Genre: First Person Shooter
Year: 2005
Developed by: DICE
Published by: EA Games
Platforms: PC
Feeling Like: In the trenches

In my Battlefield 3 entry, I mentioned the grand appeal of the franchise was playing shoulder to shoulder with friends during LAN parties. It’s indescribably fun and rare, and tied to a very select group of games. I was about to write, with confidence, that Battlefield 2 didn’t ever give the opportunity to shine like Battlefield 1942 or Battlefield 4 did…but now I’m not so sure.

Eighteen years is a long time and as I crawl my way through this enormous list, certainties become uncertain and memories I had about a particular title seem to weave in and out of a crowd of other games.

Battlefield 2 was released at the beginning of a phase that’s become tradition when it comes to online multiplayer shooters. It’s not enough that players can enter a digital playground virtually lag free, or that the game keeps meticulous stats of every match. With this one, you could unlock better weapons and gear the more you played. The more you played, the more honed your skills were. If you happened to run into anybody with a frightening amount of gameplay time, you were doomed on two fronts.

Or at least, I was. I can’t hit a barn if I was inside it.

So we have me, with an inability to shoot a moving target with any frequency, uncertain as to what circumstances I even played Battlefield 2 under the oncoming wave of microtransactions and RPG-like progression in a multiplayer game. I am as unprepared now to justify placing this game so high on the 500 as I was then trying to be a useful asset to my team.

I picked the medic class, because I will always gravitate towards healing somebody instead of shooting them. One of the reasons is, generally, my target will run to me instead of hide and they tend not to fire back as our goals align. I wasn’t a smart player; I’d constantly dive into an open area under enemy fire if I had even the slightest chance of reviving somebody. Wouldn’t it make more sense to risk our lives in a situation where we’re covered, either by a wall or by teammates? Of course, but as I said before, I’m not very good at this. Scott and Eric tried their best to carry me. It was a relief when they logged on and joined me, at the very least I knew those two would forgive my transgressions.

The Commander mode was a brilliant addition and if I had any sort of patience or communication skills, I would’ve stuck to that role instead. As the Commander, you’re given an omnipotent view of the area. The main goal is to execute commands and give orders to your squad. The game turned into a real time strategy, with the ability to call in artillery strikes, or drop in vehicles and supplies. It was given to the player of the highest rank, so I only got to try it a few times, but it was so well implemented and fresh that they included in subsequent Battlefield games. I lament not experimenting with it more.

What I am certain about is how goddamn long the matches took to load. Online infrastructure was improving, but this was nearly two decades ago and I remember matchmaking, ensuring your friends were on the same team and locating a map you wanted to play on was maddening. Games would often start before the teams were balanced, or there would be something screwy with the servers. I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been for the developers, but I also know that EA was at the helm and I can’t help but assume production was rushed before Battlefield 2 was truly ready.

I’ve spent most of this entry lamenting, but when the stars aligned it was pure magic. Having a Commander whisper in my ear to bank left and flank an enemy made me feel like I was in an actual combat scenario. My adrenaline at times was off the charts and it was impossible not to be sucked in. The effort to get to these precious moments keeps Battlefield 2 from being any higher, but the core experience keeps it from being any lower. Regardless of my failure to recall specific details, I do remember that.

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