Thursday, July 28, 2005

Battlefield 2 Review

Battlefield 2 PC, developed by Digital Illusions CE and published by Electronic Arts.

The Good: Many features, awesome graphics, stellar multiplayer
The Not So Good: High system requirements, single player is stinky
What say you? Best team-based multiplayer game on the market: 7/8

Battlefield 2 is a multiplayer online first person shooter where two sides of opposing armies fight for control of strategic locations using various vehicles. Since you already know this, let's just jump right in to it, eh?

First, the mandatory ramble about graphics and sound. The graphics in Battlefield 2 are very well done, with dynamic shadows, high quality textures, and attention to detail. The sound is a realistic enough arrangement. Next!

The game takes place on 12 maps, which scale on size to accommodate 16, 32, or 64 players. The two main settings are the Middle East and China, with the battles occurring in urban and rural settings. I personally prefer the urban maps, such as Sharqi Peninsula, Strike at Karkand, or Mashtuur City.

There are eight classes of infantry in Battlefield 2, and you'll probably find one to your liking. Special Forces get C4 explosive and a carbine (a short, less powerful rifle). Snipers get (surprise!) a sniper rifle. Assault gets a rifle with grenade launcher. Support gets a machine gun and the ability to supply troops with ammo. Engineer gets a worthless shotgun, anti-tank mines, and the ability to repair vehicles. Medics get a rifle, and the ability to heal and revive troops. Anti-Tankers get a rocket launcher. Each class has its own role to play in the game, and the most effective teams will usually have one of each class operating as one unit. The classes seem pretty balanced with some exceptions. Because of the massive bullet drop in the sniper rifles, being sniped is not much of a problem in Battlefield 2. Because of the large maps, the shotgun the Engineer class receives is useless, so they are really designed to sit in a vehicle. You are rewarded more for working with teammates, because every class has a disadvantage, some larger than others.

The vehicles in the game break down to several categories. Fast, lightly-armored buggies, slower jeeps, armored personnel vehicles, tanks, anti-aircraft, transport helicopters, attack helicopters, fighters, bombers, and inflatable rafts all make appearances in the game, and all can hold more than one person. An added bonus is that you get some points for being in a vehicle with someone who gets a kill, without even doing anything! That's how my score gets so high.

New to Battlefield 2 is the addition of squads. Groups of up to six people can be formed during the game, with one person as the squad leader. All of the squad members can talk to each other using VoIP (voice), and orders can be given to the squad members. Also, squad members can spawn next to the squad leader after being killed, not just at the flag locations. Squads are nice.

Going along with squads is the addition of the commander. This person gets an overhead map of the level, and can call in artillery strikes, scan the map for the enemy, and display enemy locations using UAVs. In most games, the commander will call in artillery strikes and place UAVs, but won't really do anything else, such as giving orders to squad leaders.

Stats are kept during the game: 2 points for a kill, 1 point for teamwork, which includes capturing a base, healing or reviving a teammate, supplying friendlies with ammo, or repairing vehicles, and -4 points for killing a teammate. For shame! If you play on a Ranked server, all of your stats are tallied, and you can earn awards and advance in rank. You can check out my stats here. Before, stats were kept by third party applications, but it's nice to see it official now.

DO NOT buy this game if you don't have a broadband Internet connection. The single player bots, while improved over Battlefield Vietnam, are still no match for your l33t skillz. Plus, you can only play 16 player maps with the bots, which means you can't even practice piloting by yourself.

You need a semi-powerful system to make this game run. No GeForce 4 cards allowed here, and heed the system requirements. I have encountered one annoying bug while playing the game, which still hasn't been fully fixed in version 1.2. The in-game browser shows incorrect, high pings, and the filters don't work too well. Luckily, GameSpy Arcade is fully supported, but I'd much rather be able to find a decent server from inside the game.

Battlefield 2 is the best multiplayer team-based first person shooter for the PC. If you can handle the system requirements, buy it. If not, get a new computer and then buy it. The improvements made over Battlefield Vietnam and Battlefield 1942 are worth the exchange of money.