Battlefield 2: Modern Combat Reader Review
The Tall Tale
So there I was, a passenger in a US army chopper. We were flying over flag 3 in Bridge Too Far and I saw a chance to make a difference. I dropped out and hurtled downwards as fast as gravity could carry me. Thankfully my parachute deployed to arrest my fall and I began the rest of the gentle waft down to take the flag. Suddenly, an enemy tank with 2 occupants rolled in below me. That meant the flag was going to be taken by them - and double quick too. Luckily I had spawned as a Special Op soldier, I was still 60 ft above them, I got out some C4 explosive and dropped it dead on the tank, I did it again - one C4 charge is never enough for a tank. Out came the detonator, still 40 ft above them, [click] BOOOOM. 2 guys and 1 tank are dust, billowing out ever further from the blast zone. I wafted in to take the flag. The entire manouvre was worth 12 points all told.
And there you have it. the beauty of BF2 in a nutshell. Everyone has a story like that to tell. And almost certainly all those stories will be different. The sheer variety of methods that can be used to make your opponents life a misery are myriad.
Thereís one thing you need to know about me when it comes to online gamingÖ and life I guess.
I donít suffer fools gladly.
Itís something which influences what I do online, how I play, what I play, and who I play with. The major effect of this is that I NEVER play in random rooms. Random rooms tend to be occupied by idiotsÖ or at least the ones who talk, tend to like the sound of their own whiny, teenage voice far too much for this old codger to take.
So youíd think that an online game which doesnít allow the option for private, friends-only servers would be a nono for me. Strange, then, that I love BF2:MCÖ that I have 80 hours of online play under my belt and still feel the urge, a couple of times a week, to come back to it.
In itís essence, BF2 is FPS warfare online like no other console game has managed before it. Each server can host up to 24 players - 12 v 12 - and warfare comes in 2 flavours, Conquest and Capture the Flag.
CTF is a staple of most FPS and needs no introduction, Conquest, however, is the real meat of the dish. Each side starts off with a set number of units or lives and these lives are collective. Each time you die, your team loses a collective life. But also there are a number of stationary flags (between 5 and 9) around the map, which each side needs to capture in order to put pressure on the opposition. Once you capture a flag, that flag then works as a spawn point for your team, enabling them to dive further into the map and try and push the other guys back. Capture all the flags and itís game over, or in maps where thatís not possible - capture all the flags (bar the base) and the other team loses units like sand through your fingers, making them fight for their lives and push towards every and any flag they can get near. Itís a very interesting game mechanic and makes for extremely compelling battles.
The maps are mostly incredibly well designed, with chokepoints and flashpoints in abundance, highground and hidey holes are so numerous that Iím still discovering new places to take cover over 80 hours into the online experience. Combine this with a number of character classes which, in a good team, really compliment each other, and have numerous depths of their own, which means you can still learn new facets of a particular class months after you first opened that shiny new box and stuck the disc in the 360ís DVD drawer.
The Bad, The Ugly
There are no private game options, so I find myself forced into playing with randoms if I want to experience the game as it was meant to be played. I tend to play with voice muted and rely on a strange kind of unspoken team instinct. which in a good room, really seems to work. People back each other up, they push together to get flags, they go 2 on 1 against infiltrating opposition where possible.
Aaaaaand sometimes, they kill you when theyíre on the same team as you, repeatedly. And very rarely they do everything in their power to ruin your game, eg. this week I had a guy on my side who tried to kill every team-mate he saw; he also got in the way of my sights when I was trying to snipe someone and everytime i moved he got in front of me. Itís annoying, but for the most part these arseholes are a tiny part of the experience. They can be voted off the server, and in general the BF2 populace are a fair bunch. Plus you lose points in abundance if you kill your own teammates.
Some people who come to the game from the PC version (BF2 - no subtitle)Ö wellÖ they tend to moan a lot at first. Certain things are gone, like the squad system, and the squad comms, and the commander element. But that misses the point. BF2:MC is a different game, much more like the first BF game (BF 1942) on the PCÖ itís also the first experience of this type of game many 360 owners will have had. The removal of those elements is fine, if you ask me, itís simplifying the process for newcomers and getting them onboard and involved in the series. By the time BF2142 comes round, theyíll be ready for these new elements. Itís an educational tool for a new type of gameplay if you like.
All told itís a stunningly good game. Graphically itís as Hi-Def and shiny as you could want, sometimes looking at these battles off in the distance is just incredible: explosions shatter the horizon; rocket trails line the sky; and sometimes, if youíre unlucky, youíll look up and see a beautiful hail of fireballs above you, getting larger by the second along with an ear shattering roar - there will be no escape. the artillery strike is insta-death unless you have major cover nearby.
For once EA really have made ďthe beautiful gameĒÖ and itís not feckin footie either.
8 / 10