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Special Forces’ expansion prove lackluster

Trevor Gass | Tuesday, February 14, 2006

It’s the next best thing since the last best thing.

In a world where some of the most anticipated games are re-hashes of previous successes, developers know that the quicker they can turn out another title, the quicker they can turn a tidy profit.

However, a recent avenue that developers have found to be profitable is something called the expansion pack. Expansion packs are traditionally cheaper than the base game and work to promote high replay value at low production cost. Entirely new game engines need not be designed in the world of expansion packs. Simply a new level, gadget or side story needs to be developed, something that can easily be incorporated into the current game engine.

Enter “Battlefield 2: Special Forces.” If you’re wondering whether or not “Special Forces” is special enough to earn your hard earned $30, ask these questions – Do the possibilities of new maps excite you into frenzy? Does the concept of additional weaponry make your gun finger twitch in excitement? Does the idea of more complex strategy make you shake in your computer chair in anticipation?

“Special Forces” adds a selection of five new weapons that can be unlocked through online ranked play. These include the overpowered F2000 assault rifle/grenade launcher and the ridiculously accurate G36E. The Russian RPG is also a fun addition. Since many of these guns can be used on all servers, they can give you an advantage over players who conserved their money for other things like dates with girlfriends.

New maps and armies have also been added. There are few real differences in the ability to play as the Russian Spetsnaz other than the starting weapons, the language they speak in-game and the victory and defeat tunes that end each round.

The new maps do their job by keeping the game fresh and adding new elements that highlight the other additions. Beyond the new weaponry, support equipment has been added to spice up the tactical side of fragging friends. Night maps have made grainy green night vision a necessity for any operating soldier while the addition of flash bang grenades can momentarily blind infantry while causing helicopters to crash rampantly.

Tear-gas and gas masks have been added as well. These new items are handy but are not fully utilized because most players still charge in with their primary weapon aimed at anything with a red nametag hovering over its head.

The last two new combat accessories include probably the most useful and useless of the additions. The grappling hook makes formerly inaccessible locations now just a rope’s throw away. From these higher locations, one can spot enemy troops or vehicles while being relatively out of harm’s reach. It is unfortunate that the sniper class is equipped with the zip cord and not the grappling hook. The zip cord functions as a crossbow with a line attached. To use it one must already be in a high location. It is not very useful and can’t be used as a weapon.

The final major addition that SF boasts is the wide array of new vehicles that can be driven. Civilian cars and pickup trucks with mounted guns are now available as well as four-wheelers, jet skis and forklifts. Nothing is more embarrassing than having your entire squad mowed down by a vicious enemy forklift.

“Special Forces” is a solid addition to the “Battlefield” universe, but at the price of $30, more enticing purchases are easy to find. More people still play on the normal “Battlefield 2” servers where plenty of military mayhem can be found. If you track down someone with the new guns unlocked, you can steal their weapon and play with it as your own. If you think it’s worth 30 big ones, go from there. “European Forces,” the second expansion for “Battlefield 2”, comes out later this month.