Battlefield games have always offered fantastic action, as long as you can get past the bugs, crashes, and craptacular server browser that makes it hard to find a game with your pals. And none of that has changed with the latest version, Battlefield 2142. The game is still buggy, the client and servers still crash frequently, and the server browser still leaves much to be desired. On top of that, EA has added a whole host of goofy in-game ads, which further distract from the gaming experience. Still, despite the litany of flaws, the game is a ton of fun to play.
The biggest change, aside from the near-future setting, is the addition of a tiered advancement system. Instead of offering a lot of classes with just a few unlockable weapons per class, a la Battlefield 2, 2142 has just four classes. As you advance through the ranks, you can unlock specialized gadgets and weapons for each class, to sculpt your character to perfectly suit your play style. Your character can be as specialized or as general as you want. For example, if you use all your unlocks in the engineer class, you’ll not only acquire the default shoulder-fired anti-armor rocket, but also mines, mine defusal gear, vehicle detection gadgets, an anti-armor rifle, and a shoulder-fired SAM missile. You can even change your loadout (and armor) from one spawn to the next.
The developer also added an entirely new game mode that has you attacking and defending giant floating bases, dubbed Titans. The gameplay mechanic is simple: capture missile silos on the ground to destroy the enemy Titan’s shields and hull. Titan mode becomes complex when the shield drops and you have the option of sending soldiers to the enemy Titan to try to detonate the airship from inside. When teams don’t properly balance between protecting missile silos, defending their Titan, and attacking the enemy’s Titan, the tide of battle can shift.
In addition to fast-paced interior combat, the Titan also provides an in-game artillery platform, a mobile spawn, a helipad (complete with transport and gunship), and infantry rocket pods, which will launch you halfway across the map from the Titan’s spawn room. The new mode’s definitely a blast, but even on our beefy machines we experienced frame rate issues when transitioning from the outside areas to the Titan’s interior.
All the weapons and vehicles in the game are new—we love the new battle walkers, which stand on two legs and wreak havoc everywhere they go—and all fit in with near-future conflict. The weapons, including unlocks, feel pretty well-balanced, and the rock/paper/scissors game design remains in effect.
That said, for what is essentially a version 2.0 of a version 2.0 product, we’re disappointed by 2142’s unstable nature. During prerelease tests using final code being run on EA’s servers, crashes (both server and client) were alarmingly frequent. Plus, we’re not fans of in-game advertising, especially in full-price games. Although BF2142’s ads weren’t enabled as we went to press, there are literally dozens of billboards per level, just waiting to hold ads for everything from razors to soda pop. If even a fraction of these ubiquitous billboards are filled, it will be annoying.
We’d really like to like Battlefield 2142, but given our aforementioned complaints, we just can’t recommend it.
+ GIANT COMMIE ROBOTS: Once you get in the game, it’s really, really fun; Titan mode kicks ass.
- GIANT FASCIST ROBOTS: Unstable servers and clients;
in-game ads; doesn’t support widescreen.