Battlefield 2: Modern Combat PS2 Review
I love killing people, especially with guns, so when the chance to review Battlefield 2: Modern Combat appeared at DarkZero towers I jumped at it. Being a huge fan of the PC original I had high hopes for the console version, alas I now understand the pain that PC owners have been experiencing for years, bad ports of their favourite games.
Starting with the campaign mode, you can immediately see the direction that Modern Combat is taking; it almost feels like it belongs in a cabinet down at your local arcade. The game uses a point based system that will award you points based on your actions. For example if you kill three soldiers with one clip the game will award you with a medal and points, when you get a certain amount of points your health is partially replenished, however if you die you will lose a hefty 5000 points. At the end of each level you are awarded with points based on the mission time and casualties taken and then the game will up your rank accordingly. The campaign mode isn’t particularly challenging and can at times be rather dull, between missions you are presented with pseudo-news reports from each country’s perspective and while this is clearly an effort by the developers to express their opinions on biased news, I found them quite dull and skipped them to get to the next mission.
Instead of playing as a single soldier among the squad you are able to “hot swap” between all of your team mates who can be anything from assault, mechanic, support, sniper or special-ops classes. Much to my fury the medic class was removed from this version simply because you receive health from how many points you earn. Hot swapping is nice and easy and can be done with a simple push of the square button and you are sent hurtling across the map into another soldier. This helps the game gain a unique feel amongst the slew of first person shooters out there and makes traversing the game’s levels a lot easier.
This would however not be needed so much if the soldiers could move faster than lethargic turtles. This doesn’t just apply to running speed, turning and driving feel unnecessarily slow, this is a real pain when getting shot in the back and not being able to turn quick enough. Cars can also be a real pain due to the lack of manoeuvrability and speed, whereas the PC version is incredibly responsive and allows you to look around at about 180 degrees (which makes it incredibly easy to navigate the maps) as opposed to the standard front view that Modern Combat takes. The control system isn’t as tight as I would have liked and on occasion it really feels like you’re fighting against the controls to do simple things. However they’re not as bad as other FPSs out there and are quite easy to pick up. One cool aspect that has survived the PC-to-console transition is the excellent physics engine, which presented many a memorable moment in the PC original. The game also has a cool challenge mode similar to that of the Timesplitters series that deviates from the gun toting action and has you performing various tasks such as hot swapping across the maps within the time limit and performing Crazy Taxi-esque driving based missions amongst other things. This again ties in with the game’s very arcade feel and helps extend the life of the game for the dying breed of gamers (gamers like me) who obsess with such trivial things like high scores. Unfortunately the challenges can feel like a tacked on last minute addition to add to the short single player missions.
The multi-player is really where the crux of the game lies; online it follows the path of its PC big brother by offering the traditional capture the flag style gameplay. Offering what may seem rather paltry to PC players and colossal to console players, Battlefield 2 offers up to 24 players online simultaneously. It rewards you with medals online just as it does offline but put simply the biggest reward for teamwork and good tactics is victory. Simply shooting your way for victory won’t work, you may rank highly on the end game leader boards but it won’t bring victory to the team.
The voice chat feature that comes with the PS2 and Xbox versions can be either very helpful or very annoying. It’s great for planning and quick decisions but it also brings the idle banter that comes from playing voice enabled games. It made me realise how much I prefer the quick phrases of the PC version, I also found that it forces you to be much more polite than the foul mouthed scallywags on Live and PS2 online. Again like the offline version Modern Combat online is lacking the medic class, favouring health pick-ups which I find to be a great shame as on the PC version medics help group people together in squads and is also a very fun class to play.
The graphics are quite a let down in Modern Combat, it suffers from bland colours and poor draw distance. While it is nice to see some weather effects here and there they really aren’t impressive enough to justify the occasional drop in frame rate and meter long (slight exaggeration) draw distance. There also seems to be a rather low poly limit overall, the soldiers, cars and props don’t seem to be on too high a poly count so it really puzzles me as to why the hell this game slows down. Another noticeable flaw is that we seem to have returned to the pixel age with pixel-created trees that you can drive through as if they weren’t there! This is a game that has appeared at the end of a console generation’s life-span and is a port of one of the best looking PC titles to date, should this not be one of the prettiest looking games around? Instead we are given bland environments with competent character models running around them. It does have a few nice looking moments in the outdoor levels but it’s never anything but mediocre. The FMV TV reports between levels aren’t particularly impressive either.
Battlefield 2: Modern Combat succeeds and fails in this department, it succeeds because the audio that it does have fits the tone of the game perfectly, excellent military-esque tunes play while browsing the menu system but once you’re in game the music fades into the background in favour of radio chatter, which adds to the atmosphere for a while but ultimately becomes rather irritating. All of this of course is replaced online for “Kevin I thought I told you to clean your room!” swiftly followed by “Shut up mum!”
The single player campaign is rather short but the points based system will keep the hardcore coming back to perfect each mission. The challenge mode also adds a healthy dosage to the lifespan and I actually found it to be more fun than the campaign mode at times. The real life of the game will be found in the online mode, as we all know, humans are much more intelligent (at times) than AI bots and are always changing their tactics to get to your hard earned flags. If you have friends that also have the game or make friends online it instantly makes the game much more enjoyable as you get used to your friends’ tactics and synchronise your thinking. You will also find that due to the game’s physics with the addition of the randomness that is the human brain the game will give you memorable war stories that you can take away from the game and reminisce about until the cows come home.
Overall, a rather competent shooter but at the same time its samey missions and repetitive gameplay will lull you into an unwanted sleep. Battlefield 2: Modern Combat has a nice unique style going with the hot swapping feature which would lead you to think you’re in for something quite unique when really that’s where the uniqueness ends, the rest is a dull uninspiring trek from point A to point B, protecting point B then proceeding to point C before the mission ends. It fails to retain that much loved Battlefield 2 gameplay of the PC original. The lack of a medic class also removes what I consider to be one of the best parts of the PC original. Another ruined aspect is that of the vehicles, I have no idea how these things got through testing. It does succeed in being accessible in short doses and it has a good lifespan due to the challenge mode and the online mode is one of the most enjoyable I’ve experienced in a long time. As much as I hate to continually compare it to its PC big brother it can’t be helped, had they merely watered the original down to run on a console it probably would have worked better than what feels like a cheap imitation.