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Battlefield 2142 demo preview

The Demo

Battlefield 2142 has to be one of the most anticipated games of the year. Its predecessor, Battlefield 2, is one of the most played online games and a team tournament stalwart. It's mixture of vehicular and infantry combat, along with diverse environments and team styles, make it a compelling strategy FPS.

2142 is set, obviously, far into the future, and aims to combine sci-fi with the classic gameplay of the previous game. The demo hit the net at the end of last week, and we've been frantically clocking up the hours in a bid to bring you our initial thoughts on the game. Can it fill the shoes of its ancestors? Let's have a think.

Titan 2142

The demo includes one map - Sidi Power Plant. There are two game modes - the traditional Conquest style and the new, Titan mode.

Titans are massive space cruisers. Grabbing the control points on the map for your team launches missiles from those points towards the titans. The more missles that hit, the more the shield on your titan gets damaged. When the shield is gone, infantry can use launch pods to land on the titan (or use an aerial vehicle to land on it) and get inside.

Once inside, blowing up control panels allows soldiers to get to the core reactor which, when blown, ends the game.

Battlefield 2142 demo preview The demo Battlefield 2142 demo preview The demo

Characters

There are fewer classes than in BF2. BF2142 has just four - Recon, Engineer, Assault and Support. Recon incorporates the Sniper classes from the previous game, and makes some fairly major changes to how that class operates. Engineer includes the previous anti-tank class, whilst Assault troops now have medical capabilities too.

As with BF2, there is a ranking system for online play which will add to your kudos. 'Unlockables' also make a return, but with a crucial difference. After achieving set objectives within the gameplay, you will be able to unlock different abilities and weapon modifications for your character to choose from. In 2142, each unlock is similar to a research tree in an RTS, where upgrading one unlocks the next level of that mod. For example, the Recon class has two initial unlocks available - anti-personnel mines or RDX DemoPaks. If you pick the mines, you follow the sniper class, which further unlocks a better zoom capability, sight stabilisation and advanced rifle. Pick the DemoPak and you follow the stealth class, unlocking better vision, camouflage and a light assault weapon. These unlocks will be crucial in determining the capabilities of your character in game.

Unfortunately, none of these unlocks are available in the demo, making for a rather more mundane playing field. Demo players are questioning exactly what the unlocks are going to bring to the game, and how they are going to affect balance. hostage67, delivering his analysis on the FeverGaming forums, suggests that:

"[The demo] does give me a little hope for the sniper unlocks. The rifle in general appears to be fairly accurate but is somewhat slow to reload. The sway, while not reduced itself, has been slowed down which helps accuracy a ton. By itself this isn't enough to make the snipers good, but at least they are usable now. However, if they did a good job with the stabilizer, scope and zeller then this really could be quite effective."

Battlefield 2142 demo preview The demo Battlefield 2142 demo preview The demo

Look and feel

My initial impression of the demo is that it is a heck of a lot more bland than BF2 ever was. That game put some effort into distinguishing the two sides - the Americans clearly looked different from the MEC, for instance, and the weaponry of the two was different. In BF2142, the European and PAC teams just look like space people in red against space people in blue.

The Sidi Power Plant level is really quite boring, with a very dull look - lots of generic buildings that serve no purpose and lots of random tarmac areas across a desolate planet. Sure, space is desolate, but does it have to be quite so cookie-cutter?

The game has the feel more of a mod for BF2 than of a distinct new game. There are some additions - the Walkers, for one - but these seem rather jacked on.

The role of infantry also seems to be majorly diminished. In Titan maps, the only reason to hop around on foot is to get to the Titan at the end game and to hold the missile silo points throughout the map. Travelling between points on foot is so time-consuming as to be mind-numbing, and will usually result in being gunned down by one of the innumberable tanks on the map.

The tanks, by the way, are just the old tanks but on hovers, rather than tracks.

Battlefield 2142 demo preview The demo Battlefield 2142 demo preview The demo

Moving out

We'd definitely recommend that you get the demo for yourself and play it - it's over 1GB, but worth forming your own opinion with. However, we have to say that our initial impressions from E3 have been justified, unfortunately.

Read on to find out more about the engine and the in-game graphics.