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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Battlefield 2

We sprinted from the stairs to the building wall, taking cover from the sniper covering the square. The order came from the Sarge to make a run for it across the open ground, to get into the safety of the alleyways and on to our target. But my attention was elsewhere.

The UAV was up in the air, an American tank could be seen moving closely up the street on the radar. A soldier from another squad paused his frantic run towards me and let a rocket fly from his shoulder mounted launcher. As he scrabbled past under a hail of bullets from the tank a shell from the cannon exploded against the ground to our right. As my vision shook and blurred, the sound of the fighting echoing around my skull in new and truly terrible ways. I saw my chance to finish off the approaching tank so I hurled my shaking body into the street and let loose the rocket on my shoulder.

As my body parts scattered across the street I remembered my Basic Training:
Do NOT fire rockets point blank into a wall!

Having finally giving in and purchasing Battlefield 2 last Friday I’m now four days into my latest online addiction. For all its technical wobbles it’s stonkingly good fun. It’s amazing how different the online play is to the rather empty feeling single player skirmishes. Previously I’d judged 1942 and Vietnam on these limp experiences and some two player & bots filled LAN attempts. Apparently a mistake as this time I ignored my impressions of the demo and relied on the PC Gamer UK review, website enthusing from PC Gamer employee Tom Francis and the opinions of three online friends.

Despite initial plans to move my Enemy Territory medic favouritism to modern warfare I’ve actually found the bullet attracting Anti-Tank class to my instant preference. In BF2 he’s a class with a real purpose – taking out the swarms of vehicles rolling around under the control of the opposing side. Skittering from cover to cover, a different position for each rocket, bullets peppering the run down Middle Eastern streets around you. Oh, and the joy of arcing a rocket, through basic after shot guidance, into the side of a Blackhawk helicopter and sending it down in flames…

It’s a deliciously explosive game, in every sense of the word. The simple idea of making nearby tank blasts blur your vision for a while and leave your sound muffled and ringing is one of my favourite effects on the gameplay. Being under the path of a huge artillery bombardment, desperately hugging the side of a building and hoping to avoid death is almost equally wonderful. I can’t fly a chopper without spiralling into the ground but I can man the side guns as part of a small squad of friends on voice comms. I’m too laughably frightened to even attempt to get into a fighter jet but I can stare up into the skies and see fantastic dogfights being fought over my head as I track down my next armoured target.

Usually with online first person shooters (my own experiences of note being Quakeworld, Quake 3, Quake 3 Fortress, Enemy Territory and CounterStrike:Source) to play on your own is ok but to play with friends is much more fun. Well Battlefield 2 is so far pushing this to new heights for me (reminding me the most of the Q3F heyday). Playing on my own has so far been bloody great, especially in a squad of competent comrades. On the other hand, playing with friends in a squad on voice comms can be absolutely excellent as we become a tight knit unit of excellence (okay, our excellence may be somewhat suspect!).

I’m sure it can’t last forever but I get the feeling I’ll have got my money’s worth many times over by the time I’m done. Many tanks, APCS, jeeps, buggies and helicopters will have exploded by my hands before then.

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Posted by Alex Hopkinson @ 7:34 PM


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