previewed on PC
Pardon my dusty boots. I just got back from the Gulf of Oman, and it was a hot one (in more ways than one!) Battlefield 2, developed by Digital Illusions and published by Electronic Arts, with a release date slated for this month, has just seen its playable demo released.
The original installment of this game, Battlefield 1942, shipped with my NVIDIA graphics card, so I had some experience with the keyboard mapping, general gameplay, and various other features unique to this game. Battlefield 2 uses the original formatting for its interface, with some minor changes. However, being unfamiliar with these things will initially leave a new player scrambling about trying to figure out what does what. In this game, that means certain death!
And your job would be...
The game can be played in a single-player mode, or it can be played on-line, supporting up to 32 players (sixteen per side). When I signed-onto a server from a rather generous list, most of the servers were already packed with players. It took some patience to find an available slot in an on-going game. It's well worth it, too. Occasionally some servers had trouble with lagging, (the screen flashes in yellow "There's trouble with your internet connection,") but most of the time I could continue play despite that. Twice I was sent searching for another gameroom due to a server kick.
So, you select your server, and join a game. A map of the battlefield appears with potential spawn points. You select one, and in about 15 seconds, you magically appear on the battlefield, and it's kill or be killed! When selecting a spawn point, you are given a choice of soldier types among which are; assault (assault rifle, grenades, .45 automatic and a large knife are your weapons), sniper (good sniper rifle, and you wear a Gilly Suit, plus the .45 and the knife), support (with weapons array), anti-tank, engineer and medic. You select what you are, and as long as your spawn point isn't overrun, you continue through as that type of soldier. Battlefield 1942 allows you to change types with each spawn. I would guess the final release of Battlefield 2 will allow you to do the same.
Entering the fray
You find yourself in a well-crafted game area. There's trees, grass, bushes, ditches, rivers ... all virtually real enough to favorably impact the nature of the game. One of the features of 2 is better landscaping that can be used more effectively for cover. You're going to need cover. Battlefield 1942 has trees, but they didn't hide you from strafing aircraft. The terrain in 2 does afford real protection from aerial assault, unless you give away your position by firing your weapon. Then everybody and their uncle seems to know where you are!
All about you are your team members. Their names are in blue text hovering about them as they charge looking for the action. The enemy's are in red. The strategy is reminiscent of the old outdoor game "Capture the Flag." Instead of one flag, there are three for each side but again, this may vary in the final release. You win by reducing the enemy to zero. Capturing the opponent's "outposts" (flags) reduces the places where the enemy can spawn, thus reducing the amount of enemy on the board at one time. Capture all the spawn points, and locate remaining opponents on the field, doing them in, you win. For the demo, an eleven-minute time limit is used on all the servers I looked at.
So, I drop into the Gulf of Oman battlefield. There's a U.S. aircraft carrier offshore from a beach. The terrain runs uphill into well-established enemy positions, with an enemy airfield on the extreme end of the map. Jet fighters and helicopters constantly spawn, and your enemy can fly them. You can spawn on the aircraft carrier, if you're on the U.S. team, and can obtain the same there. The U.S. side will attempt to move from beachhead positions to take over the obviously Arab opposition's fortifications. The Arabs, of course, must stop them. I selected the Arab team, and became an anti-tank unit, because with all the armored personnel carriers, M-1 Abrams (tanks) and snipers populating the map, (it's good to get a few inches of steel around you) I knew I'd be running into a Soviet-made T-80 (tank) eventually. The first major military act I took was to be run over by a friendly medic in a dune buggy! Accidents happen in this game. You can run in the path of an oncoming vehicle and be squashed. You can be near a helicopter someone has shot down, and be killed by flying debris! So, you have to keep your eyes OPEN!
Much wiser, and quite embarrassed, I respawned, then crept about the map, taking cover whenever possible, just to recon the map. I'll try to convey all the things I encountered, but there were so many I'll likely leave something out. Bear with me if you will. I'm now running about the map with a Stinger missile launcher and assault rifle, 9mm judging by the lack of damage I was doing compared to the opponents carrying M-16s. I can HEAR (to the point of feeling) bullets whizzing past my head. There's a sniper somewhere that can see me, but I can't see him! Wham, dead again! Respawn, this time with a better idea of where to go. I figure-out where the action is going to be, and head for that area with it in mind, I want a tank to put a notch on my pistol grip. I maneuver through a ditch, around behind the enemy position. From between two rather tall bushes, I see an M-1A guarding the U.S. outpost. I shoulder the Stinger and fire a round at the crack between the turret and body of the tank, knowing the M-1A's armor is notoriously weak there, at the rear of the turret. One Stinger taking out an M-1A is luck. It'll probably take two shots. I fire, and hit my mark with a very accurate aiming process (right click). THEN, it's a race for the tank to turn it's turret toward me, locate me and fire, and me reloading the Stinger. I lose. BOOM! I'm dogmeat. I saw a teammate finish him off, and got points for an assist kill, as I float off to wherever my wanton life has sent me...respawn.