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Introduction

When Battlefield 2 was released last summer, many eager fans of one of the most played online PC shooters rushed to stores to pick up the long awaited sequel. Fortunately, gamers were satisfied with the war driven experience the game had to offer. However, it seemed like there was space for more, a lot more. It was only a matter of time before the expansion pack was announced. Little did we know, in less than a month after the initial release of Battlefield 2, EA revealed plans to develop an expansion back that precisely emphasized on the special operations sector of the military world.

 



System Performance

The Battlefield franchise is known to be system intensive. With an array of textures and models mixed with a heavily coded engine, it is clearly a bumpy road to reach smooth gameplay for the majority of gamers. Previously, I had considered myself one of the few lucky ones who were able to run the game smoothly without a hassle. The game requires the same system specs as Battlefield 2, however many have reported lower frame rates with BF2: SF than with BF2. So I decided to put it to the test. The system I was using goes as follows:

• Pentium IV 3.0GHz (Northwood Core)
• 1GB Kingston V.R
• Sapphire ATI Radeon 9800PRO 128mb

Before, I was running Battlefield 2 on the default ‘High’ settings with AA disabled with no problems whatsoever. When it came to BF2: SF, this seemed to have randomly been a problem. On several occasions, I had experienced slight system lag. People have also reported slow downs after activating/deactivating the night vision goggles. Obviously these are small bugs that EA will be working on in a future patch, and we’ll just have to wait for them to be fixed.

Gameplay…What’s New?

First and foremost, BF2: SF offers 8 whole new maps. Because of the high demand for infantry fighting by fans, EA decided to deeply emphasize on ground fighting. Yes that’s correct; fighter jet bombers will no longer aggravate you with their constant bombing runs.

Some maps will seem slightly familiar, being inspired by popular Battlefield 2 maps including Mashtur City and Strike at Karkland. However, others have been inspired by totally different concepts. For instance, one of my favorite maps would be Iron Gator; a map in which MEC forces will have to infiltrate a carrier protected by Navy Seals. Be prepared for some of the most intense combat you’ve ever experienced. Teamwork, as usual, is essential for victory.

Other maps were clearly inspired by typical situations meant to be dealt with by Special Forces. For instance, one scenario has you capturing a cargo plane in an airport in the middle of the night. EA has also succeeded in delivering a plethora of atmospheres when it comes to the maps made available by using and playing with certain effects, such as fog and sunlight. Basically, if you were a fan of the infantry combat in Battlefield 2, you won’t be upset.

6 new armed forces have been put at your disposal this time around. EA seems to have done their research as they were able to port some of the most popular armies out there mixed with fictional forces inspired by militant and insurgency groups from today’s world. Included in the game will be the British SAS, American Navy Seals, MEC Special Forces, Insurgent Group, Rebels and the famous Russian Spetsnaz. Although having all these forces was an achievement by EA, I didn’t quite feel much a difference while playing with each army. Maybe this was because to keep the game balanced, there really couldn’t be a superior/inferior force. But at the end of the day, there really isn’t much difference playing as a seal or as an insurgent, aside from different weapons of course. This is maybe the biggest fault in the game. EA clearly used the array of armies it offered to attract the public, ironically though, it seems that little was done to really make you feel the distinction from the world’s super powers.

With new armies you can expect to see new weapons and vehicles as well, weapons and vehicles that not even Hollywood can imagine. For instance, zip lines are truly creative devices. Ever dream of being able to reach that building right in front of you by using a simple cord? Just like Sam Fisher! At first, I thought that this would be a bit eerie to have such a feature in a massively played online shooter. Surprisingly though, EA was able to balance the use of zip lines quite well, by making it only useable in areas where you don’t run chances of constantly getting killed or anything along those corners. Tear gas and flash bangs are also new in the game. These weapons are a bit annoying. Unlike in real life, you can’t really tell when someone is about to throw one in the game, so some might get quite frustrated.

Another new feature is night vision goggles. Nothing much to say here, they work well at night, but this is clearly not something we haven’t seen before in other games. Though there is one unique aspect to this feature, your night vision goggles have batteries that eventually run out.

Finally, the new vehicles and weapons make for a nice treat. These are nothing fresh to the gaming industry, but adapt well to each army they’re designated to. For instance, the Insurgent group will use Technicals to transport themselves, while British SAS will use a more modern ATV look-alike.

Unfortunately, for aviation fans, there are only two new air vehicles. More precisely; helicopters. The AH-64 Apache and famous Mi-24 are now available. Not much difference here between previous attack helicopters in the game. All in all, the new additions in BF2: SF are satisfactory, delivering more than an average mod would.


Sound & Graphics

Because, theoretically, an expansion pack and the original game are suppose to share the same system requirements, it is rare that we see a major difference when it comes to the sound and graphics department.

Graphically, some might say that BF2: SF has lost some of its touches. The mass amount of rendering the environments require in the newly made maps, make it that certain objects look less crisper than they did in the original game. I also noticed that when it came to certain new vehicles, it seemed that less attention was made on small details. It’s not a major problem, but certainly does enforce certain speculation that the game was slightly rushed out.

Audio wise, there isn’t much to brag about. The radio chatter of the new armies was well recorded and as usual, care was put into being able to properly distinguish the sounds of different guns. With a stronger emphasis on infantry combat, I thought that EA might do something to try to raise the popularity of using a microphone (which can get very useful). Unfortunately though, like in Battlefield 2, the mic feature has little to no popularity.

Conclusion

BF2: SF delivers a worthy amount of features that make it a moderate addition to the Battlefield series. It’s sure to satisfy the majority of fans of the franchise and also manages to show how flexible the Battlefield engine can be. One thing is for sure though; if you’re one of those gamers who relies heavily on vehicles you might get a bit bored of the game. Luckily, EA is currently working on a Euro Nation booster pack that will appeal to aviation freaks in the near future.

Game play 18/20
Graphics 17/20
Sound 13/20
Value 17/20
Preference 16/20
Overall 81/100

 

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