Review by cheese_head

"The best Battlefield experience since 1942!"

Introduction

Battlefield 2142 is the latest Battlefield game in the franchise and uses very much the same engine as its predecessor, the highly acclaimed Battlefield 2. While it's always best to try and judge a game on its own merits, comparisons with Battlefield 2 are going to be inevitable. It is my belief that this game is the greatest Battlefield title since 1942 and surpasses its predecessor Battlefield 2 in all significant areas. In short Battlefield 2142 excels because it is a far more well rounded and balanced experience than any that have come before it.

Story

While this is probably going to be one of the least important areas for an online FPS like this, the inclusion of some kind of back story to help contextualise the battles you are fighting, is a nice inclusion. The general story is that around the dawn of the 22nd century the world was plunged into a new ice age. By 2139 two factions had formed, the European Union on one hand and the Pan Asian Coalition on the other, and war had broken out between them. Competing for increasingly scarce resources, both factions try to flee the icy wasteland of Europe to reach the more hospitable North African land. To do this, the PAC have to get through the EU first. On each map loading screen you are given a brief outline of the battle you are fighting and it does help to build up a picture of the war you are fighting. The gist is the PAC sweep across Europe and both factions fight it out for North Africa. The inclusion of a few tactical details here and there in the summary helps to explain the rapid PAC advance and helps to contextualise the various conflicts. It's nice that they made more of an effort to explain their fictional war than they did in BF2, where we're basically told the US, MEC and China for some reason at some unknown time all go to war. One complaint would be that there are only two factions. Dice could easily have included a North African Coalition that could have brought greater variety to the weapons and vehicles. Indeed one wonders why the North Africans are so happy to have two foreign powers fight it out for their land. Nevertheless the story, simply put, is more than sufficient for the purpose. This is no Half Life or Metroid Prime: the story is of secondary importance but it's good for what it is.

Graphics

This game has very good graphics. While it may not be able to hold a torch to some of the latest FPS releases like Crysis, 2142's graphics are suitably detailed and nice to look at. The graphics are similar to Battlefield 2, so if your computer can run that it can probably run this. With that said the colours in this game are not very bright or vibrant, the palette consisting mainly of greys, whites and blacks. This is perhaps to be expected, however, considering the game is set during the onset of an ice age. In terms of the environments there are really only two types you will encounter: the icy tundra of Europe and the deserts of North Africa. There's really not much variety, at least in terms of aesthetics, in the maps. Character models and weapons are all very well rendered and certainly look the part. The EU and PAC character models are quite easily distinguishable, the EU soldiers with a tint of orange in their uniform to distinguish them from their more black and grey PAC counterparts. The PAC weaponry and vehicles all also seem to have a more rounded edge to them, while the EU weapons and vehicles are often more angular. This helps distinguish the factions and gives them their own distinct feel.

Dice have also made an excellent effort in creating a plausible 22nd century world. When dealing with the future developers can tend to exaggerate and go overboard, with every building being some immensely high tech architectural marvel, with hovercars, lasers and plasma beams in abundance. This is not the case here. There are very high tech and impressive looking futurist buildings, but there's never anything you look at and think "No way could that ever happen"(apart from maybe the Titan). Another nice touch is that as well as these ultra modern buildings in the city centres like Berlin, there are more traditional buildings and even churches like the ones we see today. There's also plenty of areas in which you. There are plenty of ruined houses, trenches, command centres, high towers and military complexes for you to fight in.

Sound

The sound in this game is also superb. The guns all sound suitably powerful, each with their own distinct sound. The voice overs of the two armies are also well done. The EU soldiers, surprisingly yet conveniently, all speak in English, with perfect English accents. Perhaps the EU in 2142 only recruited English soldiers. We can but speculate. The PAC speak in Russian. The voice overs are what you have come to expect from Battlefield games and are suitably well done. A nice touch is the different, more authoritative sounding voice over for commanders who will say "Check" rather than the informal "Right-o" given by the common EU grunt. Music also plays a minor part in this game. Each map has its own epic sounding loading song which gets you in the mood for the upcoming battle and makes a nice change from the meagre two loading themes of Battlefield 2. If you have a decent computer then you won't be hearing these songs for too long, as loading times are fairly quick in this game.

Gameplay

This is it. This is what it's all about and this is where Battlefield 2142 excels. For the uninitiated, the Battlefield franchise made a name for itself by giving the player a sandbox battlefield. You were free to do practically anything you want, play as various infantry classes, hop in a tank, a Battlewalker, or pilot a jet. It's up to you! The strength of the Battlefield games has been its ability to make you feel like a small part of a battle and not the battle as is often the case with other FPSs. Battlefield 1942 was so successful because no matter what role you chose to play, given the right skill you could have an impact on the Battlefield whatever you did. Battlefield 2142 creates this same sense because it strikes the right balance between the strengths and weaknesses of vehicular and infantry combat. There is nothing too overpowered in this game and with a combination of skill and teamwork the Battlefield can be won by infantry, tanks, walkers, or aircraft.

As mentioned earlier, as soon as you join the battlefield every time you spawn you can choose a class of infantryman from 4 classes: Recon, Assault, Support or Engineer. At first this seems like a reduction in choice from Battlefield 2 but in fact several classes have simply been amalgamated into one. Assault and medic are now grouped together, so too are Sniper and Special forces and 'Engineer' encompasses anti-tank and engineer. When you begin you're only limited to the basics of each kit, the rest has to be unlocked in a new, more rewarding upgrade system. The upgrades to start with come thick and fast and space out, taking more time to unlock, as you progress. There are two branches you can follow down each class: for example with sniper you can either choose to go down the sniper route, and unlock a scope stabiliser and a new rifle, or the Special Ops route, which gives you access to an unlockable machine gun and RDX (C4) explosives. You can of course choose to unlock bits of both as you go along, or branch out into another class altogether. The unlock system is rewarding and not too punitive on new players who only have access to the basics.

Once you actually jump into battle, 2142 is everything you expect from a Battlefield game and more. Many unfair gameplay mechanics have been ironed out, such as the 'dolphin diving' in Battlefield 2 that allowed you to go prone and instantly fire with pinpoint accuracy. Now it takes a while after proning for your aim to stabilise. The gunplay is therefore much more satisfying and balanced. There are always complaints of one gun being overpowered and they may have some validity, I am not saying this game is perfect. The guns however are fairly balanced and with the right technique and tactics, there is no gun that is unstoppable. There is also a nice variety of weapons to choose from. There are fast-firing carbines suited to close quarters combat, a slow firing heavy assault rifle effective at long range but with a lot of recoil, and traditional assault rifles balanced between the two. As well as that you can unlock a shotgun or a shotgun attachment for your rifle that fires three shells. Similarly you can unlock a rocket attachment that fires three medium damage rockets from your rifle. There are a lot more options open to you as an infantryman than ever before.

The balance of all the various classes and weapons is what makes the game so great, as already mentioned. There are tanks, battlewalkers and hoverjets, yet none are overpowered. Hoverjets are a hybrid between the jet fighters and helicopters of battlefield 2. They are able to fly at high speeds but also to hover and shoot up to ten missiles before needing to reload. While it may sound like a recipe for a jet dominated game, this is far from the case. Anti-air is more effective than before, with target-locking EMP missiles that, if they hit, can disable the jet and send it crashing helplessly to the ground. The engineer can also unlock an anti-air weapon that means even infantry can stand a chance against aircraft. Similarly, high powered anti-armour weapons can be unlocked, that fire a high concentration laser at the target. This weapon can also be found in mounted anti-tank turrets. If used correctly armour and aircraft can potentially dominate the battlefield, but the ability to stop this from happening is now much easier. The problem with Battlefield 2 was the domination of jets. It seemed that the a skilled jet pilot was near invincible, immune to the slow firing and easily avoided ground defence. It seems Dice have learnt from this and have struck a much finer balance in this game.

As with all Battlefield games there is the traditional conquest mode, where each team battles to control various spawn points on the map and defend them from the enemy. Since Battlefield 1942 most other online FPSes have adopted this gameplay mode, so chances are you're already familiar with it. The mode works well, and the good variety in maps puts the focus on different aspects of warfare without ever rendering any obsolete. In city maps like Berlin there is an emphasis on infantry combat, whereas with maps with wide expanses like Shuhia Taiba and Highway Tampa the emphasis is more vehicular, although in many maps there is a good balance between the two. In maps like Verdun there's often large expanses, in which tanks and walkers can slug it out, interspersed with control points in an urban area, in which it is left to the infantry to seize. There are maps suited to different types of combat and given the superb weapon and vehicle handling in this game, there will be something for everyone.

Battlefield 2142 also brings a whole new game mode to the table that's new and exciting. The Titan mode pits two enormous floating airships against each other. The first team to destroy the enemy Titan wins. There are two stages to achieving this. Before anything can be done the Titan shield has to be brought down. To do this your team must control as many missile silos on the ground as possible, that intermittently fire rockets that help to disable the shield. This plays out just like the traditional conquest mode and the team that controls the most silos will be the first team to disable the enemy Titan shield. Once the shield is down the missiles will keep firing and this time they will damage the Titan itself. A quicker way to destroy the Titan is to board the enemy Titan and destroy its hull from inside. To do this you must work together to destroy 4 consoles controlling access to the hull room, then go into the opened hull room and destroy it. Titan combat is often intense and fiercely fought. A balance must be struck between keeping control of the Silos on the ground, defending the hull of your own Titan and attacking the hull of the enemy Titan. This promotes teamwork and it is often the commander that is able to strike this balance that wins. Titan mode is an interesting and unique game mode that requires more tactics than traditional conquest. The Titans themselves can be moved and can provide supporting fire for troops on the ground and can also act as a mobile spawn point. Again, the commander and his ability to coordinate his squads is a decisive factor in winning Titan battles.

Conclusion

Battlefield 2142 excels in every department and is easily the best Battlefield since 1942 in a series that has very high expectations from its fans. The graphics, sound and story are all brilliant but it is the gameplay as always that wins the day. The game has taken and refined the Battlefield 2 engine into a game that strikes the winning balance in gameplay. Vehicles and guns both handle exceptionally, the maps are well designed and varied and the graphics are solid and the animation smooth. There are a few minor gripes in the lack of a third faction and a lack of vehicle variety (only one jeep, APC, tank etc. per faction) but these are easily overlooked when you are experiencing the fantastic gameplay.

9/10


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 06/12/08

Game Release: Battlefield 2142 (EU, 10/20/06)


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