Battlefield 2142 PC Review

Battlefield 2142 is finally upon us and ushers in a new era of slaughtering random opponents online! The Battlefield series has an excellent heritage: one that many are well attached to and the latest edition meets the high standard set by its predecessors. Anyone that has wasted many a night away on any of the previous instalments will feel right at home here. Apparently there’s also a story in here somewhere, but its rubbish and totally unnecessary so I’ll spare you the details.

Despite being set one hundred and fifty years in the future it’s fairly easy to work out what does what, but you can be forgiven for being a little confused at first if you haven’t read up on the game. Contrary to its many similarities to Battlefield 2 it does bring with it a few small changes that can have you turning the air blue. This is mainly down to the restructuring of the class system and the new and improved unlock system. Once you’ve loaded up your map and chosen theatre of war you are then presented with the class selection screen (sound familiar, no?). However this time round you have four classes to choose from as opposed to seven. The class structure now stands as Assault, Recon, Engineer and Support. Before die-hard fans start rallying angry mobs you’ll be pleased to know that the Medic, Anti-Tank, Sniper and Spec-Ops are all integrated into the other classes and are much more enjoyable to play.

This is further bolstered by the upgrade system which allows you to customise your character classes through upgrades made available the more you play the game, giving each player their own specialised formula for mowing down their opponents. The upgrade system is a great idea, but you will hate it for a while since it essentially cripples new players. The best example of this is the Sprint and Stamina meters; at the start of the game you will be spending most of your time breathless, your only hope is to rank up quick and upgrade them or you will be spending most of your time looking at the sky waiting to re-spawn. The upgrade system runs parallel to the medal system: throughout the game you are awarded medals for performing special tasks which gives you a shiny medal for yourself and others to view in the BFHQ menu. Obtaining one of these also boosts your rank points up considerably so they’re worth going for even after you’ve been awarded them.

Another area of improvement is the squad system. Now you are encouraged to work in squads and obey your commanding officers by the use of upgrade points and field unlocks. Field unlocks allow you to select a weapon you have yet to unlock, this is a great way to decide your next unlock and encourage squad-based camaraderie, something that was severely lacking from Battlefield 2 and resulted in good teams losing unnecessarily. Being a commander is now relatively the same except artillery strikes now take forever to reload (thank robot Christ) and you are given the ability to drop EMP pulses on areas. This will mainly be used when one of your underlings spots a walker on the horizon – an EMP drop on that puppy will greatly increase your troops’ survival rate. This will come in handy since the most dangerous vehicles on the battlefield are now ground-based as opposed to the overpowered aircraft of its predecessor. Aircraft are now really only good for taking out Buggys, Infantry and other aircraft; even if you decide to kamikaze into a ground-based vehicle your opponent won’t feel much and will feel even less if they have the active defence on.

As far as the system spec is concerned do not believe the drivel on the back of the box a 256MB graphics card and 2 Gig of RAM are a necessity for this game. At full spec it looks great and for those of you that can run it while online with a decent connection will be in heaven. For the rest of us mere mortals the game still looks good on lower settings, but lacks polish. Equally the game has an excellent musical score and some terrific sound effects mid-battle. From the whine of the hover tanks to the jet engines of the aircraft the sound has real depth to it, slightly archetypal of futuristic machinery, but only slightly. The beauty of the sound boils down to it’s melding of that archetype and current day sound effects with excellent results.

The maps once again range in size in accordance to the number of players and game modes. Some maps keep the action nice and tight and really force groups through tight city streets while others as wide as the day are long and great for long stints in vehicles. Unfortunately DICE felt the need to add “atmospheric” fog to some of the maps. While this may add atmosphere and mood and so on, for those with the draw distance even a fraction below full will be at a disadvantage.

The new Titan mode is being hailed across the board as a unique and refreshing addition to the series and while they may be right in that it’s new it’s hardly refreshing. It seems that none of them seem to have realised it’s exactly the same as conquest except you can speed up the end result by invading the enemy Titan once their shields are down. Even then you can just focus on keeping the silos captured to destroy the enemy hull, but it takes a lot longer than invading the Titan and destroying it from the inside. While this may seem like a time saving idea (and believe me it feels great destroying a Titan) it is made horrendously difficult by the fact that when you enter a Titan the game lags to the point it is unplayable – you’ll die unnecessarily because the game simply can’t keep up and it’s frustrating as hell!

Before I finish this off I feel I should divulge about the immense difficulty I had actually getting the game to run and the total lack of support available for it from official sites. Aside from the aforementioned lies that make up the specification for the game on the back of the box I’d advise you all update your graphics drivers and download the latest version of punk buster; there is absolutely nothing about this when you start up the game or on EA’s site for the game which can be rather frustrating.

Problems aside 2142 is a fine addition to any PC gamer’s library and a fine example of a war-themed first person shooter that isn’t set in World War 2! If DICE can fix the bugs the lag and release some reasonably priced expansions it could be even better than Battlefield 2.

Now go give ’em hell, soldier!

8.0 out of 10