Battlefield 2 Review

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Graphics: 9.0
Sound : 9.5
Gameplay : 10
Multiplayer : 10
Overall : 9.5
Review by Kurt Knudsen & Alex D.
The sequel to one of the most acclaimed online games is finally here. Battlefield 2 shoved itself into the faces of gamers with an amazingly popular demo and then went retail shortly thereafter. Battlefield 2 offers an incredible online experience with a single-player mode that’s meant as practice for the multiplayer game. Single-player missions and campaigns do not exist, so those of you who are seeking a great single-player experience may be disappointed.

In Battlefield 2, you play as one of several countries competing for control over land, which serves several purposes in the game. Firstly, they are there for spawn points. When you capture a new base, you can spawn there and immediately hop in a vehicle and go on your merry way to battle. Secondly, are the goals of the game. In order to win, you must capture more than half of the spawn points and hold them so your opponent’s tickets, or points, decrease to zero. The more you have in your possession, the faster they decrease. If you are losing points, you need to capture spawn points to stop them from going down. Once they decrease they do not increase until a new game is started. There are some spawn points that cannot be captured and serve as a permanent base for that team; these can be seen by the red mark over them on the map—it’s pretty obvious.

A lot of people believe the single factor that separates BF2 from other online FPS games is the inclusion of vehicles and lots of them. You can control a number of different tanks, helicopters, jets, APCs, jeeps, and many more vehicles. Most of the ground vehicles are two seaters or more. This is where teamwork plays a big part. Some tanks allow you to only drive and not fire; you’ll need another team member to control the turret. You can change positions in the tank on the fly, but it isn’t wise if you are trying to drive and shoot at the same time. The APCs have windows with machine guns mounted on them. Your view is quite limited, but you can easily mow down the opposition if you have a good driver. Jets and helicopters are a bit more difficult to maneuver. Jets move at a very high rate of speed and some come with afterburners. In a jet’s view, the map is tiny and you will always go out of bounds. Luckily, the game gives a much better chance to get back to battle when you are in a jet than when you are on foot.

As with tanks, there are a few flavors of helicopters and jets. The American team gets the Harrier jet which can hover, though yours truly has never seen it in a battle online. There are carrier helicopters for transporting a lot of teammates to the heat of battle, and with the included parachute you can easily eject at a high altitude and land safely on the ground. The combat helicopter is a two seater—one pilot and one copilot. If two combat helicopters were to battle it out, the one with a copilot would probably win since the pilot can only control missiles and no machine gun. The copilot gets to use a machine gun or a TV controlled missile that does a ton of damage to ground units. Helicopters require some skill to hold still and hover over flags to capture them. Many pilots find themselves flying backwards or forwards into the ground and crashing when attempting to hover. Controlling these vehicles is simple once you read the manual or key bindings. They do take time to master, however, and if you want to perfect your bombing runs with the jets, you definitely have to practice. Helicopters are easier to control but require a higher level of skill to keep them steady or fly in closed corners.

Another welcomed innovation to the second installment in the Battlefield series is the Persistent Character Scoring System; players will now have reason to band together and utilize teamwork to achieve victory while playing on ranked servers. At the end of each round, the statistics of each individual player on the server are uploaded to the EA master servers, which keep track of every little detail. Fighting like hell on the battlefield will unlock medals, badges and awards, among other things, that can be admired in the BFHQ section of the main menu. This section features all of the information one would want to know about his or her skills. Playtime, favorite weapon, map, vehicle and accuracy can all be found here, along with a few other goodies that will keep players happy.

One of the most notable characteristics in the new BFHQ menu is the ranking system. Every player begins at the lowly level of Private and can move up through the ranks by means of combat and teamwork. Each promotion comes with a new badge, which other players on servers can see alongside your nickname, and allows a bigger precedent over lower ranked comrades when applying for Commander Mode. After being promoted to Private First Class, the next promotion will take more experience points before being achieved, but the time put into unlocking it is worth it.

Succeeding the PFC badge is Lance Corporal, which must be considered a sufficiently high rank, as players will be treated to one unlockable, upgraded weapon kit. After each promotion following and including Lance Corporal, one upgradeable kit for any chosen class will be available. Included in each pack is an improved main weapon to replace the current one, although players can switch back to the old pack at any time on any server if they so choose.

The graphics in Battlefield 2 are quite good. When used with a 9800 Pro, they could only go so high until the game became unplayable, but when BF2 was played using a 6800GT, the graphics were exposed in all of their glory. The resolution is locked at 1280x1024, but there are some guides out there to get passed this. Also, when you change anything relating to graphics, the game has to compute and optimize the settings each time. This can take a minute or so for each change and may be even longer on older computers. It is annoying because one might want to test a few settings to see where the game is best played at, but with the constant load times it seems to take forever. The models and vehicles look very realistic, which only enhances the realism. The maps are detailed with trees, ruins, construction, buildings, and anything else you can imagine. The level of detail on the maps is quite astounding, and each map has its own unique feel to it.

When an explosion goes off near you, your vision blurs, and sounds around you become muted or dull and are often replaced by a ringing sensation. Stand too close to a firecracker and you get the same feeling sans the blurry vision. One downside to the maps and game engine is the lack of destructible terrain. You think your brand new tank can mow down a few trees? Think again. The only things a tank can run over, aside from humans, are a few road signs and smaller trees. Forget running through a building wall or uprooting a few trees. The last thing I want to mention in the graphics is the HUD. For the most part, it works well, but if you plan on flying a jet you better get used to either shooting down friendly jets or completely missing the target altogether. The target identifiers come too little and too late. The AA guns are slightly different; they can target an enemy or friendly plane considerably further than the planes or helicopters can.

No game is complete without an incredible audio experience, and Battlefield 2 will make you want to go out and buy yourself a 5.1 surround sound system. It gives your ears a treat with massive explosions, tanks rumbling, guns firing, jets screaming, and that oh-so-fun thud of your body hitting an oncoming jeep. When a Commander sets off the artillery, you know when it’s coming not only by the black streaks in the air but also by the screech they make as they come plummeting to the ground. Everything the audio has to offer is perfect. Nothing is out of place or dull or over the top. With the included VoIP feature, you can chat with your teammates online and shout orders as if you were truly there.

Battlefield 2 is a true team based game. If you want to run off and do your own thing, you wouldn’t get far. The second you hop in a tank others will instantly join you. If you wanted to go off and snipe, you can bet the Commander will set a UAV scan near you. No matter who is playing, everyone is working together, whether they want to or not. The game simply forces it to be that way, and it’s definitely a good thing. Battlefield 2 accomplishes what many other titles have tried and failed to do.

Although Battlefield 2 provides a fulfilling online experience, it isn’t without its fair share of bugs. Much like Battlefield 1942 at its release, a few patches will be required before the game can truly achieve perfection. Before even getting into the game, finding a server to join is necessary, but it is difficult for players to accomplish such a task since the server browser randomly decides to take a bathroom break and keeps you waiting. Once in game, more bugs await. A bug that has recklessly made its way from the demo right into the retail version is lurking in the shadows. Occasionally, perhaps when being auto-switched to the other team, certain players’ names will come up as red, as if they were enemies. This glitch leads to much team killing and an excessive amount of frustration when the player finds him/herself as an outcast on the run from both allies and opposition. Along with these major problems, there are a few other minor annoyances in the game as well. However, even though these bugs do deter from the overall immersion and experience, BF2’s positive elements far outweigh any glitches in the game.

I stated in my Half-Life 2 review that it was the best single-player experience I’ve had in quite a while. Similarly, Battlefield 2 is easily the best online experience I’ve ever had. Even with a few shortcomings like a horrible in-game server browser and extremely long and boring load times, Battlefield 2 is still a step ahead of the rest. If you could own only one game this year, it will have to be Battlefield 2.

Graphics – 9/10
Audio – 9.5/10
Gameplay – 10/10
Overall – 9/10

Kurt Knudsen