• When I first heard that Battlefield 2 Modern Combat was coming out for the 360, I set my expectations high knowing how big of a hit it was last year on the PC as well as the success it had on the previous-gen consoles. After finally having a chance to spend some time with the game I will say that, while it didn’t really hit the high mark that I set for it, it did come pretty close in most areas.

    First off, let’s go over some of the technical details of the game. Battlefield 2 is best described as a fast paced FPS set in modern day Eastern Europe in which players have the chance to fight from a variety of perspectives as U.S., E.U., Chinese and Middle East Coalition troops with each faction having it’s own unique arsenal. The troops themselves are divided into 5 different “kits”, Assault, Sniper, Special Ops, Engineer and Support, each with it’s own abilities and weapons set. During play, each of these different kits can be easily identified by icons hovering above their heads. Being able to identify these different kits in the field is important since the game allows you to change your current character to any soldier within your line of site via a “hotswap”. More on this great feature in a bit.

    Battlefield 2: Modern Combat

    The game sports 16 maps and more than 30 air, land and sea vehicles including 4 Xbox 360-exclusive vehicles like mini-gun equipped snowmobiles and vans. Of course, what’s a war game without state-of-the-art weaponry? With more than 50 different weapons to choose from (and upgrade), players are bound to find one or two (or twenty) that fit their style of play.

    Advancement is based on a combination point-star rating system during both single player and online player modes with bonus multipliers for such things as consecutive kills. Players are graded on a variety of different factors at the end of each successful mission. The number of stars earned ranges from none to three depending on the total score. Earn enough stars and you are rewarded with a promotion in rank as well as unlocking weapons, upgrades and even additional missions or challenges.

    One of the features I like most about this game is the replacement of the traditional training mission with an expanding set of mini-games called challenges. The challenges themselves are actually small missions that focus on one or more features of the game and test your ability to execute hotswaps, race in-game vehicles and accurately eliminate targets with a variety of different weapons within either time or point goals. While they don’t actually teach you how to how to successfully perform these tasks, ( these can be learned easily from the manual) it does give you a chance to practice and ultimately master them. Challenges also reward you with stars that go towards your single player career stats, so playing them can help to move you along in rank as well as unlock the weapons needed to get through some of the harder missions. Overall they’re fun to play and you’ll notice the difference in your abilities when you return to your career.

    Hands down, my favorite feature of the game is the hotswap. While hotswapping is a great strategic tool during battle, executing one provides a really cool experience! Spot a fellow soldier in a better position than you? Just make sure that the icon above his head is white (which indicates that he is in your line of site) and press the X button. The effect of flying across the battlefield with the sound of the wind rushing by as you go, then slamming into the soldier you swapped with is a total rush! It also comes in handy when a certain weapon, such as a RPG is needed but your kit doesn’t carry one. Just search the field for the support icon and hotswap to that character. As you play the game more, you come to realize the importance of this ability and how to best take advantage of it to help complete your missions.

    Visually, the game looks very good…most of the time. There is a noticeable framerate drop whenever you are manning a stationary or turret mounted weapon and are panning around the landscape in search of the bad guys. This can make it a bit difficult at times to accurately aim at an oncoming enemy. But this is only a minor flaw and doesn’t seem to come into play too often. Shadow and lighting effects are fantastic and the details surrounding you are sharp. Where it excels is in the sound effects. As I mentioned earlier, this is a very fast action game and the sound effects help to hammer that point home. Machine gun fire chatters away around you while the sound of exploding tanks and APVs peel back the paint on the walls of your game room. While all this is going on , commanding officers are constantly barking orders and mission updates. The result of all this is the feeling of being enveloped in a very nerve rattling symphony of war. Make sure you’re drinking your beer from a paper cup when playing this one. I wouldn’t trust glass.

    One of the things I just wasn’t that thrilled about was the controls. Your inventory of weapons is viewable by holding the right shoulder button. In order to change a weapon you must continue to hold that button while using the left stick to highlight your choice. This is a very awkward move since most times when you are looking to swap, you’re trying to do it in a hurry. I can’t count the number of times it cost me a soldier’s life because I moved the stick too far in a particular direction only to bring up the wrong one. Also, since you are using the left stick to select, you can’t move your character around at all during the process. Very frustrating. Another problem I had early on was my instinct to hit the X button to reload my gun. As I mentioned earlier, the X button is mapped as the hotswap button so imagine my surprise when I tried a quick reload (on a number of occasions mind you) only to find myself whisked away to another spot on the map. I was able to break the habit after a few hundred times screwing this up, but it was still quite upsetting. I wouldn’t be complaining about this at all except for the fact that you can NOT change the controller mapping at all. The layout they give you is the one you’re stuck with, so prepare for the learning curve.

    Probably the most disappointing aspect of BF2 is it’s Xbox Live multiplayer. You have only 2 modes of play for Live and they are both co-op missions; Conquest and the infamous Capture the Flag. In the games defense I will say that it does support up to 24 player matches, online stat tracking, rankings and full clan support. Also the maps are very large and the game modes themselves are fun. But fans of the Deathmatch (myself included) and other non co-op modes are bound to be a bit disappointed.

    Overall the game is fun to play but it’s certainly not the best war game I’ve seen for the Xbox 360. If you’re looking for a good old fashioned run-and-gun style FPS and love co-op online play, then this is the game for you.

    Score: 7/10

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