Digital Illusions made the gaming industry sit up and take notice with Battlefield 1942 nearly four years ago, creating a multiplayer shooter that wasnít set in confining corridors but massive open maps with tons of weapons, vehicles and items to use. It became a best seller, sparked a number of similar games (including one or two flat out imitators), and also became a big mod community choice. DICE stumbled a bit with their next stand-alone game in the series, Battlefield Vietnam, but charged back in mid 2005 with Battlefield 2, with a highly improved graphics engine and a modern day setting rather than an historical one. While Battlefield 2 does have its detractors, itís still a very popular online game.
Now Digital Illusions is preparing to release their fourth stand alone game in the series and in some ways itís their most risky venture yet. Battlefield 2142 is set, as the title implies, over 100 years in the future where the world is caught up in a new ice age. The game itself has two separate factions, the Pan Asian Coalition and the European Union, fighting it out to gain control of this cold new world in Europe and North African locations. As with previous Battlefield games the plot doesnít really matter much; it merely provides a way for the game designers to come up with some cool new weapons and vehicles, as well as a new gameplay mode that they couldnít do in the first three games in the series.
EA is currently running a multiplayer beta test of Battlefield 2142 for a small group of testers (a public demo is expected to be released in September). FiringSquad got a chance to play the beta version for the past few days and got permission from EA to write up our impressions. Before we start, our experiences with the multiplayer beta made it clear that it really is a beta client. We have had times when we lost connections or had desktop crashes or couldnít even load the game at all. Thatís to be expected of a game that is not complete yet; we just wanted to make it clear that we are giving our impressions of the game as it stands right now and not making a full judgment.
The map itself, Verdun, is an interesting way to go in terms of looks. In many ways it resembles a map from Battlefield 1942 because of its art style, with ruined European style villages and a rural location. While the game is definitely not a WWII map (the ice glaze, the snowflakes and futuristic looking structures give it away) but it doesnít look like a map that should be set over 100 years from now.