A review of Battlefield 2142 by MaskedMakrel
Game: Battlefield 2142
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Reviewed: July 18, 2008
Summary: Designer warfare for the mature hardcore gamer focused on working together and getting things done in the harshest environments.
Overall, Battlefield 2142 delivers the richest online FPS environment of any game on the market. One round, a player may find themselves brutally trying to make headway against an unforgiving enemy encampment in a futile assault on a citadel of death. The next round, a player may be soaring like an eagle over the battlefield, dropping payloads of gunship missile death upon helpless enemies. This game is not a glorification of war or an opportunity to play a futuristic G.I. Joe. This game is about hard work and competitive team play. Good times. Players who enjoy the almost impossible challenge of working with perfect strangers in cooperation to frag, kill, and dominate their virtual opponents will find a rewarding experience in Battlefield 2142. Players need to invest considerable time in the game. For those who do, Battlefield 2142 offers sprawling maps, balanced classes, persistent character development, rich unlocks, and a variety of play styles and vehicles. Particularly gratifying is the novel and aptly designed titan mode. With a cult like following, there are still plenty of ranked servers for players to play on.
That being said Battlefield 2142 is not for everyone. Some people will be put off by its future time orientation. Other people may not have the time to learn the game. Battlefield 2142 offers fewer vehicles and classes than some of its predecessors. BF2142 opts for functionality and play balance that compensates for this. The game does have some problems. Long standing glitches, bugs, and a few annoying programming shortcuts will push players to the brink of madness. The installation and patching of the game is not always very smooth. A dated game engine shows its age. In game, lag will sometimes emerge as a problem. The stat tracking system blinks out once in a while. Brevet ranking systems reward negative player behavior. A clunky kit customization saving system leads to a bit of a inconvenience as players re-customize kits.
Still, Battlefield 2142 stands alone in this generation of FPS for delivering the deepest FPS play available. Other titles may be flashier and sexier, but no title rivals 2142 in its gaming experience. A player who has played this game for less than 200 hours has no real basis for judging this experience. This is not a casual game. This game requires a substantial investment of time and energy to be appreciated. The Deluxe Edition for PC can be had for as little as $19.99 making it a great value.
The story is not so much about plot as purpose. DICE needed a subterfuge to embark players in a global FPS and a future climate war will do just fine. To be honest, plots are not the strongest suit of the Battlefield franchise, so if players are looking for a game with a good story like Resident Evil 4, this is not it.
This game is probably not cutting edge when it comes to eye candy. The game uses the same basic engine as Battlefield 2. The graphics are not a remarkable leap forward. Some of the graphics are a bit bland and the landscape seems a bit bleak. Nevertheless, this is a climate war fought on battlefields- what do players expect?
Low-end PC systems will look a little boring. While games like TeamFortress 2 manage to provide players with stylized graphics which look gorgeous on even low-end systems, Battlefield 2142 forces most users to trade off between performance and prettiness. Going with performance is a sure fire way to see the real beauty of the game.
The game is not ugly.
There is a lot of detail to be appreciated in the simple
look and design
of the buildings for example. But
has time to take in the beauty of a battlefield when a war is waging on? More to the point, was a
mech or a tank
really meant to look pretty? The
graphics do their job. The
maps like Highway Tampa is vast battlefield wastelands which towering
silo and flat boxy buildings. Small
details might occasionally jut out on a map like
The game designers opted for something which is not quite as clever as the stylized coolness of TF2 or the evolved CS:S look. Instead, they opted for a sort of novel looking character system that functions well. In general, the animations are fairly smooth, but once in a while, a glitch will interrupt the animations and people will appear to skate. DICE opted for hit boxes rather than blood so there are not dramatic mortal combat style deaths. Nor will one provide one’s opponent with a freeze frame taunt. Instead, people just get used to seeing light white circle strikes as they unload a clip into their opponent. Battlefield 2142 offers white circles of death and ragdolls. If players want to see there enemy burst into colorful flames and explode into a thousand bloody pieces, they will have to do it on another game.
If not mind blowing, the graphics are pretty decent and set the appropriate mood for the battlefield. With the 1.50 patch, the game now supports widescreen resolutions.
The game play will be familiar to people familiar with the Battlefield 2 series. Players configure themselves into playing different roles for their team with several classes to choose from.
There are two basic modes in the vanilla Battlefield 2142. The modes are conquest and titan mode. In conquest mode, players have a certain amount of tickets and control a certain number of control points (flags). Players can win by either bleeding their opponents tickets dry first or by capturing all the flags.
In titan mode, DICE introduced a new and exciting form of play: titan mode. In titan mode, teams work together to control a series of five separate missile silos which attack their enemies titan airship. After a certain amount of damage is done to an enemy titan, a team can board an enemy titan and blow a titan core.
There is an assault lines mode which
require players to take
their enemies capture points before conquering an unlocked main base. There is also the conquest
developed by the community (Sir Community) on
In playing the game, players have three basic roles to choose from. Players can be squad members and join a squad following and listening to the orders that come from the squad leader. Players can communicate within their squad via VOIP. The VOIP is squad specific so players do not get cross talk between different parts of the team which is very nice. For players without microphones, players can still type in a squad chat or team chat modes.
The squad leader has specific unlocks which allow players to place mobile spawn beacons or take advantage of a tracking drone which auto fires. The tracking drone flies over the squad leader revealing the squad leaders position. The tracking drones firing system is a bit inaccurate. Most squad leaders choose to help their team out by placing mobile spawn points. The squad leader can communicate to their squad via the VOIP or squad chats. The squad leader can also speak to the commander. Squad leaders without microphones can opt for team chat or squad chat functions, but player really should have microphones for this game.
The commander is the final role players can assume. The commander has a special commander screen which gives the commander a birds-eye view of the battlefield action. The commander can issue orders, drop supplies, and utilize special attacks such as orbital strikes or emp strikes against enemy vehicles. The commander can also use sat-track equipment to identify targets for their team. The commander can also use a UAV to indentify the enemy positions which will appear on teammates minimaps. The UAV is very helpful. For the most part, the commander’s role is a supportive role. The commander lacks the ability to demote squad leaders who do not follow orders, so the commander is limited to making suggestions. Depending on the level of seriousness, some servers have rules that require players to follow orders, while others do not. The online experiences in play range from casual and disorganized to rigid and highly organized.
The commander role is usually filled by players of a higher rank. Players should be familiar with maps before assuming the commander role. Several guides are available in print and online to help familiarize players with the maps and the commander functions. Since a commander’s powers are primarily supportive and suggestive, play as a commander can sometimes be frustrating. Players can issue orders and watch as their squad outright ignores them only to face a mutiny vote when things go badly. In order to play commander, players need a sense of humor and an appreciation of the absurd.
Nevertheless, one must appreciate the attention to detail DICE put into making a special commander map which allows the commander to interact across the battlefield. The view is a birds-eye view of the map and is akin to the way someone would play Starcraft. Of course, the commander can interact as any other player does. Only the commander has access to the commander map. Everyone else relies upon a simple mini map.
The commander can drop basic supplies
to teammates, but gone
is the ability to drop vehicles as in Battlefield 2.
This small change means that people opting to
play commander should have a sense of where vehicles are and what
assets are at
different capture points and silos.
new system requires that commander’s learn the map a bit more.
Players can also play as lone wolfs. Lone wolf play is not always encouraged. In general, teams do perform better when people squad up and try to follow orders. Players should probably only play as lone wolfs when they are trying to achieve a personal award rather than engage in more team oriented endeavors. Even so, DICE attempts to reward team players with specific awards and opportunities to earn more points. At the same time, team points can earn player points which can be used to earn in round unlocks. Although not permanent, these unlocks can be extremely helpful to players as they attempt to rank up.
Understanding these roles and reward systems, is a key way to understand what DICE is trying to get players to do, which is work together to achieve a common goal. It is here where the game begins to break away from the traditional single player game and even some of the more rudimentary online shooter systems and evolve into something which approaches team play. Given the potential size of the servers, players will quickly understand what a crazy rush Battlefield can be, with a commander perhaps babbling constantly about enemy troop movements, while the squad leader issues orders as players navigate through the massive landscapes avoiding enemy fire. (Unless no one has a microphone, in which case it is *crickets*).
In addition to the roles, players choose from one of four classes in Battlefield 2142 which have unique kits and abilities. As players advance from a lowly private all the way up to a brigadier general, players gain unlocks which add different weapons and tools to their kit and make them more functional. Unlocks can increase damage, improve range or accuracy, increase speed, add bullets, improve basic skills such as healing and repairing and a host of other features essential to online play. The unlocks are divided into different paths and players need to do their homework on which unlocks are good and which unlocks are bad. Some of the unlocks that DICE came up with are almost useless in playing conditions. The recon’s decoy beacon, for example, is all but useless. Smoke grenades are poorly implemented. The defuser is impractical. Nevertheless, Battlefield 2142 does provide enough good unlocks for each class that players have an outstanding amount of choices for different playing situations to choose from. Each class is helpful, useful, and well balanced. None of the classes are bad in real world terms for playing.
DICE was very careful not to make different classes have different underlying attributes, such as different amounts of strength or speed. This is very different than Team Fortress 2, where a heavy is slower and stronger than a scout. What essentially emerges in Battlefield 2142 is a soldier template that players can adjust to meet the needs of any given situation by changing class and modifying their kit. DICE ensured that while players could work together effectively, they would never be dependant upon each other. For example, a medic in Battlefield 2142 can simply drop a kit and heal a teammate automatically while lining up a kill in the scope of their Voss.
Player kits supply player needs on the Battlefield. There is no need for the health packs or ammo boxes that artificially line the landscape in other first person shooters. Instead, players bring what they need to the battlefield and leave it behind. Only the commander can drop supply boxes anywhere. Now the number of boxes is limited so that players cannot simply liter the battlefield with health and ammo boxes, but players can always ask a teammate for something. Often times, enemy ammo boxes and health packs help too.
In Battlefield 2142 there are four basic classes: recon, assault, engineer, and support.
The recon kit is a combination of sniper or recon. As players move up in ranks they can choose more powerful sniper rifles, anti-personal mines, and camouflage to ghost around the map invisibly. The recon kit is not the most team oriented kit, but the specialization has abilities that make it an essential kit at certain points in the game.
The assault kit is a basic soldier kit with a medic pack. Combining the assault and medical features was a very helpful move. With the assault kit, team members have a dazzling arsenal of offensive weapons, such as rockets and accurate automatic weapons, as well as the ability to heal and revive fallen teammates. The assault kit is ideal for most conquest maps.
The engineer kit is extremely helpful in the vehicle intensive battlefield series. The engineer kit has a submachine gun and usually some kind of anti-vehicle gun. The anti-air gun is fairly useless, but the other anti-vehicle weapons are very good. The engineer can repair vehicles, commander assets, or stationary weapons with a repair tool or drop motion mines to destroy enemy vehicles, and a host of other things. The engineer kit is very well developed and extremely helpful in titan mode.
The support kit allows players to resupply teammates, identify enemies with infantry sonar, and generally kill with an assortment of weapons ranging from powerful heavy machine guns to the classic shotgun. The support kit also has the automatic sentry which is helpful for players who cannot aim. The sentry is an extremely effective defensive weapon.
In general, after players unlock everything, the classes are extremely well thought out and balanced. Not every weapon or unlock in any game is going to be effective. Players need to research the unlock trees to maximizing ranking up. Nonetheless, the majority of unlocks deliver exciting options to players. Customizing a kits is a breeze, but owing to an unlock glitch, kit saving has yet to evolve. This is a bit of a pain and can cause players to occasionally spawn with the wrong unlocks.
Beyond the choice of unlocks, there
are two things which
define the Battlefield franchise.
them is large maps. This
sprawling maps which support up to 64 player battles!
With 64 players playing at once, there will
be times when players might experience a bit of lag, but overall, Dice
an incredible job of creating maps which are large enough for huge
run smoothly most of the time. More
commonly, relatively smaller maps, such as
The second thing which defines the game is vehicles. The vehicles in 2142 are functional, if a bit plain by some Battlefield standards. In the franchise series players have seen everything from carriers, submarines, bombers, planes, jeeps, motorcycles, jetski’s, and more. In Battlefield 2142, the range of vehicles is more limited, but not at the expense of playability. Although lacking in novelty, the vehicles do there job well and are well balanced.
For air combat, players can choose either a gunship or a troop transport. The air troop transport has some guns (one of which does not actually work) and can carry about 6 people. The gunship carries two people and is lethal. It tracking missiles for anti-air and vehicle targets, a heavy machine gun for the second gunner and a tv-missile for extreme damage. The gunship is fast and efficient. It takes time to get good at a gunship and most players will probably opt for keyboard rather than air stick control. The decision not to have planes or jets disappointed many people who were used to other Battlefield series. Here, however, DICE have opted to try to create an environment of well chosen “basics”.
The game also includes battlemechs, tanks, APC’s, jeeps (FAV), and in Northern strike a few novelty vehicles such as a goliath or Hachimoto (high speed sled). The game lacks the sheer diversity of vehicles in other Battlfield franchises. Notably absent are boats of any kind. Nevertheless, the vehicles included are highly functional and create some fun moments. For example, a typical encounter might pit an APC against a gunship. The gunship has superior firing power with its missiles and speed. The APC can activate a well timed shield to prevent damage and deliver a counterstriking EMP which knocks the gunship to the ground where a skilled engineer might lay waste to it with a well placed pilum shot. Sound fun? It is.
Nothing in gaming compares to an intense multiplayer round in which two highly competitive teams wage a deadly fight for battlefield supremacy. The best round a player may ever experience might be at five in the morning on a full server in an intensely heated infantry battle that comes down to the last few tickets. It could also be the thrill of winning a titan game by one missile fire, or the joy of making an enormous comeback by blowing a titan core when all hope appeared lost.
The joy of taking someone’s dog tags with a knife or shooting down a gunship with an engineer’s pilum is constantly amusing. DICE made a beautiful sandbox with rich environments that provide for a dizzying array of possibilities.
Other players will have a dramatic impact on the quality of player’s online experience. The game is also much better when players game with their buddies (or friends as they were called before everyone made a buddy list). If playing with honest players who are committed to working together as a team, players will enjoy themselves. If playing with team killing noobs and hackers, the quality of play will decline considerably. When it’s on, the battles rock. Despite the challenges of trying to play with total strangers, the frustration of trying to get people of various skill levels and motivations to work together is part of the game’s allure. Playing on ranked public servers dramatically alters the play style of the matches and you can have terrible rounds as well as thrilling rounds. It is as simple as that. The overall experience is a bit of a roller coaster.
One game pitfall: servers tend to run only a few maps. While the game comes with plenty of maps, players tend to end up either playing Suez Canal (titan mode) or Camp Gibraltar (conquest mode) because those two maps are rotated too death. This is very disappointing as many other good maps are excluded.
At times, players will find that team play can get a bit tedious at times. In titan mode, a team using support kits with sentry’s can set up an almost impenetrable defense with sentry’s by grenade spamming which can bring a titan assault to a crawl. Sometimes, players may just sit idly waiting for an attack that never comes. It can be boring to help the team.
Technical problems do reduce some of the excitement. Lag could be a problem. Some things like moving the titans or “spamming” the titan shields with AA fire can increase lag. Occasionally, players may experience ram stutter. Once in a while, a walker looks like it is gliding instead of walking. There are also times when a match is decided by a handful of really bad players whose kill to death ratios puts the rest of the team into an insurmountable hole. Battlefield 2142 suffers from many of the same problems as other online games.
Scaling back the number of vehicles and a few extra features is not without cost. Although, players will appreciate the interaction of the basics, it is hard for anyone familiar with the franchise not to miss some of the fun elements of past Battlefield franchises. Players will miss the jets, the zip lines, the night vision goggles, the gas grenades, the crazy two-seater swoop and scoops of the original 1942, or a few other things. That being said, players who approach Battlefield 2142 with an open mind will appreciate what is has to offer. Players cannot simultaneously hate this year’s Madden for being too much like last year’s Madden, while complaining that the new Battlefield is too different than the old Battlefield. Players should see the richness in the franchise. This does not mean players will not have preferences for one over the other, but in fairness, Battlefield 2142 stands on its own and offers some things the other Battlefields do not.
The game is designed for long term play. This is not a title players can or should play for 40 hours. Players will probably not achieve brigadier general rank until they have played for upwards of 200 hours, assuming they do not cheat. It will probably take players 80 hours to get a decent kit system. The game has persistent stat tracking, lots of unlocks, and a ton of awards. Some of the awards take 100 hours of play simply to qualify for. If players care about fake gaming bling, 2142 has plenty for players. The awards are a nice touch and even after hundreds of hours of play, it is nice to occasionally see a strange award pop up.
What really keeps the game fresh and exciting is the ability to join up with people from buddy lists or friends and play a competitive match. There is actually quite a bit of diversity in the maps, even if players have to hunt for them. Lots of maps with different play modes keeps the game challenging. Different maps may have the same objective and play mode but might introduce different elements. A conquest map might stop the ticket bleed on the first capture or it might be dependant on a majority of the capture points. Different maps have different rules. The Northern Strike expansion pack includes conquest assault modes, assault line modes in addition to the standard conquest modes. Again, this variety is shortchanged slightly by map rotations.
New community maps have also been added which introduce new challenges and play styles. DICE is committing resources to offering patches and new content to its titles improving the titles and adding some new content. For various reasons, many modders did not make the transition from BF2 to BF2142 and there are few mods for BF2142.
Overall, this title will easily exceed in value its cost especially at the prices it is selling for these days.
The in game documentation was pretty weak. There are plenty of free online game playing guides and resources which players should consult. It is worth the time to consult these guides before playing. Some players occasionally ask simple questions like, “How do players switch seats in vehicles?” Clearly, these players need to spend a little more time acquiring a bit of background and reviewing their in game controls.
The game takes some time to get used to and takes an enormous investment of time to get good unlocks. The controls are rather numerous. It will take time for a player to develop suitable bindings. A lot of other first person shooters have lower front end investments and are easier to pick up and go. For example, Team Fortress 2 is a highly competitive first person shooter with a lower learning curve that requires less playing investment. TF2 is a much better investment for gamers who want a traditional online arena with simple A or B choices and a limited team structure. Battlefield 2142, on the other hand, is a sprawling sandbox with wide open maps and an intricate command structure and style of play. The games multiple vehicles and multiple unlocks add to the learning curve.
Players starting out will be at a substantial disadvantage for the first few levels. Rank restricted servers (where new players could learn the game) are few and far between. Players need to educate themselves on the appropriate unlock path early on to make smart choices and accelerate their character’s maturity. It takes a considerable amount of time to get a good character. Squad up and take advantage of the team based unlocks early.
Players should briefly explore the game through the “single” player mode before entering an online arena. This will provide players with a safe place to assess maps, configure their controls, and get familiar with the hit box and targeting system.
Not all modes are equally accessible to new players. New players will have to gain a certain amount of unlocks before being able to play competitively in titan mode. Players should probably start out in conquest mode and move into titan mode later.
Nevertheless, most weapons are pretty self explanatory and players learn maps and play modes as they advance. The hit boxes are fairly accurate. While players do need practice to be good at the game, the game’s mechanics are fairly straightforward.
There are a lot of different commands in this game. This game does not lend itself to a simple console type controller. It requires a keyboard (or keyboard substitute like a Nostromo N52) to be played. Some vehicles or weapons have slower response times than traditional movement and many players use on the fly dpi mice to compensate for these items.
In real terms, the controls are fairly responsive. The game still has a few quirks which make it unnecessarily painful. Occasionally, a knife will not connect with its target. A transport gun may not work. Missiles seem to inexplicably miss their target. Nevertheless, for the most part, the control system is better than many other FPS. Running, jumping, aiming, crawling, and shooting are very easy. Targeting is fairly precise. Lag is an issue and sometimes interferes with hit detection. High pings can also cause problems, so be sure to play on a low ping server.
The in game sounds are fine. The in game loading music is very professional. Squad members can utilize a radio menu to audible simple requests for ammo, medics, and the like. Commander spotting gets a little old and repetitive. Sometimes a machine gun firing sound will continue to fire or a reload sound will loop indefinitely until player’s respawn. Audible cues based on cloaking are deep and revealing. DICE’s attention to in game audio adds to the challenge of playing. The in game microphone and audio works well. Overall the sound is pretty good in this game and aside from the a few bugs, is fine.
The English only V.O. option should be checked for most people who speak English, but it is amusing to hear about the “roboto” in other languages.
DICE recently released a patch for Battlefield 2142 which included community made maps. Although the maps are controversial, the inclusion of community generated materials is a positive step in the right direction. Battlefield 2142 still does not have the number of mods that Battlefield 2. Likewise, DICE announced a new patch for Battlefield 2, a title which is over 3 years old. Battlefield 2142 does have in game advertising so there is hope that the title will continue to receive support and upgrades in the future. That being said, players still deal with long waits for incremental upgrades, uncertainty, and a very slow rate of change. A MAC version was released. Patches for the MAC version tend to be SLOW. If players want better support, they should opt for the PC version and avoid the MAC version.
A great title which has been overlooked. It is doubtful that 2142 will ever become something more than a cult classic. Some players have been put off by the futuristic combat system and prefer “modern” warfare. The game still needs to have a lot of bugs and glitches fixed. Yet, one cannot help but marvel at what has been done. VOIP, commander mode, squad modes, multiple maps, large maps, and huge real time battles. Battlefield 2142, provides an exceptional value and deep play. It may have been a bit ahead of its time. This title is underrated and overlooked. While it could be better, it should not be missed by any hardcore or serious gamer. Despite a few flaws, BF2142 offers a depth of experience that is lacking on many other flashier titles. Having played the game for over 1,000 hours, this reviewer is going to give it a ten out of ten.