I have to say that the concept of BF2142 didn't fill me with deep love. It seemed a little obvious somehow - a jump of the shark into the realms of its competitors (UT, Quake Wars et al) that was far removed from the original ethic of its forbears. Initial hands-on impressions didn't help much either. Its bleak, urban feel of a snowy future meant that the whole affair felt quite sparse and featureless, its colour palette well drained of BF2's grime, sand and sun. But then, as so often is the case, my eyes became more fixed and my jaw began to slacken - and I was once more Battlefield's bitch.
As we've previously reported, Battlefield 2142 is very much the Battlefield: Vietnam to Battlefield 2's Battlefield 1942. It's not a true sequel, but a heavily tweaked engine-pal - only this time dragging along with it an exciting new game mode and air vehicles that you don't need a paranormal degree of co-ordination to fly.
My first foray into the Titan mode saw me spawn aboard a massive platform floating above the frosted ruins of a future city - one of the Titans granted to both factions in every bout. The idea runs that players take to bullet-exchanging below the hovering goliaths while attempting to take control of missile silos on the ground - each of which fires off a salvo of death at intervals of two minutes. Missiles are aimed at the Titan of the opposition of whoever is in control of the silo - the ownership of which sways far more wildly than the slow-raising and lowering flags of BF-old.
The map I played had three of these silos, and the start of my game very much revolved around their offence and defence. Or it did for everyone else - much of my personal time revolved around constant futuristic death - by mech, by tank and by the knife of a tricksy backstabber. The pursuit of the latter, interestingly enough, granting my killer a pair of personal dogtags - a new medal for the cabinet that DICE is proffering knife-killers, to make braggers on the internet that much more insanely irritating.
Another new feature, meanwhile, is the way that the game lets you customize your kit on-the-fly - thereby reducing suicide rates map-wide. Once you've unlocked a certain piece of equipment - be it active camouflage for snipers (a Predator-style cloak) or a magnetic vehicle mines, you can select and use them instantaneously. Indeed, the whole kit customisation now allows you to branch out far beyond the rigid classes of yore - or at least that's the current masterplan.
I'M NOT VERY GOOD
While I had been busy dying, however, the enemy had knocked out the shields on my Titan - and boarding and conquering was on the agenda. The enemy Titan was manoeuvred into greater proximity (they're not static you see, they can be piloted by the Commander - giving him a much greater battlefield presence) and jet-pods containing solo players and various enemy aircraft began their airborne infiltration.
I was then cast into a purely defensive role, despite being there, if I'm being honest, more of a human shield capacity than anything more pro-active. In the bowels of the Titan, and feeling more than a little nostalgic for my many months of PlanetSide addiction of times past, it was up to us to defend four terminals - the destruction of which would leave the ship's core exposed and enemy victory conditions open for the taking.
Needless to say we lost, failed, choked and buggered it up - there was no Ice Age-endangered land won for the Pan Asian Coalition that day. I did, however, come away with a growing awareness that a future-set Battlefield isn't such an inherently bad thing after all. I mean, I even managed to fly without crashing in flames to the delighted 'lol's' of my team-mates - what with the future clearly having provided techno-stabilisers for the flight-inept.