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Battlefield 2 (PC) artwork

Battlefield 2 (PC) review

"Battlefield 2 rewards you for playing well, and for playing a long time. Points from each kill go toward your global score, which then allows you to unlock new and improved weapons. An improved medic can shoot every bit as well as the low-level sniper if you choose to accessorize. This system, which deducts points for team kills, makes it less tempting to snipe teammates."

Battlefield 2 has everything you might want from a war game but the gratuitous geysers of blood. More importantly, it’s one of those fun ‘sandbox’ games you keep hearing about, the sort of title where you hop in a Jeep and run down some infantrymen, then flee that vehicle in favor of a chopper for some heavy machine gunning before you parachute down to a rooftop and snipe a few suckers who think they’ve cleared the area. The execution is near-flawless, too. Combine those elements and you’re looking at a win for any gamer looking for a good time.

The game’s concept is simple: two teams populate a map and try to capture (and hold) the majority of the flags. Both teams start with an equal number of points that are deducted as the balance shifts. Whichever team’s score reaches 0 first loses. That’s the basic rundown, but there are a few wrinkles that add to the fun.

First, there are squads. Teams are broken into small groups of up to six people. If you die, you can choose to spawn on your squad leader instead of some fortress you’ve claimed for the team. If your squad is in the middle of a bloody campaign, being able to join him is vital. Even snipers can benefit.

There are plenty of classes. I started out as a sniper, but my aim sucks. Missing a shot calls attention to your location and it takes awhile to reload. Head shots, though rewarding, are difficult. I fared better as a medic, since I could run around reviving my comrades and gaining team points. Others prefer the heavy artillery that accompanies the anti-tank position, while still others like engineers, support, special forces or infantrymen. Each class has its own strengths and weaknesses. You can change class whenever you die, if you wish. There’s value in doing so. For example, your squad might be owned by a set of tanks strolling through the area. The solution? Come back as anti-tank.

I mentioned team points, and I really should get back to that. Battlefield 2 rewards you for playing well, and for playing a long time. Points from each kill go toward your global score, which then allows you to unlock new and improved weapons. An improved medic can shoot every bit as well as the low-level sniper if you choose to accessorize. This system, which deducts points for team kills, makes it less tempting to snipe teammates. Sometimes, though, you might slay them by accident. Here’s an example.

My team members and I were trying to storm an enemy fortress. We’d finally managed to get in close so they had to rely on their default weapons rather than sweeping turret fire. As we drew near, one of them ducked through a gap in the back wall. I knew he was still hanging around, so I threw a grenade to keep him company. One of my teammates chose that precise moment to run in front of me. The grenade bounced off his arm and back toward one of my other cohorts before exploding. I lost some points for killing a team member. It got worse, though. When you are killed by a teammate, the game asks you if you would like to ‘punish’ him. If you choose to, you can ensure that even more points are deducted from his total. My idiot teammate decided to do so.

Pure stupidity usually isn’t the problem, though. When you find yourself on a poor team, there’s almost always one reason: foolish greed. Remember how I said you can ride in vehicles? There are several on each map. Choppers, all-terrain vehicles, boats, Jeeps and even jets make an appearance. Everyone wants them, since crossing the massive maps quickly requires transportation and your spawn points are often far from the action. If need a ride and your team sucks, expect to wait awhile.

People want vehicles even if they don’t need them. The jets are almost impossible to snag, just because boobs will sit around waiting for one to appear, then hop inside immediately and… probably crash it within seconds. A replacement takes a bit to spawn. Even worse, some people will team kill you if you’re ahead of them in the rush for transportation. When you’re playing with such scrubs, the experience suffers. On a more positive note, there are a few servers where people play fairly almost without exception. Find one of those and you’re set. Well, you’re set if you have a smoking computer and a good Internet connection.

Battlefield 2 is gorgeous. There may come times when you just stand still, staring at grass blowing in the breeze and distant jets roaring across the horizon. Or maybe you’ll ride in one of the boats and watch as water sprays to either side. Each droplet is visible as it drops toward the rippling water and perhaps the vegetation that wavers just beneath the surface. It all comes at a price, though. If you lack a powerful graphics card, processor and a load of RAM, you’ll suffer. Plan to use every last bit of your computer’s resources, and don’t leave anything unnecessary background applications running. Also, you will find infrequent times where the game lags because the server just can’t handle everything that’s going on. That’s true regardless of your system or its Internet connection.

Such low points are perhaps to be expected, though. It’s unfair to fault the game for its own greatness, especially since it runs so smoothly most of the time and engages players so thoroughly. All things considered, Battlefield 2 is an amazing experience. Try it as soon as you get that new gaming machine. Just be warned: you might lose touch with friends and family for awhile. Well, unless they meet you on the server.

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Staff review by Jason Venter (December 27, 2005)

Jason Venter has been playing games for 30 years, since discovering the Apple IIe version of Mario Bros. in his elementary school days. Now he writes about them, here at HonestGamers and also at other sites that agree to pay him for his words.

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