By Nelson and Mr. Crusty
Summary: This is the least suckiest game in the universe. Ever. Until we find a better game. This is the archetypical on line multiplaying first person shooter. And it is the best one we have played so far. We review this 2006 game for the purpose to explain our binary rating system: games either suck or they do not. This is the best example of a game that does not suck and we compare it to all other games.
The Single Player Mode. – The ideal single player mode.
You are a soldier in the 22nd century. The ice age has returned. Geopolitical power blocs have condensed to one or two. You must win specific battles as part of a team to protect your nation’s interest in limited resources. But none of this is meaningful as the game is so well designed the back story does not matter. The only cut scenes this game has is at loadup, and you can skip it. It is interesting to watch for the first time.
Battlefield 2142 (BF 2142) is so good that there is only one distinction between the single player and multiplayer game modes unlike the mass audience FPS offerings on the market in this age: your opponents are AI instead of human beings. Practice on this mode before you go on line to avoid frustration. Come back when you want to practice flying the helicopters, but like all good games, there is no material difference between the single and multi player modes, so we can skip to that right now.
Multi-Player Mode – Superior on line gameplay that is still relevant four years later.
People still spill blood on the BF 2142 battlefield. A lot of them. Interest is waning as the new offerings sate many of the needs fed by BF 2142, but the fact this game still has legs is testimony to its superior design.
The Battlefield franchise may have invented the first person on line shooter. If they did not, they certainly deserve credit for perfecting it. BF 2142 is a significant improvement on the original Battlefield 1942, 2, and Vietnam.
Maps – We could write all day about these maps.
DICE gave these maps some thought. There are nuances throughout the game, they are well designed, and they provide something for every player. They range from contained urban fighting environments to expansive desert landscapes. You can find yourself fighting door to door, or launching a tank strike from 10,000 yards to hit an opponent with the assistance of a spotter. Some maps have both. All maps allow players of every style to have meaningful participation and contributions. These maps are the best maps we have seen to date. Nothing compares.
For example, you can participate in a Titan Mode game as a sniper by making your way to a tower to defend a capture point for 20 minutes by making spectacular headshots on unwary opponents. Later you transport to a titan to either attack or defend in a close combat situation by dropping c4 charges in strategic locations to await foes who are poster children for Darwinism. You shouldn’t run into a corridor without checking for bombs or anti personnel mines in a combat situation. The permutations are numerous. Multiply the last experience by number of classes (4) by number of map types (4) and the number of game roles you can play (3), and whether or not you are on offense or defense (2). By our horribly simple math, that is 96 different types of game experiences within BF 2142.
You won’t be bored with your choices, and you will not have many complaints with this game aspect.
Well thought out and appropriately empowered. Tanks are powerful, but slow. ATVs are quick, but weaponless. Helicopters are moderately fast, and moderately powerful. Vehicle weaknesses are perfectly proportioned to their strengths. Flank your opponents with an ATV, but be prepared to fight with only what you can carry, and never while driving. Bludgeon your way through a front line with a tank, but prepare for slow reaction times and don’t count on running away. Watch your ass as they are susceptible from the rear, as they are in most on line games. Helicopters don’t dominate the skies as jets did in BF 2, and you can see them coming for the most part. At the same time, the pilot doesn’t have fire and forget missiles, so you will need a gunner in the cockpit with you or the luxury of many shots against an enemy to be much of a threat.
Balanced Character Classes
Battlefield 2142 is the prototype for most on line shooters today, and for good reason. Just as the vehicle weaknesses and strengths are balanced, so are the classes you can choose from. And they are what you have come to expect, largely because the Battefield franchise invented/perfected the class balance. Assault soldiers are well armed, but not useful from a distance or to anyone or thing that is injured. Assault soldiers are deadly, but just as susceptible to a bullet so less effective without someone watching their backs.
Snipers are more powerful than other games today, but you have to earn the kills. Headshots take people out, but they are hard from a distance. C4 and anti personnel mines make snipers hard to kill if they see you coming, but they have next to no armament if you come at them head on and zig zagging. Balance? Check.
Engineers are in one way the most powerful classes. You can mine roads, fix tanks, and blast away against soldiers with a shotgun. The balance of power shifts when you upgrade to a trait that allows your character to fix your teammates’ vehicles simply by being near them. You can even fix vehicles while inside your own tank. Picture this: You and a buddy are on line. You are both engineers. You both jump in your own tank. If you drive side by side down a road you are nearly indestructible because you are both constantly repairing each other’s tank. Teamwork rewarded. More teamwork equals more power. Brilliant.
You can probably guess what we think of medics. Medics are critical. Especially when you are near a distant goal and death followed by respawning at your home base will cut your momentum off at the knees. Oh yeah, and you score far more points by administering first aid because you can heal multiple allies at one time. You don’t even need to be there if you drop your med kit off and go somewhere. Unlike the morons in every WW II movie who sported the red cross/target on their helmet, you are armed. Play this character to level up quickly.
Teamwork = power, power is magnified by communication, communication with patience and selflessness is richly rewarded. Only because the writers at DICE are brilliant.
Communication Like No Other Game.
If you have ever been unfortunate enough to see combat, (we have not), you are unlikely to be surprised that privates do not talk to generals on the battlefield. The same rules apply here. Soldiers can talk amongst their squadmates. Being as it is 2142, everyone has GPS, so you know where they are. You can listen to your squad leader, and you are rewarded for it. Same as the real world. Check. Squad leaders have a channel to the boss, or in this version of reality, the Battlefield Commander. They get the benefit of the Commander’s unique information and can pass it on to the squad. Later in the game you can drop a homing beacon that allows your teammates to spawn anywhere on the battlefield. Imagine what a war would be like today if you could drop something the size of a roomba on a rooftop and insert troops. Commanders play a key role, and they have key tools. In a typical game, much like the real world, commanders have the cush job of sending troops to their death. Check. Here, also like the real world, you have access to satellite cameras, radar, artillery, and E.M.P. bombs. You get to order squad leaders to attack separate targets or concentrate everyone on the most pressing needs. You get points for winning and more points if your squads do what you say. This aspect of the game is also well balanced. If you are too busy looking at satellite photos, and you are sitting in the open as a Commander, you are likely to take a head shot or a knife across the throat as you are completely unable to look out in the first person while you are ordering a bombardment. Balance? Check.
And all of this is coordinated with the mouse. Commanders simply click on an icon for a squad and tell it to attack or defend a target. You can do the same thing over the very simple microphone setup, but you won’t get credit unless you do it with the mouse so the computer can register your decision and reward you accordingly.
Leveling is Meaningful.
There is only one tongue in cheek award in the entire BF 2142 and it is the purple heart. You are likely to achieve it early in your gameplay as it rewards you for achieving a disproportionate death to kill ratio. Other than that, the leveling in this game makes sense and is completely meaningful. Each time you increase your level, you get to earn one unlock. There are important choices to make, and unless you pick well, it will take many months, yes months, to earn a truly impressive tool chest. Improved armaments are restricted to each class, so if you are focusing on your assault class improvements you will slowly improve to the highest level of unlocks, to the detriment of all the other class item upgrades. There are a few universal unlocks, but they are not terribly meaningful until you play this game for some time and discover the nuances that can be exploited with slight improvements in your running speed or the number of grenades you can carry. You won’t find a better leveling system outside this game. Modern iterances of the Battlefield franchise are similar, but they lack the purity of the leveling and unlock decisions and consequences that you will see here. Check out our Bad Company 2 review for more on this. At the end of the day the soldier who has 500 hours into this game has more toys than the newbie. The distinction is meaningful, and it is far more likely that the veteran can dust the newbie without much effort, but they earned it.
Two Words – Punk Buster
It may be one word, but we are too lazy to stop writing and check it out. Like all good on line games however, hackers and glitchers are booted from the game if they have installed a hack that assists their aim or makes them impossible or nearly impossible to kill. Here at gaming for geezers we do not have the time, patience, knowledge or desire to hack. Games should be set up for fair game play and success should be determined by skills with absolutely no relation to cheating. Get a life hackers. More importantly, get frustrated by the Punk Buster client operating well on this game.
Check. We like to shoot things. Most good games involve shooting things. We are not allowed to do it in the real world; we want to in our fantasy worlds.
Replayability – Check
Now that we are about done with this review we are going to boot up the ole BF 2142. It is that good, and it is a game you can play over and over. You meander from time to time, not unlike an unfaithful dog, but you can always come back. And you do. The graphics have been left behind, the environments are not destructible like some more recent on line shooters and the programming doesn’t account perfectly for gravity’s affect on your sniper shot at long range. But you still come back. Over and over. You may even find yourself holing up in an on line battlefield solely for the purpose of getting that gold trophy for 50 knife kills. Some times you may hop from server to server until you find a squad who are all on the microphone, older than 30, and have the good sense to stick together and therefore find that synergy that makes this game the best out there for on line experiences.
Geezer Friendly – Check.
Teamwork is rewarded far more than skill in this game. Thereby fitting nicely into the paradigm described by the following saying: “Never side with youth and exuberance against old age and treachery.” Here that could not be truer. You do not have to hit the buttons faster than anyone to excel at this game. You have be selfless, see beyond your individual needs, and play nice with others to best your opponents on a consistent basis. Quick reflexes are certainly useful, and our arthritic friends won’t do well here in every situation. But they could play this game and play well, just not as a building to building combat team member. There is something for everyone in this game.
Fanboy gushing aside, this is the best overall game we have encountered to date. It personifies the ideal PC Game for Mr. Crusty and Nelson for the reasons we just gave you. You will discover more details than we have time or space to describe as you immerse yourself in this near perfect game. We cannot make a higher recommendation as of today.
Publisher: EA Games
Publisher Site: http://www.battlefield.ea.com/battlefield/bf2142/
Best Help/FAQ Site: http://guides.ign.com/guides/819222/index.html
Purchase Price as of 7/20/10: $6.99