Battlefield 2142 holds a special place in my heart because it’s the first shooter I was any good at. I’d been playing the Battlefield series since 1942, but I never had a fast enough (read: non-dialup) internet connection to support online play. In 1942 I used to play at infrequent LAN parties at the houses of my friends. It was amazingly good fun, full of wing riding and jeep ramming, but only happened for a few hours a year.
When Battlefield 2 was released, I saved up my money and eventually was able to purchase it. Even though most of my friends had upgraded to broadband internet around this time, I lived so far away from the nearest town that no broadband would reach me. I used to go over to my friend’s houses to play it, staying up long into the night because I knew that when I returned home I’d be back to playing the lifeless singleplayer. I really relished the time I spent with my friends playing Battlefield 2, but eventually it came to an end when I had to leave the U.S. for university in England.
One of my best friends bought me the Battlefield 2 Gold (vanilla + Special Forces) as a going away present, but I didn’t think I’d have the chance to play it online. Luckily I was wrong and for the first time in my life, due to England’s massively better internet connectivity, I had the opportunity to go play online from my own house, often as late as I wanted. Almost as soon as my house’s internet connection was up, I was struck with a second lucky break — Battlefield 2142 was released! I remember choosing not to pre-order, so that I could just go to a local shop and know for sure I’d have it in my hands. Of course all the nearby shops were sold out and I had to wait a few days for them to restock, but eventually I had the game!
I really liked the future setting of Battlefield 2142. It allowed DICE much more creative freedom, meaning that they could give players floating tanks, easier to fly helicopters and even personal cloaking units. My most favourite memory of 2142 was using the Recon’s cloak on the Fall of Berlin, creeping around until I found a group of unsuspecting victims, then uncloaking and knifing them all! 2142 was the first game where knifing was both quick and rewarding due to the dogtag system, and it’s influenced my play into the Battlefields of today, where I still have more kills with the knife than any other weapon.
The maps of 2142 were also excellent — I have many memories from each map, like epic assaults up the mountain at Cerebere (pronounced Care Bear) Landing, long silent treks through the streets of Camp Gibraltar, and massive drop-pod landings on Titans on Verdun. I still remember every hiding place, every point of defense, and every flag in these maps — some would call this useless knowledge, but I call it a remembrance of love. Each map had a distinctive flavour and allowed many different strategies, something that DICE have long been good at.
These strategies were what allowed me to first consider joining a serious gaming clan. I joined the clan Airborne Combat Brigade late in 2006, and almost immediately joined their league team. I only competed in a few matches, but the level of dedication each member of the squad displayed was admirable. We’d see long and extensive strategy debates in the forums, frequent practice sessions, and then unimaginably exciting league games. Each step made me more and more excited, and if we won our match I’d feel like king of the world. It was a magical time for me, and definitely led to my continued interest in e-sports.
I left the clan eventually, as I couldn’t commit enough time to practice, but I still played 2142 every night. When Northern Strike was announced early the next year, I pre-ordered immediately, not wanting to miss out like I had with vanilla 2142’s release a few months earlier. Northern Strike was a great little expansion, with the new maps being a particular highlight. Assault lines was a very fun mode where attackers had to seize points in order to achieve victory, a clear precursor to the excellent Rush mode in Bad Company. It kept me playing for a lot longer, and allowed me to finally achieve my goal — the highest rank in 2142, Brigadier General. I had never ever been able to play enough to get to the highest online rank in a game before, and achieving it made me much more confident as a player.
In late 2008, I started to play 2142 less and other shooters more frequently. Part of this was necessity, as 2142’s player numbers eventually dwindled, but it was also due to this confidence that I actually had a talent for first person shooters. With no sequel on the horizon (something that confused me greatly… surely 2142 was enough of a success to warrant future PC Battlefield titles?), I switched to the more fast-paced but much less strategic Unreal Tournament series and the strategy game Company of Heroes. I kept hoping for a new PC Battlefield, but it wasn’t until the summer of 2009 that Bad Company 2 appeared. I immediately started writing about the game, and become the administrator of the Bad Company 2 portal on GameReplays.org. It was a long wait, but it was worth it. All of the best parts of 2142 were there — equipment unlocks, knifing, clever and massive maps, a large variety of weapons and vehicles and a wonderful multiplayer community — although cloaking and battle walkers didn’t make the cut, for obvious reasons. I fell in love all over again.
That was a little longer than I expected, but oh well – I’ve got a lot to say about Battlefield 2142! It was a wonderful game, and I hope that one day DICE will be able to go back to the future.