Battlefield: Modern Combat E3 2004 Preshow Impressions

EA and DICE are finally bringing the Battlefield series to consoles with an original game based on modern-day warfare.

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Not surprisingly, 2002's breakout multiplayer hit Battlefield 1942 has now spawned a full-fledged franchise, which began with March's Battlefield Vietnam and will continue in October with Battlefield: Modern Combat, the first version of the series to appear on a console. Currently slated for release on the PS2, the game will throw players into team-based battles reminiscent of previous series entries. However, as the name implies, the setting this time will have you battling with present-day weaponry.

Modern Combat will feature three factions--the United States, China, and a fictional group called the Middle Eastern Coalition. Each side will use modern, real-world equipment and vehicles, such as tanks and helicopters, in an attempt to gain victory. Five player classes will be available: heavy weapons, special ops, engineer, assault, and sniper. Of course, each class will have its own weapons loadout and unique special abilities. For instance, the engineer comes equipped with a shotgun and a rocket launcher, and he can repair vehicles, while the special ops soldier has a silenced MP5, a silenced pistol, and some C4 explosives.

Modern Combat will allow up to 24 players in a game at once, which is a pretty large figure compared to most online PS2 games. This is possible because the game will use a client-server architecture, rather than the peer-to-peer model (which requires a player to host a game) favored by other games. This will certainly allow for games of greater scope, though EA hasn't commented yet on how--or where--the servers for the game will be run. Persistent stat-tracking will be available to reward exemplary performance with higher in-game ranks, which you'll be able to keep and show off between missions. Furthermore, clan support will also be included. The game will even feature Voice-Over-IP support for real-time voice chat using a USB headset, which is becoming a critical feature in team-oriented games such as this.

We only saw one map during our brief demo, but the large maps of the Battlefield games seem to have been adapted nicely to the PS2. We saw one map set in a Chinese city that featured the same varied terrain and wide-open expanses as the PC games. Some of Modern Combat's maps will even include destructible elements. In fact, we actually saw a bridge being demolished, for instance. The game modes will be capture the flag and conquest, which has teams vying to capture and hold control points scattered around the map. An EA representative commented that the standard deathmatch mode has proven unpopular in previous Battlefield games, so it, consequently, won't be supported in Modern Combat.

Battlefield's first foray into console territory is looking pretty sharp at this stage of development, so it should provide a solid online experience for broadband-equipped PS2 gamers come October. Look for more coverage of Battlefield: Modern Combat at E3 and beyond.

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