Battlefield 2: Special Forces
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It Was Quite a surprise that after playing Special Forces for just a few hours, I'd already had a gaming experience to rival my infamous "flying through the chimneys" tale from the original game. This time yet more aerobatics were involved as I navigated my trusty Mi-24 Hind helichopper around to the blindside of the USS Essex aircraft carrier, before swiftly and surgically piloting the massive aircraft into the relatively small below-deck hangar and unloading a barrage of rockets at friend and foe alike. It was always going to be a suicide mission, and like a small dog who runs down a rabbit hole only to realise he can't turn around, I had no choice but to flip upside-down and explode, killing anybody who'd survived my initial onslaught.
Let it be known that I'm a big Battlefield fan, and I'm by no means disappointed with Battlefield2, insofar as the gameplay is far and away the most fun and intense online shooting-people-in-the-head experience you could hope to have. The subtle blend of teamplay and strategy, the thrill of having a premeditated scheme come together perfectly, the balanced scoring system that makes typically 'boring' classes like medics and engineers far more rewarding, the vehicles, the weighty and substantial feel to the weapons - it all hangs together perfectly. The problem I and possibly every single person who's played the game has is with the interface, the inexcusably long loading times and the bugs - when Battlefield 2 doesn't work, it doesn't work with style, crashing to your Jennifer Lopez desktop, reducing your Alienware to a stuttering, quivering wreck and generally cocking up in weird and wonderful ways. Special Forces does nothing to remedy this, and if you were hoping EA would treat the expansion pack as a mega fix-all patcheroo you will be sorely disappointed. You'll still have a front-end that's as ugly as it is awkward and loading times ample enough to allow you to write a short novel while you wait - it feels like EA is building a new conservatory before finishing the house and then making the fans foot the bill.
Cast those problems to the back of your mind for a moment though, because as with the original, once you get yourself into a game and everything's firing on all cylinders (without exploding or performing illegal operations) you're in for a treat. Special Forces supplies you with eight new maps, some of which are shrouded in a sort of mysterious darkness and require you to use the all-new (and sadly graphically underwhelming) night-vision goggles to see what you're doing. Other maps include The Iron Gator, a fantastic environment featuring the aforementioned USS Essex getting overrun by MEC Special Forces and defended by a skeleton crew of Navy SEALs. Far more comprehensive than the carrier in the original game and boasting no less than six control points, the USS Essex is the crux of the map, balanced in such a way that it's nearly always being defended and causing the two forces to fight in tight, indoor environments. It's definitely the highlight of the expansion, and feels quite removed from anything seen in the original.
Other additions include the already highly anticipated zip-lines and grappling hooks, both of which are hugely versatile and quite useful, especially for snipers looking to get into the perfect positions. Grappling hooks can hook onto almost any ledge and allow for a lot of freedom, though, as we noted in our earlier hands-on with the game, it's still not possible to pick up a grappling hook once used and go on a ninja wallclimbing rampage.
Zip-lines are great fun too, making you feel like a special agent every time you use them to escape danger and making for a much more dynamic, unpredictable game. To round things out, ten new vehicles have been included as well, from hovering doom-bringer Apache helicopters to dinky jet skis, along with new weapons such as tear gas and flashbangs.
Forcing The Point Home
In essence, Special Forces does for Battlefield 2 what Road To Rome did for Battlefield 1942, adding new content (more so than RTR in fact) and simply offering more scope for enjoyment, with tighter, more focused maps. Mercifully, the parts of the game that worked just fine the first time around, such as the commander and ranking systems, have been left untouched, meaning all your finely-honed skills and strategies can be carried over. The fact that Special Forces doesn't fix the problems of the original game is forgivable, as they're just that, problems with the original game -as far as expansions go, Special Forces doesn't disappoint.
Download Battlefield 2: Special Forces
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP