Friday, June 17, 2005

Battlefield 2™

EA Games released the sequel to their popular Battlefield series last week. Following Battlefield 1942 and Battlefield Vietnam comes Battlefield 2. Unlike BF2’s predecessors, BF2 is not based on real life circumstances. BF42 takes place in WWII and uses the weapons, tanks, planes, etc of that time period. The playing field is also based on WWII map points that existed. BFV takes place during Vietnam and also includes the weapons, planes, tanks, jeeps, helicopters, etc. of that time period. The maps are all in Vietnam, most with lush over growth giving a jungle atmosphere. BF2 is in a fictional world. Many of the weapons, etc are similar to those that we have today and that maps look like places that could really exist but all are fictional. That might be the only un-realistic thing about BF2.

The graphics are extremely realistic in BF2. The EA team, along with DICE, have really done an outstanding job in making the fictional world become real. To optimally play you will need a strong graphics card. EA recommends one with 256MB on it. Mine has 128MB and I keep my graphics settings on medium. The world still looks amazing.

A big addition to BF2 is the Commander Mode feature and a squad structure. Basically this allows you to split your team in to squads, each having a squad leader. There is also one person who can be Commander. The commander can communicate with the squad leaders and the squad leaders can communicate with the commander and their own squad. The commander can assign tactical movements to the squad leaders and the squad leaders can then carry down those commands to their squads. Squad leaders can also communicate up the ladder requesting artillery strikes and other things from the commander. The person playing Commander can see the entire map, use scanners, spy drones, and artillery strikes. Each of these are timed and the commander must wait a small amount of time before he can use each item again. These three options- Scanner, UAV(which allows you team to see a small section of the map), and Artillery strikes are all dependent on structures on the battlefield. If an enemy were to destroy the Scanner room, the UAV Satellite or the Artillery silo, the commander can’t use them. The commander also has one more option which can not be destroyed. The ability to drop supply crates anywhere on the field. This leads me to the next big addition.

The battlefield has NO ammo boxes or health boxes at all. Usually games are unrealistic because the battlefield is littered with ammo supply boxes and health boxes to help people as they go around the map. BF2 makes people rely on two options to receive ammo or health. The first option is to rely on the Commander to parachute a supply crate down on the map somewhere for use. The second option is to have a Support unit and a Medic unit on your team.

If you are in close proximity to a Support or Medic they will replenish you in your ammo or health deficiency(respectively). These units can also drop packs for others to use when the Support or Medic has left the area. Another cool feature of the medic is the ability to revive people after death. The medic carries around shock paddles and could bring back critically wounded soldiers. Other units include snipers, engineers, assaults, etc. Each unit has its own specific role on the battlefield.

Incorporated into BF2 is VOIP. This is the first time anything like this has been seen in a video game. VOIP allows players in game to use voice communication without the need of 3rd party software. Not only that, but the game is set up to use VOIP in the command structure. Squads can only talk within a squad, Squad Leaders can talk to their own squad and the commander and the commander can talk to all squad leaders. This division makes communication clear and precise. No longer will team mates on the complete other side of the map interfere with you trying to relay something to a teammate next to you on the map. The commander can use voice to actually speak to squad leaders to let them get intelligence. Same for squad leaders to their squads. I have played a bunch of times using the demo version of the game in public servers. It is amazing to hear 32 random people you don’t know easily set up into a structure that is functional in milliseconds.

I give this game very high ratings.

To download the demo please go HERE. The retail version is to be released in the US on June 22.

See you on the battlefield.