The game doesn’t give you every weapon and item in the game from the start, and that means one thing; you have to play the game online on ranked servers to get higher and higher ranks which give you more points to unlock items. You actually do unlock a few items fairly quickly (within a few hours of playing) but to unlock every item in the game will take a lot of time playing Battlefield 2142 online. DICE and EA are clearly rewarding the hardcore players with this incentive so if you are merely a casual player of this title it may take you a long while before you get access to items you really want. You are also somewhat at the mercy of the stats system’s speed of upgrading. You may find that it will take EA’s servers a little while to get your updated stats after each round (indeed there have been reported problems this past week with the slow updates to the stats system). You move up in rank by shooting enemy players, securing spawn points and even get special medals like defending your Titan from attack.
Speaking of which, the Titan mode is the all new gameplay addition to Battlefield 2142. Each team secures missile silos on the ground that fire at the mammoth floating bases. The Titans are protected by shields that are worn down by the missile attacks. Once the shield is gone the teams can continue to secure and fire from their missile silos or fly into the enemy’s Titan to shut down four relays inside and then destroy the Titan’s reactor to end the round. We think the new mode is a huge improvement over the rather simple Conquest mode of previous Battlefield games. It a bit slower paced but Titan mode can actually result in some interesting finishes. In one game we played we stripped down the enemy’s shields and proceeded inside but found their defenses to be quite good at protecting their positions. That resulted in the enemy slowly catching up and coming close to winning the match; we might have lost if we were a little slower or the enemy was quicker to destroy the Titan. Titans also have their own defensive weapons, which can be moved around by the team commander. The regular Conquer and Conquest Assault modes are also available for more traditional and fast-paced Battlefield action.
Playing online wasn’t a problem for us in the game. Framerates were smooth for the most part. Only five of Battlefield 2142’s maps can support the AI bots for single player play (the Titan mode doesn’t have AI bots). This makes the game pretty much multiplayer online only (at least until the inevitable third party Titan AI bot is released). The bots themselves are the usual headless chickens we’ve come to know and not love from previous Battlefield games. Unreal Tournament this is not.
Graphically Battlefield 2 was a huge step up from the first two games in the series. For Battlefield 2142, however, the core graphical features of Battlefield 2 have been retained. Yes, you get to see a few new effects like force fields or EMP blasts but for the most part the visual look of Battlefield 2 is basically the same as Battlefield 2142. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, mind you; BF 2’s graphics were state of the art for a multiplayer oriented game 18 months ago but they are a bit less impressive looking now (especially when we have games like Crysis on the horizon). We were a bit perturbed to find out that DICE and EA elected to only have 10 maps in the full version of BF 2142. While the maps themselves are well designed with a wide variety of layouts and locations, that’s the lowest amount of levels for any Battlefield game out of the box. While we are certain that EA and DICE will release some kind of “booster packs” for the new game down the road we think that for $50 a few more levels would be more appropriate.
The graphics do present a bit of a problem for gameplay though. There is considerable fog and the washed-out terrain makes spotting enemies unnecessarily difficult. More cover isn’t a bad thing, but the lack of vibrancy in the game makes it look as if it were in 16-bit color mode at times. Battlefield 2 was just more attractive. The dark, depressing, cold future look just doesn’t get us excited.