that utopian world where kids never grow up
Up until the point where I actually got to see humvees scooting around the map being manned by sober drivers Modern Combat was on the fast track to a three star rating. Right up until I saw a sniper on my team single handedly lock down a street packed with advancing "reds" that is. Online is where you'll find hours worth of stories to be told, experiences to be shared, and people who will be friends for life... or the life of your Modern Combat addiction anyway.
Before you dismiss me and head back to Halo 2 think about this: on the PC Battlefield 2 is a bloated buggy mess that makes all the issues the Xbox and PS2 versions have had seem like nothing, and yet people play. They play a lot. There is a passion and a dedication to this series that thrives despite all manner of problems. The reason is simple: this game is F-U-N when played online.
Once you're done playing online, or you finally collapse from lack of sleep, you can hit up Electronic Arts' Modern Combat webpage and not only look up leader boards and other such stats, but play around with both the "Game Viewer Tool" and the "Intelligence Tool." The game viewer is what you'd expect from Halo 2's online integration, plus a few advanced features that'll have armchair generals salivating.
real innovation on EA's website is the Intelligence Tool, which despite sounding like an IQ testing device, is probably the best thing they've ever done with their website. Appearing like MS Paint with a dash of official US Army styling the tool allows you to plan out strategies for all of the maps. Truly dedicated teams will probably find it a godsend to organizing exactly how that end game rush will work. Personally all of my plans ended up looking like John Madden on crack scrawlings.
So is it like Halo 2 or something else...
free from the clutches of both the game and its nifty website I found myself staring at my Xbox wondering if I just cheated on a long time "associate." Was it really possible to find fun and enjoyment online with a first-person shooter that didn't have sticky blue balls of death? I mean, Halo 2 is the unquestioned king of console first-person shooters. Not only is it king, it also subs in for queen, prince, and even princess every great once in a while.
And while I love Battlefield 2 on the PC, I had my doubts going in that EA was even going to begin to challenge the reigning god of Xbox shooters. Yet, coming away from Modern Combat I'm pleasantly surprised that there is not only enough room in this town for two online shooters... but that EA and Dice made a real effort to make single-player more than a glorified tutorial for the multiplayer. That they failed in no way lessens the rock-solid online modes.
I can safely give Battlefield 2: Modern Combat a big thumbs up for anyone who enjoys playing team-based first-person shooters online (yes, even if you're a die hard Halo 2 fan). There's something to be found here that one won't find flipping warthogs or stabbing people with three and half foot long energy swords. However, if you're one of those non-Xbox Live gamers there's almost nothing of value in this title for you.