War really isn't what it used to be, if Battlefield 2 is anything to go by. Bolstered by critical acclaim garnered by Battlefield 1942 and Battlefield Vietnam, EA has chosen to catapult the PC multiplayer series into the modern age something of an obvious area, pitching US Marines again the Middle East Coalition, but while the pitching may look to be becoming increasingly exploitative, the gameplay on offer is looking increasingly sensational. Fans of 1942 will be amazed at what's on offer this time round.
Vehicles, aircraft, and various types of foot soldiers working together and fighting against each other was a novelty in Battlefield 1942, but looks to have been polished to an absurd degree in Battlefield 2. PC war is about to get very slick indeed.
Eurogamer recently hopped over to San Francisco to take a look at the latest build and watch the EA massive demonstrating Battlefield TV, how to shoot down helicopters with rockets and why driving dump trucks through large water pipes is essential to any serious military campaign. Producers Michael Doran and Benjamin Smith take it away...
And you can take him away if you prefer. Head over to Eurofiles right now and you can download a video of the full presentation, including gameplay footage and Evans' discussion of it. Or, for the broadband impaired, read on...
What you're looking at here is a new level we're working on for the game. It's called the Dam. It's a major dam construction site that the Middle East Coalition and the US Marines are fighting over. For the purpose of this demo I'm going to refer to the Middle East Coalition as the MEC. As you can see right away there's a very high level of texture detail within the world and a very high level of object density, and if you combine that with the very far distances you're seeing, it really speaks volumes for the power of the new Battlefield 2 rendering system.
So, what the cameraman's going to do now is push down into the scene, and what's going on in the base of the dam is that there's a firefight between a MEC T90 tank and a squad of Marines. Up here on this container is a MEC machine gunner that's firing into the combat. He gets sniped. There he goes. Bye bye. All the bodies in the world have rag-doll physics attached to create those satisfying Battlefield moments.
These construction tunnels are kinda cool underneath the dam, because you can drive vehicles through them. Skilled helicopter pilots can zoom through them, which is pretty hilarious. Here you've got a guy that's just ignoring all the combat, and basically just driving around a dump truck for no good reason other than it's fun. We're adding a lot of civilian vehicles to Battlefield 2 because it's cool. Battlefield's all about doing whatever you want whenever you want.
Coming onto the battle scene is a UH60 Black Hawk helicopter. He's going to get into a little fight with a MEC anti-tank guy on the top of this hill, who's fired a missile at him and missed. The helicopter's going to return fire. He missed, but he's severed a line a container was hanging from. The anti-tank guy took him out with a missile there.
So now we're going to look at air combat in Battlefield 2. First of all, let's take a look at this MEC pilot. You'll notice that he's got a pilot helmet on and an oxygen mask. That's because whenever you approach a vehicle you're going to get appropriate uniform accessories for that vehicle. For example, if you were a tank commander you would have the tank helmet on with the microphone, or if you were a helicopter pilot you would have the helicopter helmet on. So Mike's going to jump into this SU34 and take off. He's looking for an American F15 that's flying around. That sound means a positive lock-on. He's firing missiles but the F15 is dropping flares to deceive the missiles. So eventually he's going to run out of missiles and flares. So now Mike's going to fly against the dam. That SAM light indicates that a SAM battery on the ground has targeted and is going to fire missiles at him. That looks like a miss.
What we want you to take away from that is how we're adapting modern weapons and technology to create an arcade action experience. It's very rock, paper, scissors right now, as Battlefield was. You only get so many flares to feed off so many missiles and when you run out you get blown up. When you get that SAM indicator light in the cockpit it's a real 'oh shit moment'. It means that someone on the ground is aiming missiles at me and they're probably going to start shooting at me in a moment so it's time to take some evasive action.
This is a new feature from Battlefield 2, called Battlefield TV. One of the most commonly requested features from the communities of Battlefield 1942 and Vietnam was to be able to record and replay actual game footage. Battlefield TV allows you to do just that. At any time during your gameplay session you can start a capture stream to your hard drive. Then after that you can go back and boot up that file in Battlefield TV, and at that point it works like a TiVO device or a VCR. You can fast forward, you can play in slow mo. Basically, what this feature allows you to do is capture your best Battlefield moments and share them with your friends. We're not talking about a 25Mb or 30Mb video file, sitting on your hard drive. We don't worry about that. What we're talking about is capturing engine events to a small file that's less than 1Mb. So you can email that to your friends, put it on your website, share it with your buddies and basically use it as bragging rights. You can also take that file and export it out in AVI or MPEG and open it up in your home editing system and do what you want with it. The target directors and clan leaders are going to love this feature, as it's going to allow them to make highlight reels of their matches. It's also going to allow them to authenticate tournament results by making sure no one was exporting.
There was an air medal awarded when he got his first kill. Everything you do in Battlefield 2 is captured now. That's part of the same feature set. So he got his first air kill, he got a medal, he'll go back into the game, open up his player profile and see any other medals he picked up, and he can also see how he ranks against other players in the universe.
Now we're going back to the scene on top of the bridge. As I said, the US Marines are going to try and stop a MEC armoured column. There are engineers running out placing det packs on top of this roadway, and here come a MEC tank. The engineers are going to detonate the bridge, blowing the driver and the vehicle off the bridge and leaving a gaping hole in the geometry. Here's comes a MEC T90 tank. He can't go any further because of this hole, but obviously he can fire across the gap and engage the US Marines. Back here is a guy with a laser designation devise. He's painting that T90 tank with a laser beam. There's an F15 Eagle passing overhead that's going to launch a missile along that laser beam and take out the T90 tank. Here he comes now. He blew up the rest of the bridge with the T90 tank there. The key thing to take away from this is that the world in Battlefield 2 is a lot more destructible than it was in Battlefield 1942. We're building in structural geometry around objective points and the places that really affect your tactics in the game.
Battlefield 2 is due out on PC in February 2005. You can download a video of the above presentation from Eurofiles.