Everyone has a different definition of fun. One man’s adrenaline-pumping and fantastically liberating bungee jump is another man’s suicidal plunge with only an elastic band between him and a very messy death. It’s all a matter of perspective. However, we defy you to play Battlefield 2 and not experience fun. Unless you hate the first-person shooter genre, or you’re several loose screws short of a DIY store, this is one game which you’ll find damned entertaining.
There’s nothing like revving your jeep up and flying off a hill, over an enemy base perimeter wall, then watching the opposing infantry scatter as you slew the vehicle around and pin two of them up against the side of a warehouse. Or zooming low across the terrain in your jet fighter, letting multiple missiles fly into enemy tanks.
For those of you who didn’t play the original Battlefield 1942, the premise of this sequel is the same as the original. It’s large-scale modern warfare between two teams, involving infantry, vehicles and air support. Each map features a number of bases, and you win by keeping as many of these under control as possible, as well as by killing all the opposition in sight (naturally). It’s a multi-player game, as although there’s a single-player mode with computer “bot” players, that’s really only for practice.
So what’s changed? Obviously the graphics are much improved and when you turn the details up this is one stunning-looking shooter. The environments are expansive and striking, the vehicles detailed and the animations are top notch. Of course, this comes at a price: you need a hefty machine to run it well and those with older PCs will have to tweak the visual options down substantially. Even then, it still looks good.
On the gameplay front, there are all sorts of minor tweaks to the weapon balance and so forth, but the major addition is a whole new level of team play. Players can now form into squads and there’s a mouse-driven communications system which makes giving orders, warnings and cries for backup a cinch.
One player on each side gets to be the commander, with access to an overview map screen. He can order the squads about with a mind to overall objectives, call in radar scans to detect enemy troops and initiate artillery strikes. All these controls are simple enough to use and this adds a new tactical dimension to the battle.
Finally, there’s a full system of online rankings, promotions through the ranks, medals which can be awarded and sophisticated weaponry that can be unlocked. It certainly adds to the sense of achievement when you fight some heroic battles and win a medal or a promotion.
Battlefield 2 isn’t perfect, however. On the downside, as well as the machine-intensive graphics, we did suffer from some lag attacks on our ADSL connection, and in a crucial fire-fight that can be pretty irritating (and it always happens at a crucial moment).
There are also some problems with the clipping. For example, when you dive for cover behind a wall, your foot may stick through the bricks allowing an enemy sniper to pick you off. Again, that can be distinctly irritating.
And speaking of snipers, the sniper soldier class is rather weak. EA seems to have designed it to make sure the game doesn’t consist of people camping in hidey-holes, taking enemies out from impossible ranges, and that’s a good thing. However, it’s so difficult to snipe people that the class actually feels under-powered.
Company: Electronic Arts