Sunday, October 29, 2006

Review: Battlefield 2142

So the furor from the "spyware" debacle is dying down, as EA is assuring us all it does is use our IP to give us geographic context to the ads it will show us. Time to get down to brass tacks about the latest of the BF series.

I'm going to do away with my usual subheadings and just talk about the game. It would be silly to describe the gameplay, graphics, sound etc in detail because it's battlefield. Chances are, if you are interested in a BF2142 review, you already know what it means to play a Battlefield game.

First, let's talk about what's GOOD about the game. At least excluding network issues, the game performs slightly better on my machine than BF2 did, which is a welcome improvement. The new walkers are neat, but not TOO overpowered. The player "classes" and kits are nice and streamlined. The maps are well designed. All in all, it's a decent recipe for potential fun.

Pardon me while I crack my knuckles in anticipation of voluminous typing...

Ok, now let's talk about what's wrong with this game.

You may hear grumblings from many corners of the net about this being little more than a modded version of BF2. Well, I must grimly report such accounts are accurate. The dynamic, the control, the weapons, pretty much everything about 2142 basically says "you could just have left the -142 off the end of the name." Maybe some want every Battlefield product just on principle, but I would be disappointed to have shelled out for a game that looked, felt, and played pretty much exactly the same as the last game. Just without jets.

And Dubya Tee Eff is up with that, anyway... the No Jets thing? This is the freaking future. Where are the personal aircraft? The hoverboards? The jump packs? Ok, so we've got these titan things, but that's not what I'm talking about. A large part of the allure of the past BF games (which is now missing) has been "Wanna be a soldier? Be any solder! Be a machine gunner or a bazooka guy or a medic! Wanna drive a tank? We got lots of tanks! Drive one! How about a helicopter? Got those too! Fighter pilot? Hop in! You wanna steer a goddamned battleship? Here you are, skipper! Ask us about our submarines next! Have a little artillery there! Dune Buggy! Jeep! B-17! A-10! Schwimmwagen! Flakpanzer! Swift boat! Jetpack! We got it all and you can drive any of it, right out of the box!" What you got in 2142 is a much pared down selection of basically humvees, walkers, and static gun emplacements. And if you're lucky, maybe a futuristic bladeless helicopter.

Speaking of "right out of the box," even that is gone... and I'm not even talking about the patch immediately required. EA has added a new "unlock" rank system that only advances through online play, such that you have to play (and do well) to earn points to gain ranks to "unlock" most of the equipment for your profile. This is yet another step in a hated direction from those of us who liked 1942's coop mode for single player and the sandbox capabilities contained therein. I'm pretty sure I'm NOT alone in that I liked cranking up the number of bots to 64 in original BF's co-op mode and playing by myself. But Co-op mode went the way of the dodo way back in BF:Vietnam, although there was a nice mod for BF2 that let you play "enhanced co-op" with more equipment, flag points, etc. We can only hope a nice mod comes along for 2142. Some already have pointed out that the unlock system will be discouraging for newcomers, what with all the good toys already in the hands of the Catass Crew, it'll be hard for them to compete to get the points THEY need to unlock the goodies in a timely manner. Hopefully somebody is already working on a hack to unlock everything straightaway, if only for single player mode.

All in all, it's not something I'll be buying, unless something comes along that addresses the unlocks, and maybe adds in some more co-op goodies. The former is unlikely, and the latter is laughable. Besides, we all know the 2142 expansion must be mere weeks from launch, right? One thing that has made me sad is how the brand name Battlefield, which used to be synonymous with comprehensive inclusion of all things combat, now is synonymous with shovelware.

Rating: C-. And that's the word from Bandit Camp.


PPMcBiggs said...

Word. This game is kind of fun, but lacks variety. I am most upset about the lack of additional player classes bums me out. I would love to play as a support person with grenades. Ridiculous that all I get is a hi-cap machine gun, a sidearm and a knife. One is totally screwed if he finds himself alone against a walker, or an enemy squad of any skill at all.

Unlocks is such a stupid idea I cant believe it ever got the green light. Especially since I have to play with a bunch of catassing 12 year olds. I cant wait until an unlock hack hits. Then I can experience the game as I would expect it from the beginning.

I will stick with BF1942 and Desert Combat.

Self-Appointed EQ Curmudgeon said...

Yeah PP is right, the "unlocks" concept sucks a dogs ass.

For the casual gamer it's a pain in the ass and assures that any time a no-life 12-to-40 year old asshat griefer that's done nothing but go on a frag fest with his friends for the past month to get all the unlocks done an undeniable and virtually unsurmountable advantage against therest of the adults.

Of late EA has done many things to make me hate them.

I just hope to find a server I can play on where I am allowed to curse as much as I am inspired to the next time some invisible dick head comes up and knifes me death while I'm sitting in my tank...