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Project Reality 0.5 for Battlefield 2

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  • Project Reality 0.5 for Battlefield 2

    Game Review – Project Reality 0.5
    Written by E-male.


    This is a non-technical review that will not explore all features of Project Reality beta version 0.5 (PR.5), as many features of this Battlefield 2 (BF2) mod are undergoing extensive tweaking in this stage of its beta release. My main concern here is to ascertain the degree to which the game fits in with the Tactical Gamer community style of play. My final conclusion is that Project Reality represents a significant advance in the growing field of BF2 mods and provides the Tactical Gamer community with an advanced level of reality simulation without compromising overall gaming pleasure and 'playability'.

    A Brief History of Reality in Battlefield 2

    Reality is the main contribution of Project Reality to the Battlefield 2 universe. Without question, the last significant addition to the Tactical Gamer community was Point of Existence (PoE), a BF2 mod that added great new maps and eliminated some of the worst features of the original BF2 ‘vanilla’ (unmodified) maps. TacMod (an earlier BF2 mod) also attempted to add more realism to the game, but stalled when the development team fell apart. Point of Existence advanced game play by eliminating some of the God-like capabilities of the commander role, vastly reducing the killing power of artillery by making it less available, and made infantry more effective against air power. These changes had the overall effect of allowing for more use of strategy by squads and reduced the overly high death rate that was experienced by players in the original BF2.

    I am not sure what was the intended meaning of the title, ‘Point of Existence,’ but PoE certainly made survival the point of the game. In the original Battlefield 2, mass killing, mob-like game play, and unrealistic survival capabilities (‘I shot that guy four times and he did not die’) made any implementation of complex tactics next to impossible. PoE made existence and complex strategy more feasible and as a result, altogether ended the reign of vanilla BF2 within the Tactical Gamer community. Clearly, the Tactical Gamer community wanted more, not less, reality in this virtual realm. Project Reality appears to be answering a demand for a higher level of real-world simulation in the BF2 universe. Thus your taste for realism in gaming will greatly determine whether or not Project Reality will be a new addiction. Clearly, it has already addicted many Tactical Gamer old-timers. The following will briefly explore some of the aspects of Project Reality that have put more reality in this very interesting mod project.

    The Fog of Reality

    The first time you play Project Reality you will notice the biggest change that this mod brings to the game – uncertainty. Name tags that hover above players in-game and identify enemies and friendly forces are now only immediately visible if you are near the other individual. By making in-game name tags less visible at a distance, Project Reality cleaned up the screen – we see more of the game – and added a crucial missing element in PoE, the fog of war.

    When another person is about forty or more feet away (across a street, for example) only by holding your gun sites on that player for a few seconds will their identity be revealed. Thus, at a distance it is not immediately obvious as to whom is or is not an enemy target. Those few seconds usually mean the difference between life and death if you are staring at an enemy. Initially, as we all became acquainted with this feature, team kills went through the roof, although now that happens no more often than in PoE, and perhaps less so.

    This is the one feature that takes the most getting used to, but it is also the one new feature that is most responsible for making the game more life-like. A less easy-to-identify enemy (or friendly) means that one must maintain a much higher situational awareness. The game now rewards staying in proper attack formations and punishes the lone wolf with the fog of war. There is a learning curve to this feature, but it is a worthwhile addition. One is much more apt to hear your squad members shout out ‘friendly’ if fire is directed at the wrong target.

    Mobile Spawn Points

    Squad leaders can now place a spawn location (in this instance it is called a ‘rally point’) once they have at least four members in their squad. This makes for more longevity, adds the element of hunting down enemy rally points, and adds greater variety to a game such as Point of Existence that can become highly predictable when elite players know all the spawn points and special hiding places.

    A rally point set by a squad leader. Note that at rally points you can select a variety of kits and weapons. Enemy rally points can be destroyed when discovered.

    There are limitations to how close a squad leader may get to a friendly or enemy flag before setting a rally point, and how frequently they can be set, but this innovation is a welcome change and helps reduce the amount of time a squad spends retracing the same ground back to a target after being wiped out. Squad leaders must first acquire an officer kit before they can set a spawn point. At first it is easy to forget this, but a good squad will often remind squad leaders about such details. I will not go over all such new technical issues and features herein, as the best way to learn is to simply play the game. Join up with an experienced Tactical Gamer squad, and ask questions.

    On a related note, one must acquire specific kits for specific tasks, such as the crewman kit for driving armour. Some of these additions are a bit strained and add little to the realism of the game, while others, such as the officer kit, serve to limit the ability to create rally points to only those that should have them – squad leaders with squad members.

    Asymmetrical Warfare

    Along with the fog of war, the Project Reality development team is to be congratulated for adding to Battlefield 2, for the first time, truly asymmetrical warfare. This is seen on the Al Basrah map, which is quickly becoming a favourite among TGers. Mirroring the conditions seen in the recent invasion of Iraq, in the Al Basrah map the Insurgents fight an urban war and have absolutely no air power. Yet, also mirroring the realities of the same war, this lack of air power does not give the American forces a guaranteed victory.

    At present the air power is a bit overwhelming and is being tweaked, with more damage power being given to Insurgent anti-air weapons in the next update. This map also has a substantial scale (like many of the PR maps, it is much larger than most PoE maps) and is nicely designed. Indeed, Project Reality should be played merely to experience all the new nicely textured and well designed maps (while I would love to expound upon the details of the new maps, I’ll leave it to readers to experience them first hand).

    A More Deadly Reality

    Project Reality has also made infantry weapons more deadly. This encourages everyone to work together, be more cohesive as a squad, and treat the enemy’s gun with more respect. This feature demands more care when advancing, reduces the amount of senseless running around, eliminates the ‘lone wolf’ problem, and injects more reality into game play. Gone also are the messages that indicate whom you have killed, or who has killed you, which is good, as death is not in the business of providing obituaries. Yes, it was fun to know that you killed a buddy on the enemy team, but c’est la vie. Gone also are the kill messages. The only way to be certain that you have actually eliminated your target is to do a body count – thus more reality.

    Other Features

    There are many other changes to the game within Project Reality, all of which are designed to achieve a better simulation of reality. As the official guide to PR notes, “Nearly everything has been tweaked to reflect its real life counterpart, and to simulate how it would perform in real life. From armoured vehicles to jeeps, to small arms, to aircraft; everything in and on the battlefield has been tweaked to realistically perform while reflecting its real life counterpart.” Other new changes to the game are limited availability of certain kits, back blast (potentially deadly) from light anti-tank weapons, new levels of vehicle damage, and a new way of experiencing pain and suffering:
    ‘In Project Reality we have introduced a “bleed” effect. After your health depletes to a certain level you will slowly lose health until you die. This can be countered by using the field dressing or by finding a medic with a medical aid bag. The coughing will become more aggressive as you lose health until you are just about to black out, when you will notice an unconscious like effect appearing across your screen. We have also introduced a reaction to bullets, so now when you are shot there is the possibility that your character will be thrown back, and a “tunnel effect” can be noticed across the screen.’

    Note how the edges of the screen are red and the view is blurry – an indication of poor health. Note also the clean screen – gone are all the annoying text messages.

    Also noteworthy, is the major change in how spawn points function in the game: “The default Battlefield 2 spawn system has been completely overhauled and reconfigured so that you will now have to rely on your squad leaders, the newly added ‘Rally Points’, and APC’s for forward spawn points on the battlefield. You heard right, spawn points have gone mobile!” This has added more flexibility and more uncertainty to the game. Winning is now less a matter of elite players simply anticipating the game logic.

    Also added are destructable environments (one map only thus far), a new vehicle damage system, “If you are in a tank and take damage from an anti-tank round, you may loose the ability to rotate your main turret or one of your tracks may become damaged rendering you immobile,” and a new game logic called Advance and Secure (AAS): “In this game mode, each team battles over a ‘group’ of control points (flags) at any given time. A team must capture the entire group of control points before moving on to the next designated group of control points. A ‘group’ of control points can have as little as one control point in them, or as many as 5. One should expect fierce battles erupting over those flags, with very concentrated action where you get both a lot of attack and defense!”

    Not all these features will be equally welcomed by all, but it easy to see that Project Reality has attracted a substantial fan base. While Tactical Gamer’s PoE server only gets populated in the early evenings, the PR server is almost always full, day and night. My point here is not to claim that PR is a better game than PoE (after all, I don’t wish to start a war…), but that it is the same game with some great new features, some controversial features, and some that are still being tweaked in this beta stage. You may have to turn your video settings down to medium to get the best performance, but the sacrifice is worth it. All in all, Project Reality is an excellent contribution to Tactical Gamer’s community and culture. The Project Reality mod development team is a fine example of how the Internet enables a once passive audience to actively participate in the production of media culture, but that is another subject.

    When I first tried Project Reality, I hated it. Too confusing, too buggy, too laggy, too deadly. Now I bounce between PR and PoE torn between the attraction of reality and the hyperreal in the virtual worlds of online gaming. C’est la hyper-vie.


    Related Resources

    How to Get Started With Project Reality Mod.

    Project Reality Player Guide

    Project Reality Video Guides

    Technical Notes

    Some of the forthcoming changes in the next version of this mod (which is still in its beta test release):

    Lag and server crashes will be reduced.

    Noteworthy forthcoming change in flag capture logic: “We will be altering the flag capture timers to better suit our design goals: taking CPs should be about a jolly good fire fight (and not about sneaking in undetected or about camping flags until you capture it).”

    More readily available officer kits: “There will be no timer restriction for the Officer kit. You will be able to obtain one anytime you spawn without any delay as long as you are the Squad Leader of a squad of 4+.”

    More readily available rally points: “We will be reducing the timer to set rally points from 3 minutes to 1 minute.”
    |TG-12th| asch

  • #2
    Re: Project Reality 0.5 for Battlefield 2

    Outstanding post!

    Keep 'em coming!


    «That looks like a really nice house except for that horrible bathroom.» Donrhos

    | |


    • #3
      Re: Project Reality 0.5 for Battlefield 2

      "No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country.
      He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country."

      - Attributed to General George Patton, Jr.


      • #4
        Re: Project Reality 0.5 for Battlefield 2

        Great review Emale. Thanks for putting it together...

        Especially like your reference to the Al Basra map which pits insurgents agains USMC forces. As you've ably pointed out the dynamics on this map are unique. You didn't mention the insurgent's access to IED's and car bombs that are only accessible by the insurgents. They are a fitting addition to the "reality" mod.
        ARMA Admin (retired)
        Pathfinder-Spartan 5


        • #5
          Re: Project Reality 0.5 for Battlefield 2

          Insurgent IED's and Car Bombs

          Originally posted by Grunt 70 View Post
          ... the Al Basra map which pits insurgents against USMC forces ... the dynamics on this map are unique. You didn't mention the insurgent's access to IED's and car bombs that are only accessible by the insurgents. They are a fitting addition to the "reality" mod.
          Yes, I thought about added these aspects, but time was getting on and I was sure that someone would point out their absence (thanks!).

          I will eventually get some good video footage of the use of the molotov cocktails and car bombs. They make up for the Insurgents' lack of revive 'pads' in the med kits (don't try stealing the US med kits -- they will kill the Insurgent user who tries to use the med pads).

          Recall last night that I made a standing order for our 1st-MIP Insurgent squad on Al Basrah -- grab the 'Car Bomb' semi whenever it spawns and hold for orders. It delivers quite a bang.

          From a cultural analysis point of view, it is also noteworthy that the reality side of the mod development is now representing Insurgent tactics vis a vis car bombs.

          This movement towards greater reality in the virtual realm of online gaming is the subject of academic paper I am in the middle of writing (more on that later).


          • #6
            Re: Project Reality 0.5 for Battlefield 2

            I also like that the insurgents' Doctor kit can't "revive" critically injured soldiers - unlike the trained US medics.


            • #7
              Re: Project Reality 0.5 for Battlefield 2

              Something that I didn't realize off the bat, is that the insurgents don't get a commander. Very interesting...
              |TG-12th| asch




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