Battlefield 2: Euro Force Review
|Developer:||Digital Illusions CE (DiCE)|
|Release Date:||14th March, 2006 (UK)|
|Reviewer:||Craig Dudley (Mani)|
|Price:||£5.99 / $9.99 (US)|
As the name suggests, Euro Force adds a perhaps not quite so fictional European Army to the Battlefield 2 universe, we get 2 new tanks for the European team, the British Challenger 2 and the German Leopard 2A6. We also get the almost in service Eurofighter (Typhoon) but do not get a new bomber, instead the European army still has the F-15. Whether some European armies actually use the F-15 or not I don't know. The final new vehicle for the European team is the Tiger HAP attack helicopter. None of the jeeps or the APC are changed from the US armies either, this is a bit of a stretch to be fair but it is only a game.
Any new army is also going to need guns to use and Euro Force does not disappoint! We get a full array of new kit to play with and all of it is just as much fun as any other armies' weapons. Of course users of the Special Forces expansion will have seen the L96A1 sniper rifle and P90 since the 1.20 patch anyway.
The main focus of the booster pack is of course the three new maps. First, Taraba Quarry is Europe versus MEC and see the two armies holding the 2 banks of a lake with a bridge and land crossing in the north of the map, there's an awful lot of armour on this map, and these 2 natural choke points tend to get quite busy with tanks at the beginning of the rounds, anywhere large numbers of vehicles go, the bombers are sure to be coming too as are the AA vehicles. Due to the size of the map and the number of vehicles, there's isn't a lot of infantry combat and that isn't going to suit the type of player who prefers city maps (like me for instance). Taraba Quarry also has a faulty runway on the MEC team, barely one time in ten do you reload both bombs when flying over it. All in all, this is my least favourite Euro Force map and probably my least favourite map overall too, yes I dislike it even more than Kubra Dam. It's just too big and has too many tanks, that is until you try to squeeze 64 players on to it.
Operation Smoke Screen is an many ways very similar to Taraba Quarry, it's big, open and has lots of tanks. A bit of a theme here don't you think? Across the centre of the map are a few destroyed oil containers that are spewing large amounts of black smoke, it should in theory provide you with some cover and indeed it does a little, but it's not quite thick enough to make a real difference to really observant pilots. There aren't any obvious choke points here, so it flows a little better than Taraba Quarry in my opinion. However, each time I've played it one side seems to get on top fairly quickly and you end up with five enemy tanks camped outside your main base. Again, this just doesn't suit my preferred style of bf2 play. Given that these two maps contain so much armour, how much will there be in the upcoming "Armored Fury" booster pack? I'm not sure I want to know.
The final map, Great Wall, sees the European Army attacking China through Russia and coming up against the ancient barrier of the Great Wall of China. Without doubt this is the best of the three maps but it is not without issues of it's own though it's main issue is indeed shared throughout the Euro Force maps. The fact that there is no specific 64 player version is frankly bizarre, whether you play on a 32 player or a 64 payer server, you will be playing the same version, more about that and it's side effects later. Still, Great Wall does tend to feature a fair amount of driving about, it's a bit big really, until that is you enter the central fort where most of the action takes place, the walls of the fort and the great wall itself can almost all be climbed and fought upon, as can the numerous guard towers, claymores placed effectively can cause absolute mayhem and it's very difficult to get grenades onto the guard towers, meaning the sniper is pretty much king in this area, down on the floors of the fortress is a different story though. All in all, the best map of the three by far.
I'm really quite disappointed with Euro Force, the two middle eastern maps do not play very well in my opinion, they are too open, have way too many tanks and are too big for 32 players. With no sixty four player specific version available either, they feel a bit crowded when that many players are in action. I honestly don't understand it, did they make the maps this big to deliberatley try and accomodate 32 and 64 player servers? Was it to save time? Whatever the reason for abandoning the very successful earlier method of producing three different sized maps in one, it has backfired badly in my opinion, the maps feel wrong with either 32 or 64 players and would probably feel about right with 48.
On the plus side of things, the 16 player version of the map do exists and seem to play pretty well, I have a feeling that they would play well in a clan match. If only EA had given these three maps to the community so everyone had access that is.
Booster packs are a strange concept, while I don't necessarily disagree with the idea, I have a feeling that it will segment the Battlefield 2 community somewhat, and that is not a good thing. There will be those that simply must have any and all new BF2 content, me included, and those who won't buy any expansions until they have proved their worth. That's without doubt going to split the number of servers and effectively give you a number of smaller communities, this has already happened with the Special Forces expansion to some degree and is now happening again with the Euro Force booster pack, presumably things will be further complicated by the next booster pack release. I would hope that EA are having a good think about what they are doing, Battlefield 2 has been growing steadily in the online rankings and some would say it's even catching Counter-Strike in terms of player numbers. It's hard to see that continuing for long if EA continually put barriers in the way of community growth.
Rant over, I'll get back to the matter at hand, Euro Force adds two maps where a mechanised style of playing BF2 is key, if that's the way you like to play BF2 then great, you will most likely enjoy Euro Force enough to warrant it's small purchase price. However, If driving around in vehicles through swarms of tanks whilst being harassed continually by Aircraft isn't your bag, then you will be much better off spending your £5.99 on whatever you current vice is, I wish I'd bought a nice bottle of wine to be honest.
The third map is however quite good fun. Great Wall is also probably the best looking BF2 map to date and I thought this single map almost made the purchase price worthwhile, almost. I believe we would have had a much better balance of gameplay if one of the two middle eastern maps had been replaced with an urban combat map of some type, maybe Armored Fury will address that imbalance. Or, maybe EA will release a new and free map? They might even finish the last free one they released properly.
To sum up in a single word? Disappointing.
- Low price
- Some good new weapons for the European Army
- New vehicles
- Great Wall map is fun
Not so good stuff
- Maps are too big for 32 players
- No specific 64 player versions of the maps
- Faulty MEC runway on Taraba Quarry
- Too many tanks on the middle eastern maps
- Not enough infantry combat
- No European jeeps or APC's