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Battlefield 2 Updated Hands-On - Near-Final Fun

"We get our hands on a near-final version of the game, and it's a wild and wooly multiplayer experience."

Gameplay Footage

Man the machine gun on an M1 tank as you scream through a hostile town.

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Battlefield 2 is heading to the stores later this month, but we couldn't wait to get our hands on it. Thankfully, EA was kind enough to oblige us by sending us the newest and latest preview version of the game. Needless to say, we installed it as fast as our DVD drives could spin, started it up, and kicked the treads on some of the nicest looking tanks (and jeeps, and planes, and helicopters, and…you get the idea) to appear in a game and participated in some wild and woolly multiplayer combat with a bunch of EA's European testing team. And what we can tell you so far is that it's good. In fact, it's very, very good. Here are some of our first impressions.

Yes, Battlefield 2 looks incredible. It also plays incredible, as well.

Yes, Battlefield 2 looks incredible. It also plays incredible, as well.

As you probably know, Battlefield 2 is the first major upgrade for the Battlefield series, and it most definitely shows. This is Battlefield on a whole new level--visually. And while the core games remain the same (you run, drive, fly around in a huge virtual battlefield alongside up to 63 other players), this feels much more like the sequel than Battlefield Vietnam was. In the game, you can play as the forces of the United States, China, and the fictional Middle Eastern Coalition in a near-future conflict, which means that you get to play with all the hottest high-tech weapons and gadgets that are in service or on the drawing boards.

The first two levels that we played were about as opposite as could be from one another. First off, we tackled a Middle Eastern city with a dust storm moving in, and the sheer grittiness of this level was amazing. Since we only had about 32 people on the server, we got the medium-sized version of the map, which meant that there was still plenty of infantry combat as we went street by street and alleyway by alleyway. There were also some tanks, wheeled vehicles, and armored personnel carriers, which look phenomenal up close, not to mention fun to drive and fight in. In particular, infantry can jump into the APCs and look and shoot out the various gun ports, which means you can scream up a street with gunfire blazing out the sides of the vehicle…at least until someone with an antitank missile or someone manning one of the stationary TOW missiles ruins your day. Thankfully, if someone does lock onto your vehicle with a missile, a warning buzzer goes off, giving you a chance to at least try to get out in time.

The town level is full of all sorts of cool places to explore. Ladders let you climb up to various rooftops, giving you a chance to ambush vehicles and soldiers on the street below (but also leaving you incredibly vulnerable in a 360-degree radius). A river runs parallel to the town, and the bridge creates a choke point for vehicles, though you can try to swim the river (and believe us, it's pure joy to machine-gun a defenseless swimmer). We lost count of the many incredible, split-second moments that we encountered in the game. Like the time we ran out of ammo and had to switch to a pistol to get a headshot kill up close, or when an antitank missile went flying by just inches from our head. Overall, though, there is an incredible feeling of gritty verisimilitude, and the level looks incredible. Though Battlefield 2 is set in a fictional conflict and in fictional settings, you can't help but wonder if this is what street combat in Iraq might be like.

Thankfully, there's no such thing as overkill in Battlefield 2.

Thankfully, there's no such thing as overkill in Battlefield 2.

The second level that we played took place in a swamplike setting somewhere in Asia, and there were plenty of small rivers for assault boats, as well as small farm huts and villages, and a lushness that wasn't present in the desert level. There was also a fair amount of mist, which added a foggy feel. This level also pitted the Chinese against the US Marine Corps. We got our first look at helicopters in the game, and just like the land vehicles, they look fabulous. Helicopters are particularly useful in transporting troops quickly across the map. By foot, it's a cumbersome journey with all the waterways and curvy roads.

Posted on Jun 06, 2005



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