Battlefield 2: Modern Combat Review (Xbox360)

So far in the Xbox 360’s short life, we’ve yet to have seen an essential FPS similar to, dare I say it, Halo on the Xbox 180. Call of Duty 2 had a good single player mode, but the lack of private rooms made Live play irritating. Perfect Dark Zero had potential, but in the end didn’t really live up to the hype. So we come on to Battlefield 2: Modern Combat, EA’s premier FPS series, which is essentially just a port from the excellent Xbox and PS2 versions. It does a decent job, but there are a few essential areas that the game unfortunately lacks polish.

Too much wasabi!

The dangers of not tying your bootlaces

Online play is central to the Xbox 360 experience, and it seems that EA have almost solely concentrated on this aspect of BF2:MC. This is great, as the Live parts of the game are a joy to play, and you’re likely to fritter away many an hour on these modes. One of the most pleasing improvements has been the EA Online ‘service’. In the past, especially in the previous generation these have been slow, clunky and just a right pain to use. Fortunately they’ve been stripped down, injected with adrenaline and polished – giving us something that gamers can actually use rather than endure. Games drop from the lobby a lot less, and lag has severely been reduced, although there are a few cases when it’s become unbearable.

Online matches are either Conquest (king of the hill) or Capture the Flag matches, with conquest being the mode on Live at the moment. Both game modes are very addictive and have a large following on XBL, although it’s a trifle strange to have a FPS without a deathmatch, but with BF2 it just wouldn’t work. There’s the usual Quick Match, Custom Match and Clan Match options, each with the option to contribute towards ranks. The maps are also excellent, each with a variety of strategic points for players to battle over and all the necessary vehicles, from choppers to tanks ready to pick from the get-go.

The medals and ranking system online are actually independent from those in the single player campaign, so you’ve actually got to be an excellent BF2 player in both modes to be able to get all of the achievements. Some people do try and spend all their time trying to get the medals in online games however, which is negative and can spoil a good game of Conquest.

Never a good situation
Kitchen foil makes for great camo gear

Unlike the PC version, BF2:MC has an excellent single player campaign. One of the best features is the excellent hot-swapping system. A simple press of the X button, while pointing the crosshair at one of your team, will result in a simulation of your conscience rushing from one archetype to another – putting you from the role of assault to sniper in a matter of a second. This removes any need for health pickups, as when you die you just hot-swap to the nearest friendly unit and allows you to pick which archetype is perfect for the assault you need. Unfortunately your team AI is rather crap, so if you position your last engineer behind a barricade to protect his last slither of health, he’ll probably try to attack a tank with a sharp stick or something similarly futile. Enemy AI is certainly interesting, while it is pretty damn aggressive and will attack you with a visceral efficiency, you also can’t flank them. They seem to have a sixth sense, which means they instantly know where you are. Either Ubisoft gave them some crosscom, or EA just didn’t work on them enough.

There isn’t really a story in the single player campaign, there’s some communist scum attacking some other country controlled by some despot, who happens to be sympathetic to the Allies. Yawn. But the missions are pretty inventive and engaging to play at least, which is the main thing you want in this type of game.

The graphics in Battlefield 2 are actually really pleasant to look at, they’re not the best of the early games, but there’s plenty to be happy with. There’s good detail on the guns, and environments have slightly improved on the Xbox version. People in the game look pretty realistic, except when their limbs manage to permeate through metal or bricks; something we hope we’re starting to see the back of in the next generation. There’s also cool effects such as heat blur, the sexy curves of the sea lapping against an oil rig or good running animations (if you don’t stand too far away). Naturally if you have a good HDTV then the visuals are going to look ten times better.

The sound, typical of an EA game, is a mixture in terms of quality. The sound effects are great, with the sounds of bullets ricocheting around your cover resonating fantastically through a good 5.1 surround system. The music’s just about bearable, but you may want to dig into your HDD or iPod for some decent BGM (Halo soundtrack would be good). The voiceovers are, as feared, abysmal. The Chinese ones especially sound like Burt Kwouk after a few glasses of red wine.

Why Humvees suck
Hey, my name is Lang Zhi – I like long walks in the park and wearing green

Overall Battlefield 2: Modern Combat is a solid FPS, which will offer enjoyment mainly to people who’ve not played the last-gen version. The game’s shown little graphical improvement since then, and I would like to see more from EA to make their games that extra bit special.

Top Game Moment:
Planting a C4 on that tank that’s been camping all game and detonating it just before they get a medal.