Battlefield 2 Review (PC)
|Tanks are arguably the most important element in the battlefield. ||APCs are fairly powerful, but it'll take some skillfull maneuvering to beat a tank.|
Dice Chairman Thomas Skoglund explained, “The acquisition of Trauma Studios was nevertheless particularly motivated. The deal contained value in form of rights to trademarks as well as a new game concept.” Let me translate it for you from Corporatese, “We needed to acquire all the intellectual property Trauma Studios had created in Desert Combat and now we’re done with them. So, they’ve been kicked to the curb.” Thank you for playing…
This may not be much consolation for the former Trauma Studios employees but Battlefield 2 has added and improved upon Desert Combat’s original design in several ways. Not all the changes are good but for those of us lucky enough to have played the original Battlefield 1942 and the subsequent mod, Desert Combat, Battlefield 2 will seem very familiar and welcoming. For newly recruited gamers, this game should be an easy one to pick up but not master.
The physics of the game are still as “wacky” and out of control as they were in Battlefield 1942. People fly all over the place when there is a nearby explosion and Humvees still catch some mad air at the slightest bump. Would we have it any other way, though? I didn’t think so.
You can shoot through certain parts of the terrain this time around. Metal sheeting can provide good concealment but if you go behind it thinking you’ll be safe from that Abrams spitting bullets out at you, you’ll soon be eating dirt. It’s not easy to tell what materials provide cover, however. I tested a few different maps and found that you cannot shoot through everything that you should be able to. Some wooden fences and plants even let bullets pass through from one direction but not from the opposite.
|The anti-aircraft vehicle is incredibly useful against air assetts. ||It's beneifical to share vehicles with your teamates. You'll have more firepower! |
The first difference you’ll probably notice when you first start Battlefield 2, is the login screen after all the intro animations. Challenge everything. Ha! The login is a key component of the game as it allows your progress to be stored on Dice’s servers to be able to unlock weapons and keep track of your accomplishments such as earning medals and ribbons. This feature is actually one of the most interesting and controversial topics concerning Battlefield 2. While you can go up in rank as you earn points performing certain actions that benefit your team (healing friendlies, killing enemies, capturing control points, etc,) you can only do so in officially sanctioned “ranked” servers to prevent cheating. This would all be well and good if you didn’t have to spend between $250 to over $400 to rent a ranked server. In protest of the costs of renting a server to run ranked games, many Battlefield 2 server administrators running unranked servers have opted for unlocking all weapons all the time. Which means anyone, regardless of rank, can enter the server and play around with all the available weapons at their leisure. To counter these renegade servers, Dice has been delisting them for at least a week from the in-game browser.
All this conflict and we’re only at the login screen.
Once you’re logged in and you’ve selected a server, you’ll see two major changes as you’re asked to select a kit.
The first is the addition of the “Special Forces” and the “Support” kits. “Special Forces” is essentially a demolition expert. With an M4 as your main weapon and a bag ‘o fun full of C4, this kit will allow you to be a major pain in the neck of your enemies as you blow up bridges, artillery, and other strategic targets.
The new “Support” kit is the heavy weapons/ammo crate of this game. That’s right. Unlike Battlefield 1942, there are no ammo crates in Battlefield 2. For most intents and purposes, you’ll be the main source of ammo for your buddies as a support infantry. Not only will you be able to help your friends when they’re “bingo” on ammo, but you’ll have infinite ammo for yourself. That is just as well as your big SAW machine spits out about a million bullets per minute. Maybe it’s a little less. Either way, you’ll need the ammo as the M249 isn’t exactly the most accurate weapon in the game and you may be using a box of ammo just trying to take out one or two enemies a few yards away.
The second major change I mentioned is the addition of a “Squad” tab. This is probably the single most significant change in Battlefield 2. This little tab allows players to organize and group with each other in squads of, at most, six players. The main purpose of the squad is teamwork and thanks to the in-game Voice Over IP code and Squad Leader spawning, this goal is executed almost perfectly.
|Helicopters are extremely powerfuly against ground vehicles, but move slowly. ||It's typical to see planes, helicopters and tanks duking it out in Battlefield 2. |
To prevent the players from going mad hearing up to 32 jabbering voices at once telling their moms that they’ll be down for dinner “in a minute”, the developers decided to split VOIP into channels. One channel allows all Squad Leaders to talk to each other, to the Commander, and vice versa. Another one lets the squad members talk amongst each other and with the Squad Leader. The Commander may also speak only to a specific squad, if desired. This way, when the Commander issues an order, only the Squad Leader hears it and he can relay it to his squad members.
To make squads feel even more like a family or “a band of brothers,” if you will, the squad members can spawn from the squad leader anywhere in the map as long as their team controls at least one control point. This makes for some interesting tactics where everyone in the squad dies, but the Squad Leader stays alive just long enough for his squad to respawn again.
The new Commander option I mentioned earlier let’s a player have a great overview of the action at their fingertips. An intuitive and simple Commander interface makes managing your forces a cinch. If you’ve played the popular Half-Life mod Natural Selection, you know how frantic and stressful it can be to try to command even just eight players using an interface where you have to move your focus around the map constantly. In Battlefield 2, as a Commander you start completely zoomed out in your map and you can see every one of your units and with a little special Commander ability called “Scan,” you can detect every enemy in the map for a short while. Your other nifty Commander tools at your disposal are “UAV,” (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, for long) “Artillery,” and “Supply Drop.”
“UAV” deploys a small spy plane over an area you designate and lets you see all enemies around a small radius for about a minute. This is really helpful when your troops are going in to take a capture point and you don’t want them ambushed by stealthy enemies.
The artillery strike has to be one of the most fun aspects of the game. That is, as long as you’re not on the receiving end. With it, you can fire your big guns and lay waste to a small area of the map. It’s the perfect gift for those pesky enemies standing around huddled together for “safety.” Just make sure you don’t hit your own troops since that can make you lose points. Regardless of how careful you are, it’s inevitable to hit a few of your own soldiers. Thankfully, if you’re Commander on the winning team, your score is based on your team score overall.
The “Supply Drop” allows the Commander to airdrop a crate that friendlies can use to obtain new ammo and to get healed. Just be careful as the enemy can use them too and they seem to last for a long time or until destroyed.
Lastly, the AI in this game is just a little above what it was in Battlefield 1942. This will discourage many people hoping to have a good time without having to deal with lag or PKers. As I’m sure you’ve heard many times before, Battlefield 2 was made with multiplayer action in mind and it shows in the lack of variety and the weak AI in single player modes.
|Most of the bridges in the game can be destroyed with explosives. This provides a tactical advantage if used correctly. ||Filling up a Black Hawk with a squad of teamates will create a seemingly unstoppable flag-taking force. |
Top game moment: Placing a handful of C4 packs on the back of a tank, then running away to detonate them in a tremendously satisfying explosion.
All in all, despite a few problems with lag and a buggy patch, Battlefield 2 has improved tremendously from earlier games in the series, particularly Battlefield Vietnam. The game’s new Squad and Commander features alone are worth the upgrade. If you find a group of good, organized players all using VOIP, you’ll wonder how you ever did and do without it in other games.