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Battlefield 2142 Preview
developer: Digital Illusions
PIV 1700, 512MB RAM, 2.2GB HDD, 128MB video card
|ESRB rating: T
release date: Oct 17, 06
|» All About Battlefield 2142 on ActionTrip|
Back when the original Battlefield 1942 was released, the game literally swept the multiplayer FPS market, finally introducing a worthy and unique alternative to Counter-Strike. The online FPS scene was getting stale, so an introduction of an action-packed war experience with a smooth integration of vehicular and classic FPS combat was embraced enthusiastically by both the media and fans alike.
Fast forward a couple of years, and the then-newcomers to the gaming scene, Swedish-based DICE, are now seasoned veterans of the gaming industry working under the wing of the company's majority stock holder - Electronic Arts.
The Battlefield series has had its ups and downs. After releasing a few relatively successful expansion packs to the original, the DICE team outsourced Battlefield: Vietnam (arguably the first sequel to BF 1942) to their Canadian branch. The end result was met with a mixed response, and rightfully so, as the game failed to live up to the fans' expectations.
The situation changed for the better when the critically acclaimed Battlefield 2 was released - a game developed by the original DICE team from Sweden. Alas, BF2 was marred with bugs, and the subsequent screw-ups with some of the patch releases didn't help either - quite the contrary in fact.
Battlefield 2 did introduce one major new feature to the game, and that is the character ranking system tied to the ranked BF servers. This relatively straightforward-sounding feature proved very popular with Battlefield fans. People were spending countless hours online trying to earn medals and advance in rank.
Another improvement to the game was the much greater emphasis on communication and the role of the Squad Leader.
About two weeks ago or so, the folks at EA sent us our invitation to the Battlefield 2142 closed beta. BF 2142, as its annual stamp suggests, takes the franchise into the future, putting the emphasis on next-generation warfare.
But before I go into detail about my hands-on impressions, first a quick overview of the game's backdrop: "In Battlefield 2142, players choose to fight for one of two military superpowers - the European Union or the newly formed Pan Asian Coalition -in an epic battle for survival. Armed with a devastating arsenal of hi-tech weaponry, including assault rifles, cloaking devices and sentry guns, players will also take control of the most lethal vehicles known to man. Massive battle Walkers wage fierce combat on the ground, while futuristic aircraft rule the skies. When taking on this futuristic armor players will need to use their wits and an arsenal of new hi-tech countermeasures like EMP grenades and smart mines to level the playing field."
The 32-player map I played in the beta is called Verdun and it features the Titan Assault mode of play. Essentially, TA is a spin on the Conquest mode - in order to defeat the giant enemy ship controlled by the other team's commander, your team will be required to capture and hold missile silos, which are needed to bring the enemy Titan's shields down. Players must destroy the Titan's shields, board the craft, fight to its reactor core and detonate it from the inside - all while defending their own Titan. From this short explanation, it's easy to see how the Titan Assault mode can be more involving than the regular Conquest game.
Your very first contact with Battlefield 2142 will likely come down to identifying how exactly these futuristic weapons differ from the conventional stuff of its predecessor. That was my first instinct anyway.
The short answer is that they don't differ much... at the outset.
One of the things I noticed right off the bat is the handling of the hovering tanks. Given their nature, these huge beasts handle much differently from the conventional tanks. They are much more mobile, and what's more important, the strafing becomes a huge thing for tank fights. Sliding to the left or right while keeping your target in sight can be tricky at first, but it's a nice way to gain an edge over your opponent. Consequently, the tank fights are not always relegated to two players squaring each other off and exchanging shots like 19th century duelists until one of the tank breaks.
Operating the futuristic aircraft feels like a mix between flying a helicopter and an airplane. The controls felt natural enough though, so I had no problems hopping into the cockpit of one of those bad boys and landing behind enemy lines. Even with just my keyboard.
But, overall, I can't say that either the vehicular or the FPS combat feels any different from Battlefield 2. The Verdun map was huge, making the gameplay appear more epic, but that has nothing to do with the weapons themselves. I spent most of my time playing the assault class, which felt very much like a minor upgrade to its BF2 counterpart.
There is a catch here, however. Character development plays a much bigger role in BF2142 than it did in BF2. The really great new weaponry and player abilities are unlocked as rewards for achieving higher rank. DICE/EA did a great job of further expanding on the RPG element of the Battlefield series.
So for instance, if you level up the aforementioned assault class, you'll get neat stuff like better rifles: the Baur H-AR - a bulked up edition of the SCAR 11, and the Voss L-AR. Furthermore, the Assault class gets the PK-74 AR-Rocket and the SG-34 Grenade, making it vastly more lethal on the battlefield. Other high-tech gadgetry includes stuff like the NetBat Infantry ID, which allows you to identify enemy soldiers, under barrel 20-Gauge Herzog Shotgun, giving great stopping power at short range, and then character-enhancing abilities like the Staminar Recovery System, advanced Med Kits, and others.
The Engineers for example can unlock awesome high-caliber anti-vehicle machine guns as well as the SAAW 86 Anti-Air weapon. The support class can unlock stuff like the IPS Shield, which gives limited protection against small arms fire, and deployable sentry turrets.
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