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Posted on Nov 24, 2006 in Front Page Features, Stuff We Like

BF2142: 150 Years of Battlefield Lessons?

Armchair General

Armchair General takes a humorous look at some aspects of Battlefield 2142

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FanBoy enjoys Battlefield 2142 immensely, and is quite willing to overlook some of its flaws because he loves to have fun. StrategyMan insists that a game should first and foremost be a believable environment – with the entertainment value flowing from that realism. Together, these two men enter the arena of 2142 to fight together (and sometimes with each other) as they explore this new game.

It is late evening in the UK as FanBoy turns on his PC and dons his headset with microphone. Tonight was the night – the night that he finally managed to persuade his friend StrategyMan (a decorated veteran of Battlefield 2) to join him in battle amidst the icy combat zones of Battlefield 2142. Meanwhile, on the other side of the planet, early afternoon his time, StrategyMan also starts up his own system and grimly studies the customize screen before joining his friend in combat.

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StrategyMan – "I just don’t know which class I should play tonight."

FanBoy – "Well hurry it up! I’m getting creamed in here."

SM – "I like medics, maybe I should be a…oh wait, maybe I should be an Engineer, or a-"

FB – "I don’t care what you are, just get in here and give me some covering fire!"

SM – "Hang on, I’m reading the manual. I have to say, these troop classes mean nothing to me. In an apparent attempt to offer more options with classes, they have mashed seven Battlefield 2 (BF2) classes into four. This is a bastardization that just didn’t need to be done. If you are fond of one particular class of soldier in BF2 you may be OK in 2142 as you can focus solely on building that class. However, if you enjoyed playing several classes of soldier over the course of an evening, you can forget about it in 2142 unless and until you build up all your classes to a point they can survive on the battlefield. I enjoy playing Assault, Medic, and Engineer – so it will take me a week to build all those classes up simultaneously!"

FB – "Oh for goodness sake. It is going to be like this all evening? Look, it’s perfectly straightforward, every regular Assault trooper has his own med’ kit with him – they’ve simply merged the roles of Assault with Medic. That makes a lot of sense to me as it means you can run around on the battlefield with a decent weapon and a good chance of survival since most of your buddies will have First Aid on standby. Likewise, the Recon’ soldier has been combined with a Sniper, which makes sense as they’ll both be scouting and sneaking around."

SM – "But I just don’t like it. The intent was obviously to force specialization of player abilities, so you join up in a squad with complimentary classes and work together, feeding on each other’s skills. Sadly, it seems that our mates on the field of battle do not want to be told what to do – and this seems to seldom work in practice. Too often I’ve found myself laying seriously wounded on the battlefield watching a dozen medics go buzzing around me! It is because all those "medics" are playing as Assault shock troops, forgetting they can also patch up soldiers!"

FB – "By and large, if you are in a squad, someone is going to have a medical kit without having to sacrifice firepower. Now GET IN HERE!"

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Swirling snow fills the air as StrategyMan creeps carefully and slowly through the shattered streets of Belgrade. The distant shriek and crump of orbital artillery shells echoes around the tall apartment blocks. Suddenly, looming out of the murk, StrategyMan sees an enemy trooper clad in the black uniform of the PAC. Swiftly, our prone hero raises his Assault Rifle and opens up, only to see the majority of bullets spatter uselessly into the air as the PAC soldier runs to safety. With an empty magazine, StrategyMan runs off to reload.

SM – "What the hell? Is it too much to ask that rifles of the future don’t kick and buck in exactly the same way as an ancient M-16? With all the fancy advances in 140-odd years of combat since the year 2000, wouldn’t you think they’d have weapons that are more than just clunky clones of today’s models? They also use hand grenades, but not grenade launchers on their weapons. Instead they use tiny rockets which require overly-complex fuse settings to work properly. The upgrade for an assault player is a shotgun! We have Walkers, hover tanks, and enhanced body armor – how the hell is a measly shotgun going to improve my combat abilities?"

FB – "Argh! I’m beginning to regret asking you to play! Yes, we’re 136 years in the future, but how boring would it be if everyone could lay 100% of their bullets on target all of the time? I think you’re forgetting that this is a game, and that if it’s to be enjoyable for everyone, there has to be a certain amount of luck and acquired skill in learning how to use your weapons."

SM – [mumbles] "Well if I wanted to play with bucking rifles and sissy shotguns, I’d have stuck to Battlefield 2."

FB – "What was that?"

SM – "Nothing – I’m right behind you!"

The sun beats down from an orange sky as a PAC hover tank glides unsteadily across the massive bridge spanning the Suez Canal . At the controls, StrategyMan stares grimly out of the front port, whilst his companion, FanBoy, mans the machine gun turret atop the vehicle. With a judder, the hover tank stops as it bumps up against a crate, before reversing and gliding around the obstacle.

FB – "Lay down some rounds over by that silo, I think there are some enemy troopers camping there."

SM – [fiddling with the controls] "I bloody hate driving this thing, it’s impossible to steer and the gun is fixed. You know, there is just no reason for having a hover tank, especially with a fixed gun instead of a turret. It becomes useless for close combat support because it cannot rotate as naturally as the tracked, turreted tank – forcing it mainly to stick with attacking other vehicles. Furthermore, there is seldom any water or marshy terrain which would necessitate the use of a hover tank. Worse still, because the terrain is non-destructible I can’t even hover over small walls or bushes…and we have to go around them exactly the same as other vehicles. I can’t think of any reason why a hover tank is even here in the future, other than as eye candy."

[SM continues to bump into boxes, sending the hover tank into wild circles]

FB – "Listen mate, hover tanks are the way of the future – you do appreciate that this is a science-fiction game? It requires a certain amount of future tech’. This thing is cool, it looks fantastic and it’s smooth to drive and is able to slide out of trouble easily. You name me another vehicle in this game that can skim across from side to side to avoid an incoming shell and tuck itself into tiny spaces for cover. Oh, we’ve been killed – next time, I drive."

[continued on next page]

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