Recent fans of the Battlefield series will no doubt be thrilled that the series has landed on the next generation Xbox. Long-term fans of the Battlefield series will likely be rolling in their metaphorical gaming graves and cursing the day consoles were ever put on the market. The general consensus among players is that the only Battlefield worth playing is on the PC. Battlefield 2: Modern Combat does little to shake this theory, despite being a great game available on the newest of consoles. Playing Battlefield on any platform other than a PC is like taking a tour through Willy Wonka’s house. From the outside it looks perfectly acceptable. Once you get inside though, you come across hallways that aren’t quite right and tiny doors skewed by perspective. The end result is a game that’s entertaining, but leaves you with a niggling feeling that you’ve somehow been tricked by the whole experience.
The single player campaign for this 360 title is the same storyline that was used in the Xbox and PS2 versions. Over the span of 20 missions, you’ll switch back and forth between controlling American forces and Chinese forces as they battle to protect their territorial interests in the Soviet state of Kazikhstan.
Each mission is varied enough to keep things interesting, even if some of the maps are reused occasionally. You’ll partake in some intense ground fighting action, a spot of air reconnaissance here and there, and even some good old fashioned tank warfare. The storyline will hardly shock or surprise you, but it is appealing enough to be treated to broadcasts of the same battles from different countries perspectives. If you’re into political warfare debates, you’ll find plenty to discuss here with the subject matter – if you’re not, you can chuckle over the glaring bias each country has, and move on with no harm done.
The beauty of this game lies in the fact that it’s pretty easy to complete each mission, but finishing each level with a high rank is another matter entirely. Scores are dished out based on gameplay factors such as level completion time, headshot kills and your level of ally losses. The replayability factor here is huge, and focusing on the single player campaign is one of the best things about Modern Combat. You’re encouraged to go back and replay levels with the incentive that higher rankings are rewarded with a range of perks including new weapons and increased ammo capacity. There’s also plenty of ribbons and medals to be awarded for those desperate to show off their success in a flashier fashion. (Bonus kudos points from me to anyone who manages to fly the helicopters).
Probably the most defining aspect of gameplay in the Battlefield series is the ability to switch between ally characters in an instant. This unit swapping technique allows you to effectively and instantly access different classes of infantry so you can defend against a multitude of attacking styles. By focusing on the character you wish to switch to you can simply warp yourself across the other side of the battlefield, thereby solving another vital issue of how to move around quickly enough. Though this feature is highly effective (and a heck of a lot of fun) the problems you’ll encounter with the friendly A.I. system is almost enough to negate any joy you’ve had with teleportation. You can’t issue any sort of commands to your allies, and they tend to have very little combat common sense. Allies will use copious amounts of precious ammo, have a habit of walking directly into the line of fire, and half the time refuse to take any leads.
Thankfully, the terrible spawning issue that plagued the previous console versions seems to have been taken care of. Well, almost. Enemies no longer materialise out of thin air in the same spawn points, and will now often enter using a more realistic and conventional method of transport (i.e. by air or boat.) With these troublesome gameplay quirks, it’s clear that Battlefield is really made to be played online, effectively getting rid of the need for friendly A.I. entirely.
With online support for up to 24 players, and 16 maps offering the option of capture the flag or conquest style games, there’s plenty of entertainment to be had with the multiplayer features. While the maps might seem smaller than previous Battlefield versions, there’s usually enough room to have a decent scuffle. The maps are superbly created to allow for every type of player, from the ground troops and the snipers to an array of assault vehicles. As almost anyone who’s played a multiplayer game could attest, there’s an overwhelming number of people who choose to be snipers and tend to ignore the teamwork aspect of each battle. While it sure feels powerful to hide up high and pick off the enemy one by one, it ends up basically defeating the concept of a multiplayer game. If you’re going to join an online Battlefield clan, you might as well make use of your teammates, otherwise disconnect your Xbox and stick to the single player campaigns.
On a more positive note, the graphics are pretty sharp thanks to the new generation Xbox. Everything has been given a slight touch up, with a few extra details thrown in here and there for good measure. While it doesn’t make for an astounding change overall, it’s certainly noticeable at times and goes a little way towards justifying this title being released onto the 360.
The Battlefield series has got a long way to come before PC gamers will start to feel threatened by a console version, and Modern Combat on the 360 doesn’t do much to help the cause. Clunky vehicle controls and annoying gameplay worries can get in the way of an otherwise enjoyable single player game. The clear message here is that Modern Combat will be worth your while on the 360 if you intend to spend most of your time enjoying the online multiplayer feature.