It’s Battlefield, but in the future…
This review originally posted at MentalGamers – www.mentalgamers.com/game_reviews.php?r=30
When Battlefield 2142 was announced I, like many, was sceptical. To me it sounded like it was going to be mechwarrior and I thought I’d probably not buy it. If I got sent a review copy then I’d do my duty, but I wasn’t going to spend any money on it. Then the beta testing was announced and suddenly everyone around me was playing it. Feeling left out I paid for a month’s subscription to fileplanet in the hope I’d get a beta key, and lo and behold, I did. I played it solid for the week that was left of the beta testing and apart from the constant disconnects and the bugs present (it *was* a beta…) I started getting excited. In fact I started praying that EA would send me a copy.
The big question about 2142 seems to be “is it just a mod of BF2?”. My answer to this is “Who cares?!”. I’m going to sum the game up right now: simply put, this is the best game I’ve ever played.
So there you have it – go buy it. Right now. Go on…
Still here? Ok here’s why:
Battlefield 2142 is everything Battlefield 2 is and more. Does it feel like a mod? Well yes, but possibly the best mod ever made and certainly worth the asking price. The basics of BF2 are there, the persistent stats and ranks, the conquest game mode (basically capture the flag), the unlockable weapons, and the awards that are so addictive you just have to keep trying for them. What’s different is the new setting (the future), the new game mode (titan), and the way unlocks work.
Set in the future in the midst of an ice age, the landscapes are bleak with lots of ruins and wreckage. Maybe not interesting to look at but certainly what you might expect from a war-torn planet and impressive none the less. The vehicles and weapons are perhaps not as futuristic as you might imagine – there are no lasers or teleporters here, but you will still find hover tanks, drones, rail guns and cloaking devices.
Titan mode has you fighting on one of five maps for up to 48 players. At each end of the map is a Titan (A giant hovering ship) and in between are a number of missile silos. The aim of the game is to destroy your opponent’s Titan by capturing silos to launch missile strikes against its shields. Once the shields have gone you can either continue to hold silos and launch missiles at the hull, or try to board the Titan, destroy four consoles onboard to open the reactor core, then directly assault the Titan’s core. I find this to be the most exciting game mode as it has a clearly defined goal and requires teamwork to win, and the fighting in the corridors of the Titan can be fiercely intense.
I mentioned the unlocks work differently now and here’s how: In BF2, every time you gained enough points for a new rank you were awarded and unlock, and this unlock took the form of a new weapon for one of the player classes. In 2142 there are 40 unlocks and they aren’t just weapons – there is equipment and new abilities to be unlocked. Unlocks are now in the form of a “tree”. That is to say you must have unlocked certain items to unlock ones on the higher branches. There are now four player classes and each one has two “paths” that end in a new weapon. For example the engineer class has one path that results in an anti-vehicle rail gun, and one that results in an anti-air launcher. Each path has different equipment on the way up the tree but if you unlock all of both paths you are able to mix and match what you equip. This makes for a huge degree of customisation over BF2’s simple “rank = weapon” system. In addition to the huge amount of choice, a lot of the unlocks benefit not only yourself but the rest of the squad (if you are in one). An example of this is the “netbat” unlocks which relay positions of troops/vehicles in your field of view to the rest of your squad. Apart from the 4 player classes, there are unlocks available for squad leaders, such as spawn beacons, and “ability” unlocks like being able to carry grenades, or sprint longer etc. It’s certainly a wise idea to sit down and think about which unlocks you want because although you gain ranks quickly to begin with there comes a point when you have to wait long periods before your next unlock.
Another improvement I just thought of is the server browser. I always hated the Battlefield server browsers for being slow and lacking features, but there has been a fair amount of progress on this front. First off there is a buddy tracker complete with messaging system which is fantastic news. The slowness is still there with the server list refreshing every time you try to do anything, but the favourites list is now on the main login screen as well as within the server browser so you don’t need to update all the servers just to see how many people are on your favourite servers. There are also now “quick” and “advanced” modes depending on how much info you want and whether you want to set filters.
Veterans of the battlefield series will no doubt be aware of the history of bugs in Battlefield games and I have to admit 2142 is not without them, although nowhere near as many as BF2. The most notable one is that at the time of writing the stats system has been having issues and some people aren’t receiving the points/awards etc that they have earned. I personally suffered from my rank not updating to begin with although this issue has now been fixed, and EA have said they are aware of the stats issues and are working to fix them. To be fair though, it comes as no surprise that there would be a few gremlins when there are suddenly thousands of people all furiously trying to get points towards their ranks and unlocks. It?s also worth pointing out that a patch was released as soon as the game was, so hopefully this is a sign that EA/DICE are going to be on top of things with 2142.
Finally, how can I review Battlefield 2142 without talking about the “big issue” surrounding it? In-game Advertising. Right or Wrong? – It’s not for me to decide, you need to decide for yourself if you want to allow ads to creep into the games you play. What I will say is this: Although the ads are not yet “switched on”, the billboards are present and have placeholder images. In my time playing I can’t say I’ve yet been distracted by them or stopped to have a good look at them. Maybe when the ads go live they will be more brightly coloured and distracting but that remains to be seen. However, as long as the ads are in keeping with the settings then I don’t see a problem. What I think is wrong though, is that inside the box is a slip of paper that basically tells you that if you don’t like the idea of ads and having certain information recorded, don’t install the game. The problem is once the box is opened a lot of retailers won’t accept a return unless the product is faulty. Anyway, as the ads are not live yet there’s not a lot I can say about them.
In conclusion, well look at paragraph 4. This is my favourite game of all time. It is Battlefield 2 but better and more exciting. It is simply gorgeous to look at, listen to, and play. In fact enough talking, that’s what I’m going to do right now – go and play it.
The Bad: As with all Battlefield titles there are bugs to be ironed out