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Battlefield 2

Score: 96%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: EA Games
Developer: Digitial Illusions (DICE)
Media: CD/3
Players: 1 - 64
Genre: First Person Shooter/ Squad-Based/ Real-Time Strategy

Graphics & Sound:

Battlefield 2 has been eagerly anticipated for over a year now, ever since the powerhouse of Electronic Arts graced us with Battlefield: Vietnam. While the latter title was a bit of a disappointment for original BF: 1942 fans, the outlook was grand for the modern BF2 experience. It wasn’t one of the most hyped PC games in years for just any ol` reason…

Graphically, this is a gem of a game. My first glimpse was the demo a few weeks ago, with one playable map (Oman), a Middle-Eastern coastal assault by the Marine Corps, pitted against the MEC (Middle Eastern Coalition). Immediately you will think back to the film “Black Hawk Down”, with the gritty, debris-strewn landscape, palm trees and healthy doses of sun and sand. In this addition, you can actually completely disappear into the grass, unlike the other versions, making for some deceptive gameplay. While my rig is just decent enough, it still ran very well on medium graphical settings at 1024x768, and even had a few graphical effects on like real-time shadows and such. The player models themselves are highly detailed and move realistically, thanks in part to advanced physics, similar to the Havok “rag doll” engine. Bodies will slump, contort and go flying after all sorts of deadly action - really, an incredible amount of detail for such a large environment-based shooter. Also highly detailed are the vehicles, down to the swaying antennae, their dust billowing wake and a host of other realistic features. One of the coolest additions has to be the “shell shock” after-effect. This was first seen (I believe) in Call of Duty, whereby your screen will blur, shake and whine (ears ringing) after close explosions. This adds new meaning to the term “suppressing fire.” To go along with this neat graphical treat, the explosions and weapon effects are stellar as well. From wispy missile trails from TOW/aircraft, to the gigantic and ear-splitting artillery strikes, war never looked so sexy.

Nor did it ever sound as good, either. The weapons and explosive effects mirror their graphical counterparts in excellence. The sounds of combat are vivid and alive, from the whup-whup of chopper blades to the cracks of machine gun fire …or the even more deadly pop of a sniper rifle. The music is a nice assemblage of Asian, Middle-Eastern and American nationalistic riffs. Nothing quite as noticeable as the original BF: 1942 (some of the after match USA pieces are laughable), but still pretty solid. The voices are also very well done, down to the appropriate language cries, orders, etc., which all sides can hear (read: tactical clues). The screams of “MEDIC!” punctuate combat frequently, especially if you turn on the all-English audio option, which I recommend for utility sake…that is, unless you understand Chinese.


Man... …this game is just fun. You all remember that, right? Forget item management, experience grinding and whatnot, this game is just pure, unadulterated, kick-ass bliss! Battling up to 32 other players on 12 scalable maps (adjust to server population) with air, armor and infantry - nothing can be better.

Battlefield 2 graces us again with the Conquest mode system, whereby you traverse the map securing flags and spawn points. This is akin to a bunch of 6-year-olds playing soccer… a huge pack of goobers chasing around the ball, the entire game. Sadly, if this sounds slightly annoying, you’re right. It’s too bad BF2 didn’t include the sequential maps seen in the wildly popular Desert Combat mod, forcing you to march across in order to capture points, instead of the constant back-capping and damage control feel of this title. Thankfully, the more organized match play alleviates a bit of the “musical base” syndrome.

A new addition is the fantastic commander/squad modes coupled with a RTS-hybrid menu interface. There is one commander per side, who can be mutinied if not doing a capable job. Basically, you press tab to bring up a top-down satellite view (fully zoomable) of the map. Here you can assign orders to your squad leaders, drop down artillery strikes, supply crates and scan for the enemy. The SLs themselves can press T to hand out orders and ask for assistance from the commander. To further add to this increase in tactics is the in-game voice system that allows for you to communicate via squad and commander levels. These features have raised the level of teamwork and organization to new levels for the series, and are BF2's crowning achievement. Before you think the commander is omniscient, all his equipment can be neutralized by a single class - the Spec ops.

This brings us to the core of the gameplay, the interaction of the kits and vehicles. There are 7 different kits in all, very similar to the original game, while adding bits of Desert Combat into the mix. Medic returns with a cool ability to “shock” someone back to life, as does the venerable assault (m203 nade launcher) anti-tank (steerable!), engineer (repairs/mines) and lastly the sniper kit (claymores). 2 quasi-new additions are the support and the aforementioned special operations class. The support has a beefy machine gun (SAW/RPK) along with the ability to give ammo to others, but is dreadfully inaccurate at range. The Spec ops are really invaluable for taking out UAV hangars, artillery guns and so on, not to mention for defense. Toss a few C4 packs around a flag, sit back, and watch the fireworks. All in all, a lot of “rock-paper-scissors” moments occur. This adds to some frustrating moments when you’re gimped against certain classes or vehicles, i.e. you go assault to use the deadly anti-infantry tools, but are all but useless against armor…although the grenade launcher will annoy something fierce. Personally, I enjoy using the engy class, grabbing a fast-firing, missile-loaded APC and chewing up “softies” and armor respectively. Another awesome feature is the complete stat tracking of kills, support (like healing/repairing/re-arming), captures and so forth. All of these are recorded on official EA ranked/licensed servers, and can be viewed easily from the in-game browser. You are also awarded medals, weapon unlocks and other goodies over time as you advance in rank. The unlimited combinations of play from kits, commander options and vehicles, really add to the value and the boundless fun factor.

Maps are fairly varied, including coastal missions where you have to push off a carrier, urban infantry-heavy combat and a mixture of the two. The real keys to the maps are controlling and mastering the vehicles, as well as a heady commander who utilizes his troops well. Spawn camping does become an issue though, so be aware.

Oh yeah…. and there is single player. But who buys this game for that? The AI is utterly simplistic, there is no coherent storyline and the maps are locked (although mods allow for larger battles) to 8 vs 8.

I’ll pass and stick with the multiplayer.


The learning curve in Battlefield 2 should be pretty simple for most avid gamers. Those solely used to urban, non-vehicle games like Counter-Strike or Quake may take awhile to absorb the combined arms operations. Piloting planes and helicopters was also simplified this time around, at the cost of some realism. Basically, it’s all a matter understanding the roles of your class, vehicle and spot on the map. Once you cover those bases, it’s a cinch to master BF2.

Game Mechanics:

The Heads-up-Display is very intuitive, aside from the still clunky chat system. Often times, it is hard to make out the font and words. The radial system of voice commands and alerts is also nicely done, as opposed to that clunky F1-bar across the top. This system actually reminds me a lot of the one used in Close Combat: First to Fight, with added features. Thankfully, they finally got rid of the infantry third-person views, as being able to look over sandbags and around corners was downright lame. You still get third-person vehicle though, so don’t fret. The controls are solid as usual, although there were some hiccups on release about a funky keymapper, but most issues are smoothed out now.

Battlefield 2 stands out as one of the most enjoyable FPS's to date, especially with innovative new features like commander/squads, enhanced graphics/sound/physics and full stat tracking. If you even consider yourself a gamer of any kind, and own a PC that can handle the specs, you owe it to yourself to go out and get this game - now. EA and Dice have brought us a truly awesome experience.


-Tybo, GameVortex Communications
AKA Tyler Whitney

Minimum System Requirements:

System: 1.7 GHz or equivalent, RAM: 512 MB RAM, Video Memory: 128 MB VRAM, Hard Drive Space: 2300 MB, Other: Geforce 3 or better, XP Only

Test System:

Windows XP, 1.83ghz AMD 2500+ 512 MB of RAM, ATI Radeon 9800 Pro 128mb

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