Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
I liked Battlefield 1942, but I loved Battlefield 2. Trading World War 2 for a modern day setting, BF2 maintained the formula of large maps mixing open terrain and tight urban spaces with vehicles aplenty.
It’s the squad system which made the biggest difference, allowing six soldiers on a team to work together more closely with a squad leader who set them objectives and the ability to respawn on each other’s location.
This meant that the game’s 64-person battles, already good at conveying the scale and chaos and spectacle of war, could now also offer focus to you and your friends. I loved that feeling of being a small part of a larger machine, even if my friends and I were as likely to ignore the team’s overall commander as obey his directives.
Like BF1942, the level design made all the difference. Where DICE’s first multiplayer shooter had Wake Island, BF2 had the excellent Gulf Of Oman, any single part of which could have formed an entire level in another game. Yes, I spent a lot of time sniping from the crane, but also making daring runs across the railway line, offering support from the gas towers, and flying the too-fast-to-be-useful jets fruitlessly out of the mission area.