Since its introduction in 2002, the Battlefield series has spawned a large following, and is one of the most played multiplayer shooters currently out on the market. Not only has the series been well-rounded, but it was the first multiplayer frag-fest to include a perfect blend of on-foot and vehicular combat. Battlefield 1942's take on WWII combat was the first shooter to finally get rid of the scripted WWII gameplay. Instead you were given an open battlefield for which you could run around and take over key objectives as you saw fit. The success of Battlefield 1942 lead to two expansion packs that opened more maps and weapons to be used in this great war, both of which were just as good as the original game.
Of course the series couldn't just stop there. Battlefield Vietnam introduced us to the jungle-infested lands of the Vietnamese. Not only did it receive a graphics update, new weapons and vehicles, and even a '60s soundtrack to get you in the mood, but it also mixed things up by adding jets equipped with napalm and deadly helicopters. It may not have had the same effect as the previous title in the series, but it was without a doubt the best shooter to come out based on the Vietnam era. One could think that it wouldn't be too long until the Battlefield series moved its powers into modern-day combat, and that's exactly what Battlefield 2 has done. Or Battlefield 3 depending on how you look at it.
True, Battlefield 2 is the third iteration in the series, but it feels more like a sequel to the series than Battlefield Vietnam ever could. Battlefield 2's new take on modern combat delivers some fast-paced and diverse action. Much like the previous titles this new-age shooter focuses primarily on the Conquest mode. In fact, the Conquest mode is the only game type here. It has always been a little strange to just see one type of game mode in this series, but it just works so well that we wouldn't have it any other way.
For those of you who don't know the concept behind the Conquest mode, it is very easy to explain. Put simply, every map has a select number of outposts positioned all around. Standing right next to the flag at an outpost for a few seconds will capture that outpost for your team. Your team can then spawn in there, and that outpost can also be taken back by the opposing team. The team that lowers their opponent's tickets, or lives, to zero first is the winner.
One of Battlefield 2's many new features is the ability for the maps to adjust to the number of players on a server. There are a total of 12 maps for your destructive pleasure, and each comes in three different sizes. Having more then just 12 maps would be favourable, but having three versions of each map really changes the gameplay each time around. The three versions include support for 16, 32, and 64 players. The 16 player versions normally include about 3-4 outposts, which only takes up a very small portions of the overall map. The 16 player maps feature some of the closest and most fierce combat you'll see in the game. The 32 player maps are about double the size and can hold anywhere from 5-8 outposts. The 32 player maps feel like the most reasonable and exciting maps to play on due to their size, and it doesn't generally become too much to handle. For those who like the craziest forms of gameplay, the 64 player versions cover the entire map with up to around 10 outposts to take control of.
Each of the 12 maps do have their own distinct landmarks making you choose different strategies for each map, but overall they all tend to feel the same. The main difference here is between the maps that contain rolling grass-filled hills and those that contain desert wastelands. The latter scenario seems to be more popular, but it does make sense considering that most of the battles in Battlefield 2 are fought somewhere in the Middle-East. The rest of the maps (mainly those flush with small forests) are fought in the jungles of China. There are plenty of maps that contain wide-open areas and small rundown cities. So while the setting for the maps may generally look the same, they all offer up a different experience and all contain their own story behind the battle that's fought there.
Of course, the smaller 16 player maps do not contain the majority of vehicles that infest Battlefield 2's arsenal. There are up to about 30 different vehicles, including the different variations for each side. Furthermore, each vehicle has completely different weaponry to be used in the battles. For example, a small buggy is a blast to drive and can hold a passenger manning a mounted machine gun as well as a rear passenger controlling the top machine gun. Heavy vehicles include hummers that can hold about three passengers besides the driver. Each passenger can shoot their guns out of the windows, and even more passengers can be carried on the back to control the top-mounted machine gun. Heavier armour includes mobile anti-aircraft and some tanks that can hold another soldier up top to control the machine gun. However, instead of the tank gunner becoming a target for snipers (as was the case previously), he can actually duck down into the tank.
Some of the best vehicles are of the air. Battlefield 2 includes a new swarm of aircraft, including numerous different jets and helicopters. Many of the jets not only take off from a runway but can also take off vertically much like a harrier jet, although they don't have the same style as the harrier. These jets include machine guns, plenty of bombs, and heat-seeking missiles.
The larger maps are ideal for flying jets since you just have so much room, but you can still reach one point of the map to another in no time due to their fast speed. The jets definitely take some getting used to as they can be pretty difficult to master. Once you do master them, however, the enemy soldiers will cower in fear when they hear the roar of your jet flying by, releasing bombs right on their position as you do so. The jets can also launch countermeasures just in case they have a hostile missile on their tail.
While the jets are fun to fly, nothing is more enjoyable the Battlefield 2's helicopters. Generally the helicopters are much easier to control here than in Battlefield Vietnam . Battlefield 2 includes two main helicopters for each side. For the US side it's the famous Apache helicopter and Black Hawk. The Black Hawk is great for gathering up soldiers to go hunting. You can hold about four passengers with two looking out each side. There is one mini-gun on each side, and the remaining troops can simply shoot their primary weapons out of the sides. The Apache helicopter holds two soldiers, and the driver can only fire simple rockets at ground or air targets. The other soldier sits in the front and has the somewhat easier job. This guy is just along for the ride and can control both a heavy-powered machine gun and a controllable rocket. Switching over to the rocket brings up a white viewing screen from which you can target enemy armour on the ground in a limited space. Once you release the rocket you have slight control over it until it hits something. In fact, the same goes for all rockets in the game. Whether you have a rocket launcher as an anti-tank kit or you're using the mounted rocket launchers that can be found at many outposts, you can control it after fired to a certain extent.
If you finally get a chance to master vehicular combat, then the on-foot combat should be a breeze. Well actually, that depends on what soldier kit you choose. The different kits that can be chosen feel much more balanced than ever before. Much like the vehicles, each kit has its own advantages and disadvantages which really makes choosing a kit a much larger dilemma. Each kit is so fun to play that you find yourself switching back and forth between them to find out which one suits a particular map better. There are seven kits in all, including anti-tank, medic, engineer, support, sniper, assault, and special forces.
Every kit has its own special weaponry that can be used on the battlefield. For example the medic contains a regular M4 assault weapon and handgun but also carries med packs that can either be dropped somewhere or equipped to heal fellow soldiers. The medic also has shock paddles that can be used to revive dead soldiers. In order to revive a dead soldier, a medic must do so within the spawn waiting period (before the dead soldier spawns back in). Being revived on the battlefield won't count as a death point. The support kit works much the same way, but instead of healing soldiers they can give out ammo (in Battlefield 2 there are no longer any ammo or medic cabinets and boxes throughout the maps).
The sniper and anti-tank kits are just as they sound, and they don't contain anything special apart from their traditional sniper rifles and rocket launchers. The engineer can also repair any key points that get destroyed, such as bridges or radar stations. The assault kit gets a M4 with an attached grenade launcher, and the special forces kit is mostly the same as the assault except they get C4. The C4 that the special forces use can be placed on anything and can be detonated all at once at anytime, so long as the soldier that planted the C4 is still alive. The special forces certainly stand up to their name, as their C4 is the only way to effectively destroy enemy radar stations and artillery guns.
While the kits are all fun to play and cover a wide range of combat on the battlefield, there's just a few problems that should have been tweaked before release. Firstly, it is very surprising to see that the sniper rifle does not drift at all. So a sniper will generally have a very still shot even when standing up which means he can usually get some easy kills. Whilst the sniper may be a little overpowered, the assault kit feels too underpowered. The grenades that can be fired from the assault soldier's gun just aren't powerful enough. You basically have to get a direct hit on an enemy for it to kill them. There have been so many times when our grenade exploded right at the feet of enemy soldiers but yet they still lived and were only slightly injured. Hopefully some of these issues will be fixed with a future patch.
One of the main new things to Battlefield 2 that really changes the gameplay is the ability to create squads. You can actually create squads of up to six people with a squad leader. At anytime you like, you can either go off on your own or join a squad. The squad leader will issue you orders, such as tell you where to attack, or to defend key positions. The squad leader also has direct contact with the commander, enabling him to request artillery strikes and UAVs. The commander position can be applied for at the beginning of the battle. This position is headed by only one soldier who oversees the operations of the entire army. The commander alone has the ability to scan the whole map and subsequently issue orders to each squad leader, launch artillery strikes on enemy positions, drop ammo and medical supplies, and send out UAVs (which scan the designated area for enemies and shows up on all friendly soldier's radars). Obviously the commander is the big chief of the whole operation, and he gets double points if he leads his army to victory.
The squad-based nature of Battlefield 2 is where it really comes to life, and it's just not very fun if everyone doesn't get into squads and work together. Teamwork is the most effective way of winning in this title, and it's a pity when most people just run off on their own. Not listening to orders and a lack of communication will probably result in plenty of accidental team kills. It is for this reason that the radar plays a bigger part in the sequel, as it tells you where your commander is launching artillery strikes, where your guys are, and more.
As you may have already noticed, Battlefield 2 is more than just a sequel. There are numerous new features that add so much more depth to the series. One final big feature that we haven't yet discussed is the intricate point system. Put simply, your kills and teamwork you will earn points at the end of each round: the better skilled you are, the more points there are to be earned. These points are then added into your profile. Killing an enemy will get you about 2 points each per kill, but there are also a number of other ways to gain points. Taking over outposts, healing fellow soldiers, repairing damaged equipment, and supplying soldiers with ammo will all give you points. For the most part, kill-stealing is also a thing of the past. If you wound an enemy, and then one of your team-mates kills them, you will still get kill assist points. The same goes for driving vehicles. If a gunner on your vehicle kills an enemy you'll receive driver assist points. So there are plenty of different ways to earn points, and this really gives you more incentive to do better in order to gain more points.
So what good are all of these points? Well they get added into your profile and onto your rank. That's right, you can actually move up in rank. It doesn't do much other then giving you a better chance at applying for the commander position in a battle, but it's still fun to get promoted. You first start as a Private, then become First Class Private, Lance Corporal, Corporal, etc. The higher up the ranks you go, the more difficult it becomes to get promoted since you'll need to get many more points. Reaching certain ranks will allow you to unlock different weapons for certain kits. You can also win simple awards by performing well during a battle. There are a lot of awards to win, and most can be won by performing satisfactory while using certain soldier kits.
While the ranking and point system is a very welcome feature for Battlefield 2, unfortunately it's not without its problems. The only way to get ranked is to play on ranked servers, but almost every ranked server is heavy with lag. The unranked servers rarely ever lag leading us to believe that there's still a few bugs within EA's ranking system. Furthermore, your statistics update themselves as you are playing the game, but sometimes, strangely, it can take hours to update. To top it off, the in-game server browser is very slow and just doesn't perform the way you would expect it to.
Although the Battlefield series has always been about multiplayer combat, there has still always been a small single-player portion which allowed you to practice your capabilities. Actually, EA has already said in the past that most people who have bought the previous Battlefield titles never played the game online. As a resuly, the single-player portion was pretty big, and rightfully so it gave you a lot of options such as difficulty levels, number of bots, and the intelligence level of the bots. Unfortunately Battlefield 2 only gives you the ability to select the difficulty. You are actually forced to play only with 16 bots instead of 64 supported by multiplayer, meaning that you can only play on the 16 player version maps in single-player.
Overall, the single-player portion of Battlefield 2 is extremely limited and doesn't allow you to play on the larger map versions. This means that unfortunately you can't really practice on all the maps. On a better note, however, the AI has been completely redone, and the bots are very smart when compared to the AI of the previous titles. The bots even come close to feeling like human players.
The graphics in Battlefield 2 have received a very large overhaul, and we couldn't be happier. Everything just looks so smooth. The character models, water effects, dynamic shadows, and textures all look highly detailed. We're also surprised to see how smooth it actually runs as well. On a P4 3GHz system with 1GB of RAM and a GeForce 6800GT it ran smoothly, even with the graphic setting maxed out at a resolution of 1280x1024, 4xAA, and 4xAF. It's really a sight to behold, and no other large-scale multiplayer shooter even comes close in terms of visual appeal.
The sound effects are just as good: you can hear the detailed roaring sound of jets flying low overhead and the rumbling of tank treads on the ground. Also, explosions and gunfire can also be realistically heard in the distance. Battlefield 2 comes equipped with voice support to communicate with your teammates more efficiently than the in-game key system, but if you don't have a headset then don't worry. Most players currently don't use this feature.
Overall, Battlefield 2 has done it again by reviving the series with a completely new time period, a great deal of new features, and some updated technical specifications. It does have plenty of issues such as a lag on ranked servers, and once we noticed that our friendly soldier's name turned red (signifying he was an enemy) which was obviously a problem. All things considered, the problems that we've experience really do not ruin the overall gameplay, and are small enough to be fixed with upcoming patches.