Having poured recent waking hour into Battlefield 2142 (and some hours in which I was only partially conscious), I can safely say that while it's not an enormous leap for the series, this futuristic sequel is by no means a standalone mod.
Calling it Battlefield 2.5 would be a mite too harsh, whereas calling it part of a new generation of online shooters would be an accolade not entirely deserved. You could say it's doing to Battlefield 2 what BF: Vietnam did to Battlefield 1942, though this game works far better than DICE's previous attempt to extend the life of a Battlefield engine. Instead, BF2142 is a brilliant rethink of the Battlefield armoury, a refreshing new way of playing a classic game, with one undeniably fantastic new game mode.
INTERFACE THE FACTS
Let's start with exactly what happens when you double-click the Battlefield 2142 desktop shortcut you've probably placed, like a minesweeper flag, on the bit of your Jessica Alba wallpaper where you guessed her nipple would be, because it's right after booting up Battlefield 2142 that the first changes become apparent. The server list which once refused to acknowledge any of your requests while it took an age to update has been replaced by a silky-smooth and far more usable server list. Logging in is painless, and the time between clicking a menu button and something happening onscreen has been reduced from days to fractions of a second. It's taken 136 years, but finally it all just works.
How bizarre is it that we have to start a review of this game by saying that the menu system actually works? It still takes a moment to load the menu screen when you hit the escape key during a game, but we'll let the developers off on that count.
The year is two thousand, one hundred and forty-two, and things have changed since you first flew a Spitfire into a control point on Wake Island 200 years ago. The world is being overrun with terrorist glaciers as a new ice age dawns. Two factions, the EU and the Pan Asian Coalition, both of which are distinctly not American (not a sign of the US anywhere in fact), fight for control of the only unfrozen bits of planet left.
Somewhere along the timeline, scientists have made some very important decisions - namely that some tanks should be allowed to hover, planes should have fewer wings and be more hover-y, and absolutely massive airships should hover high above the battlefields. (Can you spot the theme?)
Other decisions made by these scientists suggest they've been watching lots of great sci-fi movies. So, guns are bulkier and give off bluish muzzle flashes, while Recon soldiers can use cloaking systems to turn invisible - but only for a while, and only as long as they hold down a button. Also, giant bipedal tanks dominate the playing field. Welcome to the future, soldier.
Mechs, walkers, great stomping metal bastards, whatever you want to call them: driving one is empowering, like riding a giant mechanical T-Rex. The disturbing sight of an Engineer running between your legs to launch something, anything, at your crotch (yes, that's actually your weak spot), or to stick bombs to your precious legs is something that no other vehicle in the series has provided. Long-range combat with tanks is another danger, and particular attention needs to be paid to the skies, as a well-aimed missile attack from above will put an end to your 20ft adventures. Your secondary weapon, however, is a payload of anti-aircraft EMP missiles, so justice flies in two directions where walkers are concerned.