War. What is it Good For?

For many people, playing Battlefield 1942 was a glimpse into the future of gaming. With its large scale battles and multiple vehicles and classes, players could play the game in whichever way appealed to them the most. This was huge for gaming, and established a genre. Given this success, EA has since released several expansion packs for 1942 as well as Battlefield Vietnam, a stand alone product which, surprisingly, received mixed reviews.

This year EA is hoping to capture the magic of the original Battlefield with its upcoming release of Battlefield 2. Unlike the previous titles in this series, Battlefield 2 is set in the modern era, where players will chose to take sides with one of three factions: the USA, China, or a fictional Middle East Coalition (MEC). Players will be able to take control of high-technology weapons and vehicles, as well as battle against sixty-three other players in areas ripped from today’s headlines. The move in this direction should prove a welcomed change for veterans of the series and appeal to new players wishing to jump into modern warfare.

Battlefield 2 will ship with twelve maps, each of which is in two major theaters of war: the Middle East and Asia. These maps will come in one of three sizes, supporting sixteen, thirty-two, or sixty-four players. This allows players to hop into games of different scales and have maps appropriate for the number of active players. Games of this nature seem fairly barren when only a few players are on the server, and this design ensures battles are tight and fierce, no matter how many players are on.

Here’s a peek at each map!

Dalian Plant

The map’s main feature, a nuclear power plant complex, is found in a hilly desert wasteland. Players battle for supremacy over a reactor and construction site, as well as a main entrance facilitating fierce choke-point battles.

Daqing Oilfields

The main concept of this map is an oil field assault. Players will fight over a refinery and oilfields, as well as an old city. The map, green with vegetation, also includes a large shoreline and both a Chinese and US starting base.

Dragon Valley

This Asian-inspired area features battles over scenic Chinese temples as well as industrial complexes. Players work their way from the beach front in the south to the main temple at the center of the map.

Glowing Pass

War is waged in a rocky desolate area in this map. Players start at either a northern or southern airfield, then attempt to capture mine entrances and guard posts throughout the map.

Songhua Stalemate

Players attempt to break a US-China stalemate on this map. Control points are tightly packed in the center of this lush valley, which provides an ideal area for large firefights.

Gulf of Oman

This map includes a beachfront assault where US forces launch strikes from their aircraft carrier, while MEC forces protect the shoreline and their airfield. Though maps of this type are almost mandatory in these types of games, it’s interesting to see how Digital Illusions put a modern twist on it.

Kubra Dam

Kubra Dam is a tactically intriguing map that contains a dam in the center of a jagged gorge. US forces begin from an airfield, while the Coalition starts in abandoned huts and races for control over this strategic point. Battles should prove to be focused and hectic, as the area is also perfect for precision air strikes.

Mashtuur City

A dense urban complex, where players engage in tight city fighting, centers this map. Several strategic points are scattered throughout the ravaged city in the form of parks, hotels, and even a gas station. This tight action is a great change of pace to the larger open maps.

Operation Clean Sweep

In this Indonesian island map, players fight for control of several scattered islands. The map, seemingly set up for navy battles, proves satisfying for players wanting a destroyer-submarine hunt.

Sharqi Peninsula

Located on a small peninsula, this is an area where players will fight over a television station. Control points are densely packed on the peninsula since most of the map contains open water. It’ll be interesting to see if EA decides to use this large, unbroken water region for naval battles.

Strike at Karkand

US forces fight to control the city of Karkand. MEC forces are charged with guarding the city’s key areas. With such a large urban sprawl, a sixty-four player game satisfies those looking to recreate scenes found in Black Hawk Down.

Zatar Wetlands

This map contains a densely meandering riverbed, where players fight over natural gas excavation sites, villages, and military bases. US forces begin in the ocean and at the shoreline, while MEC forces start near the gas deposits.

The Last Word

Veteran players will find fresh, new strategies to perfect with two new classes: the Heavy Weapons Specialist, who can score points by handing out ammo to fellow soldiers, and the Special Forces Commando, specializing in short range combat and laser designation for missile strikes.

EA and Digital Illusions have also built a new graphics engine for the series, which should reinforce the title as the next-generation Battlefield game. With dynamic shadows, helicopter rotor wash, and more realistic environmental destruction, games should be much more immersive and intense.

The good new is these developers have had years to tweak the model they introduced to the market, and the team has done its homework. They seem intent on addressing balance issues found in the original titles and making all three sides of the game viable choices for veteran and casual players alike.

Digital Illusions has gone to great lengths, creating varied and strategically diverse maps, new modern classes, and a new graphics engine, all of which will satisfy players looking for depth of gameplay and replayability. Though we’ll know more if and when EA decides to release a demo, the development team is right on track. The optimism and hype (after all, it is EA) will grow as we near Battlefield 2‘s June 2005 release. If Digital Illusions can ship the game with stable network code, we’ll have a genuine hit on our hands.

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