|Version Reviewed: PC
Battlefield 2, the sequel to Battlefield 1942 and Battlefield Vietnam, has a lot to live up to. And for the most part it succeeds, taking the existing Battlefield formula, tweaking it, and thrusting it into the depths of modern warfare.
The extent of the plot is a brief description of the tactical situation for each map. But this game isn’t about international relations – it’s about the battlefield. If you’re looking for a strong single player game with an epic, sweeping storyline, you won’t find it here. There is no back-story explaining the origin of the conflicts, and the MEC is portrayed – in the spirit of political correctness – as a professional fighting force.BF2’s single player, though featuring bots that are certainly much more intelligent than those found in its predecessors, essentially functions as little more than a testbed for tweaking game settings, and generally feels lacking.
The core of Battlefield 2 is definitely the well balanced gameplay that drives the multiplayer experience. In each round, two teams fight it out for control points, making use of the many weapons at their disposal. Players have the option of choosing one of 7 different kits, and each of these classes plays an important role. Vehicles are also an essential component of battles, and BF2 offers a nice variety of things to fly, drive, and blow things up in. Teamwork is crucial to the Battlefield 2 experience. The game implements a chain of command, with the soldier serving as commander having access to a special interface that functions similar to a simple real-time-strategy game. The integrated voice-over-IP (VOIP) feature for communication was much touted by DICE, and it performs well, although in public servers it is sometimes difficult to find a squad utilizing the tool. Another feature coupled with the online gameplay is the extensive stats tracking system, implemented on “ranked” servers. Gaining rank facilitates the unlocking of new weapons and priority for commander mode. It also works successfully as a means of inducing players to play “just one more round.” The “BattleRecorder” allows players to download replays of rounds from servers that have this feature activated, though unfortunately few ranked servers use it.
With its brand new engine, the visuals are quite impressive, for those who can crank up the settings. The dynamic shadows and lighting effects are gorgeous in real-time, though the shadows can be noticeably blocky. The downside of all these graphical bells and whistles is that the system requirements are very steep, and even with everything on low, performance may still suffer on many mid to low end machines. The audio performs effectively in BF2. Well produced sound effects, such as the satisfying crack of a sniper rifle or the thundering roar of a jet passing overhead, combine to create a fantastic aural experience when coupled with the right combination of hardware. The music consists primarily of a small selection of rousing ethnic instrumentals heard during loading time – in other words, often.
Probably the most annoying thing about Battlefield 2 is not when you’re playing the game (which is great fun), but getting to the “playing the game” part. Aside from the long load times, the menu interface is sluggish and the server browser is particularly unresponsive. For a game that is primarily online, the browser is missing basic functions such as a buddy list, or a way to mark favourite servers.
It’s not without its flaws, but with all the fun military toys to play with and the memorable moments that await, prepare to be blown away by the engrossing experience that is Battlefield 2.