Battlefield 2142 is the latest entity in the Battlefield universe, starting exactly 200 years after the famous first Battlefield game, Battlefield 1942. Northern Strike is a “booster pack,” meaning that it can only be downloaded online, and isn’t considered a full expansion pack. Yet, it has a wide range of features and additions, and actually is more comparable to Battlefield’s previous expansion packs than it is to the booster packs. The new vehicles, unlocks, maps, and even game mode make it far more deep then the previous two booster packs for Battlefield 2, and even then those boosters where a fairly decent value.
Before I dig into the review, realize very little has changed in graphics, sound, music, or controls. It is nearly identical to Battlefield 2142 in those aspects, and so I recommend reading the Battlefield 2142 review if you’re interested in those aspects. Also realize this contains a bit of Battlefield 2142 lingo, so hopefully you are a bit familiar with the game. If you aren’t aware of what a control flag, a Titan, or commander assets are, it’d probably be a good idea to become more familiar with Battlefield 2142 before purchasing Northern Strike.
Graphically, the game is virtually unchanged. However, the new maps contain different skins and models, so things look different. The outfits of the soldiers are suited to the colder, northern temperatures, and in fact look very pretty. The vehicles also receive a few minor changes to their skins, but when you see a battle walker coming at you, it looks just as scary. The maps are all very pretty, for different reasons. The huge bridge on one map, the dark night sky on another, or the intimidating cliffs of the third all make some great first impressions. A few snow-related effects, such as an occasional snowfall off a high building, adds a bit to immersion.
Overall, the graphics are a nice step up. It makes you feel like you’re fighting in completely different battlefields than the vanilla Battlefield 2142 maps. Still, the engine can be a little bulky at times, and starts to wear down on bigger servers. It seems the performance is a little worse than the original Battlefield 2142, but it is hard to tell.
Both sides seem to have new voice overs, however I honestly can’t say it changed the gameplay that much. The loading music for the maps is new, but it isn’t exactly ground breaking either. The ambient battlefield noises are done well, but nothing much has changed in Northern Strike.
Of the two new vehicles, only one exhibits some interesting controls. The Hachimoto, or attack speeder, is a cross between just about every vehicle. It has armor similar to a jeep, and also has a boost function. However, it can also flank like the hover tank does. It’s firing mode is like the walker for the pilot, except no rockets for it. For the gunner, it can switch between a TV missile (like a gunner for a gunship), or fire a lob of grenades (much like the APC, but less powerful). This interesting blend of modes makes this vehicle quite a bit different to control and play as, and it’s pretty fun. The Goliath controls are very similar to the APC, except it goes a lot slower. Nothing else has changed, control wise.
The most immediate different in Northern Strike is the three new maps. All three of them are fairly unique, and are a big change of pace from the previous maps. One of the maps, Port Bavaria, contains a huge cliff that the EU side needs to get up. To aid EU, they get a massive boost on their APC pod, and multiple APCs in their initial spawn. Once they get up top, they’ll get access to a Goliath and continue their assault on the military compound. Another map contains a huge bridge which maps a great choke point, and the final one is a night map, a first for 2142. It’s the differences like these that make the maps seem unique, but also the actual map design seems more solid. This could be because the maps are a bit more compact, making the distance to travel between flags and battles less of a problem. It could also be the focus on infantry combat, but still having plenty of vehicles around. Overall, the battles are less spread out and the maps have much more focus than before, which is definitely a good thing. Just because of the map design, you should be having a great time right from the get go, that is if you enjoyed Battlefield 2142 to begin with.
Now, you might be thinking, with only three new maps, how much replay value are you going to get out of the expansion? Of the three maps, two of them are usable in Titan Mode. Additionally, all three are also usable in the Assault Lines mode, which also supports 16, 32, and 64 player map sizes. Unfortunately, they’ve excluded Single Player bot support on all three maps. This also means you can’t play any of the maps on Conquest Co-op, either. Also, a traditional Conquest mode isn’t present, but Assault Lines is very similar. The Assault Lines mode is definitely the most fun, however Titan can also prove interesting. The difference in Titan mode is that the two maps are more infantry based urban maps, instead of the more wide open vehicle battlefields. This allows some interesting differences.
As for Assault Lines, it makes a few tweaks to the popular Conquest mode, but they work out very well. First, EU will always begin with only a single flag, as well as a Goliath (and an assortment of other vehicles). Depending on the map size, the PAC side could have dozens of other flags and vehicles, or only a few. Still, PAC begins on the advantage, minus the Goliath. On most instances, the EU is usually able to capture the first flag or two before losing the Goliath, making the battle a bit more interesting. As long as the people using the Goliath play smartly, the battle is always close and despite the irregular starting position, nothing seems unbalanced. Finally, the PAC main base cannot be captured until all other flags are in EU control, which helps prevent the PAC side from losing control of their primary vehicle spawns, as well as commander assets.
Finally, you’ve got an assortment of new unlocks. You’ve got new grenade types, extended ammo clips, and improvements of old equipment. You’ve got the Motion Mine Bait (a grenade that attracts all nearby Motion Mines and blows them up), the expanded Assault Rockets / Shotgun (4 rounds per clip instead of 3), the Sniper decoy (a fake enemy presence on your UAV), upgraded Active Camoflauge (so you can stay invisible far longer), and many, many more upgrades. Each one provides interesting alternatives to your play style, and if you’re more likely to change up your style of gameplay with the new equipment. It takes some getting used to, be in the end the game is a lot more fun. Plus, you can carry these unlocks back into regular Battlefield 2142 maps, so it’s fun to use these new toys to get a leg up over your opponents.
First thing you need to look at is the price. For only $10, it’s hard to find a reason not to buy it. Some of the reasons to buy it could be the great new infantry-focused maps, the incredibly fun new vehicles, or to play in the new Assault Lines mode. Even if you got the booster just for the new unlocks, this game could be worth it since you can apply them to any previous Battlefield 2142 map! Now realize that Battlefield 2142 was only $40, this additional $10 only brings you total investment in Battlefield 2142 to $50. Additionally, Northern Strike integrates right into Battlefield 2142, so you don’t have to reload the game to play any of the new maps (like you would for Special Forces in Battlefield 2). If you’ve enjoyed Battlefield 2142, this game adds at least another $10 worth of value into it. To be honest, this booster pack feels a little bit more like a full fledged expansion pack, despite it only containing three maps.
Battlefield 2142: Northern Strike is a great booster pack. Looking back to Battlefield 2, this seems to be more interesting to play and of more value than the previous two booster packs and even superior to the expansion pack, Special Forces. It makes a lot of changes without alienating the core gameplay ideas, and adds a nice coat of polish and variety on top of the previous Battlefield 2142 content. That being said, this booster isn’t really changing the formula. If you weren’t a fan of Battlefield 2142, this game isn’t about to change your mind. It offers up a lot of interesting content, but it isn’t about to blow you away. Still, in the end any self-respecting Battlefield fan needs to pick up this booster, as it is arguably the best value of any previous Battlefield expansion or booster pack.