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Battlefield 2 Review

Battlefield 2 Box art
Publisher:Electronic Arts
Developer:Digital Illusions CE (DiCE)
Official Site:http://www.eagames.com/official/battlefield/
Multiplayer:Yes, oh yes indeed!
Release Date:June 24, 2005
Reviewer:Craig Dudley (Mani)
Buy now at Amazon.co.uk

Chances are that if you're reading this review, Battlefield 2 won't need much introduction. However I'll give you a little one anyway: Battlefield 2 is the successor to the awesome and ground breaking 2002 game of the year 'Battlefield 1942', a game which ate much of my life for almost a full year. Yes, I know there has been another full title in the series, but I refuse to talk about that one, suffice to say it was unbalanced, disjointed crap. But as it came form a different studio I don't hold it against DiCE Sweden.

Anyway, being an eternal optimist, *cough*, I was expecting Battlefield 2 to blow me away with adrenaline filled action, amazing graphics and sound while still keeping hold of the distinct Battlefield feeling, that sense of being part of something big and important every time you load it up. And quite surprisingly, it did!

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If you have the PC for it, bf2 looks great, on a par with anything you've seen before on a PC without doubt, texture quality is very high indeed as is the detail in the urban areas of maps, grass and trees are also of the highest order. To be perfectly honest, I can't pick any faults with it graphically, it even seems to degrade to slower hardware reasonably well, that is of course if your card support pixel shader 2. GeForce 4 or older owners beware!

Probably the best graphical feature of bf2 are the player animations, they are in a different league to even Half-Life 2 and Counter-Strike: Source and really do need to be seen, DiCE's animators and artists have done a stellar job.

Smoke and general particle effects from explosions are also very good indeed, as ever I'm not going to witter on about graphics too much, bf2 looks great, end of story.

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Sound effects and sound mixing are excellent, after the massive disappointment of the last Battlefield game's sound system, you know, that one I said I wasn't going to mention. This is extremely welcome indeed. Explosions, vehicle engine noises and weapons fire are all top notch and they seem to mix together very nicely. Battlefield 2 is definitely best experienced loud.

Voice Overs are used to talk you through the basic tasks as you first encounter them, the voice is clear, easy to understand and actually talks sense. Very useful for the beginner and the rusty Battlefield player alike.

The various pieces of music are very nice, nice being a bit of a non-descript sort of word. That's pretty much how I feel about the music, it's fine but it just doesn't grab me and get me excited as a map loads, which is a bit of a pain as Battlefield games have always had slow load times, the maps are so damn big after all.

The one musical downer here for me is that the old classic Battlefield 1942 music with its thumping and powerful baseline didn't make it back into the menus and map loading screens this time around, it's only heard for a few seconds in the intro movie. I suppose a few seconds is better than nothing, but I'm still a little disappointed.

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While I'm on that slight downer, I might as well get the not so good stuff out of the way. Battlefield games have never had the best of menu systems, bf2's is perhaps a little more slick than we are used to, but not much. There's plenty of room for improvement here. Secondly, and much more importantly, the in game server browser can only be described as average a best. The total lack of a way to keep track of favourites is just one flaw, the various slow downs and hangs are somewhat more annoying. It normally wouldn't be a issue, as most people just use an external game server browser anyway, but as far as I know, none yet fully support Battlefield 2, but I could be wrong. Still, these aren't show-stoppers and I guess upcoming patches should improve things no end.

I'm not quite sure which FPS was the first to include fully driveable vehicles, but in my opinion Battlefield 1942 was the first to make them such an integral and important part of the game. As 9is becoming custom in the Battlefield series, BF2 has a vast array of vehicles to play with, jeeps, APCs, tanks, boats, planes and helicopters are all present. Most if not all of these vehicles can carry passengers, what's new in Battlefield 2 is that all your passengers either have the vehicles secondary weapons to fire, or can fire their own weapons in some fashion, this is a nice improvement, being a passenger could be quite dull in bf1942 at times.

Battlefield 2 has increased the number of classes from the previous games, Special Ops, Sniper, Support, Assault, Medic, Engineer and Anti-Tank are all now present and correct, and indeed each class does also seem to have a more important role to play. Teamplay has always been important in Battlefield, but now it's essential. Mixing up your team's classes and working as a unit or units will really give you an advantage.

With a game that can get as large as 32 players a team out of the box, co-ordination and communications with your team are always going to be difficult. DiCE have chosen to implement a chain of command, one player can apply to be the Commander, and if enough of his team agree, he can assume command and begin to issue orders to squad leaders. Anyone can start a squad and therefore lead it, you can even password a squad to make it private with your virtual friends. Now here's the twist, the commander can only issue order to and talk over the integrated VoIP system to squad leaders who in turn can only to talk to his squad mates and the commander. It sounds complex, but soon becomes second nature. It does quickly become obvious that being in a squad and working together with your commander is essential to success.

The commander has a number of special duties that are vital to the teams efforts. At set intervals he can call for a satellite scan of the entire map which will give him an idea of the enemies locations. He can also launch UAV's to monitor said positions more closely, each enemy appears as a red dot which is also forwarded to each of teams mini maps on their HUD. You can already see why having a good commander is essential, but add-in the ability to call in artillery strikes as well as drop supply crates which can heal and re-arm both infantry and vehicles, and you have one extremely useful member of your team. He can of course also participate as a normal player while he's not in the overhead map view. Each of the commanders special abilities does need a small installation of some kind, and all of these can be destroyed by enemy special operations troops with C4, so it pays to have some team mates guard these.

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I've already mentioned the in game voice over IP system - it's actually much better than similar in game systems that have been seen before. Voice quality is on a par with Ventrilo or TeamSpeak without doubt and considering the amount of communication that needs to be done, it's a good job really. Quite how much it ends up being used is anyone's guess, but the more successful players will almost certainly take advantage of it.

Part of the reason Battlefield 1942 was so good, was it's balance. Battlefield 2 is in fact better, each weapon kit/pack had both advantages and disadvantages, the same goes for the vehicles as well and more or less everything works in a now familiar paper, scissor, stone fashion. As ever, the best course of action in any given situation is teamplay. I really don't know quite how much play testing must have been done in order to get bf2 into this state, but they did a great job and for once I'm even going to praise the play testers. Well done guys.

Playing a game which requires so much teamplay to succeed can on occasion be frustrating. Fortunately it usually doesn't take long for a like-minded squad to get stuck in. I just hope bf2 manages to avoid the number of trolls who plagued bf1942... but then being a team killing, plane camper doesn't get you anything but automatically kicked these days, so who knows!

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Playing bf2 is generally great fun, but there are a few small niggles, for instance a jeep can kill you even if its only moving super slow from a total distance of 1mm, quite annoying when you are trying to pick up your team mates and end up running them over, losing dozens of points in the process. Hopefully a patch will solve that one.

With the success of roleplaying games recently and indeed stats sites for FPS games, it's perhaps not too suprising that FPS games began to incorporate elements of both directly into the game. Battlefield 2 has done just that, your account can gain ranks and medals through achieving certain scores while playing on special 'ranked' servers. This leads to unlocking extra weapons for the class of your choice, as well as bragging rights over your friends of course. Right now, I'm not too sure as to whether these extra weapons are better or just different, in most cases I'm leaning towards better. Statistics are a strange thing in games, they are on the surface extremely boring but also really quite compelling. They seem to have the odd effect of making you want to do better and therefore play more. And seemingly Battlefield 2 tracks just about any stat you could possibly want, perhaps that makes it the perfect geeks FPS game.

I think it was originally planned to ship the game's editor at launch. It hasn't quite made it yet, but it is due very soon. If it's half as good as the game, there will be some incredible community created content for Battlefield 2 for long time to come, further extending the life of the game which can only be a good thing for gamers.


Battlefield 2 is quite frankly awesome but it's certainly not perfect, but all it's minor issues can be mostly overlooked because it's just so much damn fun to play. If you like to play first person shooters with your friends, assuming you have some of course, then bf2 is perfect, you can't beat playing in a squad with your buddies in the midst of the complete and utter chaos of battle.

Never before has there been a shooter that rewards team play quite as much as this and if you're a lone gunner type of player then this is probably not the game for you. However if the idea of working together in small groups and actually co-operating with others sounds appealing, then buy Battlefield 2 right now, go on, right now.

Good stuff

  • High quality graphics
  • Superb animation
  • Impressive sound effects
  • Amazing teamplay options
  • Well balanced
  • Great fun to play

Not so good stuff

  • Slightly clunky menus
  • Awful in game browser
  • Not enough ranked servers yet
  • A little complex for beginners

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