Pages Menu

Categories Menu

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

BF2142: 150 Years of Battlefield Lessons?

Armchair General

The narrow streets of Berlin are filling with flames as StrategyMan and FanBoy march in an armored Battle-Walker toward an enemy flag. Spitting bullets and missiles in every direction, the Walker is the very definition of carnage as enemy troops scatter – all except one plucky, unseen Engineer who deftly runs up to the Walker, placing an explosive charge on its crotch. With a sudden massive explosion, the Walker topples to the ground in a shower of sparks.

SM – "Well THAT’s fantastic!"

FB – "But it’s fun driving one of those things isn’t it?"

SM – "Erm…NO. I just don’t get it; the "King of the Battlefield" can be brought down by a crafty enemy planting explosives or mines up our figurative skirt? HELLO – it’s 2142, don’t you think the army of the future would have figured out countermeasures to keep people from sneaking into your kill zone? Why not allow once or twice useable countermeasures such as a proximity field of electricity to either kill or temporarily paralyze a would-be killer sneaking around your hardware? Currently your only option is to jump out of your rig and take on the guy with your pistola, Twinkie, or whatever else a tanker keeps as a sidearm. In 150 years of future combat, close assault anti-tank warfare is exactly the same as Battlefield 2."


FB – "Oh, lighten up dude. It would make winning games too easy if the Walkers were as invincible as you want to make them – and that it would alienate the player from the familiar feeling of playing a Battlefield game. Besides which, the Earth is meant to be low on resources, give it a little bit of license, maybe it’s too costly in terms of material to build all that kind of stuff into the machines?"

SM – "So let me see if I understand you. We are fighting in a world with floating battleships, there are magical hover tanks, and invisible soldiers – but we lack the technology to drop a grenade out the trapdoor of a Walker or have a motion alarm which tells us when someone is too close?"

FB – "I never said combat in the future would be easy – now keep your eyes on the road before you get us killed – again!"


Advancing with a full Squad down a cobbled road, StrategyMan and FanBoy cautiously round a corner and are met with a hail of gunfire. FanBoy is caught but ducks to the ground, returning fire with his support weapon, but StrategyMan is blown off his feet by a grenade. As the battle rages furiously, the Squad advances, leaving StrategyMan bleeding to death on the ground.

SM – "This is utterly ludicrous, I’m coughing up blood here while all these other gits run around totally ignoring me. I told you this would happen."

FB – "Shut up, I’m trying to reload."

SM – "Oh, it’s all very well for you laddie, you aren’t the one who just took a grenade in the face. I mean, come on, we’re in the future, why do medics need to squat down and use their little resuscitators? Wouldn’t it make more sense to have each soldier already plugged into their own resuscitator, which could either be operated remotely (even once), or perhaps activated by having the "medic" shoot the body from a distance with some sort of electromagnetic beam? Or, why not give medics some sort of fancy tractor beam or anti-gravity technology where they could latch onto a body and drag it behind a wall to revive them – rather than have to walk out into certain death to try to revive them? Why not give soldiers some sort of anti-grav pads on their back…so when they fall over dead they are automatically floated back to the squad leader or designated collection point where a medic is stationed? It seems that medical technology hasn’t advanced a week since Battlefield 2."

FB – "You just don’t get it do you, where’s the challenge in having your resuscitator activated remotely? By your argument, each soldier could be revived electronically by satellite, and you wouldn’t need a medic at all. If I’ve just shot half a dozen blokes heading my way, I certainly don’t want them being revived all zombie-like and coming towards me again. I want to be able to watch out for medics so I can kill them too, or be happy in the knowledge that the people I just slaughtered have to respawn."

SM – "But…" [StrategyMan dies, testily, before he is able to finish his sentence.]

Hovering high up in the sky, the gigantic imposing form of an EU Titan spits electric death down on defenseless enemies at ground level whilst gunships and transports hover around the cargo bay at the rear. Inside the labyrinthine corridors, screams of death fill the air as bullets and grenades explode against the bulkheads and control consoles. Crouched low in a defensive position, StrategyMan takes careful aim at approaching PAC troops before opening fire…and proceeds to kill two of his own team-mates.

SM – "Sonofa-, I just killed two of our own guys." [makes sound of disgust] "This Blue on Blue teamkilling thing annoys me – as I’ve said before, we are in the future, so wouldn’t it make sense that soldiers have electronic beacons on them which differentiate them on the battlefield from their enemy? Why is it that when I look at a group of soldiers, they all look exactly the same, be they friend or foe? We all run around in dark body armor!"

FB – "Use your mini-map to find friendlies and enemies! Really man, is this your first day on the job?"

SM – "Well I use the mini-map and name tags extensively, but in tight battles the names appear as a big jumbled mess if there are other friendlies behind the enemy units. On Titans you have multiple levels stacked on top of each other so it becomes impossible to always see who is right in front of you using the mini-map OR name tags. It would make more sense if each friendly unit "glowed" in your helmet-cam so you could fire at will at anything not glowing. Surely in 100+ years the militaries would have worked harder than this to avoid friendly fire."

FB – "What rot. For starters, EU troops have little orangey bits on their uniforms, the PAC are entirely black in contrast. Besides which, it’s quite simple, if one of your buddies is in front of one of the enemy, you don’t fire, it’s as easy as that. I really don’t see an issue here – short of fixing your guns with a little gadget that prevents them shooting at a friendly unit…"

SM – "You mean the same gadget the sentry guns are fitted with?!"

FB – "… OK, I’ll let you have that one."

SM – "A simple solution to the friendly fire problem would be to have goggles which allow you to change your viewing spectrum. You could have an option to show friendly troops more clearly when you need to use it. Surely in the future, scan technology should be there to enhance a soldier’s vision? This is sort of reminiscent of Doom III where they were unable to duct tape a flashlight onto their guns in the future… I just don’t buy it.

And don’t get me started on UAVs. In the future wouldn’t you think UAVs and real-time satellite tracking would have moved a bit from what we see in BF2? It would make more sense to have a permanent UAV-live view of the whole field of battle (enemy and friendly), and the commanders can implement UAV "suppressors" which obscure the view of their own units from the enemy temporarily – during an assault for example. Like so many things of this future battlefield, they are simply dressed up clones of their Battlefield 2 brethren and they don’t feel futuristic at all.

And when are we going to have door locks to keep teammates from stealing my ride while I’m using the gun?

And when –"

FB – "For crying out loud! Have you finished? Good, now let’s get on with it!"

Still on board the Titan, FanBoy places his defensive equipment, a personal energy shield and Automatic Sentry Gun. As the Titan’s computer announces that enemy troops have boarded, the Sentry gun whirls to face the wall and opens fire at point-blank range against the bulkhead, even though no-one is there.

SM – "These Sentry Guns are cool in concept, but have one major flaw that is inexcusable — they fire at blank walls! Because of the targeting system in the game, if an enemy unit becomes spotted, it allows all friendly units in the area to see it (giving the enemy a red diamond which shows up on your main screen). The sentry gun will fire at this red diamond, regardless of whether it has direct LOS or not. Sentry guns therefore waste all their ammunition firing at the wall, making it impossible to walk in front of the sentry gun to get the drop on the enemy."

FB – "I’ll grant you this one, I do think it is a bug, and I think it’s may be to do with the lack of clipping on board a Titan once the lead starts flying. Many times I’ve seen dead bodies glide through walls as the Titan moves, once I even had a stiff drop down on me from the corridor above, through a solid metal floor! Hopefully the new patch will sort that out – it’s meant to stop Titans dead in the sky once their shields are down to stop everyone on board sliding around like they are all walking in butter. As far as Sentry Guns go, I would add that since Support Gunners are the only ones who can deploy them, they can also re-arm them at the same time with their ammo’ hubs, and I’ve never had a Sentry Gun run out of ammo’ on me yet, not once."

SM – "That’s great, but who is going to revive me when your Sentry Gun shoots me in the back after unloading wildly like Yosemite Sam?"

FB – "Don’t worry, someone will be around shortly…we have 20 medics on this Titan! That’s the beauty of the combined class system!"

SM- "Why am I not comforted?"

Crouching low behind the shield and the Sentry Gun, StrategyMan drops his twenty-first enemy soldier and reloads, again. He sneaks a look at his watch.

FB – "Look out! Around the corner!"

SM – "Hang on a moment, I’m getting déjà vu here."

FB – "Eh?"

SM – "Look, I’ll admit the first couple of times I played Titan Mode I had a lot of fun defending our base. The subsequent 10 times were less so…and the last 10 times were bordering on tedium. First, the goal of Titan Mode is obviously to force soldiers into close combat situations, a-la Quake III, Unreal Tournament, etc. instead of playing on vast battlefields or in urban settings. Because the Titans are so small, you have to defeat the enemy in hallways and landing bays as they try to come in and destroy your reactor, or you go out and assault theirs.

The problem is that every Titan looks the same, and every battle plays out exactly the same way. Yes you can rack up kills faster than you can say "pass the ammo" but fighting in a drab hallway against an enemy whose only difference is a tiny orange patch on his tunic and in cramped quarters like a Titan can be an exercise in futility. Furthermore, in order to get to the hand-to-hand fighting to protect your Titan, you have to suffer through a normal game of capturing silos just the same as a Conquest variant game. Wouldn’t have been easier to have close combat by fighting to control the inside of one skyscraper, or one underground silo – so the whole game would be close combat?"

FB – "You’re just a killjoy – look at the medals I’ve picked up just while you were talking!"

SM – "Ooh, shiny!"

Towering glass structures overlook the muddy battlefield of Minsk as StrategyMan and Fanboy trudge wearily toward the front line. The distant flash of an EMP strike briefly lights up the horizon before it fades again. Other than that, there is nothing, for miles around.

FB – "Well, this is fun."

SM – "At least we’re not in one of those crazy hover tanks, or a hapless Walker."

FB – "We’re also twelve miles away from all the action. Can’t we just grab a buggy?"

SM – "Maybe we could call our squad leader to come pick us up?"

FB – "You *ARE* the squad leader. You’ve led us to the middle of nowhere while we miss the entire battle."

SM – "Oh, I’ve had enough of this, I’m going back in time, see you in Karkand!"

Fanboy watches StrategyMan’s body crumple as its owner abandons the game.  As a result, he fails to notice the armed buggy bearing down on him at 100kph from behind.  He has barely enough time to turn around and hear the blare of a horn as his own body is bounced high into the sky by the vehicle.  The buggy driver stops just long enough to type out a "Sorry, I didn’t know you were friendly LOL" before speeding back out into the wasteland.

At his desk, FanBoy slaps his forehead in exasperation and wonders if StrategyMan has set up the whole thing to make a point.  Immediately, he begins planning his revenge for when he and StrategyMan meet again in a future game…


Are you a StrategyMan or a FanBoy? Discuss this article in our Forums!

Pages: 1 2