Sunday, September 17, 2006

Battlefield 2142 Impressions

I got into the 2142 beta test which just recently ended, and here are my impressions. If you're on the fence about whether or not you want to buy it next month, this might be useful.

I'll be getting 2142, even though right now I prefer BF2/SF/POE2 over what I saw in the 2142 beta. But it's still a fun game. The single map we got in the beta was kinda crummy. But hopefully we'll get some Sharqi/Karkand/Maashtur style maps in the full game.

-less dolphin diving. When going prone, your crosshair takes a while to stabilise.
-Support MG weapon now useful/accurate. The gun actually gets more accurate as you shoot it longer, similar to how the HWGuy's machine gun worked in Team Fortress. Cool!
-No instant-healing from medkits. Kits gradually increase your health as you stand by it.
-Aircraft are easier to fly for people without a joystick.
-Cool things that encourage people to form squads. Many special items are not available for use unless a squad has 4 peeps. That's cool.
-Landing an "Aliens movie"-style hover craft onboard the enemy Titan once its shields go down. Sweet.

-First-person Muzzle flashes for many of the weapons/turrets are extremely large and obscure your view. Very annoying!
-Aircraft aren't fun to fly anymore. They hover around in a clumsy fashion. As a flight sim fan, this was a huge setback to me.
-Very slow weapon/item unlock progression. In BF2, you begin the game with 6 primary weapons, grenades, smoke grenades, and so forth. In BF2142, you start the game with just 4 primary weapons available.. and it will apparently take a VERY long time to get any more primary weapons. AND you need to unlock standard grenades! Blech!
-Infantry experience feels like a big step backward from what we saw in Special Forces. Where's my grappling hook? Zip line? This is 2142... shouldn't someone at least have a jetpack or something? For a sci-fi game, 2142 is very ho-hum on its take on the future.

Sunday, September 3, 2006

The point of your existence is to play Point of Existence 2. POE2 is an incredible mod for Battlefield 2 that any fan of BF2 absolutely *must* play.

POE2 adds new gameplay modes, sound effects, music, weapons, vehicles, maps, textures, and more. It's practically a whole new game, as the BF2 formula is tweaked in a number of ways that produce a very different, and mostly superior, experience. The website of POE2 doesn't do the mod justice, so read the following to see why this mod is so great.

All of the weapon kits have been rebalanced. Medics no longer have grenades, making them less of a combat force and more of a healer as they should be. Support kits don't have grenades either, but their machine gun has been made much more effective: you can actually fire accurately while prone and hit targets at long ranges. The Spec-Ops weapons now come with silencers for stealth killing. And every single gun in the game is completely unique to POE2.

Besides the standard kits you choose when spawning, you can also find special weaponry lying around on the battlefield. Anti-tank rifles, anti-infantry bazookas, and even anti-air weaponry (Stingers!) can be picked up.

Vehicular combat is much more interesting, as the armor on tanks behaves more realistically. Attacking another tank head-on can be a chore, as the armor can shrug off or bounce incoming shells away. You need to flank your target... attack their sides or rears for maximum damage.

Nearly every vehicle in the game is new to BF2. Many of the gunner positions on vehicles now allow you to control the turret through an internal camera system. So you don't need to worry about getting sniped out of your turret anymore.

The aircraft in the game are cool, especially the Mi-24 Hind. This Russian helicopter was featured in EA's Special Forces expansion, but it wasn't very good. Hard to control and lacking any troop transport abilities, it didn't really represent the Hind well. But POE2's Hind is great. It can seat 6 (2 crew, 4 passengers). The new jetfighters (MiG-25 Foxbat, Tornado, Eurofighter, and Su-25 Frogfoot) are fun to fly, and none of them feel overpowered. The MiG-25, in fact, seems too weak as it's weaponry consists entirely of medium- and short- range air-to-air missiles. Finally, aircraft can be much more easily countered by ground forces than before. Instead of horribly inaccurate SAM missiles, infantry can hop into powerful anti-air gun emplacements which can rip apart aircraft.

There are some downsides to the mod, however. The commander assets, the UAV, radar scan, and artillery guns have all been removed from the game entirely. This leaves the commander with not much more to do than to spot enemies manually, which is a pretty tedious process, and drop supply crates (can't drop vehicles anymore, either). So it's not uncommon to see teams without a commander. The lack of a UAV is mostly a great thing, IMO, as the element of surprise is back in the game.. and infantry battles are far more exciting. But with no commander assets on the map, the Spec Ops' C4 feels far less useful.

Artillery is still in the game, however the artillery comes in the form of a single mobile artillery vehicle that must be manned by a player. This artillery controller must also work in tandem with an artillery spotter out in the field before targets can be hit at long distances. It's a very complicated process that only highly coordinated squads will enjoy, so most people aren't getting much enjoyment out of this new system.

To sum up, POE2 is an excellent mod that surpasses the original BF2 in most aspects, and should be considered an unofficial "expansion pack" to the game. Highly recommended!