First person shooters are hot property this year, early in 2005 we were treated to Medal of Honor: European Assault and the first Brothers in Arms title and now later in 2005 we've been given Call of Duty 2 and Battlefield 2: Modern Combat. It's been a good year to be a FPS shooter fan, and the standards have had to increase. This year also saw the release of Battlefeld 2 for the PC, which was an incredibly addictive game. Obviously not content with just keeping the series on the PC, the Battlefield 2: Modern Combat makes its debut on consoles, is it just as good as the PC counterparts or is this a series that should have stayed on the PC?
The story is fairly basic, and feels like it it would be right at home in Splinter Cell 4. There has been political unrest in Kazakhstan and the United Nations have sent troops to the troubled nation. The chinese are a little worried about the numbers of troops and also send their own warriors. As the player you actually take control of both the Americans and the Chinese through different campaigns. This idea works surprisingly well and allows you to see war through the eyes of someone else.
One of the more unique features of the game lies with the hot swap feature, when we first heard about this feature we actually assumed it would be related to quickly swapping weapons, but it is actually far from this. If you want to swap to another unit then it is as simple as pointing to another soldier and press the swap button. You will immediately take the perspective of that other soldier. There are numerous uses for the hot swap feature aside from being a novelty, you can quickly move from one area to the next and you can always take the best perspective for battle. This is a feature that may seem a little gimmicky at first but becomes a really necessary feature towards the end of the game.
As this is a Battlefield game, the weapons and variety are to be commended once again. There are five character classes in the game and each class has the ability to use weapons which include sniper rifles, shotguns and bazookas. Vehicles, which have become a necessity in first person shooter titles are back in force with Modern Combat, and there are a large variety of vehicles to travel around in.
Multiplayer was such a huge feature of Battlefield 2, which is why we're a little puzzled by the multiplayer features in Modern Combat, really they just feel a little stripped down in comparison to the PC version. Battlefield 2: Modern Combat allows for up to 24 players to play on Xbox Live at once, you're only able to actually play a conquest mode (which is as simple as catching and holding spawn points) and a capture the flag mode. This game could have become an incredible multiplayer title, much like the PC cousin, so it's definitely disappointing that it feels like the multiplayer componant has been stripped down. When this game was first announced in 2004 no single player mode was included, we can only assume that EA realised how short the game would have been without a single player campaign.
Gameplay wise the game is fairly solid, alhough it does feel noticably different to Battlefield 2 on the PC, the game actually feels more like an arcade title without any real strategy elements. The hot swap feature is brilliant in battle and will help to set a precedent within the FPS genre. However, all of the weapons feel basically the same and some of the shooting feels a little unbalanced. Scaling back the environments has also meant the game runs at a smooth frame-rate, which seems like a fairly reasonable trade off.
The graphics aren't impressive by any stretch of the imagination. The environments themselves are huge, which does make the environments feel more atmospheric. The environments are deceptive though, as there isn't much detail in the environments and this can leave them very blocky if you zoom up close. There is a lot happening in each level, such as explosives which does make it feel like you're only one man in a huge war.
The sound is actually a bit of a hit and miss affair. The soundtrack itself is actually fairly epic, and is suited very well to the game, we never felt like the music was out of place, nor did we become annoyed by the music. The voice acting however is on the other side of the scale. It is repetitive and monotonous, it feels like the Chinese soldiers in particular are already dead, and it's disappointing as it really does take away from the entire game.
The game itself also won't last as long as you might hope either. The single player campaign will last a decent ten to fifteen hours. Unfortunately the multiplayer options are really sparce, which makes it a little difficult to recommend as a must have just for multiplayer. It's disappointing (albeit necessary) that the game's touted "hotswap" feature cannot be used in multiplayer, which means that the single player campaign could actually be more entertaining than the multiplayer. Unfortunately, aside from trying to improve your previous effort, there isn't too much to draw you back to the single player mode after you've played through it once.
Battlefield: Modern Combat is a decent title, but it isn't brilliant. There is a flood of first person shooters on the consoles now and Modern Combat doesn't do enough to differentiate itself from the dozens of others. Something has been lost in the transition to the consoles, and we can't quite work out exactly what it is, but we think that the poor visuals, scaled back multiplayer and clunky (at times) single player campaign may be to do it with it. If you're a fan of the series on the PC then it may be advisable to rent the game first, just because it isn't going to be loved by everyone.