Battlefield 2: Modern Combat First Look - Conflict Upgraded

EA and DICE's first iteration of the Battlefield series on consoles is making the leap to the Xbox 360 with a raft of significant improvements.

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Despite its heavily PC-oriented beginnings, Electronic Arts and DICE successfully brought the Battlefield series to consoles last year with Battlefield 2: Modern Combat, and now the developer is retooling that game for a release on the Xbox 360 in March. But luckily for both fans of the original game and those who've never played it before, this new 360 version will be more than a simple port. With retooled missions and weapon mechanics, better physics, and a serious graphical overhaul, the new version promises an experience that will hopefully feel significantly more refined. Indeed, after getting a look at a prerelease version of Modern Combat 360 today, it's pretty obvious that this will be the definitive version of the game once it's finished and released in a few weeks.

To be clear, Modern Combat won't feature any completely new missions on the 360, but all of the missions from the original game will be here, and they've gotten substantial makeovers in a number of respects. Minor level elements like obstacles have been moved around, objectives have been refined, and the flow of the missions should generally feel more streamlined than they did in the first game. In fact, perfecting the single-player game has been a major goal of the designers, who've set about reworking roughly half of the game's missions almost from the ground up. In addition, all of the downloadable content for the Xbox version of Modern Combat is being similarly upgraded and will ship in the box with the 360 version.

Every aspect of the original game, from the graphics to the missions to the physics, has been tweaked or enhanced in some way.
Every aspect of the original game, from the graphics to the missions to the physics, has been tweaked or enhanced in some way.

In fact, the single-player game should have a noticeably different feel for those who played the game on the Xbox or PS2 last year. Modern Combat's popular multiplayer action will remain unchanged in basic mechanical terms on the Xbox 360 version of Live, but the specifics of those mechanics--that is, things like reload speed and movement physics--will now be mirrored in the single-player campaign, which ought to give the two modes a more unified feel. The artificial intelligence for both your teammates and adversaries has also purportedly been enhanced, making them more aggressive and more intelligent about the tactics they use (no more firing pistols against tanks, for instance).

One of the most unique features of Modern Combat's single-player mode was the "hot swap" technique, which let you instantly jump into the shoes of any friendly soldier to whom you had a direct line of sight. The 360 version will improve this feature by removing the line-of-sight limitation--now you'll be able to switch to any soldier within range, regardless of whether or not you can see him. So how do you keep track of available hot-swap targets? Your allies' iconic markers will still be visible through walls, and when you switch to players who are far away from you, the camera angle will attractively fly over the terrain and around any obstacles to drop you into the new soldier's perspective.

Of course, the biggest change to Modern Combat in the move to the 360 will obviously be on the technical end. The game is getting a complete visual overhaul--which should be apparent in our new HD gameplay footage. This will include the replacement of all the original game's art assets, from textures and character models to the levels themselves, with more highly detailed versions. The various factions will all have specific character models now, for instance, and each character class will have visibly unique weapons loadouts. The new character models even have a "war face" of sorts--when they bear down with a heavy weapon, you'll see them snarling or gritting their teeth in the heat of battle.

Look for the Xbox version's downloadable content to be included in the box this time around.
Look for the Xbox version's downloadable content to be included in the box this time around.

The physics in the game have also been heavily upgraded. Almost all objects in the environment are now physically modeled, down to individual bullet casings, which should give the frenzied military action a more believable appearance. Even the ragdoll physics have been enhanced to give downed soldiers more realistic weighting and momentum. Lastly, as you'd expect on the 360, the visuals are full of the sort of lighting and other post-processing effects that give it a next-gen look that's drastically improved over the original.

Speaking of making a marked improvement, Modern Combat looks like it'll be a significantly more cohesive game on the Xbox 360 than it was on the lesser consoles. Will it be so much better that veterans will want to come back for another mission? Stay tuned for our full review in March for that answer, and keep an eye out for new information before then.

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