Battlefield 2: Modern Combat Review – for Xbox 360

Battlefield 2: Modern Combat, or for short BF2: MC comes to the 360 as a loose port of the PC game Battlefield 2. Those familiar with the previous console versions will find that the Xbox 360 edition of the game is almost identical to its PS2 and original Xbox counterparts aside from aesthetics. Only small additions have been made in terms of gameplay to the series. However for a fan of the previous-gen versions, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

With the core of the game unchanged, all of the primary entertainment value remains. Choose your country from the USA, Europe, China, and the MEC (but never more than two per map). Then choose between one of the five different kits each with its own specialty; Assault, Sniper, Special Ops, Engineer, and Support. Each kit has a different primary gun and set of goodies to play with, some of which are very interesting. Looking for the ultimate personnel killer, choose assault with an excellent rifle, hand grenades, and gun mounted grenade launcher.

Tired of getting pounded by tanks or gunned down by jeep crews, take the engineer class with a shoulder mounted rocket launcher and shotgun. While you’re at it, lay down a few anti-vehicle mines on a high traffic area. If they go unspotted you might just earn an easy kill or two. For a mix between the two above classes try the Special Ops. With a silenced rifle and C4 they’re prepared for any kind of action and while the knife they carry is only useful for humiliation kills, it is very good for that purpose. Support comes armed with a 100 round machine-gun and mobile health injector. The sniper class, while rather self-explanatory has some gadgets as well, like a GPS device that reveals enemy positions to you and your team. (Although I find myself missing the anti-personnel claymore mines found in the PC version).

After picking a country and class you dive into the action. From here you can choose to board one of the vehicles found at your teams main base or proceed on foot. Vehicles range from jeeps, tanks, mobile anti-air, buggies, and even helicopters. The armored vehicles, while nowhere near invincible provide an incredible sense of raw power. There’s nothing like watching the soldiers on foot scamper into corners as you ride up in your mobile armor equipped with high velocity explosive rounds.

The combination of classes, vehicles, and varied capture points provides for very interesting and potentially strategic Xbox Live game. I say potentially with the assumption that you understand the issues involved in finding a decent team of Xbox Live partners. With people killing teammates to get the vehicle they want, or just for fun, and dropping artillery strikes on the most densely populated area regardless of who resides there, the caliber of your teammates will play heavily on the amount of enjoyment you find in the game. But that’s another issue altogether.

The game’s graphics can really shine…sometimes. Textures look amazing, there is no heavy pop-in, and at times things can look incredibly real especially when run on a high-definition set. These parts of the game always look amazing. The level of definition in the vehicle textures and environment really make the game look good. The most noticeable failure in the games appearance is, without question, shadowing.

The shadows look like they’re straight from the original Playstation and tend to jerk around sporadically for no good reason. Some of the games weaponry can look rather plastic at times. Smoke grenades look like they’re the size of 1 liter bottles, and certain guns look like you character picked them right off the shelves of Toys r Us. Aside from that issue and the crazy cracked out caffeinated shadows, the game looks the part.

The sound, just as with the graphics, is great if you exclude the errors. It’s effect is especially noticeable when you join a game already in progress. Immediately as you enter the action you feel like you’re in the middle of a serious battleground. Explosions and gunfire surround you. As helicopters fly over head and jeeps zoom by you can hear the squeaky roll of tank treads approaching. When caught in the action the sound effects are absolutely amazing. With a 5.1 setup the sound can help you as well as entertain you.

Shots coming your direction are easily placed in the environment and if you pay enough attention you can hear enemy vehicles long before they reach you. The only issue with the sound is a programming error. At times, when a vehicle is destroyed it will continue to make a strange and highly annoying sound a la Jim Carey in Dumb and Dumber until the round ends or it decides to stop at random. As a whole the sounds add very much to the gameplay. Audio cues give hint to enemy locations and activity. The beep of a C4 stick attached to your armored vehicle always makes your stomach drop. Bullets whiz by and slam into the areas around you and your character makes the appropriate cry of pain whenever he is injured.

If you can ignore the problems HD and 5.1 combined make for a great experience with this game. Spent shells rattle to you feet, character animations and models are very clear and you can always tell when an enemy is reloading or pulling out his grenades for a change of strategy. The engineer characters model can be very impressive as you watch them carry their rocket launcher strapped onto their back and rotate it around for use. The sights and sounds of battle are all around.

The biggest game mechanic addition, aside from a slightly different control layout than the Xbox version, is an extra button for helicopter controls. Wait a minute, the biggest addition is a new button for helicopter controls? As I mentioned previously, fans of the prior games will find the same level of fun and addiction that the previous games offered…but not much more. The new chopper control allows for a reasonably fast descent, something that was inexplicably lacking in the previous games. It is much easier now to swoop in and out spinning, rising, and falling to line up with your intended target.

Aside from the addition of a new control the game physics seem moderately improved although there are still bizarre occurrences. Your M1 Abrams tank can get caught on a barrel, stopping it dead in its tracks and, correct me if I’m wrong, but 60+ tons of motorized steel can thrash a 55 gallon drum. Mounted .50 caliber machine guns seem to almost take the underdog position at times against standard arms and aiming them while moving is for some reason near impossible. Also, the fact that characters can enter and exit vehicles instantaneously regardless of vehicle speed provides for a speedier gameplay mechanic, but an ultimately frustrating and unrealistic addition. As a whole however the game still maintains incredible playability given all the things you can do, and many will find it impossible to forgive the lack of forward progress in the series, or choose to continually gripe about minute glitches.

I realize my review seemed strewn towards the negative, but this is because I find it hard to ignore these few things keep the game from being the perfect experience that I so badly want it to be. On top of all its problems I still think Battlefield 2 is a great game, and one I will continue to play until something better with the massive multiplayer appeal of this game comes out.

Find me another game where you can ride a chopper over to your destination and bail out (sending it careening toward the ground into a mass of fire and steel) parachute onto a rooftop, lay fire and grenades into your opponents until you die and do it all over again. The first time you parachute onto the wrecking ball that is a 120mm tank, throw a C4 stick onto it, run around the corner and watch the ensuing fireworks you’ll be hooked. There’s nothing more satisfying than a well-organized strategic victory in real-time and this game provides the opportunity for just that.

My final score for Battlefield 2: Modern Combat for the Xbox 360 is 7.0/10
All of its elements aren’t the most original or perfectly implemented but when things come together, the experience is thrilling. I look forward to the next addition to the series.

TITLE: Battlefield 2: Modern Combat
DEVELOPER: Digital Illusions CE (DICE)
DATE RELEASED: April 11, 2006
XBOX LIVE COMPATIBLE: yes – 24 Players
HDTV Support: 480p, 720p, 1080i
5.1 Surround Sound: yes
GENRE: Action, FPS
PLATFORM: Xbox 360
ESRB: Teen
Retail Price: $59.99

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