Without a doubt, Battlefield 2 is one of the greatest and most well received games in the last 10 years, but it's been a long time since the game was released back in 2005. When it first launched, you needed the best PC just to make it run smoothly but over the years PC specs have improved a huge amount and six years later, EA have come back to the party with a free, cut-down version of Battlefield 2, Battlefield Play4Free.
Battlefield Play4Free is based on a modified version of the Battlefield 2 engine, however you don't need CDs or clients to install, as it is downloaded and started via the browser. Personally, I find it amazing that this is actually an option for a game that just 5 years ago was a epic install. Even the patches were huge! Today though, for the most part, this pared-back, downloadable version is is fairly stable (well for a Battlefield title anyway).
Although the game is a cut-down version, and it's missing some of my most favourite features from the original title, it does bring a few new things to the party. Characters are customisable, you can modify their skin, hairstyle, and facial hair. The game also includes an in-game store, as well as a ranking system.
Battlefield Play4Free allows for 32 player servers, and the gameplay - much like Battlefield 2 - is still great fun. Let's face it, there is a reason BF2 was so popular! It was a damn good game, and Battlefield Play4Free is no different. It runs fairly smoothly, lag was minimal, and there are very few things I can really complain about (and all of these things could be fixed with patches).
I do have a few gripes with the closed beta version I was playing. Firstly, there is no prone, and as a sniper this is really a nightmare! Yes, I'm that player, the one who finds a spot in the middle of nowhere and takes pot shots at anyone that comes in range. I just can't do it in Battlefield Play4Free! Kneeling is ok, but you are still way too visible.
The other main issue I had was skin loading when dead. When this occurs, the screen freezes - this wouldn't be an issue, however it is also where you pick where you spawn, at the base or in the action, It can be a battle just to tick the box, but I'm sure/hope this will be fixed in a new version.
The gameplay is of course very much like Battlefield 2, it's all about taking and holding flags, the more you have, the less chance you have of losing the round. If you are familiar with any of the Battlefield games, you will be very used of the style of gameplay.
Battlefield Play4Free also includes tweaked versions of classic BF2 maps, such as Strike at Karkand and Gulf of Oman. The game includes Air, Ground and Sea units as well as four classes to play including the popular Medic and Engineer.
If you have played Battlefield 2, or any of the the Battlefield series, then you will almost positively enjoy Battlefield Play4Free. It really brings BF2 to a new generation of gamers, and will run smoothly on almost any modern PC. And more importantly than that, it's absolutely free!
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Jimmy the Geek