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Battlefield 2: Modern Combat

David Yun (Xbox Live Gamertag - Vawce) David Yun (Xbox Live Gamertag - Vawce): (contact-deleteme[at]-deleteme-direman [dot] com) 2008-04-04 22:10:51

Battlefield 2: Modern Combat - Rank C

Developer: Digital Illusions CE (DICE)
Publisher: EA Games
Date: 4/11/06

Also available for PlayStation 2 and Xbox

Battlefield 1942 on the PC is one of the finest multiplayer experiences to be had anywhere, and the series continued the excellence into its sequel. Battlefield 2 was then simplified (read: dumbed down) and ported over to the PlayStation 2 and original Xbox. This version was then gussied up and ported again to the Xbox 360. Now I realize that my adoration of the PC originals could be biasing me against this console version, but I believe that my grade objectively assesses the watered-down final results of this circuitous development route.

If you've already played any version of Battlefield 2, skip this 360 edition unless you absolutely must leech the achievements, or need to join your buddies' clan. It's functionally the same game as the "last-gen" releases. However, I do have to note that the graphics look fairly decent for an original Xbox port. DICE should be applauded for overhauling the visuals instead of simply up-rezzing the textures, but naturally, they're not as impressive as graphics created for the Xbox 360 from the ground up.

If you've never played Battlefield, you might be in for a pleasant surprise. You pick a class (sniper, machine gunner, etc.) and hop into the, ahem, battlefield in which you can also access vehicles (tanks, helicopters, etc.) to duke it out with the opposing team. It may be yet another first person shooter, but this range of options makes for entertainingly varied gameplay. The controls are passably decent, and have a simple learning curve. DICE has a ton of experience making multiplayer maps, and their expertise shines through here. Mix this all together, and running/driving/flying around shooting each other to bits is a solid good time. They must have done something right, because as of this writing, two full years after its release, you can still find full multiplayer games on Xbox Live.

Perhaps my lower grade is a result of the passage of time. There are simply so many other superior multiplayer options now. If you also own a PlayStation 3, I firmly recommend that you purchase a copy of Warhawk instead. It's a straight up Battlefield clone, but one that does just about everything better than the Xbox 360 Battlefield. Once you're over the initial exuberance of blowing up enemies in a multitude of different ways, you may find yourself tiring of Modern Combat's two game types. You're limited to Capture the Flag or Conquest (hold strategic points).

Battlefield 2 also features a single-player campaign, but it isn't much of a selling point. We're all accustomed to nondescript Tom Clancy-esque plots for military shooters, but Battlefield 2's narrative destroys the competition in the "Generic Geopolitical Thriller Storyline" contest. I honestly can't tell you what the hell the campaign is about. All I remember is that American and Chinese troops get all hot and bothered in Kazakhstan. The missions are so haphazardly thrown together without any context, that you never get a sense of what you're fighting for, or why.

The guns also lack the punch of a proper shooter. There's no power about them; you might as well be pulling the trigger on a flashlight. I mentioned earlier that the controls are passable, meaning that they work, but they do feel clunky and loose. The single player combat is utterly shallow, with zero tactical function aside from the paper/rock/scissor unit selection.

The hook is that you can jump from soldier to soldier. You might be controlling a sniper to wipe out enemy gunners, and then switch to a tank to take out enemy armor. You can use this function to select the proper unit for the task at hand, or to zip around to different areas of the map. What nobody seems to be noting is that this was done much earlier in Nintendo's Battalion Wars to much the same effect: a loose arcadey experience without much weight. Battlefield 2 magnifies this feel by tacking on an artificial scoring system that grades your performance based on measures like time spent, enemies killed, and friendlies lost.

Battlefield 2 on the Xbox 360 is like Napoleon's great-great-great-grandson. He comes from an impressive lineage, to be sure, but those genes have been watered down to the point where the unrivaled generalship is reduced to being the nervous district manager of the local croissant bakery chain. At least those are still pretty tasty croissants.

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