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Battlefield 2 (PC)
Publisher:  Electronic Arts Developer:  Digital Illusions CE (DICE)
Genre:  First-Person Shooter Release Date:  06/21/2005
ESRB:  Teen More Info on this Game
By Dave 'Fargo' Kosak | June 17, 2005
EA and DICE deliver the shock and awe of a mighty sequel, reaffirming Battlefield's status as the king of combined-arms teamplay.
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Pros Cons
Great maps with well-balanced vehicles and weapons. Rewarding teamplay. Great team organization tools. Full stats tracking. Very limited single-player with poor AI. No bots in multiplayer. Steep video card requirements.

[Download The Battlefield 2 Demo!]

I ONCE HEARD a game developer refer to Battlefield 1942 as "lightning in a bottle." Released at a time when first-person shooters were all either over-the-top science fiction or ultra-realistic weapon simulations, the original Battlefield struck a balance between realism and fun that's been virtually unmatched. Infantry, tanks, jeeps, planes, and even ships fought online for virtual supremacy in a world where heavy weapons were used and discarded like facial tissues and parachutes could be opened and closed multiple times on the way down. Nobody complained that the Messerschmitt turning radius wasn't accurately modeled: It was fun to fly and fun to blow up. Whether on a LAN party or online, Battlefield 1942 was an instant addiction that had gamers playing all night and talking about their exploits with friends all through the next day.

Battlefield: Vietnam was a competent enough follow-up, but it didn't feel like enough of an upgrade -- it had plenty of rough edges and never caught fire the way the original game did. Now EA and DICE are back, looking to refresh the franchise with a full-on sequel -- Battlefield 2 -- that improves on the original game in almost every way. Although we have our nitpicks, this is the next must-have for PC gamers.


The action never lets up in Battlefield 2.

Bigger is Better

The core Battlefield game is still the same: it's a first-person shooter with land, sea, and air vehicles where two teams compete over key points on the map. The action is fast-paced, and while realistic weapons and locations are featured, fun always takes precedence over simulation.

Here's what's new: Battlefield 2 features an all-new graphics engine allowing for huge maps riddled with detail at every level. This time around the emphasis isn't on WWII or Vietnam but on modern warfare, with all the insane hardware you'd see on a contemporary battlefield. (There are three factions: the U.S., the fictional "Middle East Coalition," and the People's Liberation Army of China.) BF2 also brings to the table a complete integrated stats package, tracking your individual profile persistently online. Teamplay is kicked up a notch, with integrated tools to divide players into squads with their own missions, and a scoring system that provides big rewards for players who support teammates with medical aid, ammo, or repairs.

The maps in Battlefield 2 are huge, depicting detailed environments in potential hotspots around the world (divided between the Middle East and China.) There are 12 maps in total, but each one comes in three sizes, suitable for 16, 32, or 64 players. Gameplay can be radically different in each (especially in the small 16-player versions), so the 12 maps feel like a lot more. For example: the 16-player version of the FuShe Pass map (see our overview of all the maps) has three bases in question, with furious fighting over a base in the middle of a river. The 32-player version has the same location, but it opens up the action to fight along both coasts of the river valley. And if you fire up the 64-player version, the entirety of the valley and its network of bridges is up for grabs, with both teams striking out from enormous airbases.

Unlike Battlefield 1942, the maps can get quite complicated. Roads will wind up steep ridges, or networks of rivers will be criss-crossed by bridges and fords. As a result, it's not always a straight shot to get to the flag: you'll need to spend some time learning the ins and outs and quirks of each location. But once you do get to learn the maps, there's a particular brilliance in the design. Most maps have natural chokepoints to defend or particular strategies that the terrain encourages. Some maps are all about ground forces, some involve infantry skirmishes in tight city streets, and some benefit from lots of air power -- there's both strategy and variety in the locations.



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