BF2142 coupled with Northern Strike and SP mods provides "endless" futuristic FPS fun.
BF2142 is, to my mind, essentially BF2 set in the future, but do not expect much in the way of a back story as to how the frozen world becomes divided into two competing coalitions. The various third-party/fan-created mods make BF2142 a highly re-playable, futuristic first person shooter (FPS). I do prefer story driven single player (SP) games and have only rarely ventured into online multiplayer (MP) so BF2142, out of the box, is arguably an awkward fit for someone like me. Also the capture - hold - recapture gameplay dynamic of the SP version of BF2142 would normally become quite repetitive after an hour or so.
But with the large number of mods and fan created mission maps and the ability top play for either faction, the vast array of weapons, the ability to drive/operate a variety of vehicles (including Star Wars-like "battle-walkers"), and the fact that one is never out of the action for long makes this game akin to eating peanuts ... it's hard to stop. This is not unique to BF2142 all the Battlefield-series games have this addictive quality as its easy to "jump in" and play once installed and optimised.
Optimisation of graphic settings in particular is essential as, like BF2, BF2142 is graphics intensive and prone to unexplained crashes and lock-ups. Surprisingly some of the mods, notably NX-Offline, seem to be more stable than vanilla BF2142. That said the gameplay nature of BF2142 is not adversely impacted by the occasional crash as there is no underlying narrative that needs to be replayed; just clear the shader cache and restart the game, pick your troop kit and spawn point and your up and running again. It's probably worth mentioning that the EA registry link for the Deluxe version has been superseded (ie does not work) and you need to go through a bit of a process involving EA Origin to complete installation. For the majority of my play I firewall-block BF2142 from accessing the internet and play offline SP (or LAN co-op) by preference.
A feature unique to BF2142, in the pre-Bad Company Battlefield-series of games, is the large number of unlockable weapons, which strangely include grenades. This presents a problem to someone who does not play online MP as it is ostensibly only possible to unlock weapons that way. This would limit the SP experience to wielding a knife, pistol, main weapon (sniper rifle, assault rifle, MG or rocket launcher) and extra ammo, med-kit or mines; hardly a full suite of weaponry for an futuristic, or indeed any, FPS. Thankfully SP fans of BF2142 have created a mini-mod that unlocks all the weapons for offline SP play and these include some interesting futuristic weapons systems. While vanilla BF2142 Deluxe is a good game in its own right it is the third party, single player, mods (most of which include a weapons unlock mini-mod) and mission maps that make the game truly enjoyable for one who rarely ventures online. A number of the fan mods allow you to set the number and difficulty of the enemy AI bots the lack of which is an oversight in vanilla BF2142.
My review of BF2142 is based on a SP play through of all the official EA missions/maps as both sides against AI bots and indeed many of the mission maps in the numerous mods. BF2142 SP missions are focused on capturing and/or defending objectives and have no narrative (apart from the usually extremely brief mission briefing screen which gives you the setting). The missions, while overwhelmingly generic, do offer a good variety of weapons, once unlocked, and vehicles, vessels, and aircraft to try and maps in varied terrain to explore. An aspect of BF2142 that I could not fully experience is the so-called Titan Mode whereby you and fellow online buddies can storm an enemy Titan, a massive "floating carrier" once its defense shields are down and destroy its power system and automatically win the mission. Alas for the single player there is no full Titan Mode experience, with enemy bots onboard defending the Titan, but there are a couple of "Titan Lite" mods around whereby you can spawn on a friendly Titan and enter an empty (AI bot-less) enemy Titan.
Like the other Battlefield-series titles, the "missions" in BF2142 require you to attack enemy bases (flags) and defend friendly and captured bases (flags). There is no need to look deeper as that is all there is to the Battlefield-series games. You select the battle (or mission map), adjust the difficulty, pick your side, pick your troop kit from among recon/sniper, assault, engineer or support/MG, and spawn point and away you go.
Simple, beer and pretzels stuff. Simple enough. That said, it is great FUN, though far from realistic for an infantryman, to jump on board and drive a hover tank or battle-walker and fire its main gun and man a subsidiary weapon or pilot a futuristic gunship (without helo rotors, much like those in the movie Aliens). I preferred playing as one of the various infantrymen types in intense man-on-man combat or as a tank driver/gunner rather than trying to fly any type of aircraft. Note that vanilla BF2142 only allows you to play 16-player maps in its SP and LAN co-op modes, whereas the mods will allow up to 64-player maps to be played.
The weapons load-outs, like other Battlefield-series games, vary for each troop type and as noted the weapons unlock mini-mod provides you with a kitchen sink of weaponry for each troop type. Each troop kit has its own particular capabilities in addition to the weapons carried, for example the medic can heal wounds and the engineer lay mines or repair vehicles. The various troop kits can also be changed before each re-spawn so if you are being overwhelmed by enemy tanks then re-spawning as an anti-tank or engineer (mines and explosive charges) may be good choices. You can also pick up the troop kits of deceased ally and enemy troops which can be handy as you tend to burn through ammo quite quickly in the (seemingly endless) firefights. You can also call for aid from assault troops which carry medic kits, heavy weapons guys who carry spare ammo of all types, engineers for repairs and backup in general.
Once you have played and replayed all the maps and both factions in vanilla BF2142 you may feel like "mission accomplished", well the good news is there are plenty of BF2142 mods and mission maps freely available on the internet, not as many as for the redoubtable BF2, but I have played various maps from the following mods, with favourites marked*:
o NX-Offline* (a Brazilian-made mod and separate map-pack) - which, apart from the loading screen music selection (easily disabled), is the perfect "one stop shop" including all the vanilla maps, fan maps, popular maps adapted from earlier Battlefield-series games, includes the weapons unlock mini-mod. Does not include the reduced hits to kill found in the HER mod. Very stable.
o First Strike (currently v1.5) - essentially a Star Wars mod and quite good with laser rifles, walkers, speeder bikes, sand crawlers, tie-fighters, etc to channel your inner Luke Skywalker or Han Solo on authentic Star Wars maps like Tatooine, Endor Hoth and limitless space itself and all those sound effects we love. Excellent maps and AI tweaks make this a must for the Star Wars and FPS fan alike. I found accessing this mod via the vanilla BF2142 Community option rather than the shortcut generated by the installation worked better. Stable and very active online as well.
o HER (mod and map-pack) - an acronym for the Hajas Extreme Realism mod which to my mind makes this hypothetical futuristic game "more realistic" as in vanilla BF2142 it can take up to 10 or so assault rifle hits to bring down a soldier, whereas the HER reduces this to 1-3 hits depending on the weapon, it also includes a blood effect (which is absent in vanilla BF2142) and various AI tweaks. Great mod for fast and furious action. Does not include the weapons unlocks, but this can be retrofitted. Any map can be added to this mod and it works fine. Very stable.
o HER Titan* - as above but incorporates the Titan Lite II Mod (also available separately) which allows "limited" play of the Titan Mode ... limited in the sense that the enemy Titans are not manned by enemy AI bots but the Titan "take down procedure" is essentially the same as it is if playing the MP version. You can also man the Titan weapons systems on your sides Titan (at the consoles adjacent to the gunship landing dock) as well as take of in the gunship or air transports. HER Titan does include the weapons unlocks. Stable.
o FFOLKES Unlock* - mini-mod which as the name suggests unlocks of all the otherwise locked weapons for each troop kit. Version 1.2c (despite the version name) works with vanilla BF2142 v1.51 and you can add any map to its "Levels" folder. Please use this and other mods with unlocks (or pre-installed rank promotions) only for your own SP or LAN enjoyment not online ranked MP.
o Single Player Mini-Mod (currently v1.5.2)* - a stable mod that allows for a great SP experience due to AI tweaks. If you copy the maps into the FFOLKES "Levels" folder you will have hours of SP fun. Stable.
o Northern Strike Single Player Mod - pretty much superseded by the above listed mods which all include the Northern Strike maps.
These and other BF2142 mods can be found all over the internet but a good safe place to find them is at www.moddb.com and at the German website www.bf-games.net which seems to have the most up to date versions of the mods mentioned above. New mods or updates or patches to existing mods seem to appear regularly at moddb and bf-games usually before they show up at the various mirror sites (like planetbattlefield.com), so its worth checking back now and then. Also worth checking for all your Battlefield -series single player requirements is the aptly names battlefieldsingleplayer.com site. For Battlefield
veterans adding maps from one mod to another mod is pretty straightforward, but if you are uncomfortable messing with the system I recommend NX-Offline which as noted is really a one-stop shop.
Once you are "in the zone" BF2142 becomes an enjoyable experience and the bots in SP mode have much improved AI over their earlier pre-BF2 Battlefield-series games like BF1942 and BFV. Also some of the mods have AI tweaks, allowing you to set the number of bots and the difficulty level, that make the game even more challenging.
OVERALL: BF2142, like BF2 and its predecessors, provides hours of fun on well detailed maps that are representative of the hypothetical futuristic battles they portray. Each mission, or more appropriately map, while unique pretty much follows the same backwards and forwards capture, defend, and recapture dynamic. Still BF2142 and its add-ons remain a good time filler when you need a FPS fix and it'll keep your eye and trigger finger well tuned.
Nowadays it is recommended to buy the vanilla BF2142 as you get the Northern Strike booster for free as part of the v1.51 patch.