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Battlefield 2: Modern Combat

Here's a good reason why most PC-centric games don't come to console. They're either too big, too complicated or, more usually, too boring. And that's the way we like it - games that involve the micro-management of tiny
men growing wheat to feed an equally tiny army bread we can do without.

But every so often, along comes a PC-only title that's so mind-numbingly incredible that it would be a great loss to all concerned if it wasn't crowbarred and cajoled from its dull, beige box to take residence in the shiny, happy world of the Xbox. Doom 3 was one, Half-Life 2 another - but the interest surrounding EA's console update of the Battlefield series has been nothing short of astonishing...

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Originally a multiplayer-focussed shooter based around the Second World War, Battlefield offered free-roaming battles for nearly 100 PC gamers at a time, complete with all kinds of gorgeous weapons and vehicles to commandeer. As the inspiration behind titles such as Star Wars: Battlefront it was, and still is, quite literally the bomb. So when Swedish developer DICE announced it was working on an online, multiplayer Xbox sequel we assumed we'd died and gone to heaven.

But the biggest surprise, apart from the fact the WWII setting has been dumped in favour of an all-new modern timeframe, is that EA is completely reworking the game to feature a massive single-player element as well. Yes! Single-player! Not only that, Battlefield creator DICE has almost nothing to do with it, development work on the single-player element being carried out in-house at EA's North-West studio near Manchester. So how does that work then? We asked Chris Gibbs, executive producer of the single-player game, to explain.

"Prior to Battlefield 2: Modern Combat we were pioneering some interesting gameplay ideas on another military project. That's when we took a step back and realised that the Battlefield experience is about all-out war, and we felt that we could deliver this in an awesome single-player game. The guys at DICE have already built a fantastic Xbox Live experience for Battlefield 2 (the 24-player online game is awesome!), but there are still a large number of console owners who don't play online and we wanted to ensure they could enjoy those Battlefield moments too!"

Far from complicating matters, Gibbs has found collaborating with the DICE studio to be a huge benefit, with both teams working closely together to expand the Battlefield universe, while at the same time crafting their own, distinct little bits of it. "Often, a team making both aspects of a game will have to prioritise one side over the other, and consequently the whole game can suffer," explains Gibbs. "With our studios in the UK and DICE, both teams have been able to focus 100 per cent on their area without having to worry about the other side of the game, and that makes a huge difference in the overall quality."

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So if that's one fear dispelled - the one about somebody other than DICE working on Battlefield 2, that is - all we need to know now is how you take the freeform multiplayer combat, huge maps, hordes of soldiers and dozens of controllable vehicles of Battlefield, and turn it into a really solid single-player experience?

Well, a good start would be to give it a coherent plot and plenty of cut-scenes to help immerse players in the story. "Single players have a fully-featured, story-based campaign to follow," Gibbs reveals. "It revolves around a growing conflict in Kazakhstan over land and oil between Nato/US and Chinese forces. You get embroiled in the conflict, and it soon escalates into outright war, with fighting breaking out all over the country. As the missions progress, you get to fight on both sides of the conflict and by use of propaganda from the media you start to question who is really right and wrong. Ultimately you have to make a choice... and then there's a final twist!"

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