Battlefield 2: Modern Combat E3 2005 Hands-On

We go to war with a one-level demo of EA's upcoming first-person shooter for PlayStation 2 and Xbox.

During a recent visit to Electronic Arts' E3 booth, we were able to get our hands on one-level demos of Battlefield 2: Modern Combat for both the PlayStation 2 and the Xbox. The demo level was set in Kazakhstan, and saw us entering a town to destroy five water towers within five minutes.

Starting out on a hill overlooking the town, we could see that a number of our colleagues (represented by blue icons that varied according to their profession) were already busy getting into position. Snipers were getting into good vantage points, engineers and assault teams were heading into town, tank drivers were engaged in battles with enemy tanks, and helicopter pilots were flying overhead dropping off paratroopers.

Rather than walk all the way into town we decided to take advantage of one of Modern Combat's coolest features: assuming control of a different soldier. Jumping to a new character in Modern Combat really couldn't be any easier--you look roughly in his direction so that his icon is highlighted, and then you press a button. At this point, the first-person camera flies through the air toward your chosen character and, before you know it, you'll be controlling him. This technique can be used to assume control of any one of your colleagues, regardless of what they're up to at the time. Snipers, helicopter pilots, tank drivers, and even paratroopers falling through the air can all be jumped into at any time.

The first time you see Battlefield 2: Modern Combat, it could easily be mistaken for a hardcore military simulation, simply because of the way it looks, and because you're not assuming the role of a one-man army. The game is actually best played at a brisk pace, though, and goes out of its way to reward you for doing so. If you kill a number of enemies in quick succession, for example, you'll activate a score multiplier, and you might even find yourself benefiting from power-ups such as an extended health bar. The points that you accumulate (and multiply) can be spent on upgrading your equipment between missions, so even if you're more comfortable playing the game at a relatively sedate pace, you'll actually be making subsequent missions harder for yourself. Many of the game's missions will also be played against a strict time limit, so taking a strategic approach won't even be an option.

We really enjoyed our time with Battlefield 2: Modern Combat, and we're looking forward to bringing you more coverage of the game as its November release date approaches.

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