Publisher: EA Games
Developer: Digital Illusions
N Amer - 04/11/2006
Battlefield 2: Modern Combat Review
Why is it when you think you’ve bought the feature-heavy Collector’s Edition DVD of so-and-so movie out comes the Ultimate Collector’s Edition DVD with hours and hours of new content and a much better picture quality? This is a similar quandary that gamers face as well when a game is re-released on their new console with better graphics and new extras. Do we buy the same game again for those reasons alone? Battlefield 2: Modern Combat for the Xbox 360 isn’t very different from last year’s game that was released on the Xbox and PlayStation 2 nor is it a bigger and better experience but it’s still a fun game with a lot to offer gamers new to the series.
Gamers who have already bought this first-person shooter game the first time around, allow me to put your minds at ease. This is the same game with slight alterations in the gameplay department, somewhat sharper visuals and an overall much more deeper Xbox Live multiplayer mode. Even with these slight changes, the game plays the same way it did the first time it was released so take that under consideration if you’re deciding to buy this one. For those of you who have missed the game the first time around, this 360 version is the “Ultimate Collector’s Edition.”
The situation in Kazakhstan has reached a dangerously critical level and NATO forces are finding it hard to go up against the Chinese forces that have come to aid the “freedom loving” people of this region. Small skirmishes begin to escalate into fiery battles as you see the conflict through the eyes of the NATO forces as well as through the Chinese since the single player campaign mode switches between the two sides throughout the campaign. The single player experience takes up 20 missions but they’re filled with fun shootouts, plenty of vehicles you can simply hop in and start driving and a feature called HotSwapping that allows you to instantly take control of any soldier within your line of sight at any time. The best thing about HotSwapping is that you can practically get a chance to take control of just about every specialty class and use them to your advantage on the battlefield. Don’t think your sniper is doing a great job of covering your troops? Look in his direction, press the X button and you’ll suddenly see through the eyes of the sniper.
You’ll have a number of mission objectives to complete within a mission and the great part is that the battlefields throw vehicles you can use like Humvees, tanks, boats snow mobiles and even helicopters. There are 30 vehicles in total and each drives differently from the other. The objectives themselves have you taking out snipers using your best snipers, securing an area, destroying bunkers and even sinking submarines. On the consoles, Battlefield has taken an almost arcade-like quality to the shooter action and, for the most part, it works beautifully. To top it all off, the single player campaign is also both challenging and loads of fun.
The subtle differences in the single player campaign will bring nothing new to new gamers but for returning gamers you’ll see that the enemy AI is a bit smarter this time around and prove more of a threat. While you’ll be playing both the NATO side as well as the Chinese, the ranking system stays intact, meaning if you earned enough stars and medals and earn the rank of Sergeant as a Chinese soldier you will be a Sergeant as a NATO soldier as well. Earning stars allow you to upgrade your army’s various weapons (add thermal vision for your snipers and powerful new explosives for your Special Ops specialists). You will also get to unlock bonus Challenges that have you earning extra stars by completing vehicle races, weapon challenges or HotSwapping challenges.
As far as the game’s controls are concerned, they’re quite basic since there are no complex actions in this game. You can aim, crouch and go flat on your belly to avoid heavy fire. You have a main weapon, secondary weapon and explosives. Where the controls do seem a bit funny is in driving the vehicles, especially the bulky tanks and the tricky helicopters. The first time I crashed a helicopter online, disappointing my teammates, I had to go back and get use to the controls before picking up passengers to transport. It’s tricky but with practice it becomes natural to fly over the battlefield.
While the single player campaign is downright fun, the real meat of the game is its online multiplayer mode that might not be as impressive as the PC Battlefield games but it certainly makes for one highly addictive Xbox Live game. With a whopping 24 players on the battlefield at the same time, the multiplayer modes keep things basic by just including only two modes of playing - Conquest and Capture the Flag. “Wait a minute,” you’ll say to yourself. “There are just two multiplayer modes?” In the case of Battlefield 2, it’s not the quantity but rather the quality that make the Xbox Live online multiplayer game such a rare treat. New to the Xbox 360 are three new maps that were only available for download and thus giving gamers 16 maps in total. In Conquest mode you are part of a team that tries to fight back the enemy forces from taking command of your team’s control points. It’s a simple enough scenario but add dozens of weapons and vehicles and you have a massive battle on your hands. Capture the Flag is self-explanatory although here you can call artillery strikes. You can even set up or join clans as well as earn a new rank online by earning points.
As far as the graphics are concerned, Battlefield 2 does get a better visual makeover than the original Xbox version … but not by very much. You’ll certainly notice the difference when you look at the ground or when the sun gleams off the smooth surface of the wall. There’s a new shiny gleam to vehicles now and when they explode you’ll be hit by the debris and marvel at the charred chunks that were once a Humvee or helicopter. Even soldiers look good up close but when it comes to the environments and landscapes it’s no different from the Xbox version of the game. Thankfully, HotSwapping is still a visual treat to behold.
As far as the game’s sound is concerned, this is a part of the game that is somewhat disappointing. The sound effects, even on a good sound system just don’t push the HD in the same way the visuals do. The music is appropriate for the militaristic theme of the game but the voice acting just doesn’t cut it. While the NATO briefings are Ok, the Chinese voice are just bordering on insulting. I’m talking South Park -styled stereotyping here.
Whether or not you consider buying this game again or, if you missed it when it came out, Battlefield 2: Modern Combat for the Xbox 360 is a really fun game and one of the best Xbox Live experiences. It might not be a whole new monster in terms of new content and visual dazzle but the improvements just make this a good version of a good game that came out last year. Whatever you do, do not miss this game at all so buy this game if you didn’t buy it then.
#Review Scoring Details for Battlefield 2: Modern Combat
Control-wise, Battlefield 2 plays just as good on the 360 as it did on the Xbox and while it keeps things on the arcade side the firefights are just way too fun. The single player experience provides plenty of bang for your buck but it’s the online multiplayer that will steal your heart.
Graphically, the game sports some tighter graphics and a much smoother animations. The bad news is that the graphics haven’t been completely improved leaving some poor environmental backgrounds. Still, the flashy HotSwapping zoom and the better vehicle explosions more than make up for it.
The game’s music is nice and appropriate and the sound effects, although not as loud, are done right. What doesn’t work is the voice acting, especially when it comes to the Chinese side that sounds like an insulting typecast.
The enemy AI is a tad smarter and thus a much better challenge to go up against in the single player game. Enemies will make good use of mounted guns, vehicles and good aim so expect heavy resistance. The mini-game Challenges are fun but tough.
It’s the same game that was released last year with a few extras and better graphics. The game has a number of great elements that make this a fun shooter including HotSwapping, loads of vehicles you can use and a solid single player mode. The best feature, though, is the online multiplayer that will have you playing this game for months to come.
Battlefield 2 is one of the most addictive Xbox Live multiplayer games you’ll love playing on your new Xbox 360. The framerate never skips and while the game modes are limited to only two you will have a blast teaming up with others to dominate the battlefield. The best part is that the game supports clans, sets up a global rating and lets you answer the challenge made by other clans. In short, this is still one of the best online multiplayer games around.
Battlefield 2: Modern Combat is still the same entertaining first-person shooter it was when it was first released but on the Xbox 360 the minor improvements just make this the game you’ll want to own. If you’re expecting a whole new game built from the ground up you will be in for a disappointment but if you’re looking for a fun game with an addictive online multiplayer mode then you will definitely want to buy this game.
It might not be a whole new monster in terms of new content and visual dazzle but the improvements just make this a good version of a good game that came out last year.
Reviewer: Eduardo Zacarias
Review Date: 04/21/2006