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BFME2 360 Community Summit - Impressions of the Game

Gameplay of the 360 BFME2

Comparison of the 360 BFME2 screen vs an early console game, from Castle's talk

BFME2 looks fantastic on the TV screen, and every player gets the same quality (unless you're playing with a small black and white TV, which probably wouldn't even have the proper AV connections ). The console is a great leveler, with no one having to make adjustments to the picture quality to get the game to play on their system. In the 360 BFME2 you are able to follow the action by hitting a hotkey. Sending your troops to battle? You can swoop down to their level and follow them as they head off. Even without getting so close to the action, the game maps seem to put you right into the action, giving them a different feel from the PC ones. Lorien and all the maps on the 360 feel totally reworked and different from the PC versions.

My biggest concern going in to the Summit was wondering how well the depth of gameplay would carry over to the 360 version. I discovered the answer was surprisingly well. Players of the PC version will have to get used to some differences in accessing the commands and units, but almost everything made the transition to the 360 (exceptions being the ability to save replays and play MP games with AI opponents). As Louis Castle had explained during his talk, the controller can be used in a very basic way by pressing the A button for everything, but more advanced options can be accomplished with other buttons. The D-pad is used for hotkeys such as to select builders or the power menu. The left and right triggers also came into use, and I found myself using them quite a bit.

Xbox 360 controller

The main challenge for me was remembering to press B after giving an action to a battalion or builder. The A button selects whatever you're looking at on the screen, while the B button deselects it. It doesn't auto-deselect, so that you can still give orders to troops, even when they aren't on-screen at the moment. Until I discovered that, I frequently had battalions changing course mid-stream, or guardians heading back down mines I'd just let them out of. I should mention that prior to the Summit I had lots of experience with the PS2, but only about 2 hours with the 360 controller, so I was still getting used to it. By the end of the day, however, the game controls were feeling intuitive, and I didn't have to stop to think about every move.

Aside from my initial de-selecting problem, the only thing I missed from the PC version was the ability to select troops and send them across the map by right-clicking on the palantir minimap. In the 360 version the minimap is informational only. I asked why, and was told that they experimented with it but it proved too unwieldy. That makes sense when you consider that the focus on the screen (i.e. the X or pointer where the action is) is in the center of the screen. If it had been implemented, you'd have to do a complicated maneuver such as selecting your units, selecting the map with a hotkey, using the controls to scroll around the map and place your troops, then backing out of it again. Meanwhile the game would be going on without you being able to see it… a distinct disadvantage in multiplayer. So to move troops in the 360 version, you scroll across the map. This isn't cumbersome, as the maps have a 'close' feeling, where you're right in or on top of the action. I quickly got used to it. It also helps that your opponents have to do it the same way.

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