Playing Battlefield 2: Modern Combat online on a full server is an experience akin to finding yourself in the middle of the Apocalypse. There are soldiers running around in every direction, firing their weapons in every other direction. Helicopters circle the air above you and occasionally opt for the good old “kamikaze” approach to combat – crashing down and taking out as many people as they can with them.
Tanks roll around on the ground, clumsily trying to manoeuvre themselves out of the crevice they’ve trapped themselves in and firing into the ground and the sky. Somewhere down there, there you are – running and shooting, twisting your rifle towards anything that moves and praying you kill that fucker behind the crates before he kills you.
Online, with the full complement of players, Battlefield 2 is at its brilliant best. With more multiplayer modes than America have nuclear missiles, and the option of forming clans to really take it to your opponents, Iraq-style, the game really does eclipse the likes of Perfect Dark Zero and Call of Duty 2 online. Even with less players, the multiplayer modes are exciting and absorbing, with stunning visuals let down only slightly by occasional lag and the odd jagged line.
The game may be a port, but EA have really spruced the game up for its powerful new host. You can detect areas here and there which haven’t been touched up quite as well as others, but the game still looks the business. The controls aren’t quite as intuitive as you might like, but within ten minutes you’ll be able to run and gun quite happily without any problems.
Though there is a tactical element to game, Battlefield 2 doesn’t require as much methodical planning and strategising as some other shooters. You have to tread the line between finding effective cover and gunning down your foes, but there’s rarely more forethought required.
The tactical side of the game is brought into sharper focus during single player, which is rock hard and unforgiving throughout. Dying isn’t always the end of the world, as you can flit between different members of your squad with a tap of the X button – effectively giving you extra lives or, if you’re looking for a strategic advantage, an alternative viewpoint. However, it’s all too easy to let your guard down for that vital few seconds and lose one or more members of your team. The game requires you to be focused and aware at all times.
Thankfully, then, the game is varied and captivating enough to constantly hold your attention. Starting your opening parachute drop into the first set piece, you’re taken through a range of missions that encompass all aspects of warfare. The sniping mission early in the game is a memorable highlight, albeit one of the game’s more challenging levels. Taking out the airborne terrorists dropping in from helicopters while checking for hidden counter-snipers can take several attempts to get right, but remains wholly satisfying throughout.
And by remaining consistently challenging without being too frustrating, Battlefield 2 delivers a highly competent single player mode on top of its very accomplished online multiplayer. With disappointing AI in both teammates and terrorists and a couple of badly designed levels being the game’s only major downfall, Modern Combat is highly recommended.