Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Battlefield 2 Review - Part I

What do I want out of Battlefield 2(BF2)?

I want an FPS with team based objectives. I want a game that rewards working together and combining efforts. Balance between vehicles and ground combat are a must. The gameplay needs to be polished and free of the common bugs found in the Battlefield series. Overall the gameplay, graphics, and fun factor need to be equal.

With my expectations outlined lets get into the basics.

Graphics - What can I say? The game is beautiful. Turn the settings up to max and you are in for a treat. Unfortunately the graphics come at a price on system performance. However, even running the game at the lower settings is a pleasure. The animations, textures, and landscape is all very well done. The detail inside and outside of buildings is astounding to say the least. You definately need to take a second look at any lump, bump, or strange figure you see to ensure it is not an enemy soldier.

The only weak spot is the cut'n'paste approach of a lot of the structures. Most buildings are the same on every map. Creative placement of the buildings keeps it interesting enough to be barely noticeable at best.

Sound - A gun sounds like a gun. An aircraft screaming in for an attack sounds like it should... and knowing how planes sound is part of my real life job. The sound is very well done. Area effects are also well done. If you listen up you can hear enemy soldiers shouting orders and requests. You can hear someone sneaking up on you... even though footsteps are a bit soft.

The music is classic battlefield with a middle eastern swing for the middle east maps and an asian flavor for the Chinese maps. Same tune... different game.

Technical Performance - There is two parts of the game that can be evaluated in this category. While playing the game and while not playing the game.

While playing the game there is little problem when it comes to technical performance. Patch 1.02 has resolved the only major issue regarding a server side memory leak that crashed many servers and brought them to lagging slide shows. The net code seems to be solid so far and there is little room for complaint.

While not playing the game there is severe issues that EA/Dice need to tackle. The first being the rushed out 1.01 patch that caused more problems than it fixed. The poor testing and quality control is an absolute insult to the BF2 community. The 1.02 patch did come out in much better condition.

Also the in game menu's are a horrid interface to launch the game from. The menu's often freeze and crash you to desktop. Even with the 1.02 hotfix the server menu still lags and many features of it still don't work. You can't filter servers. You constantly end up with a blank server list and the only fix is to restart the game. Overall this detracts from the experience. It is a slap in the face for EA/Dice to have put so little effort into the menu and server browser.

Take my advice and get a seperate server browser such as Xfire or All Seeing Eye.
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