Summary: JCal and Jakub give their input on Battlefield 2142. Is Titan mode good enough to save the game from a pasting for having only 10 maps? Read on, Macduff!
As we stated before in our previous features on the game, Battlefield 2142 takes place in the somewhat near future where a new ice age has occurred on Earth and the two superpowers of the era (The European Union and the Pan Asian Coalition) battle it out with infantry, tanks, walkers, and massive floating dreadnaughts called Titans. It’s actually an interesting backstory but it also can swiftly be ignored. This is a multiplayer shoot ‘em up with support for up to 64 players with a bunch of cool new stuff to play with; that’s all you need to know.
Each side is fairly balanced, at least in terms of its basic units. The game uses four character classes (Assault, Engineer, Recon, and Support) but those classes are a bit of a misnomer since some of them can actually do other tasks than the ones indicated in their title. The Assault class, for example, can also serve as a medic to heal others. The classes start out with only a few weapons and items available but as the player goes through the game he or she will get special ranks and awards that will allow them to unlock more weapons and items for each class. There is considerable variety in equipment, from portable shields for the support class, through personal cloaking devices for Recons, to special enemy detection devices for the engineer are involved.
The game also has a special role for Squad Leaders, which are in-game leaders of several men inside the main team. The Squad Leader is basically his own spawn point; squad member can spawn near him and follow his or her orders to attack specific targets. The Squad Leader also has an automated firing drone that hovers around him. There’s also a commander role (one player elected by each side when the round begins) that can fire massive orbital bombardments on enemy positions among other things. Then there are the new vehicles, from small two man jeeps to small and large tanks and the massive two player mech-like walkers. Battlefield 2142 doesn’t venture too far from the present; these new vehicles look advanced but certainly are not like the vehicles and mechs you might find in games like the Tribes series. While the two new aerial vehicles tend to handle better than their counterparts in the older Battlefield games they can still be tough to navigate.
Battlefield 2 was a huge step forward for infantry combat in the franchise. Previous Battlefield games lagged clearly behind their infantry-oriented peers like Medal of Honor. BF2 really brought infantry into the spotlight, with much crisper controls, movement, terrain suited for cover, and excellent weapons feel. It wasn’t quite Call of Duty, but infantry was good enough that all-infantry servers became fairly common in the server browser. In Battlefield 2142, this seems to have taken a step back. Partly due to the way maps are layed out, the unreal weapons, and even the graphics (more on that later), all add up to an infantry experience that is significantly less compelling than Battlefield 2. There are areas where it comes together, like on the Titans, but in general we’re disappointed with infantry play.
On the upside, vehicles are more interesting and varied. While we’re not quite ready to call the game balanced on such short notice, the abusive airpower of Battlefield 2 seems to have been toned down. Anti-aircraft emplacement are actually a menace to the would-be airborne gankers. Tanks, APCs, and jeeps control in the standard fashion, but walkers and hovertanks are the truly interesting toys. Hovertanks have no turret, so you must aim the entire vehicle at your target before firing. It’s a lot like playing infantry, in that you can strafe and rotate, but your vertical aim is limited and the vehicle has considerable momentum in its motions and is slower to move. The walkers are basically separated into two parts, the top and bottom halves. The bottom is controlled by your keys while the top is mouse-driven. It’s perfectly possible and even encouraged to have your top half rotated in a different direction than your body in combat, it keeps your movements less predictable.
Speaking of which, the Titan mode is the all new gameplay addition to Battlefield 2142. Each team secures missile silos on the ground that fire at the mammoth floating bases. The Titans are protected by shields that are worn down by the missile attacks. Once the shield is gone the teams can continue to secure and fire from their missile silos or fly into the enemy’s Titan to shut down four relays inside and then destroy the Titan’s reactor to end the round. We think the new mode is a huge improvement over the rather simple Conquest mode of previous Battlefield games. It a bit slower paced but Titan mode can actually result in some interesting finishes. In one game we played we stripped down the enemy’s shields and proceeded inside but found their defenses to be quite good at protecting their positions. That resulted in the enemy slowly catching up and coming close to winning the match; we might have lost if we were a little slower or the enemy was quicker to destroy the Titan. Titans also have their own defensive weapons, which can be moved around by the team commander. The regular Conquer and Conquest Assault modes are also available for more traditional and fast-paced Battlefield action.
Playing online wasn’t a problem for us in the game. Framerates were smooth for the most part. Only five of Battlefield 2142’s maps can support the AI bots for single player play (the Titan mode doesn’t have AI bots). This makes the game pretty much multiplayer online only (at least until the inevitable third party Titan AI bot is released). The bots themselves are the usual headless chickens we’ve come to know and not love from previous Battlefield games. Unreal Tournament this is not.
Graphically Battlefield 2 was a huge step up from the first two games in the series. For Battlefield 2142, however, the core graphical features of Battlefield 2 have been retained. Yes, you get to see a few new effects like force fields or EMP blasts but for the most part the visual look of Battlefield 2 is basically the same as Battlefield 2142. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, mind you; BF 2’s graphics were state of the art for a multiplayer oriented game 18 months ago but they are a bit less impressive looking now (especially when we have games like Crysis on the horizon). We were a bit perturbed to find out that DICE and EA elected to only have 10 maps in the full version of BF 2142. While the maps themselves are well designed with a wide variety of layouts and locations, that’s the lowest amount of levels for any Battlefield game out of the box. While we are certain that EA and DICE will release some kind of “booster packs” for the new game down the road we think that for $50 a few more levels would be more appropriate.
The graphics do present a bit of a problem for gameplay though. There is considerable fog and the washed-out terrain makes spotting enemies unnecessarily difficult. More cover isn’t a bad thing, but the lack of vibrancy in the game makes it look as if it were in 16-bit color mode at times. Battlefield 2 was just more attractive. The dark, depressing, cold future look just doesn’t get us excited.
Fun multiplayer action
Not a major graphical upgrade
|<% print_image("17"); %>||<% print_image("18"); %>|
|<% print_image("19"); %>||<% print_image("20"); %>||<% print_image("21"); %>|
|<% print_image("22"); %>||<% print_image("23"); %>|
|© Copyright 2003 FS Media, Inc.|