Battlefield 2: Modern Combat Review
developer: Digital Illusions
|ESRB rating: T
release date: Apr 11, 06
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When I played Battlefield 2 on the PC last year, with its machine-crippling graphics, intense online multiplayer combat, wealth of vehicles and other doodads, it was a lot of fun. Even though it had more than its share of frustrations from bugs. One thing that was clear to me was that if my gaming rig puffed and wheezed while running Battlefield 2, there was no way that you could port the same game over to a console without losing something. Last week when a copy of the Xbox 360 version of Battlefield 2: Modern Combat showed up on my doorstep, a single question came to mind: So how do you preserve the 'Battlefield Experience' while making a console-friendly version of the game? The only way to find out was to fire up the 360 and try it out.
Shoot the tires!
First off, it must be said that while Battlefield 2: Modern Combat (BF2MC) is part of the Battlefield family, it should not be confused (like I first did) as an attempted port of the PC game. This is the first Battlefield game for the console market and so in addition to the 24 player online action, there is a wealth of single player content including of single player missions, mini game challenges, and a scoring system that allows you to unlock more goodies. The better you do in the single player missions, earns you valuable powerups in game, like more health, stronger firepower, unlocked maps, and new challenges.
The game features five different combat kits (Assault Troop, Sniper, Spec Ops, Combat Engineer and Combat Support (No Medics to be found in game as the Combat Support also fills the roll of healing troops on the battlefield)) to get the dirty deeds done on the battlefield and each one brings its own unique weapons and skills. All five troop types are available to the four factions in game (with slight variations on armament): USA, China, Middle East Coalition and European Union. The game also boasts 30 land air and sea vehicles to add to the mayhem.
The single player game has been spiced up in a couple of unique ways. As you progress through the story-driven missions, you will cycle through the different factions. Sometimes, seeing the mission you just fought through the eyes of the enemy you were mowing down a few minutes earlier, colored by the propaganda of the side you are currently serving. This exercise in seeing all the sides of a single conflict cleverly allows the developers to reuse maps and scenarios while keeping the action fresh and somewhat plausible.
The other feature that makes for an interesting spin on single play is allowing the player to jump from one friendly soldier to another, instantly using something they have called HotSwapping. Highlight an ally, push a button and the screen zooms blurrily towards the target with the sound of the wind rushing by as you take control of the target NPC. This allows you to get to the hot spots on the field, helping sway the battle in your favor. It also allows the control freak in all of us to rapidly jump into the head of an engineer, fire off a missile at the incoming helicopter and after seeing it blown to bits, jump into the head of a sniper in a building across the street and start popping the heads off of incoming ground troops. It's a feature that works well, is quite entertaining and has to be employed if you want to finish missions with the highest possible points in the least amount of time. Also, it helps you lead the computer-controlled teammates through tight spots when the AI is not doing as well as it should be.
Jumping on Xbox Live to mix it up with others is my preferred way of playing this game. Logging in and getting into a game is smooth and map load times are acceptable. The game allows you to create or join clans and will track the progress of every solider following your kills, successes and failures as you play. Playing against other people in either Capture the Flag or Conquest modes is much more rewarding to me than the campaign or the challenges. Trying to drive a Humvee around to fetch soldiers from one point to another or HotSwapping around the map in less than 30 seconds just is not that much fun. I will freely admit I was spoiled by playing against other people online.
Technically speaking BF2MC looks and sounds great, making great use of the new visual effects the 360 can support such as volumetric smoke. Animations are smooth in most *most* situations. Audio is gritty and what you would expect from a modern combat game like this. Vehicles have suitable rumbles and gravel crunches under tires as you race in to capture a flag and the thumping of rotor blades give you audio clues that you had better find cover before you get chewed up by the attack chopper that is nearby. My only complaint is that I wish the game featured positional audio so I would not have to spin around trying to locate the bad guys by sound alone.
Tango eliminated. No one will ever dance Tango again.
Play some Wagner!
The only other complaints I have are that while in multiplayer games and manning a turret in a vehicle while another player drives, turning is a bit choppy. It's a small annoyance and I am sure I only notice because I am comparing to manning a turret in PC game, but it takes a bit of getting used to. Also, since I am a many times over, self confessed PC whore, the whole gamepad control in lieu of the keyboard and mouse just does not feel good to me. The controls are well laid out and I admit I was more at home in this game than any other console FPS, but I am not convinced it is not due to a more forgiving targeting system.
Players who have never experienced a Battlefield game and want to get into the action as quickly and easily as possible, should run right out and buy an Xbox 360 and a copy of Battlefield 2: Modern Combat. Somehow the guys at EA have worked some magic by reproducing the Battlefield experience without the expense or hassle that comes with today's gaming PC. Add to the mix a single player campaign, mini game like challenges and an online component that matches its PC brother, and console fans have a real winner. However, if you have played the PC version, and have no interest in the single player features, the new weapons and vehicles may not be enough reason to trade in your mouse for the 360 controller.
8.7 Very Good
Online play with 24 players cap, stat tracking and ranking, character upgrades tied to performance on the battlefield, single player campaign;
Single player features may not be enough for players of the PC series, some vehicle choppiness in multiplayer, no positional audio.
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