It’s a nice idea, but not entirely successful. Firstly, occupying silos isn’t an awful lot different from occupying control points, so the early part of the game is very much Battlefield as you already know and love it. Secondly, the Titans, once you get inside them, are only partly realised – much like the capital ships in Star Wars: Battlefront 2 – and the difficulties in getting troops of both sides to and from the mothership can make these attacks a lot less exciting than they might be. In other words, what should have been Battlefield 2142’s biggest selling point is fun, but not to the point of making the game a must-have.
Yet, with all this said it’s hard to call Battlefield 2142 a major disappointment. The formula hasn’t changed, but then it wasn’t broken in the first place, and the tight map design and well-balanced arsenals DICE has put together here ensure that each and every game dishes out big, tasty dollops of Battlefield goodness. If you like fierce confrontations in hotly contested choke points, you got ’em. Ditto if you like roving around behind enemy lines taking easy kills and sneakily capturing control points, or simply flying around in a heavily tooled-up aircraft blasting all and sundry into smithereens. Best of all, the game still feels wonderfully cinematic. The air raids and artillery attacks are as terrifying as ever, and the walkers add a new note of alarm when you see one of the big bastards striding towards you. Most of all, Battlefield 2142 gives you plenty of chance to feel like the big war hero; the guy who saves his squad, holds his post to the last, or takes the objective on his own. Few other games give you more kicks on that front.
And whether it was just a lucky choice of servers or the adoption of the new game by an already experienced player base, I can’t help feeling that people are finally learning how to play Battlefield properly. Sure, there are still players who run to the nearest tank or gunship and race it towards enemy forces without any thought of anything beyond their own kill score, but there are a lot more players who stop and wait so you can man the guns, who pick you up in the middle of the battlefield and whisk you into the fray, or who just stop and heal you when you’re wounded. Even the squad system seems to be taking root. In fact, the one thing that has made my experience of Battlefield 2142 better than my experience of Battlefield 2 was last year hasn’t been anything in the actual game, but simply the improved skills of the people playing it.
All told, there’s no doubt that Battlefield 2142 could have been more than it is. The setting and the action could have been more imaginative or more convincingly futuristic. The gameplay could have been more innovative, and in some ways it would have been better to wait a year and unleash a more exciting DirectX 10 graphics engine on the world. But that’s all beside the point. The only thing that matters is whether it’s worth your time and money. The answer? Well, if you already have Battlefield 2, not necessarily. As I’ve said, it’s not that different a game. But if you’re new to the series, or just a fan looking for new maps, new vehicles and a few cool tweaks, then don’t let the controversy cloud one thing: at heart, Battlefield 2142 is one of the most exciting and compelling online experiences around.
Battlefield 2142 sits uncomfortably somewhere between glorified mission pack and mildly unimaginative sequel, but while it’s not a revolutionary update it is still an extremely satisfying game.