Almost every gamer will have at least one cherished memory from a game about war. It's an indisputable fact that many games are based on war in form or another; be it fantastical battles between wizards and orcs, an epic clash between ancient civilizations or a gritty, mud splattered World War 2 FPS. Gamers are pre-occupied about war, about battles and about playing soldiers, and it is for that reason that many of my (and I imagine many of yours too) most memorable gaming moments are born out of the war genre.
I remember the moment I sat in a boat, riddled with bullet holes, floating helplessly into battle in Stalingrad as a Russian private in Call of Duty. I can vividly recall the moment my Roman legions finally crushed the barbarians in Rome: Total War. I even enjoy fond memories of the merry joviality of war from games like Cannon Fodder and Worms. "What does this all have to do with Battlefield 2142?" I hear you cry.
The Battlefield series has probably done the best job at actually bring war to our PC's and yet, despite enjoying the previous games I don't recall any brilliant memories when I think about them. Why is this? It's not that I didn't have fun, I always enjoyed playing the Battlefield games, anticipating them more so than others. It's not that the game isn't action packed; I can't remember an FPS with as many deaths, gunshots and explosions as BF2142. I've racked my brains and I just can't put my finger on why this game doesn't provide you with those scintillating gaming memories. Perhaps as I work through this review a reason will be uncovered.
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Earth has frozen over
The story for BF2142 is a fairly stereotypical sci-fi affair. The world is in an apocalyptic state with two groups of people left; the EU forces and the Pan Asian Coalition, fighting one another over the last remaining places on earth that are inhabitable. Rather than just getting along the last remnants of the human race decided to fight one another, unsurprising - no, a desperately realistic, depressing prediction for humanities future - yes.
Technology hasn't stagnated in the years that have passed since Battlefield 2 though. In this new dangerous world tanks still exist, except now they hover instead of having tracks. Planes have by and large been removed, something I'm glad of as the plane bomb runs of Battlefield 2 ruined the game a lot of the time. Instead, military operations now rely on two types of aircraft, a people carrier that holds a few mounted cannons and an attack helicopter with missiles and a seat for a gunner. Neither is overly powerful, so there isn't the mad rush for the flying vehicles that you used to see in Battlefield 2.
There is, however, one vehicle everyone is clambering over one another to get inside and it's the mech-biped-walker 'creature'. Not only do they look like they've just dropped out of Star Wars (unfortunately there are no ewoks to balance this out), they're also the most difficult vehicle to stop. They are capable of attacking both and land and air units with devastating force and the only really effective weapon against them are EMP (electro magnetic pulse) weapons.
These electric pulse weapons are similar to those used in the Matrix movies; fire off an EMP missile, grenade or mine and the resulting electrical blast will short the circuits of the vehicle for a period of time. Even this weapon is pretty useless against the mechanised walking unit though, as to get a chance to even disable its electronics generally requires a lot of luck or an act of God (need an ewok mod).
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The other vehicle, the APC, has also had an upgrade. Instead of just being a trumped up people carrier it now is an effective military unit. You can fire EMP missiles from it as well as the traditional machine gun fire (no lasers in this game!). The vital role that the APC plays though is firing people out in pod like devices, allowing them to travel huge distances at quick speed. This is integral to winning in the new 'Titan' game modes which I will discuss later in the article.
All in all the vehicle updates are cool, if slightly underwhelming. The guys at DICE appear to have stuck to the same formula which has worked in previous versions of the game, tweaking it ever so slightly to make it more balanced and enjoyable. The revolutionists out there will cry that this makes Battlefield 2142 little more than an expansion, but I feel that is overly harsh. The new weapons and upgrade system I'll talk about later are cool enough to make this game feel unique and distinct when compared to its predecessors.
Weapon unlocks were part of Battlefield 2 but I'd argue they never felt integral to it. Now character progress and upgrades are essential. You begin the game at the lowest rank with just the basic weapons for each class. These classes are far more restricted than before with only four options; recon, assault, engineer and support to choose from. "Where's the medic?" was my initial reaction and DICE have an inventive answer.
By reducing the classes it is now up to you how you will mould your characters. If you chose to spend your upgrade on unlocking the defibrillator (the resuscitator) or whether you choose a different path and unlock the extra ammo sets for the supply class are just two of the many options available to you. The choice is entirely yours, and there are no limitations placed on which update paths you choose. The idea allows players to cater their in-game progress to their own particular playing style. It works brilliantly and makes for an addictive gameplay experience (more about that later).
As great as I think this system is, and I do think it's great, there are some negatives. To find out what they are along with my views on the new maps and the overall feel of the game flick over to the next page...