Battlefield 2: Modern CombatESRB:
Platform: Xbox 360
Developer – Digital Illusions (DICE) Publisher - Electronic Arts Features 1-24 Players Online Leaderboards EDTV 480p Support HDTV 720p Support HDTV 1080i Support Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround The Battlefield franchise continues with the latest instalment titled Battlefield 2: Modern Combat. It has already been released on the PC, Xbox and PS2, so it was about time we got a version for the Xbox 360. This chapter has more than 30 land, sea, and air vehicles, and more than 50 state-of-the-art weapons. The online multiplayer action has more than a dozen maps with up to 24 players. The single player mode contains an all new storyline and a new Hot-Swapping feature allows you to take control of each soldier's unique skills. Are you pumped about the game yet? Well sorry to disappoint you but Battlefield 2: Modern Combat gives you a lot of sizzle but not much steak. With the one exception of the hot swapping feature (further explained below) this newest instalment of the franchise offers you little in the way of gameplay originality from the previous versions and just does not measure up to other shooter games currently on the Xbox 360. Don't get me wrong, Battlefield 2: Modern Combat is pretty but it won't blow you away. Graphics Simply put Battlefield 2: Modern Combat's visuals are good but not great. Compared to previous versions of the franchise on other consoles the graphics certainly look better this time around. At first glance you can tell the production team paid attention to many of the details such as the sun reflecting off the water, snow falling from the sky, the empty shell casings, the dust generated from the choppers flying close to land, the shadows, buildings, bullet holes, explosions, etc. The textures are clean, the draw distance is nice looking and the framerate is very smooth. So what's the problem you ask? My main concern with the graphics was the overall environments and landscape of the maps. There is nothing eye-popping about the environments and frankly I found myself somewhat bored throughout many of the maps in single player. Perhaps it is because I just finished playing a heck of a lot of Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter (GRAW) and naturally one can only compare the two. Visually Battlefield 2: Modern Combat can't hold a candle to GRAW in my opinion. Despite my concerns I did find several aspects of the graphics satisfying. For instance the vehicle explosions were nicely done, the smoke and fire effects are slick and I especially like the fact that when the vehicle or chopper explodes, metal shards end up all over the area where it exploded. As indicated above I also felt the framerate was very smooth, not only during single player but online as well. The online aspect of the game is truly the best part of the game and it will be further examined below. In terms of the character models they do look pretty good and there are subtle differences between them. If you walk up to your teammate, offline or online, you will not only notice the differences right away but you will also notice how much better looking the characters get the closer you are. I found the further away you are from your teammates the less detailed they look their animations seem to frequently glide across the landscape. Overall this is the best we have seen visually out of the franchise on a console. Battlefield 2: Modern Combat for the most part takes advantage Xbox 360's HD power, but it not designed from the ground up for the console. Many of the animations have improved and I do like the fact DICE paid lots of attention to detail. Battlefield 2: Modern Combat is good first step in the right direction but in my opinion it simply doesn't look like a true next generation 360 game to me. Sound As far as the sound is concerned, I was disappointed and had many concerns. First, I have to address the online narrator voice. The first time I played online I played capture the flag mode in just a quick match with nobody on my friends list. Everyone was sleeping in my house and the volume, although not loud, was turned up enough so I could hear all aspects of the battle clearly. Suddenly out of nowhere I hear the narrator over the main volume, "WE HAVE CAPTURED FLAG 2". Not only was the voice incredibly loud, it startled me and woke up my 3 year old. How EA, or Dice for that matter, missed this is beyond me. Perhaps there will be a fix in place in the near future for this obvious flaw. In terms of the weapons, tanks, choppers and rockets, they all have very unique sound effects. The weapons sounds are sharp but they will not blow you away as they seem the same as the other versions of Modern Combat. This is not necessarily a bad thing but for me I expected more. On a positive note, you will enjoy the sound of the rockets as they screech by you and the vehicle sounds are quite realistic. You can also hear the bombs rumble softly in the distance and once you reach an area where you are nearby these said explosions are be quite loud and boomy. The game does enough sound wise to create a war-like atmosphere and most Battlefield fans won't be disappointed. In terms of the soundtrack EA has always been known to the leader in this area. Once again I was somewhat disappointed as I found that the music never really added to the gameplay for me. It's hard not to compare Battlefield 2: Modern Combat's soundtrack to GRAW's but the comparison is inevitable and Ubisoft gets the nod in this area. Finally I found the radio chatter during battle repetitive and distracting. The voice acting is rather brutal and I could not understand a word the Asia voiceover was saying. I found this to be a little over the top and the production team could have toned this area down a bit. My advice, sometimes less is better. Gameplay The theme of this area is lack of originality. Maybe it's because there are so many war themed shooter games out there that developers are running out of original storylines. BF2's story starts out with unrest in Kazakhstan, a now independent republic of the former Soviet Union. UN peacekeepers are summoned to restore order and save the day, etc. The Chinese are worried about their own interests and they send troops to the area as well. World War 3 appears imminent. Anyhow, I think you get the point as you have likely been to this dance before. For the most part I found myself detached from the story and I believe others will as well. On single player it's all about slaying the enemy with your arsenal of weapons, tanks, choppers, etc. You will find that your teammates are idiots as well. Unless you are controlling them all the time they walk out into the middle of fire as they seemingly have no tactical ability. Where is the computer AI for goodness sake? It is virtually a one man show in Battlefield 2: Modern Combat. If you are looking for a tactical game here you are looking in the wrong place. In campaign mode, the maps are big and the environments do not disappoint. The missions are not too difficult once you get the controls down pat. I had difficulty controlling the chopper which I found very hard to learn and I never really mastered it. I am not sure why the production team decided to make the chopper difficult to control as Battlefield 2: Modern Combat is considered a more arcadish-style game then other war based FPS games. Overall I found myself bored with many of the missions and did not find them to be much of a challenge. The challenge is not necessarily to complete the missions but more to score high on them. The enemies are not difficult to kill and even the novice shooter gamer will not have much of problem taking down the enemies. The best feature of the single player is the hot-swapping feature. It's basically a body-swapping mechanism allowing you to switch bodies with your AI teammates. All you have to do is look at one of your AI teamates, hit a button and at light speed you are now in control of said teammate. This is about the only feature which kept my interest up in the game. If you find yourself in a pickle, you can transfer over, or rather 'hot-swap', to another one of your teammates who can now help get your old character out of the mess he is in. Overall I would have to say that the single player gameplay is average. Battlefield 2: Modern Combat has 40 unlockable achievements available but after my time with it I would have to say that this game is best played online as the online gameplay is enjoyable and fun. It is also highly addictive and truly the best selling feature of the game. With previous EA servers I have become accustomed to slow-downs, plenty of lag and freezing issues. This has significantly improved as Battlefield 2: Modern Combat online is a smooth and lag-free experience on Xbox Live. The game supports up to 24 players, however I rarely played with a full room. Online games consist of Capture the Flag and Conquest only and I think they could have used more modes. The game also supports clans enabling players to recruit, advance members, send news, and challenge other clans. Custom games include options for player numbers (low, medium, high), game modes (CTF, Conquest, any), maps (16, broken into warsome, domination, incursion, and assault maps), ranked or non-ranked matches, and auto-connect options. The online game is easy to pick up and controls are not complex. The action can be intense and you can play with up to 24 players on a map. The maps are large, the spawn points have been improved over previous chapters, there are lots of places to snipe enemies from, lots of areas to hide in, lots of buildings to explore, and the list goes on. The Xbox Live custom matching allows for a quick and easy way of finding an online match but I still would have preferred to have a list of servers to pick from. Nevertheless, the maps still look great and I experienced no significant slow-down or lag. Once you are in the match the gameplay is smooth and slick. Novice players will pick this one quickly with assistance from the auto-aim function. The 16 maps are recycled but they are improved from the previous console editions. I should also note that it does not take long to become an efficient soldier. You can choose from one of five combat classes (Assault, Support, Sniper, Spec Ops, and Engineer). All the classes have a wide variety of weapons, some unique to a specific class. For example, the Snipers have handheld gadgets to see enemy locations and the Spec Ops soldier can plant remotely detonated C4 packs. Bottom line, Battlefield 2: Modern Combat offers a wide variety similar to other war shooter games on the 360. Overall the Battlefield 2: Modern Combat online experience is where it's at. The franchise has always been driven by the online experience and the Xbox 360 instalment does not disappoint in this area. Conclusion Although not a bad game, Battlefield 2: Modern Combat did not live up to my expectations. There is nothing original about the game and in many ways I felt that this was a poor man's GRAW. Sure, the 360 version of the franchise is better looking than other console versions, and rightly so, but this game has the feel that it was thrown together merely just to get a version of the franchise on Microsoft's newest machine. Regardless, the online gameplay is solid and enjoyable and will have many people playing this game for this reason alone. If you do not enjoy playing online you should really avoid this game. If you are a fan of the franchise you likely already own the game, but I would bet you will be trading it in soon if you haven't already.