Battlefield 2 PC DVD-ROM
Published by EA Games
Developed by Digital Illusions CE
Release Date: Out Now
Battlefield 2, an introduction.
It takes something special for a new PC FPS game to become a popular online game. Games such as Quake 3 and the original Counter-Strike are still widely played and these games have now been out for a considerable length of time. Battlefield 1942 managed to appeal to online FPS fans though with its team-based game play, expansive maps, numerous weapons and vehicles and above all, by being a whole lot of fun. Battlefield Vietnam followed and although it wasn't a true sequel it gave gamers a change of scene from the World War II environment and again this proved to be a very popular game. Finally we have the long-awaited sequel to Battlefield 1942, Battlefield 2, and this sees the action move to a modern battlefield meaning you'll have access to all kinds of sophisticated weapons.
What's the game about?
Battlefield 2 swaps the Axis vs. Allies scenario for an imaginary conflict between the US Marines, Chinese People's Army and Middle East Coalition. The game still uses the same style of play as Battlefield 1942 in that you'll begin a map with each side having a certain number of control points with a few neutral control points also being included. The idea is to gain control of your enemies control points without losing your own. These control points are also spawn points so the fewer of them your enemy has, the fewer places they can spawn from when they are killed. The game score is still kept using the ticket system. The idea is to make your opponents ticket score reach zero. In order to reduce your opponents tickets you'll need to kill their soldiers and capture the control points. Battlefield 2 doesn't offer a campaign as such. In online and offline modes you'll simply pick a map of your choice to play on.
What's good about the game?
If you enjoyed Battlefield 1942 you're going to be bowled over with Battlefield 2 and almost every aspect of the game has been improved. The new weapons (using the heat seeking missiles is a whole lot of fun), vehicles and game engine really make the game much more enjoyable. One of the key features in Battlefield 2 is the squad system. As well as having two sides of up to 32 players each, you can now break each side up into smaller groups with each squad having a leader. This enables you to work in small groups to carry out your tasks more effectively. In Battlefield 1942 it could be a free-for-all at times and whilst this can still be said for Battlefield 2 (it depends on the attitude of the individual gamer after all) you are at least capable of grouping up with a handful of friends and organising your own tactics. There's also a new command system to allow the leader the chance to co-ordinate these tactics and it works very well indeed as it gives you an overhead view of the battlefield and allows you to plan just about anything you want to. When playing in offline mode you'll notice that the AI bots are a lot better than those in Battlefield 1942 and they offer a genuine challenge (there are three difficulty levels ranging from Easy to Expert) for all ability levels. You only have a total of 16 players per map though whilst playing offline. There are seven soldier kits in Battlefield 2 including the new Support kit. The Support kit is responsible for replenishing ammo for both soldiers and vehicles and it makes an interesting class to play as because you rack up points by re-supplying.
What's not so good about the game?
I suspect the most common complaints about the game will be in regards to the seemingly excessive system requirements. Battlefield 2 is the game that will cause a lot of dedicated gamers to splash out on that upgrade that they've been putting off for a while. It's no coincidence that a game that carries the 'Nvidia - The Way it's Meant to be Played' logo arrived two days after the launch of Nvidia's new 7800 GTX card. Those of you looking to play the game at high resolutions will definitely benefit from as much graphical horsepower you can throw at the game. According to the box those of you with an Nvidia card that's prior to the FX5700 or ATi card that's prior to the 8500 will not be able to play the game. It's not just the graphics card requirements that are demanding though as 1GB of RAM is essential if you don't want choppy frame rates and even then the game doesn't feel as smooth as it should at times. Long load times are also present. Just bringing up the menu whilst you're playing can take a few seconds. You even get a 'menu loading' message to let you know the game hasn't failed to respond to your key press. It's an excessively demanding game then and I suspect this will become a benchmarking tool for those hardware web sites that like to push new CPU's and graphics cards to see how good they really are. For gamers at this current moment in time however it could prove to be an expensive task in getting the game to run smoothly.
How does it look?
You've probably looked at the previous paragraph and deduced from the demanding requirements that the game looks great and yes it certainly is a major improvement over Battlefield 1942 in terms of how it looks. Let's make it clear though that this isn't the best looking PC game we've seen to date, that honour still goes to Half-Life 2. Running the game on full details though the game does look impressive and when you're in the midst of street level shootouts, dogfights and artillery attacks the game looks more impressive than any other war based FPS game to date. The character and vehicle models are much better than those in Battlefield 1942 as are the physics and damage modelling which are superb. Maintaining a usable frame rate can be tricky though. We played Battlefield 2 on our usual P4 2.8GHz, ATi X800XT, 1GB RAM system and for the most part we were OK running at 1280x1024 (annoyingly you have to edit the desktop shortcut to run in this resolution). We ran the game with all graphical details on high except for dynamic shadows and dynamic light which were set to medium and with anti-aliasing turned off. Running all of the graphical details on high caused the frame rate to be very erratic and it wasn't very playable.
How deaf gamer friendly is the game?
There's a lot of emphasis on voice communications in Battlefield 2 and personally I think this is a game where deaf gamers are going to be left out in the cold. When you're playing the single-player game you won't have too many problems as the squad leader text appears on screen and tutorial messages appear in text as well as being given in speech. When you're playing as the commander offline all the orders you issue and the responses you receive are shown in text. Online though almost everyone uses voice communications. The game has been designed to utilise voice communications as much as possible but whilst this makes it an ideal situation for hearing gamers, for deaf gamers it makes it a nightmare. That's not to say there's no support for text communications, there is, but it's much more convenient for hearing gamers to use voice communications and as a result it's going to make jumping into an online game much more difficult. Of course games can be set up exclusively for deaf gamers so this is one way around the problem but it's not the ideal situation.
Battlefield 2 is a superb sequel to what was a great game to begin with. The ability to now organise small squads gives the game a more structured feel and encourages team play a lot more than the previous Battlefield games. The modern weapons and vehicles really help to create a more dramatic atmosphere and it's quite easy to lose hours playing the game (even in single-player mode). Whilst the game is very impressive, it becomes more problematic for deaf gamers. Battlefield 2 now has voice support built in and indeed encourages hearing gamers to use voice communications to communicate with each other (and let's face it if you're a hearing gamer it's definitely a lot more convenient). The downside to this is that deaf gamers are going to be at a massive disadvantage and whilst text communication still exists, it's probably only going to be used in games that are exclusively made up of deaf gamers.
Overall Game Rating: 9.1/10
Deaf Gamers Classification
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Battlefield 2 is an excellent sequel that will thrill fans of the previous Battlefield games. We've given the game a C grade Deaf Gamers Classification but if you're planning to play online with the game do remember the problems we've mentioned regarding the heavy reliance on voice communications which will make it difficult for deaf gamers.