If you couldn’t tell from my piece earlier this week I think Battlefield 2 is an awesome game, the news that Battlefield 3 is in the works is great. Hit the jump for a proper Battlefield 2 retrospective.
It all started with the demo, what has got to go down as one of the best demos released in recent years, a demo that is still being played by many to this very day. The Gulf of Oman presented a brilliant blend of the different features we would witness come release of the full game. It may have lacked the ranking system, but it gave us a clear idea of what to expect, great squad based combat and plenty of blood-pumping action.
With the full game everything was just that much bigger with bigger maps, more vehicles, stats and everything else. When you start to play Battlefield 2 you are entering a world which finely balances the run and gun of Call of Duty while avoiding the harsh realism of mods such as Project Reality. It is this fine balance which makes Battlefield 2 such a great game, if they had gone too far one way or the other then the whole thing may have fallen apart.
That DICE managed to create such a fine game to play is a testament to their je ne sais quoi which makes them one of the leading developers of the present era. It is not just the core game itself which is so great, it is the stats system which provides that extra something to play and strive for. Looking back in hindsight it is clear that what DICE introduced with Battlefield 2 has played a large part in the ever increasing presence of achievements and stats systems in more modern games. If you look at almost any new multiplayer focused game you have stats, weapon unlocks and achievements, these were all key features in Battlefield 2.
While many other games in recent years have tried to shoehorn the Battlefield 2 system into their own games, the way it worked with Battlefield 2 is unsurpassed. Logging onto the game, jumping on a server and earning those last few points to gain your promotion are memories that will stay with me and many other players for a lifetime. The role of the unlockable weapons interwoven in with the stats tracking was also a well crafted piece of game design.
It meant that in addition to playing for medals and ranks, players were out on the battlefield fighting to get their hands on some new equipment. The joy about the way this was done in Battlefield 2 is found in the fact that it was simple and streamlined. Unlike in Battlefield 2142 there wasn’t an overwhelming range of unlockable items, and the unlockable weapons in Battlefield 2 for the large part didn’t turn those who held them into unstoppable killing machines. You can ask many Battlefield 2 players which weapons they prefer to use and many of them will say they prefer to use the standard weapons. It is this perfect balance in the stats system and unlockable weapons that made Battlefield 2 such a great game at the time, and still makes it standout today.
It was not just through the stats system that the game has influenced the business, Battlefield 2 was one of the first games to play with the concept of DLC. The booster packs Euro Force and Armoured Fury were released via what is now known as the EA Download Manager and worked within the main game itself unlike the expansion pack, Special Forces.
Mention must be made of the squad play, which is in my mind the best part of the game and is what keeps me coming back to the game time and time again. The squad play created a terrific sense of teamwork and camaraderie that wasn’t and still isn’t found in many games that dominate the charts today. Despite the best efforts of other games trying to promote teamplay with co-op, Battlefield 2 can’t be beaten for the implementation of the hierarchy running through the squads and up to the commander. Of course people can play outside of the squads, but once you get some teamwork going there is not game like it.
While the game may be looking a bit dated now the core gameplay still holds up very well. It is telling that the game is still receiving support with the 1.5 patch in public testing at the moment, this will feature a new map and a whole host of bug fixed and gameplay tweaks. The only game that has the potential to match what Battlefield 2 had is going to be Battlefield 3.