It’s just about time for this better-late-than-never porting business to stop on the Xbox 360. Battlefield 2: Modern Combat is nothing more than a slightly-tweaked version of the (admittedly cool) military shooter we were all playing on the Xbox and PlayStation 2 last year. So if you already played the heck out of it then, you can probably stop reading the review at this point.
Modern Combat’s major tweak is obviously the graphics. While Battlefield isn’t the most impressive looking game on the 360 (especially following games like Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter and Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion), everything does look quite nice. The massive levels are filled with impressive textures and lots of cool fire and explosion effects.
As with earlier versions, the big sell here is the hotswapping - a trick the single-player experience uses in an attempt to emulate the multiplayer madness the Battlefield games were originally built around. Basically, your boys go in as a team, and you can switch at any time from the soldier you're controlling to any other man you can see.
Thus, if you're pinned down by enemy fire, you hotswap to the sniper you see on a nearby rooftop and clear the way, then hotswap back and continue. Now, it works even better - instead of needing to have direct line-of-sight with other units, you can swap with another any time you can see the icon floating above their heads. It does a bit to fix the general chaos of the single-player mode, but still doesn’t help the fact that the game is too arcadey and doesn’t quite emulate the true multiplayer greatness of the PC experience.
The 360 version introduces a new problem, though. Either the artificial intelligence on the enemies has been ratcheted up or your teammates are a special kind of stupid, because the game has gotten a bit too difficult. Finishing some of the missions now is more based on memorizing enemy spawn points and hoping beyond hope that your allies can survive on their own during the battle.
The online aspect is what saves Battlefield 2 on the 360, though it too is pretty much the same as it was in the original Xbox version. Up to 24 people can hop onto a handful of maps to partake in various game types. Of course, unless you get a good group, every mode usually ends up turning into one big deathmatch as people concentrate more on upping their kill counts than working as a team.
Still, the potential for some great multiplayer gaming is here. There’s definitely something cool about being able to play as specific character classes or to jump into and command any vehicle you find in the level (including a 360-only snowmobile). And each arena is very well designed, not usually giving an unfair advantage to any particular class. Motoring around in a Humvee is just as easy and useful as climbing a structure to find a great sniping point.
Again, though, it hurts a bit to have to pay $60 for what is basically a slight upgrade to an old game. These 360 ports have to start coming out simultaneously with their last-gen counterparts. And if not, they need some major value-added features.
Still, if you didn’t get on the Battlefield bandwagon last year, and the community for Modern Combat on the 360 grows to a healthy level, this will be a great alternative if you ever tire of Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter.