Review by Quailk
"Oh DICE, what have you done to my precious Battlefield?!"
For years, I've been a fan of the Battlefield series, particularly Battlefield 1942 - the original. I was always intrigued at the non-linear style of gameplay, where there is no set way to play the game. I was always used to playing games like Wolfenstein or Quake, where there was basically one way to play the game - run, gun, and get the objective. But when I was introduced to the Battlefield series, I was astonished at how you could play the game any way you wanted, and if you played effectively in your own unique way, you would find success. Such a concept has led me into the series, where the first game - Battlefield 1942 - has made it's way into my top 5 favorite games of all time. So, after that game, you'd expect just as much (if not more) from the next game in the series, right? Well, I'm not here to review Battlefield Vietnam, and Battlefield 2, but I will say a thing or two about Battlefield 2142. Before buying the game, I made sure I got my full dose of information off GameFAQs and GameSpot. After watching several gameplay videos, and reading several reviews, both good and bad (mostly good), I decided to go out and buy the game for myself. I don't think it was one of the wisest choices I made. In fact, it was probably one of the worst ways I've ever spent my money before. Allow me to share you my general experience of this PC title.
Battlefield 2142 is one of the most over-rated games I have ever played, and read about. It is extremely confusing, poorly designed, learning curve steep, unfriendly, too demanding, and overall horrific. But I'm not just going to sit here and say that, not without giving reasonable cause. First off, in order to so much as play this game, you have to have an internet connection. Yeah, that's right - you can't even play single player, or LAN, or even by yourself without first signing onto your EA Battlefield 2142 game account. That's another thing - you have to create a Battlefield 2142 account with EA if you want to so much as access the game on your computer. Now that we have that out of the way, let's move on to the next order of business - gameplay.
Gameplay - 1/10
When I play Battlefield, I usually play single player mode, for several reasons. One reason is that bots aren't complete jerks; they don't glitch exploit, they don't spawn-kill, they aren't spiteful, or suicidal, or deliberatly uncooperative, and they don't hack. All of which can be found abundantly online. Now, after installing the game and signing on, the first thing I went for was singleplayer mode, of course. Looking forward to the explosive 10 maps I was promised in the game advertisements, I only found 5 in the single player mode. And if that wasn't a big letdown, let me tell you this - all 5 maps are 16 player-only, which means your team will consist of just 7 other players, and also, the maps are conquest-only. This means that the exciting new game mode - Titan - can't be played unless you play it with other people. Not that I'm anti-social, but I can't stand playing with other people online. This leads into the next topic of review - online gameplay.
I don't think I've been more disgusted in my life when it comes to online gaming. I thought Halo 2 was bad, I obviously wasn't even close to what a really bad online game was.. until now. Playing this game online is more like a chore, or a punishment (it's really that bad). There are two game modes that are primarily played online the most - the classic Conquest mode, and the new Titan mode. In conquest mode, each team has "tickets", or number of times one can respawn. This is, in whole, regulated by flags spread throughout the map. Either team can capture a flag, and once done, that team may spawn there. The general idea here is just what the name suggests - conquest. It is to invade each flag, until flushing the enemy out of the territory. By law of tradition, the team that has captured more than half of the flags on the map has the upperhand, because the opposing team's tickets will now slowly deplete, regardless of spawning. The next game mode is a new one, and it's called "Titan". The rules are basically the same here, but there are a couple twists. First of all, there are silos instead of flags, which, when captured, will fire missles at the opposing team's Titan every two minutes. The Titan is a large aircraft carrier that can be spawned on (each team has one). It has a shield, and a hull. When the shield is destroyed by the opposing team's missles, the hull is exposed. Now, the opposing team can either wait until the missles eventually destroy the hull, or they can go in and destroy 4 terminals (one at a time), and then destroy the reactor core, thus completely destroying the Titan, and ensuring instant success and victory for the team who does so. More on this later.
Now, you'd think that either of these concepts would work online in Battlefield 2142, right? You're terribly mistaken if you thought so, even for a second. First of all, on most servers, there is a common protocol among server hosts. It is a method ensuring the sole success of the host at your own expense. What happens is if you don't get a high kill:death ratio within the first 5-10 minutes, you're automatically moved to the team opposite the host. If you're a buddy of the host, or part of the server's native clan, you automatically get moved to the host's team. Now, I'm fairly new at the game, so I'm not really that good yet. Of course, after playing on several servers, the same thing happens on all of them - I get moved to the losing team to help ensure the winning team's success (and high scores). Pretty demoralizing, if you asked me. So basically, if you're a new-comer, or a poorly skilled player, you get switched to the losing side - and if you're a buddy of the server host, a native clan member, or an extremely high ranked player, you get moved to the winning side. In a nutshell, if you're not too good at the game, you'll almost always lose, and if you're good, you're almost always going to win, even if you exhibit little or no skill during the round. So, onto the actual gameplay. Let's take conquest, where getting spawn-killed to the point of agony and dying randomly is the norm. When you spawn, expect to be randomly bombarded by an enemy in a vehicle. That's the general way to success in this game - as long as you're in a vehicle, you're ok.. for a while. You will almost never engage in battles on foot, because almost everybody is in some form of a vehicle at all times. In fact, online gameplay consists primarily of vehicular combat. The next mode is Titan mode, which is almost identical to conquest, but has a twist of gameplay that does not mix at all with online gaming. As explained before, each team has a Titan. Once the sheild is destroyed from the opposing team's captured missle silos, the hull is exposed, and the team now has the opportunity to land on the top of the Titan and infiltrate it, going through a horribly thought out method of destruction. Basically, you are supposed to go through the enemy's Titan, destroying each of the four doorways one at a time, by destroying each door's control panel. Once all four panels are blasted, the inner core is accessible, and now you are supposed to just shoot at it until it loses power. Now, you have to get your ass out of there within a few seconds, or you'll carry a death on your victory, as the Titan explodes. Unfortunately, this concept just doesn't work online. Upon entering the Titan, expect the first corridor you enter to be camped by Support soldiers, wielding light machine guns, and infinite ammo. Infinite ammo, that is, because they can drop ammo packs that constantly refill their ammo. Anyway, if that didn't already ruin the whole game's fun, wait until the next couple of parts. As you make your way into the main room that has a striking resemblence to a laser tag arena, you will be shot at from every direction as you drop down to enter it. Having fun yet? If you were able to make your way into the first corridor, this is when it gets a whole lot funner. As you make your way through each corridor, expect a few things to be headed your way. First, expect remote mines (demopacks) to be going off under your feet, obviously leading to your whole group being completely wiped out. When the opposing team runs out of demopacks, you can look forward to spontaneous barrages of grenades headed around each corner. While all this is happening, you soon realize that this whole thing was merely a distraction, as the team you're fighing so hard against is mainly down below capturing all YOUR missle silos, and eventually entering YOUR Titan. But hey, you're up here fighting your way through what seems like an undefeatable enemy! Meanwhile, you now have to spawn back on your Titan, with lame hopes of defending it, and it's probably almost destroyed at this point. It's no surprise that at this point, you might as well just give up now, since your reactor core will probably be nearly destroyed soon. In the end, it's just a matter of who gets to the reactor first, because whoever reaches it first, basically wins.
Next, we have the combat system of the game. There are four kits, instead of the seven that were previously seen in Battlefield 2. The general rule of thumb in a Battlefield game is that you pick a kit based on the practicallity of the kit itself. For example, in Battlefield 2, you would choose the sniper kit if you wanted to observe and sharpshoot from long distances, and you would spawn as anti-tank if you needed some anti-tank support. It makes sense, right? Not in Battlefield 2142, it doesn't. Now, with only four kits, several kits have been combined together for a disaster of a mix. Now, the assault kit can also be used to heal others (wtf?), and the engineer kit can repair and destroy tanks (two different functionalities that should ONLY be seen in two seperate kits). Not only that, but the support kit has a light machine gun that actually gets more accurate the longer it is fired continuously. Not to mention the ammo packs it comes with that provide you with enough ammo to wipe out the entire opposing team 8 times over, single-handedly. Finally, we have the recon that can snipe with a sniper rifle, blast groups of soldiers with demopacks, pick off soldiers at close range with a side arm, and sadly, has mines that almost ENSURE victory when set down. If you expect to survive in this game, you have to almost always spawn as an engineer. The engineer has an automatic sidearm, that allows you to go head to head with anyone else on the map (on foot), and a rocket launcher that is built terribly off aim (the missles always seem to curve up, no matter how you aim it), which can go head to head against any tank. In total, they obviously didn't think this one out, either.
Overall, the gameplay was horrible online. I'm not going to lie, the bots play very well in singleplayer, and are enjoyable to play with. The only problem is that you'll be bored to death of the same 5 maps over and over. If they were bigger, anyway, it wouldn't be so bad. But they are as small as they can get, with only 16 entities per map. That's the bare minimum, and the minute size of each map suggests so, as it feels cramped and unflexible. They basically made it so that your only real choice of gameplay is to take it online... and we know how it is online by now, don't we?
Graphics - 8/10
Now, I'm not going to sit here and say that these graphics are absolutely astonishing. To me, they are standard issue 2006 PC game graphics. I'm reviewing this game, and the year now is 2008, so currently, this game isn't even nearly on par with games like Call of Duty 4 or Crysis. Even so, there's nothing super special about the graphics here. But I will get into the details.
The whole idea of Battlefield 2142 is that it takes place in.. well.. 2142. The premise is that the weapons, armor, and vehicles you see and use are supposed to be realistic and practical to what really might be out on the battlefield about 134 years from now. What I admire about this game is that a lot of the concepts here are actually pretty realistic and not fantasy-like. You won't find crazy space ships and lasers here. You'll find rational ideas that actually make sense, to a practical degree. It's no doubt that we might use VTOLs over a hundred years from now. It doesn't surprise me to see tanks with legs, since it is a concept I have heard of before. It all makes functional sense, though. After all, VTOLs are more fuel efficient, stable, and faster than rotor-blade helicopters. Tanks with legs beat tanks with treads any day, since the whole terrain sensitivity is no longer an issue with massive feet now. But it's not only the new concepts used here, it's the future-ized concepts of weaponary and war tactics that impress me. I mean, what amused me was how the game revisited weapons we use today, but showed what they might look and perform like in the future. Such an example is the SCAR rifle that we use today. By taking it, and showing what it might look like in the future is awesome to me. Or the Tiger Tank, from World War II. Now, it is shown as what it could look like in the year 2142. What's not cool about that?
I think we're doing just fine in the graphical department.
Sound - 10/10
Finally, they did something right in this game. Although I don't have too much to say about this department, I will say this. They did a great job on the sound engineering, for several reasons. Each gun sounds different, and has it's own unique sounds that fit it perfectly. Even the reload sounds are great.
The music was pretty fitting to the game, with tunes that got you in the whole feel of war time. It was the dramatic style of musical composition - that, and the arrangements of instruments used. Altogether, it created a great blend of quality and style. Good job here, that's all I have to say.
Story - 2/10
I can't say there was NO story here, but with the story given in the game to begin with, I might as well say there pretty much isn't one. Basically, each time you load a map, you will see a small tidbit of information about why you are fighting on the map. It really doesn't make sense to me, because even if you string all the pieces of each map together, it still just comes out to be a bunch of random battles. Given this, I decided to read up on the general plot of the story myself. Basically, it goes like: "The year is 2142, and the dawn of a new Ice age has thrown the world into a panic. The soil not covered by ice can only feed a fraction of the Earth's population. The math is simple and brutal: some will live, most will die."
Being that this game is based on a fictional concept, story is a little more essential here than in Battlefield 1942 or Battlefield Vietnam, whereas the games were based on non-fiction events that had already happened throughout history. A key element here is that it does slightly improve the game experience when the player knows HOW and WHY he/she is fighting, and WHAT he/she is fighting for. The general idea here, I guess, was that you're fighting for territory. Territory = resources = money. Isn't that what all wars are about?
Replay - 7/10
There is a replay value here, because there are plenty of things you can do to extend the life of the game, technically speaking. If you choose to continue to play through impossible online difficulty and frustration, then you are truly an online gamer. At that, there are plenty of unlockables for your superior playing. This includes awards, weapons, items, abilities, and improvements for your current abilities. These are all attained through bizarre requirements, such as knife-killing a set number of people one round straight. Did I mention getting killed by a knife in this game is annoying?
Unlocking things is just one way to extend the life of this game. Another way is.... well... leaderboards. Anyway, moving on the next topic, since this one isn't even worth talking about, you also have stats, and ranks. This can show other people how well, long, and effective your playing has become. A nice, nifty thing that doesn't spark my interest, but might just spark yours. Overall, good replay, for those good enough to take advantage of it. Good luck, anyway.
Final Stretch - 2/10
Here I go again. The main problem of this game, aside from the insane difficulty of playing online, is that it requires too much from the player to enjoy it. First of all, you HAVE to have an internet connection. Dial up will only get you so far as single player, and by now, we all know how small and boring single player is. Even with broadband, your only option is basically online play. Online play is too frustrating, it's as simple as that. In order to really get a good online experience, you have to get a lot of friends together, and all go in on the same team. Not only that, but you have to be good in order to go far, or else you'll just get thrown on the losing side, and you'll have no chance. Plus, with autobalance on 99% of the servers, who the hell knows if you and your friends will all end up on the same team.
When you play, you die randomly, you get spawn killed, you get team killed occasionally, and it is overall a bitter, melancholy experience. And it's frustrating, too! The Titan mode concept would work out great with bots who followed all the rules and played fair, but bots are hardly used, anyway. It's ashame, as they are just like humans, but fair and fun to play with.
As I look at the big picture, DICE really messed this one up. I suppose the whole concept of this game was cool, but the execution of the game itself was a total nightmare. And at that, I have nothing more to say or ask... other than the question: "Oh DICE, what have you done to my precious Battlefield?!"
Reviewer's Score: 2/10 | Originally Posted: 03/24/08
Game Release: Battlefield 2142 (US, 10/17/06)
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