Well, I could sum this all up in one word and say "wow", but that would be a pretty boring blog entry, wouldn't it? Even though there is only 1 map available via the 560 MB download(!) it is more than enough to satisfy me for a little over a week before my DVD version of Battlefield 2 arrives (I'm beginning to think the DVD pickup was a good idea given the size of the demo).
First off the graphics are fantastic. I upgraded my card a bit ago to an ATI X800 XL 256MB graphics card and this demo didn't blink an eye at 1600x1200 with everything but lighting at a high level in singleplayer or stable multiplayer gameplay. Yes, this is another nVidia backed package, but the 6800 was a bit more expensive than I got the X800 for, so I'm not too worried.
Although there is not any animation that I saw in the grass or trees that I walked through in the demo, they still looked top notch. The water looked beautiful as my plane took a nosedive into it. The vehicles (both land and air) looked fantastic. It is obvious that DICE spent a lot of time upgrading the graphics from Battlefield 1942; there is basically a night and day difference. One of the bigger changes is the flag overturn. When you come up to an enemy flag, the flag now descends from the pole to the bottom. It is then exchanged with your own flag and it goes up the pole until it hits the top and you control that area. No longer do you wait looking at the white flag to see if it changes to your flag or not.
Sound so far is phenomenal. Tanks firing sounds a lot different inside of the tank than outside of the tank. The planes and helicopters sound different as well. You also have the option of listening to chatter via the native language of the troops (American and Middle East Coalition in the demo, China is added in the full product) or chaging it to English voiceover only. It's cool to hear the other language, but you honestly have no idea what they're saying unless you look at the text in the upper left.
Gameplay is excellent as always and I enjoy the little tweaks they've given that I've seen. You can now double hit the W button to sprint ahead (or hold down the Shift button) and the different troop types have different levels of sprinting stamina. Once the stamina is gone you're back to slow walking again until the sprint level keeps filling. You can't jump as high, which isn't really bad thing because the jump in BF1942 seemed a little much honestly.
You can choose weapons via the mouse wheel and a click of the left mouse button or the traditional number button hit. You can also change the rate of fire by hitting the number button again to change from automatic to single shot. New in this game are the Commander and Squad leader. I have not had the chance to be either, but supposedly the Commander can see a lot of things on the map temporarily as long as their communications station is still up. They can also send out a bunch of different things, such as a weapons drop or spy drone. Squad leaders run the various squads that can be set up via the spawn menu. Although I haven't noticed that VoIP (Voice over IP) is working yet there is a chain of command that allows only the Squad Leaders to talk to the Commander and the Squad mates talk to the Squad leader. This should all be very cool once people understand the line of command and don't go lone wolf. The only minus is that the different Squad Leaders can't talk to each other. Another cool thing is that you can now spawn nearby the Squad Leader as long as he is alive. This allows you to spawn even if there is not a spawn point available.
This game is going to eat away at the time of everyone that buys it. With expandable maps (same map, smaller to larger areas), 12 maps (with new ones probably coming quickly) and all the neat gameplay tweaks I think it is easy to say this is going to be one of the top games so far this year. Battlefield 2 is scheduled to ship on June 21st, I would expect a lot of EBs and Gamestops to have it available that day.