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Battlefield 2: Modern Combat Interview

-- February 15, 2006 by: Chris Remo

The Battlefield franchise from Digital Illusions CE is one of the best known and best selling current PC multiplayer franchises around, so it's only natural that it would eventually make its way to other platforms. DICE and Electronic Arts indeed brought the series to consoles late last year with Battlefield 2: Modern Combat (PS2, Xbox), a spinoff of Battlefield 2 on the PC. The game was fairly well received, but some gamers, especially those familiar with the game's PC counterparts, saw some weak points to be improved. Much like Criterion and EA are doing with Burnout Revenge (PS2, Xbox, X360), DICE and EA are currently working on an Xbox 360 version of Modern Combat, hoping to make Microsoft's console the definitive platform for the game.

I sent off some questions to Dan Blackstone, senior producer on the project, to see how the game has been shaping up. Among other things, he mentioned some improvements, an upcoming public beta for the game, and a mysterious "very big" announcement regarding the Battlefield franchise that should be coming soon.

Shacknews: What kind of improvements or additions are being made to the Live component of the game?

Dan Blackstone: In addition to fixing issues that we’ve found, and that players have brought to our attention, we’ve also overhauled the menus to make them easier to navigate. We’re also running a public beta at the end of this month, so we can be sure we balance or adjust any final areas that need tweaking.

Shacknews: Do you see the Xbox 360 version of the game drawing at all from Battlefield 2 for PC, or is it remaining more true to Modern Combat on PS2/Xbox?

Dan Blackstone: This is like a Director’s Cut of the Xbox version, give you the ability to customize every individual aspect of the HUD, and in general try to make the complete package even better than it was before.

Shacknews: Unlike in the PC market, console gamers tend to expect a full-fledged single player experience, even in a predominantly multiplayer games; many players saw room for improvement in Modern Combat's single player campaign. Is it being modified in any way?

Dan Blackstone: We overhauled the AI on a mission by mission basis to tighten up the single player campaign, so you’ll see enemies acting in even more realistic ways. We also re-worked the enemy spawn system, which we know a few people commented on.

Shacknews: Is the hot-swapping feature being kept?

Dan Blackstone: Yes, and we improved the hotswapping feature as well, taking away the line of sight restriction so now you can instantly take control of any member of your squad without worrying about positioning. We also juiced the visual effect a little, and re-worked the soldier landing so you aren’t as disoriented when you jump into a new body.

Shacknews: Does DICE have any plans to support the game with new content after its launch?

Dan Blackstone: We’re always thinking about things like this, but haven’t made any announcements yet.

Shacknews: How has it been developing for the Xbox 360?

Dan Blackstone: It has been great, as the platform has allowed us to do some amazing things with the graphics and audio. There have been a few rough patches, but the thing that we’re most proud of is how we were able to really make the battlefield feel like it is a living, breathing thing. The new physics engine, the detail on the environments, the way bullet holes tear up the area or how bullet casings litter the ground, this all brings you deeper into the battle.

Shacknews: What can we expect for the future of the Battlefield franchise?

Dan Blackstone: We’re about to announce something very big, so stay tuned. One other interviewer asked this and I gave him a hint, so it’s only fair that I do the same for you: 3213/3X2. Or said another way: S.R. 4588164.

Battlefield 2: Modern Combat shipped in October 2005 for PS2 and Xbox. The Xbox 360 version is due March 15, and a PSP version is in the works for release some time this year.