August 3, 2005

REVIEW: ‘Battlefield 2′ More Evolutionary

"Battlefield 2" is the latest computer game from Electronic Arts Inc. (ERTS) that focuses on all-out war between teams of dozens of combatants. The $50, T-rated game for the PC ushers in the modern era of warfare with heat-seeking missiles, fighter jets, attack choppers and tanks - but no blood.

"Battlefield 2" is more of an evolutionary step in the series that includes "Battlefield: 1942" and "Battlefield: Vietnam," with polished graphics, limitless combat choices and some tweaks on how teams should cooperate.

There's an option to play alone against teams of artificially enhanced computer opponents, but you'd be missing out on the thrill of joining up to 63 other real people online.

The goal of this first-person shooter is harder to accomplish than it may sound: opposing teams have to form squads and effectively communicate to capture and hold a series of flag checkpoints.

The biggest stumbling block to online cooperative play is the human element.

Random players regularly assaulted the enemy Rambo-style with a complete disregard for formations, strategy or logic.

If you really want to get some enjoyment out of this one, find a group of like-minded gamers and play with them regularly. And make sure your team has a commander to call in artillery fire and spot hidden forces.

There are several types of soldiers to choose from three factions: the Chinese People's Army, the Middle East Coalition and the U.S. Marines.

I selected engineer, thinking in my inexperience that if I couldn't shoot straight, at least I'd be able to contribute by fixing damaged vehicles and bridges.

It ended up being a rather pointless task - there's only so much an engineer's wrench can fix, and besides, shiny new jets and armored vehicles magically respawn at the bases every few minutes.

I opted for the medic class next and felt much more useful dispensing health packs to injured troops and reviving fallen comrades with shock paddles.

Not all's well in this fictional - and mostly fun - combat world.

Gamers will need a powerful PC. My home computer, considered tops a year ago, often struggled to smoothly display the lavish landscapes that include desert and forest settings.

Realism isn't a goal here, either. Artillery fire raining down on you? No problem, just waltz into the nearest shack and you're seemingly impregnable from such skyward forces.

The game already has been patched twice to address various problems.

A third patch is on the way to fix more than 140 other issues, such as one where medics, engineers and ammunition dispensers would find a quiet corner and unfairly rack up experience points by helping each other out for the entire round instead of fighting.

"Battlefield 2" has some quirks, requires a lot of patience and is quite hard. But if you're gunning for some video game war action and prefer real human foes to fake ones, it's about as good as it gets.

Three stars out of four.


On the Net: