the level of quality that Desert Combat did,
nearly two years ago, how can the sequel to the original game compete? Iím
not suggesting that mods should be outlawed--I loved DC and think highly of
EA for permitting (even encouraging) its existence. The relationship between
games such as Battlefield 2 and mods like Desert Combat raises all sorts of
questions and concerns about the role of mods with the host game.
In any case, save those questions for later and play
now. Weíve come to expect great things from the Battlefield series and BF2
meets those expectations handily. With truly superb graphics and more
attention to teambuilding, count on Battlefield 2 to provide many months of