Battlefield 2: Modern Combat
If you’ve got a PC and are looking for a Battlefield-experience on your favorite console, this being the PS2, then Battlefield 2: Modern Combat seems the logical choice. Don’t be mistaken though, as both games have a lot of differences and on top of that, the console version doesn’t come close to Battlefield 2 that currently is making waves in multiplayer. What exactly is different here and what you can expect, is what we’ll tell you in this review.
The first thing you notice when starting up the game is that there’s an actual plot! Less surprising is that the story is very average and that the United Nations (say: United States) head off to Kazachstan (the Russians) to preserve peace. The third faction (Chinese) don’t like that one bit and send some forces of themselves as well to keep an eye on the two others. The following action is put together by some enjoyable cut-scenes and two dozen missions.
The missions themselves are more varied than I had feared (destroy ships, defend an oil rig, kick ass with a tank, etc) but the challenge is a bit lacking. It all isn’t so very difficult and only the promise of a higher rank will pursuade you to get a better score. But as Call of Duty 2 quoted several times, and BF2 prooves every day: soldiers and gamers do a lot for a couple of medals or stripes.
Fun and new is that you can switch between enemy troops with one push of a button. You see a colleague who’s nearer to the action, you can easily take over his control and play on. That way you follow the fights and never get in a situation where there’s nothing to do. Additional advantage is that you’ll get less frustrated because of for instance a helicopter when running around with a sniper rifle: after all, you can take over the control of an AA-vehicle and dot the i.
As you noticed, with the console version you can also start working as foot soldier (multiple classes present), pilot, tank commander, car driver and more. On PC the accessibility of all these possibilities and options in combination with the subtleties and practice necessary to really shine take care of the long lifespan of the Battlefield franchise.
On the PS2 however, the controls feel too arcade and clumsy, the difficulty degree and learning curve offer too little challenge, and the gameplay never succeeds to be as addictive as on the PC. On top of that, the makers found it necessary to add all kinds of strange bonusses (life, points, etc) to the player who makes a lot of kills in a short timespan, or finishes the mission within a certain timeframe.
Despite the renewed hot-swap function the missions look a bit too much like the multiplayer games with bots, added with some unnecessary stuff for arcade players, to offer added value. Ideal to get used to the controls and practice before getting into the real action. As, I may hope, you don’t buy this game if you don’t have broadband in your living room. Battlefield’s strongest point has always been multiplayer and that doesn’t change with this version.
After having plugged in your network cable, you get to start with 24 players in the available Conquest of CTF modes. The first got my preference as Battlefield veteran. Here we get a nice selection of, smaller but adjusted to the amount of players, maps that offer enough variation. Also the balance between vehicles and foot folk is well done so that there’s something for everyone. The gameplay is quite alright and the living opponents offer logically a better and more varied challenge than the CPU.
What I did notice very strongly, something we probably got used to due to BF2, is the lcak of players who actually want to play in team. For me this gives the game some additional charm, but the fights all too often end up in Death Matches in which no-one cares about his or her teammates. Also the feared sniper phenomenon appears here. Many gamers like finding a neat spot, zoom in with their sniper, and start shooting instead of trying to conquer the next point with their team.
Where we saw in BF2 that the statistics system could end up delivering strange playing behaviour, that could be compensated by the squads and their excellent integration. In Modern Combat however, we get a lot less of this so the negative results of the system get noticed a lot more.
The graphics do what they need to do, but also here they don’t reach their relative top level of big brother, Battlefield 2. The textures aren’t anything to write home about, and especially the effects, like explosions, are little impressive, something very sad in such an action-filled game. Models, both soldiers and vehicles, are nicely done but don’t flow over with detail. Also the surroundings are little spectacular but that’s somewhat understandable seeing that the playing areas are larger than in most other games. For the sound, the same goes: it doesn’t both but doesn’t get noticed either.
This would all very easily be forgiven if the gameplay would bring that addiction and unique of BF2 to the console. However, this never truly happens and despite some good ideas like the switch function, the overall finishing is too underpowered, the pure fun and working together too absent, and also the singleplayer campaign doesn’t bring any relief. But let’s not stare ourselves blind on Battlefield 2 on PC. Modern Combat remains a fun multiplayer game that delivers several hours of fun. It doesn’t offer the same impact as it’s bigger brother though.