Battlefield 2142 Review
|Developer:||Digital Illusions CE|
|Genre:||First Person Shooter|
|Release Date:||October 17th, 2006 (UK)|
|Reviewer:||Craig Dudley (Mani)|
I wanted to bitch about Battlefield 2142, I really did. See, I'm one of the army of Battlefield fans that has been so disappointed with how Battlefield 2 progressed, or not as you might say. Numerous bugs and questionable game-play features added in patches blighted what I once considered to be the best multiplayer PC FPS game in existence. The launch of a full sequel using more or less the same engine barely 18 months after Battlefield 2's release is not what hardened FPS players expect either and has no doubt clouded the views of many of us. As it is Battlefield 2's community has been shrinking rapidly and now its sequel has arrived, that's only accelerating; for a game that's only eighteen months or so old and had such a massive following, that's a crying shame. Don't get me wrong, it's still popular but the community is not the behemoth it once was.
Graphically, Battlefield 2142 hasn't progressed very much from its slightly older brother and you wouldn't expect it to have really, it's the same engine after all. A common complaint aimed at bf2142 is that it looks like a Battlefield 2 mod and to be perfectly honest that's not such a bad description in many ways. The futuristic setting and the rapidly advancing ice-age have had a profound effect on the artwork however; skies generally look dark and angry, mixed with the generally very brown terrain in a few maps and it can be quite dull to look at. Fortunately only a few of the 10 or so maps suffer badly from this, most notable the map used in the demo, a shocking error of judgement as I feel it just gave ammunition to people already disillusioned with the series, using one of the better maps in the demo may have had a huge effect on initial sales.
So, we already know I'm not going to be doing much bitching about Battlefield 2142 itself, it's a Battlefield game after all and I love the series; moaning about the state of the franchise will not get us any closer to finishing this review, so I'll now get on with it [cheers from the back].
The premise of Battlefield 2142 is basically that a rapidly advancing ice-age is causing shrinking living space and dwindling resources, this is in turn started small scale conflicts which grew into a huge wars between two new superpowers, the European Union (EU) and the Pan Asian Coalition (PAC). Of course, being set more than a hundred years into the future we're bound to see some advanced weaponry but thankfully none of it is too farfetched, it's fairly easy to relate it all to things which are used today and in my mind, that's a good thing.
Perhaps the biggest change from bf2 is that we have now lost fast attack aircraft entirely, some will mourn their demise but not me, the distinct lack of plane campers and people team killing for vehicles has been one of the main positives whilst playing bf2142. The aircraft we do have are more akin to the helicopters in bf2, although they tend to get used in a pretty much transport role only. We do have futuristic versions of tanks, APC's and buggies along with the new and iconic 'Battlewalkers' which are more or less kings of the battlefield, though balance between vehicle and infantry is good, the addition of EMP to the armoury gives infantry squads a fighting chance at least.
That fighting chance is also improved by playing in a squad, here your futuristic electronics really kick things to the next level of squad play, you can should you wish to, change your camera to see what any of your squad mates are doing, I rarely if ever get chance to do that without getting pwn3d to bits but there are other advantages. If a squad mate can see a bad guy, so can you on your HUD represented by red diamond or circle, if used well this can let you drop grenades on enemies that are the other side of a walls without ever actually seeing them. The moral of the story is join squads at all times as there are now major advantages for doing so, not least in bonus points for kills and support actions whilst close to your squad leader.
Scoring has also changed from bf2; points for kills and all the team-play actions like heals and revives have dropped to one and assists are all now only 0.5 with the fractions being rounded down at round end. Points gathered in this way are not however the end of the story when it's comes to the ranking system, ranks are based on career points which not only include your score but also any bonus points achieved from being awarded 'pins' amongst other things. Pins are awarded for things like a kill streak of five or five headshots in a round with a sniper rifle for example; clearly you can get lots of pins and earn a large number of career points in the process.
A lot of the scoring changes in bf2142 are directly involved with Titan mode, the new game-play scenario introduced with Battlefield 2142. Basically a Titan is a huge slow flying vehicle, somewhat like a cross between an aircraft carrier and huge transport plane. They can be moved while their shields are intact and have a number of powerful cannons which can dominate an area if used correctly. Destroying these cannons is quite profitable from a scoring point of view.
A Titan's shields are depleted by being hit by a number of fixed missile installations dotted around the map, each installation is a pretty much the same as a control point in conquest mode except it's not a flag, it's a missile silo. Every so often a missile will fire from the silo's you control and fly at the enemy Titan. Once the shields have gone, missiles will start to damage the hull of the opposing Titan to a point that it will be destroyed and the game will end, however you can end proceeding much sooner by boarding the now crippled Titan and destroying it from within, combat on-board a Titan can be fast and furious but even though they can't now move once disabled, can still be very laggy indeed, as such this mode would seem to be limited to 48 players.
Maps in Titan mode are also of the more open and vehicular in nature, those that love tanks and the Battlewalkers will like that, personally It's not my bag and I'll be sticking to the numerous smaller, tighter city style maps that conquest tends to be played on. If you're very much the Strike at Karkand style of Battlefield 2 player, bf2142 has at least five solid maps for you to play.
One of Battlefield 2's greatest innovations is of course the ranking system, unlocks of new weapons and wanting to rank up kept many a gamer happy for a long time, even if some of the gaps between ranks were a bit large to begin with, that's most definitely not the case in Battlefield 2142. There are now a large number of ranks with little space between them, so much so that you can gain a rank very easily in a few hours of gaming. As you would expect, ranking up does include a new unlock but whereas unlocks in bf2 were all weapons the unlock system in Battlefield 2142 includes a veritable toy chest of futuristic battlefield enhancements, both to your electronics package and self by way of drugs. Unlocks are also categorised by the four basic classes you can choose to play; Assault, Recon, Engineer and Support. Before you start moaning on about the lack of a medic, assault is now the medic and assault trooper combined; you get a healing kit as standard, but can unlock the equivalent of the shock paddles as an add-on later.
We do still have the commander in Battlefield 2142 and again he was lots of useful thing s to play with, though thankfully "cartillery" is not one of them. Artillery has been replaced by orbital strikes but each of the impacts does seem to be a little less effective, there are now many smaller explosions instead. Again, the control units for these commander assets can be destroyed by the enemy but it's no longer work for an engineer. The Recon class now carries demo packs, making snipers a bit more general purpose in the battle space, indeed one of the Recon unlocks isn't even a sniper rifle and as an equipment unlock comes the active camouflage gear which acts like a personal cloak, making you almost invisible for short periods of time.
Rounding out the major class changes is the Engineer; he is now an anti-vehicle soldier as well as general purpose repair man, one of his potential unlocks is a shoulder carried anti-air rocket system. The support class has perhaps changed the least from earlier Battlefield titles, however he can now deploy a sentry gun very much in team fortress style but it doesn't take much damage before it explodes, his gun though is seriously lethal in small bursts.
There are still a few bugs and annoyances with the engine as you might expect, I still can't bind my keys properly and have them saved between sessions for example, an issue that's been around since the launch of Battlefield 2. However there don't seem to be any show stopping problems and minor annoyances like it not saving your last weapon load-out so you have to reconfigure your player every session is somewhat minor. I could go on talking about this game for a while and I'm sure I've missed many interesting things but it would be remiss of me not to mention the much improved BFHQ stats in the game, now you really don't have to leave the game to get up-to date statistics.
While I'm not the biggest fan of Titan mode I do applaud DICE for trying something different. I also give them great credit for being brave and ripping out overpowered attack aircraft and brining in an infantry carried anti-aircraft weapon as an unlock, balance is now much more in favour of the well organised infantry squad and that suits my preferred style of play. Don't be mistaken though, vehicles still have a huge part to play, but just aren't that dominant without infantry to provide cover.
Battlefield 2142 has no doubt suffered from the general apathy that hit the Battlefield 2 community and that is definitely a shame as it is truly good fun, I'll definitely be playing as much as time allows and should you be a Battlefield fan, I doubt you'll be disappointed either.
- Unlocks system is cool
- Squad play enhancements
- Plenty of infantry maps
- BFHQ stats in the game are much improved
- Plane campers are pretty much a thing of the past
Not so good stuff
- Engine is starting to look a little dated
- Poor performance on-board the Titan