Battlefield II

01 Jul 05

War is Hell
It’s almost impossible to write a review of a war game without at least trying to put this across, even more so because the game in question parallels recent events in the Gulf very closely. This time around though, the names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Battlefield 2 is a modern-day update to the two previous games in the Battlefield franchise that fast became a multiplayer online favourite with their superb mix of land, sea and air vehicles as well as troop classes. Strategy is vitally important - there are two ways to play Battlefield games, you can mill around getting into vehicles, driving, sailing or flying around smashing into things and killing people - or you can develop troop class specific skills that really will help turn the tide of battle in your team’s favour. The main point to the game is to hold and keep key flag points around the battlefield, attacking and defending the various outposts until time runs out or all the opposing team are dead (or you are!)

It sounds simple enough, but when you’re dealing with the Battlefield games, always have the phrase “expect the unexpected” at the back of your mind because you really won’t ever play two games the same way. Battlefield 2 adds several new key elements to the game style including an all new command dynamic - squads. Now each team can have an overall commander, and teams can also split up into squads of 6 players. Commanders and squad leaders can now issue orders to the rest of the team to direct the flow of battle more accurately, in fact this is absolutely vital to a team’s success in Battlefield 2.

There are also several new classes available including a much improved “medic” class who has possibly the coolest offensive weapon in the game, a defibrillator. Out of ammo? Just zap ‘em! All troop classes have an impressive array of weaponry at their disposal on both sides including heavy machine guns, grenades, grenade launchers, anti tank weapons and static explosive charges. As a hardened Battlefield veteran you will inevitably have your favourite “role” on the battlefield and you’ll be well equipped to do the job.

For me personally, the absolute number one appeal of the Battlefield series was always the vehicles. Thankfully you can almost cry with glee at the amount now in the game (over 30), and the way they’ve been substantially improved from the previous games. Helicopters were always tricky to fly in Battlefield Vietnam for example, here in Battlefield 2 they’re absolutely amazing and soon you’ll find yourself zipping between tall buildings and avoiding gunfire and missiles like a pro. Similarly ground-based vehicles are much improved and the new game engines physics really shine through when you’re pummelling your Humvee over rough ground stuffed to the gills with ruts and bumps (and mines if you’re not careful).

You’d think for a game set in the middle east that you’d be hard pressed for lush scenery, but each map is lovingly brought to life with stark contrasts between beach-heads, desert towns, building sites and industrial complexes, oil terminals, chemical factories, mountains and wetlands all looking as “next-gen” as anything that wowed you from the recent E3 show.  Once again I broke a personal promise to myself that no one game would make me upgrade my previously aging PC but to get the best of a game like Battlefield 2, it’s definitely worth it. That’s not to say that Battlefield 2 is sluggish on low end systems, far from it, but with a game this feature packed you really do want it to look its best.

Battlefield 2 has single player campaign missions but the game really comes alive online against other human players. In recent matches I’ve played on several 32 player servers and a couple of massive 64 player ones and the action is as frantic as anything you may have recently seen on TV. Player models are so well animated that it’s eerily parallel to real life, watching a squad of troops pouring out of a Blackhawk helicopter scrambling for cover.

Personally, Battlefield 2 is my game of the year so far, and a swift look at how the recent demo went down with the online community seems to indicate that for a lot of you - it’ll be yours too.

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