The envelope arrived on my doorstep with no great fanfare, and even upon opening it and finding Battlefield 2: Modern Combat, I found nothing on the cover that spoke to me. Perhaps it was speaking, but who could hear it with the continuous roar on the Xbox that is Halo 2? There is no beating around the bush, for me, there can be only one. So the question as I fired up Dice's first console entry in the Battlefield series: is there enough room for two online first-person shooters on the Xbox?
Wait... we have to load... the next... section
The first words out of my mouth were: "Loading screen? I have to sit though a loading screen to get to the main menu!?" If only I had known then that there would be many more loading screens to come. No one can accuse Electronic Arts and Dice of not cramming as much of the Battlefield experience onto a single disc, but we can certainly wish they'd given more though to menu layouts and loading times.
what you want about the cutscene graphical pop-up problem in Halo 2 but try going from that to a game where you have to wait through a loading screen so that you can wait through a loading screen. Once I got past my issues with games that have loading screens just to get to a menu I quickly selected single player campaign, created a new save file, and jumped into the action... after waiting through a loading screen of course.
Have you ever had the pleasure of playing one of the Tom Clancy: Splinter Cell games? You know how Ubisoft likes to drive the story by way of short CGI videos of "fake" news programs? Well, it seems that Electronic Arts loves Splinter Cell. Only the short videos in Modern Combat make the confusing newscasts of Splinter Cell look like Emmy award winning presentations.
It's all good though because I just pounded on the "A" button until the game finally handed me a gun and pointed me in a direction. Not that I could see anything because it was really dark, snowing, and there were about a zillion on-screen display items I found myself trying to understand. It quickly became apparent that Electronic Arts did everything in their power to make sure that the single-player mode of Modern Combat would not be referred to by gamers as "just a tutorial mode for multiplayer."
Failing... beautifully. Hit the [button] to perform [the action]
Running around shooting "reds," who by the way despite being red are not communists, and watching the "blues" capture the town square reminded me an awful lot of playing Battlefield 2 on the PC and capturing a flag. Only here there was a story, and the "reds" weren't really "reds" but some rebels. The game just highlights them red because that's how one makes multiplayer easier: "Always shoot the guy with the red name over his head!"
It doesn't help that many of the early missions place you firmly in the shoes of a particular class. My mind races back to the first time I loaded up a sniper rifle, about three missions in, to play an expensive digital version of "whack-a-mole" with human beings. The whole mission plays out from three rooftops as thugs pop up again and again in the surrounding streets and buildings. I must commend the generic terrorists; despite watching ten of their friends go down in one shot, they find the gusto to run out into the open and fire wildly into the air.
It was here that the "hotswap" feature introduced in my first mission started to make more sense. Because the AI isn't really all that, and because single-player can only support about 7-8 NPCs... you find yourself swapping bodies in order to improve the killing efficiency of your side. So for the whack-a-mole mission I had to "hotswap" into other crack-shot snipers in order to ensure that they didn't get their heads blown off by terrorists who earned their storm trooper marksmanship merit badge.