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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Battlefield 2: Modern Combat

I recently mentioned I've been playing the Battlefield 2: Modern Combat Xbox 360 demo (among others).

After playing the online-only mutliplayer demo a lot, I decided to rent the full version of Electronic Arts's BF2:MC.

It took the full version of the game to tell me what I already knew from the demo -- It's all about the online mutlplayer.

I mean, the game is pretty good looking, and you get a lot of frenetic action. But the game play is unbalanced, and has a lot of "That would not happen!" moments. (Yes, BF2:MC is an arcade-y take on war, this game steps over a lot of game play lines.)

For example, on the first Chinese level (ignore the offensive faux accents), you can be looking at a blank wall and machine gun turret, and an enemy will blink into existance, take the turret, and mow you down. Over and over and over again.

And this level also highlights how stupid the friendlies AI is. The first time I played the level, in the segment where you trek to the next battle zone via gun boat or jeep, I could not get my guys into the vehicles. I ended up Hotswapping between soldiers to have each one get in the vehicle, and gave up on that, because as I swapped to someone outside of the vehicle to make them get in, the guys inside would get out. I ended up driving by myself to the next zone, being a one-man army, and getting mowed down again.

And, on the same level, my guys were nowhere near the action. So everytime I got mowed down by a baddie, I'd swap out the equivalent of a few hundred yards away, and have to trek back again to get mowed down. It was fun. Not so much.

The second time I played the level (the fist time made me give up on the game that night), the AI was a little better.

I do have to say the Hotswapping feature in BF2:MC is incredibly slick -- both in usefulness and in visual effect -- particularly in multi-sniper situations, or when you need to move between a Special Ops class for mowing down infantry to an Engineer to take out multiple enemy choppers. But I also found myself Hotswapping to take over idiot AI that were "sneaking" as they were getting shot in the back, and though they've removed the "line-of-sight" restriction for the feature, I found myself swapping inadvertently to someone other than who I was looking at. And the Hotswapping mini-challenges do require line-of-site, and shortest path (which, of course, were not the same). What?

Overall, with all its shortcomings, the single player is a solid renter, and the online will keep me coming back for a long time ...

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