PC REVIEW: BATTLEFIELD 2: SPECIAL FORCES
Battlefield 2: Special Forces
New vehicles, weapons & gadgets
Intense battles
More Battlefield 2
Slowdown / Load times

It's "Special" but not in that bad kind of "special" way. by Cole Smith

December 5 , 2005 - If it weren't for the word "Battlefield" at the front of this title, most gamers, including myself, would probably pass on this game just because of the generic title. How many games contain the phrase, "Special Forces" in their title? It's so overused that the word "special" now has the same connotations as when it's placed in front of the work "Olympics." Fortunately for this game, the old-school definition of "special" still applies.

There are some stability issues with the game. It suffers from excessive slowdown and occasionally it will freeze. You will want to download the various patches available online and you might want to check into a different server if you're still having problems. Otherwise it's a great expansion pack to an excellent core game. Just be prepared to experience some trouble.

Battles in Special Forces are more discreet and intense than they were in the original sequel. These wars are fought not by large armies but by squads of specially trained infantry using the latest in weapons and military technology. There is less focus on vehicles as most of the skirmishes take place in closed urban environments. Some of the battles take place at night utilizing night-vision technology. Ranging from stealth missions to full-blown assaults the dynamics of the gameplay are sure to keep players glued to their screens to see what happens next. Once you learn everything, it's off to the online modes where you can have a real blast.

You can choose from any of six different factions including the Middle Eastern Coalition, Marines and of course the Russians and British forces. There really isn't much difference playing as either the good guy or the bad guy. Although there are a few basic fundamental differences, such as weapons, all of the factions that are paired together are very equally matched. Not all of the factions are equally matched however and that's why you can't mix them in with different maps. There are eight new maps, and while there are a variety of locations including an airfield, space port, island and aircraft carrier, you are guaranteed to encounter and experience all of the different factions. The only downside is that you're forced to play different factions and you can't adopt one or two of your favorite to take into the various battles.

Although the vehicles are downplayed, especially the tanks, there are a few new ones available including a four-wheeler, a converted truck, jet skis and a chopper. These vehicles are used for transport and not necessarily as mobile armored weapons. You can see that even with the new gadgets there is some element of risk to using this equipment which makes it more realistic. Grapples allow you to climb buildings and reach rooftops that are otherwise inaccessible but this is a slow process and leaves you open to enemy fire should you be spotted. The zip line is must faster but it requires that you also remain in the open, often directly overhead of the enemy.

Other new weapons such as the flashbang and the tear gas grenade are in danger of being overused. Online you can expect to see a lot of these things going off. The tear gas grenade temporarily blinds you with a thick cloud of smoke. It can be used for stealth operations but only in instances where you can make a quick getaway since all the enemy has to do is fire into the cloud. A gas mask can be used to alleviate the effects of the chemicals but it comes at the expense of stamina. The flashbangs are not as devastating. Their effective radius is smaller which means you have to hit an enemy dead on. Aiming them precisely requires a lot of practice and you have to make sure you time them well. Perhaps I shouldn't mention this but a handful of them can take a chopper out of the sky very efficiently. This will result in a suicide score for the opposite team unless you shoot at it while it's coming down.

Battles will be fought on water, in the air and on the ground where you will encounter a variety of terrain from forest to burned out cities. The SEALS have night maps which are challenging in more than a few ways. You have to sneak around using night-vision goggles. They bathe everything in a sickly green glow and since they run on batteries they will eventually drain requiring you to sit around and wait until they recharge. You also won't be able to see when you come into a lighted area since it amplifies light to such a degree that it's blinding. You'll constantly be toggling them on and off.

In one mission you'll be playing as the Middle Eastern Coalition where you will attempt to take over an aircraft carrier from the American Navy SEALS. To say this thing is huge would be an understatement. It's like a damn airport, warehouse and shopping mall all built into one. You can expect the same for all maps, as they are also very large but it's easy to take them for granted since you expect a city to be massive. Something you might notice is that some of the buildings and portions of the city are taken directly from Battlefield 2. If you don't notice, disregard that last sentence - but now that you already know that, I don't know how you're going to forget you know it.

Both single-player and multi-player modes share the same maps, although you can only access six in the single-player mode as opposed to eight in the multi-player. The single-player mode uses AI characters in place of human-controlled ones. The AI is a mixed bag with bot of varying levels of intelligence. It only prepares you for the online experience by familiarizing you with the environments and getting some experience with the weapons and vehicles. The chopper is a lot more user-friendly this time around but as I mentioned, it can be taken down quite easily if you're buzzing around the enemy like an annoying mosquito.

Don't expect much in the way of improved graphics or audio. What you can expect is that the more stuff that appears onscreen, the slower the framerate. To play this game without bugs will require some work on your part. If you're a fan of Battlefield 2 then you know it's worth the effort. The load times can be horrendous and even exiting the game can be a gut-wrenching experience since the music continues to play and you may find your PC unresponsive for a couple of minutes as the game doesn't seem to want to let you go. Could be a sign of desperation. Hopefully by the time you read this most of the bugs will be worked out.

Features

  • New Elite Forces - Join the world's most elite and deadly forces: SEAL, SAS, Russian Spetsnaz, MEC Special Forces, Rebel, or Insurgent, each with its own arsenal and tactics.
  • The War Widens - Adapt your strategy to the terrain as you vie for control of eight all-new locations.
  • Storm Into Battle - Take control of a variety of new vehicles including the Desert Raider, Combat ATV, Jet Ski, and Apache Longbow.
  • Tools of the Trade - Special Forces weapons and gadgets include zip lines, grappling hooks, tear gas, and flash-bang grenades.
  • Under Cover of Dark - Dynamic lighting and low light vision bring stealth and tactics to the battlefield, allowing you to hide in the dark or get the drop on enemies with night vision goggles.
  • Control Your Environment - Capture key tactical points and then use the new 'trigger system' to strategically open and close gates, doors, and more.

By Cole Smith
CCC Staff Writer

Rating out of 5
Battlefield 2: Special Forces
4.2
Graphics
Sure they're recycled but they're still pretty.
3.8
Control
Lost some major points due to the slowdown and we're playing with more than the minimum requirements.
3.5
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
We'll go so far to say it's all very decent.
4.5
Play Value
Offline and online campaigns will guarantee a good time.
4.1
Overall Rating - Good
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
System: PC
Dev: Digital Illusions
Pub: EA
Release: Nov 2005
Players: 1 - multi online
Review by Cole

Review Rating Legend
1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor
2.5 - 2.9 = Average
3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
3.5 - 3.9 = Good
4.0 - 4.4 = Great
4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
5.0 = The Best