reviewed on PC
Singleplayer? No thanks...
I decided to employ another feature of the game, the Commander mode. For this, on the spawn screen, the kit menu has a squad tab. Click it and you find the commander button. I clicked apply, then was elected to be commander after a short wait. The bots elected me? Someone might explain this to me. It's more likely the bots don't apply to command, and I got the position by default. By hitting your home key a command interface appears. This is a map of the battlefield with squads listed to the right. You highlight a squad, right click the map, and get a menu of commands; attack, defend, repair, etc. I did this, but my bots never obeyed any of my commands. At this juncture the single-player mode began to look like a ridiculous waste of time. It was a joke.
At this point there's no use in denying it, this game was intended to be played on-line against the intelligence of your opponents and with that of your team mates. Here is where its versatility shines. It is so dynamic it's downright addicting. After you've selected a server and chosen a game, you're in for quite a wait. How long depends depends largely on your modem speed and that of the server which you are signing-on. Servers auto balances the sides, so you won't necessarily get to be in the USMC, and may find yourself on the MEC (Arab) or PRC (Chinese) team. Choose a kit, choose a spawn point, and you're in the game. DUCK! There's a post in the HG forum about how to be a beginner at this point. It's recommended reading.
Realism? Some, yes...
A word or two now about equipment, vehicles and various weapons and how they play. I found most of the weapons work as designed. The assault rifles are the American made M-16 and the Soviet made AK-47. These operate closely in game, as they do real world. Most of the players are wearing Kevlar vests which these weapons won't readily penetrate. If you find you shot someone and they don't fall immediately, this is why. It takes several hits to penetrate these vests. The helmets are Kevlar, too, so don't expect a headshot to have immediate results. Where the game falls down with the physics is, even if a round from an M-16 or the higher muzzle velocity AK-47, doesn't penetrate the vest, it will surely knock someone off their feet. This doesn't happen in the game. The player is unaffected until the hit points bar is depleted, then the player falls.
You may ask how I know these things and that's a fair question. I was in the military doing work with information dissemination during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. It was my to examine the precise differences between say the U.S.'s M-1 Abrams tank vs. the Soviet's T-90. The M-1 was remarkably superior in all categories, but especially with armor. It took a T-90 three good shots in the same place to penetrate an M-1's armor, depending largely on the spot which was struck. This is reflected well in the game, and certainly places the MEC and PRC forces at a strong disadvantage. However, the M-1A's armor at the base of the turret in the rear is notoriously weak and the tank can be disabled with one good shot there. The M-1's six rounds per minute rate of fire was far superior to the T-90's four shots per minute. This seems to be reflected in the game's physics. Both tanks' armor is weak if shot from beneath, which can be done when a tank crests a hill and it's undercarriage is exposed until it flops itself down. I took out an M-1 with one round from a T-90 in this way, so that is accurate. The tanks' steering is accurate, as well as the speeds. On the downside, controlling the tanks' turret movement is very clumsy and needs improvement.
The helicopter's damage with machine gun fire is calibrated to cause far too much damage. The Aegis system on the aircraft carrier, on the other hand, is calibrated ridiculously low compared to how lethal the actual system is. Also, its heat seeking missiles don't have half the actual range, which in reality are over the horizon effective. The Aegis has the same sort of gun as the turret mounted attack helicopter, and actually fires a larger round at a higher rate of speed. This isn't reflected in damage done to jets which seem to be impervious to all but continued pouring in of bullets.
All across the maps are anti-aircraft positions. They use a heat-seeking missile which in reality is not only accurate, but will disable an aircraft with one shot. These positions are wildly inaccurate, and often will fly around a horizon and strike friendly aircraft on which there is no missile lock. I've only downed helicopters with repeated hits. It takes at least three direct hits with this to down a helicopter at close range. These aren't as powerful as the handheld Stinger missiles issued with the anti-tank kit. It must be remembered, the Afghans were being murdered by the Soviet Hinds helicopter (which isn't in this game, but should be.) When the U.S.'s CIA provided Stingers to the Afghans it was enough to end the Hind's reign over the thousands of square miles of Afghan desert. This more than anything else precipitated the Soviet withdrawal. These Stingers provided in the game will rarely hit a helicopter, it takes at least two shots to disable an armored vehicle. This is wildly inaccurate in relation to reality. Across the board, realism in BF2 has ups and downs and it's not always clear if for instance balancing the sides was a factor in this, or if there just wasn't enough research done.
No Pros and Cons at this time