Battlefield 1942 shook the multiplayer scene with its huge maps and unique blend of gameplay. 200 years and multiple sequels later we arrive at 2142, Battlefield’s first venture into the future of warfare. The future is not a pretty place (or a very pretty place, depending on how you look at it), as the two remaining super powers battle over the last remaining land that can support human life. You battle in the last EU strongholds in a Europe that is freezing over, before the opposing PAC army heads south to the urbanized deserts of Africa. The premise doesn’t really matter though, as with any Battlefield game the story should be the last thing on your mind.
In this review I’ll be using patch 1.06, which has multiple fixes and tweaks that improve gameplay and performance.
The graphics engine will be very familiar to you if you have played Battlefield 2. They look and act similar, but there are enough differences to set them apart. If you are paying close enough attention, some of the details do resemble BF2. Once you play Battlefield 2142 in action, though, you don’t hit any “deja vu” moments if you have previously played BF2. It does feel like you are in the future, and the visuals are different and improved. There are also minor improvements in terms of lighting, shading, and the battle effects. Not a huge step forward, but a solid looking title with some improvements.
Like all of the Battlefield series, the focus of the graphics is scale. We’re just getting to a point, though, where you can have massive battles and incredibly detailed units duke it out without huge performance issues. This is really becoming apparent in Battlefield 2142, as some of the battles you will fight are truly epic in scale. The explosions, tracers, debris, and other effects combine perfectly into a gritty, futuristic battlefield. You don’t spend nearly as much time watching a battle as you do actually participating in the battle, but when you do sit back and watch it is an impressive sight.
The intro music starts off with a remix of the popular Battlefield 1942 theme. It works well, and the intro sets a good pace. The cool thing about it is the intro is all created in the engine. Once you get to the menu, you’re welcomed with a well orchestrated background music. It continues into the loading screen as well, but once the battle starts it gets quiet. Like most multiplayer focused games, there is no in-game music.
That doesn’t pose a problem, since the in-game sounds of Battlefield 2142 are all great. The weapons, vehicles, explosions, aircraft, and just about any element of the game sounds very appropriate and powerful. While the battle happens, the combination of all the sounds going on is superb. The infantry firing to the left, while a Walker and a tank battle to the right, and then a gunship flies overhead. The sound is appropriate, and because of the game there is a lot of different sounds going on at any moment. Because of this, you don’t hear any of the ambient environment sounds. But that really isn’t a problem, since the in-game effects are overpowering as it is.
Controls are as solid as you’d expect. Standard WASD controls are, well, standard. You can’t really fix what isn’t broken. All the buttons and shortcuts for squads, commander, and mini-map are pretty much identical to BF2. Even if you haven’t played BF2, the control scheme is easy to pick up and use.
Infantry combat is a bit slower compared to Battlefield 2, which is something you’ll notice right off the bat. But that isn’t a bad thing, as hitting move targets has become easier. This makes infantry assaults slower and more challenging tactically, as well as giving a slight advantage to the defenders. Still, the slower movement works well, and the infantry combat feels more precise than it did with BF2.
There’re a few new abilities with vehicles. Jeeps get a boost button by using Shift. Most armor gets a temporary shield by pressing X. Another neat feature is you can command the massive Titans as commander. To do this as a commander, just giving the Titan a destination and will cause it to slowly fly to the waypoint. Since the Titan has so many powerful turrets, it can make the battle on the ground a much easier fight if used correctly.
Don’t get Battlefield 2142 expecting a complete single-player experience. Like any game in the Battlefield franchise, the focus is on multiplayer combat. If you plan on staying offline, don’t expect a lot to do. Bot supported maps are limited to a handful, and only the 16-player versions at that. While single-player provides an opportunity to learn the game, you do not get any points that get you closer to your next rank. This game has been built to be played online, and that’s where it shines.
The newest feature of Battlefield 2142 is the all-new Titan Mode. Each Titan Mode game starts off with two massive Titan warships on either side. You are one of the two armies deployed to defend your own Titan and other. The ground gameplay is very similar to Conquest mode, where you capture various Silos scattered throughout the map. Once you capture a Silo, it will periodically fire a missile at the enemy Titan. Each missile hit takes damage off of the enemy Titan’s shields, and eventually will expose the Titan’s hull. Once the shields are down, if you don’t feel like waiting for the missiles to finish off the Titan you can move in with infantry. There are 4 consoles on the Titan, and once you destroy them you gain access to the reactor. Destroy the reactor, and the Titan will be blown to pieces. Once you’ve destroyed the enemy Titan (or failed to defend your own), the round is over. The drawback to all this is that Titan Mode offers a lot of extra points for defending the Titan, so people are inclined to set up a solid defense. Taking down a solid Titan defense is nearly impossible, and generally once the shields go down people don’t adapt well. Hopefully this confusion will subside, and with luck we’ll see better attacking options on the Titan become available.
Conquest gameplay is the traditional Battlefield game type. However, whereas Titan Mode focuses on vehicle ground combat to fight over Silos, Conquest mode has a much larger focus on infantry combat. Nearly all Conquest maps, without a Titan version of the map, have an underlying infantry focus. Whether it’s limited vehicles, tons of small maneuverable corridors, or a tightly knit urban landscape, the focus is definitely encouraging for infantry players. This infantry focus is a step in the right direction, and the map design compliments it perfectly. In fact, all of the maps have some incredible design, and seem a lot more fluid.
Battlefield 2142 has a big focus on making your own rank. The more points you gain while playing, the closer you get to your next rank. Once you hit your new rank, you get a nice shiny new badge, as well as an unlock. Unlocks in this game are vital, as there are over 40 to unlock over the course of the game. This really makes customization an important factor, as you’ve got to decide what you want to focus in right off the bat. You’re helped with Field Upgrades, which are just temporary unlocks, that you gain by being a part of a good squad. In fact, being a part of a good squad is useful in more ways that just Field Upgrades. There are many unlocks specifically for Squad Leaders, such as a Squad Leader Beacon, which allows you to spawn in wherever the Squad Leader has set it. You also gain points for helping squad members, and you gain points by following your squad leader’s orders. You also get additional information relayed to you over the Networked Battlefield system (NetBat) that displays enemy positions on your HUD.
The game is not perfect. There are a few bugs that still need to be ironed out, and even with the long list of fixes in recent patches there are still plenty left. Nothing is game stopping, though the minor bugs do add up and become annoying. Balance is also a minor issue, as many players do not want to go Engineer on infantry-heavy maps, and this causes the few vehicles that do spawn to be overly powerful in most situations. Also some map balance is off, causing certain sides to have a much harder time obtaining victory than the other side. Hit detection, while improved, isn’t on par with other top multiplayer games either. This is partly due to the fact that it’s optimized for so many players, yet it still could be better.
Battlefield 2142 is a very adaptive game. Like most multiplayer shooters, each situation you play in is different and unique. But Battlefield 2142 goes far beyond just having different situations due to playing against other human players. There is a huge amount of variety and customization due to the extensive unlock system. This is complimented by a robust ranking system, with many ways to earn points and badges to increase your rank. As you work up the ranks, not only do you gain more unlocks, but you also get higher ranks. This helps if you want to become a commander, or just to earn the respect of your peers. The combination of rank, unlocks, and the entire stat tracking system is simply great. It definitely increased the longevity of the title, as you’re constantly gaining new rewards.
A strong multiplayer title with solid gameplay. A universal ranking and unlock system. Rewards such as pins, medals, and badges. Heck, you can even track the success of people you’ve knifed and collected their dog tags from. If you enjoy the game, you won’t have any problems sticking with this one for awhile. It has a variety of maps, different game types (even co-op), and some great multiplayer experiences. If you enjoy multiplayer FPS games, and love a big wide open battlefield, you could be playing this game for a long time.
Battlefield 2142 steps over Battlefield 2 in terms of graphics, gameplay, multiplayer ranks, unlocks, and game modes. Right out of the box it offers more variety in terms of selecting different game modes, more customizations in options, and a larger map selection with better maps. Once you start playing, the customizations you make from your unlock choices form your own unique soldier. Many of the nagging issues with Battlefield 2 have been fixed or upgraded, like the major improves to the server browser and menus. It isn’t perfect, though, as you still run across some latency issues, bugs, and even an occasional crash. But overall, it’s a large step over Battlefield 2 despite being on the same engine with certain similarities.