previewed on PC
No ammo, no war
You can be killed with a single shot (especially by a tank! Heh). But, not necessarily. You can be wounded by several shots and still play. It depends on the caliber of the weapon, and the marksmanship of the other player. If you're injured you can stand next to a medic for a few seconds and get patched right up. You can grab a dead opponent's gear and use that, leaving your own behind.
Vehicles handle like the real thing, except you don't have gearing, just forward/back. They steer like you'd expect a real vehicle to steer. If you ram into a wall, or take the vehicle over undriveable terrain, you get corresponding damage which affects its performance. The most significant thing about the viewpoint from which you play is a realistic lack of vision. Nothing gives itself away. You can't just shoot in the general direction of something and get a hit, like say in Doom. You have to have targeted well with the gunsights and you can't just keep shooting either. Ammo that you carry is limited. You can use up your stinger missiles and bullets. However, there are supply drops parachuting down all the time. Boxes and crates can be found throughout the game that also allow you to resupply. They aren't conveniently placed, so it's not guaranteed.
The tanks, anti-aircraft... anything you board, has unlimited ammo. If you look at the screen shots you can see a symbol for infinity (lower left) for those weapons. Several times I was left to my .45 automatic, no bullets. Two things I couldn't figure out were, how to kill with the knife, and how to THROW the grenades. I could pull the pin, and the guy did a motion with his arm, but the grenade always went off next to me, killing me. So, there's no grace from your own weapons. You can also kill your teammates. When that happens, the person you killed has an option to forgive you, or not. If he did not, you get punished.
Watch what you're doing
Generally, it's accurate to say the physics of the game all around is realistic. You can fall down cliffs, drown, that sort of thing. I could observe how people flew the aircraft, and they appeared to be constrained by normal aerodynamics. If a helicopter goes out of trim, it falls like a rock. Several guys pancaked their jets with bad landings, resulting in the destruction of the vehicles. There are mines that engineers can place, claymores.
There are really good anti-aircraft positions at each outpost. I grabbed one of these and got missile lock on an F-15 flying around dropping cluster bombs on my poor teammates, and shot it down with two shots. This, of course, drew the attention of the enemy's ground troops, who SHOT ME while I was viewing through the gun's scope! REEEEEEspawn... I did play on the U.S. team a few times, but the server kept putting me on the other team! In one instance the Arabs overran all the U.S. beachheads, so we were spawning on the aircraft carrier. Here, you can jump on a landing craft with a mounted machine gun, and motorboat your way back to the beach. On the carrier were jets you could man, or helicopters if you wished. I came across the carrier's anti-aircraft gear, which were heat-seeking missiles and an Aegis Gatling gun. Getting target lock on two opposing jets, I shot them down with great satisfaction.
Communication is very important on a battlefield. You can use headphones with a mic and talk to each other, or you can type chat-type messages to teammates. However, in this environment with my obvious lack of experience, it was all I could do to keep my "guy" moving, and alive. I didn't dare stop to poke around the buttons. After getting my feet wet, I began to use what I knew to become aggressive. After a while I had begun racking-up quite a few kills, and when I was killed, I'd take someone out with me. Someone on the server in an authoritative capacity must have noticed this, because I was invited to "join" a squad. This made me feel a bit proud, I must admit. So, I joined 3rd Squad. After about three hours, I ended up as squad leader. That may have been because my other squad members were called by real life and I was the last one there! Be that as it may, it was rewarding!
When the battle ends, either by force reduction, or the time limit, a scoreboard appears. Battlefield 1942 awards medals for performance. This demo noted this feature wasn't available, but will be with the release. You see your standing among the ranks of the other players, and have the option to do it again, as many times as you like. It was so engaging, I spent several hours running about trying to improve my ability. Finally, the sun creeping through the window told me I needed to SLEEP! I was exhausted, too. The activity and concentration does require a certain amount of stamina. (Go in well-fed and well-rested!)
AI? Not too shabby...
Playing single-player, stand-alone mode (not on-line) is just as challenging, though lacks the ambience of knowing live bodies are controlling the other units. The AI is machine-like in it's aggression, and there is NO room for laxity. The computer is way more accurate in its marksmanship, too. Against other people, you have their reaction time giving you a chance to return fire. Against the computer, that opportunity rarely exists, since data processors will always think faster than players. Other than that it plays exactly like the on-line game. The improvements over Battlefield 1942 don't invalidate that game, but they do show themselves as a decided advantage you didn't have before, especially with the improvements in the quality of the terrain.
A stand-alone server package is available and it allows you to set up a play arena on your own server, should you have one. It's possible to configure a normal PC to act as a server with this software. A broadband connection is must to do this. All the servers I tried that were listed in the game, were more than powerful enough to run the game, but there were those occasional overloads, and quite a few instances of server-kicking.
The battlefield 2 demo is mindblowing. The quality of gameplay, graphics and technology raise the bar considerably. With the demo being this good, it's hard not to wonder at what the final game will be like. I for one, can't wait to get my hands on it.