I've always been somewhat convenient. I like the idea of buying stuff online not having to leave the warm comfort of my home when blizzards haunt my neighborhood every other day. Electronic Arts has begun walking the same path already laid out by Valve - and I think a lot of people besides me want to see more of this common venture into the world of digital snugness.
Downloading Euro Force worked out really well - punching in the serial number, getting the EA Downloader tool and retrieving the files took me about 30 minutes or so. The first thing that came to mind was that Euro Force is not installed as your average mod. The maps and all other contents are actually integrated as part of your existing and unmodified Battlefield 2 installation. A surprising solution, to say the least - it made the process of filtering out Euro Force-specific servers in my browser program cumbersome and painstaking.
Being the first booster pack released, Euro Force features three maps that can be fought out with 16 and 32 players, two new tanks, one aircraft, one chopper and seven new guns (one for each kit). On top of that, you'll also get EU-banners raised on your flagpoles and some new prerecorded voice messages sporting French, German and a few other hard-to-define accents. Try to picture having both Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jacques Clouseau on your squad and you have a pretty good idea of what it's like.
Operation Smoke Screen is located somewhere in the Middle East, where EU has come to aid its allies. The battlefield is scattered with several burning oil wells filling a few places with smog (which partially blocks out the sunlight). It does feel innovative (although inspired by real world events), adding to the difficulty of letting your aircraft deliver swift death in the polluted areas. A forest of windmills further increases the strain of maintaining air superiority.
Great Wall is the only Chinese map in Euro Force. As the name suggests, The Great Wall of China is critical to the outcome of most battles on this map (which can only be described as immense). The EU forces start out in the north of the map and their Chinese counterparts in the south part, only divided by the wall itself. Along its way, the wall splits up into separate two parts marking the outer perimeter of an old dwelling filled with buildings and ancient landmarks. This layout makes the confined cityscape suitable for infantry combat while the outer landscape is tank country. Standing on top of the Chinese Wall throwing C4 packs on tanks passing by has never been so much fun, as the limited number of entrances and exits all make up natural chokepoints in the barrier. Beating the opposite team on Great Wall requires every part of DICE's well known "rock, paper & scissors"-concept, making it my favorite map in Euro Force.
Taraba Quarry, finally, is perhaps best described as a classic map given its context. Combat situations are focused along the Taraba River and its bridges in the Middle East. Most vehicles from the Battlefield 2 lineup are available, which will probably please most people who are into military hardware.
Les armes et les véhicules
The new vehicles (the German L2A6 tank, the British Challenger 2 tank, the European Eurofighter Tycoon fighter jet and the French attack heli Tiger HAP) all feel somewhat dull. Simply put, I have a hard time thinking of them as new content per se. Apart from their separate designs, they are pretty much alike not emphasizing any pronounced differences. As far as the new guns (including Special Forces HK53A3, Assaults L85A2, Support HK21, Medic FAMAS, Engineer M4, Anti-tank P90 and Sniper L96a1) go, they too resemble each other in terms of usage. Hence, I don't think DICE has given the combat engineers a new shotgun by coincidence - and similarly, I don't the Eurofighter is equipped with the same loadout as all the old single seated aircraft are by chance.
E la conclusione
It is kind of hard to speculate whether or not Euro Force will justify its 10 / $10 USD price tag. Currently, most servers haven't begun populating. Euro Force may not be jammed packed with new features, but then again you get what you pay for. Honestly speaking, I can only regard the three new maps as the only real piece of fresh content besides the prerecorded voice messages - however you'll most likely do fine without Arnold and Jacques by your side. The low price and the sheer convenience of ordering the booster pack do, however, speak in favor of Euro Force. If you're willing to spare a lunch at your café of choice, Euro Force may turn out to be a good investment after all - provided the servers begin filling up with more recruits.
System used by reviewer:
AMD Athlon 64 3200+
1024 MB RAM
English translation by Peter Eriksson.