Battlefield 2: Modern Combat Xbox 360 Review

The Battlefield franchise has been fulfilling PC gamers’ bloodlust for quite some time now, but has only recently made the jump over to the console market. With this the PS2 and Xbox saw a slightly dumbed down multiplayer game, but something new to the franchise with a single player campaign mode. Now Battlefield has made another jump over onto next-gen consoles, but does it have more in common with it’s current generation brothers or its PC daddy? Can it compete in a market already well supplied with great wartime shooters like Ghost Recon and Call of Duty?

Graphics

As is usual with an EA game, they’ve pulled out all the stops on the graphics side of things. Everything looks great, character models are detailed and varied, vehicles look the business be they tanks, choppers, boats or jeeps. Scenery looks just as good too – plenty of well detailed locations exist for you to run, drive, fly and cruise around in. The backdrops aren’t as varied though. Although there are a fair few of them, in the single player you will find the same settings being reused at least once. Plenty of lovely effects are flying around too – explosions, fire, and smoke all look realistic too. That, along with some nice lighting and weather effects all combine to make one of the best looking battlegrounds you’ll find in any game. Saying all that though, it’s not perfect as the weather effects (although lovely to look at) don’t work quite right. The snow for example on the early levels looks great, very realistic and all, but when you move indoors the snow follows you for a second and just completely vanishes. Dead bodies and wrecked vehicles also disappear after a short while, detracting from the realistic environments a little. Some of the maps can be a little on the dark side too, that combined with the enemy and ally markers over soldiers heads being a little unclear can make things a little confusing from time to time. I know these are small things, and maybe we’ve been spoiled by games like Call of Duty 2 or Ghost Recon, but when you see these things in other games and they aren’t there in a new release it makes them immediately obvious and does detract from things a little.

Gameplay

When it comes to gameplay, what we have here is a bit of a mixed bag – the PC original being a purely multiplayer game means there’s been some changes to the gameplay. Most of it remains unchanged, but like similar games before it the single player is more than just capturing and defending territories. Not much more mind, but you get the odd bomb planting, recon and search and destroy missions thrown in here or there for a bit of variety. Another difference from similar games (like Star Wars Battlefront) is that you have no control over anybody but the single character you’re inhabiting. Squad AI is decent enough, but sometimes they’ll just rush out into a well defended area and are picked off like ducks in a shooting gallery. You can, of course, take direct control of a single man if you see him making a serious blunder, but when it’s a whole squad running blindly into the line of fire there’s bugger all you can do about it. This is a major oversight really – if a game like Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter let’s you order around a 3 man squad, a battalion of tanks and an assault chopper all at the same time, then I don’t see why this can’t give you the simplest of command options.

Another downside to the game is the control scheme. Apart from the standard left stick to move, right stick to aim and right trigger to fire, the rest of the controls are non-standard and take a fair bit of getting used to. Using the left trigger to swap between standing, crouching and prone, and the left shoulder button to jump is not only awkward, but also means you’ll probably use the actions less than if they were in a more standardized position on the controller. Despite these let-downs though, you do get a pretty decent single player campaign, but you get more than that with a large selection of mini game challenges, ranging from point to point races using the hot swap function to a crazy taxi style game. These add a little light relief to the seriousness of the game’s campaign mode and are a welcome addition. All in all, despite the problems with the campaign mode you still get a reasonable single player game that should hold your interest for a fair while.

The multiplayer is supposedly the real meat of the game, but this isn’t without its own problems either – the main one being restricted to EAs servers. This is all well and good for giving you a larger player count in game, but deprives you of the option of just having a private game with your mates. The option of clan games is available and this is the first title to implement clan support on the 360. But as with Ubisoft’s clan games on the original Xbox, you don’t get the option of choosing your opponents – only your team mates. This is a major oversight really, as you’re never going to get the level of co-operation necessary for this type of game when playing with a load of random strangers. Personally I would rather have had a smaller player count and the option of private games, but this is one of the dangers of bringing over a PC game of this type to consoles – it just doesn’t work as well. Despite the server problems though, you do get quite an enjoyable multiplayer game here as long as you don’t end up with the typical Xbox Live user…anyone who’s played Halo 2 online will know what I mean.

Apart from the lower player count, what you get is pretty much identical to the PC game, but like the PS2 and Xbox incarnations of the game you’re still missing the medic class. Gone are the AI problems of the single player game, but also gone from the single player are the variety of objectives. You only get two game modes in multiplayer – capture the flag and domination that can be a little restricting, even with the large range of maps on hand. The irony of it all is that a game originally intended as a purely multiplayer game has ended up with a better single player mode.

Sound

As with the visuals, the audio side of the game is top-notch. The sound effects all sound authentic, from the bullets from a silenced sniper rifle whizzing past your head (or more often into your back) to the blast of a chopper being taken out with a surface-to-air missile. Sound effects are also complimented by some excellent in-game music that wouldn’t sound out of place in a Hollywood war movie. Topping things off nicely is some excellent voice acting, and like the music could easily be lifted from a big budget war flick. All this is presented in Dolby Surround Sound and combined with the excellent visuals makes for one very atmospheric game. If there’s one thing you can’t fault about Electronic Arts games, it’s their production values.

Lifespan

You get a fair bit of bang for your buck here, with a reasonably long single player campaign and the mini game challenges that can be played over and over to improve your scores. The multiplayer game, if you can get to grips with it, can also be quite time consuming, and if it suits you it could easily gobble up hours of your time. Separately neither are particularly great, but together the single and multiplayer form a decent package that will take up a fair amount of your time.

Overall

What we have here is a pretty good war-based shooter – the only problem is the market is already well-catered for on the 360 with Ghost Recon and Call of Duty 2, both of which are better games. This could have been a really great game if executed properly, but as is usual with EA they have spent more time and money on the production values rather than refine the gameplay to make it the best game it could possibly be. If you already have both Call of Duty and Ghost Recon and fancy something a little different in the same genre, then it’s worth a rental at least.

7.8 out of 10

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