This is a Guest review by ArmEagle
With most of the European forces stationed in Africa, the Pan Asian Coalition (PAC) snuck into mid Europe and setup strongholds there. In a desperate attempt to defend their homeland, the EU coalition launched a new assault: Northern Strike. After being MIA for too long, the command apparently managed to find me and ordered me to take up arms and defend our lands. Luckily the expansion pack isn't that expensive, so I went out to see whether it is worth the money.Maps
The expansion came with three new maps all in snow covered terrain. All maps are of a new type called Assault Lines. Here the EU troops start at an uncappable flag and the defending forces have all other flags under control. The PAC main base is at a special flag, which the EU troops can only take over after they control all other flags. These are all sort of city maps, where two maps also allow Titan mode.
In Bridge at Remagen EU forces cross the bridge exactly 200 years after US soldiers did in the Second World War. Just crossing the bridge can be a feat of its own.
The map of Liberation of Leipzig is even more tightly packed. Here the EU troops find an interesting new building; a pod launcher. Similar to the pod launchers in a Titan, this building allows a soldier to step in a pod and launch away with full control. This allows the soldier to move ahead fast, but not with too much of a surprise at start, considering the noise a pod drop makes. Using this pod launcher the EU troops can land on L-train tracks which go trough most of the map.
In Port of Bavaria the EU troops start in a base on the bottom of a high cliff with at the top multiple Titan docking stations. Using the pod launchers in Armoured Personnel Carriers the EU soldiers can assault two of these stations, before proceeding further into enemy territory.New vehicles
All maps still have Battlewalkers and, as said before, APCs in the Port of Bavaria map. But the EU forces have a new weapon, the Goliath. This vehicle has space for 5 soldiers; one driver and 4 gunners. The driver sits in a central turret that shoots sort of shotgun rounds. As a secondary weapon this can shoot Motion Mines, known from the Engineer unlocks. On the corners the Goliath has 2 types of guns. An anti-personnel machine gun with unlimited ammo, but it can overheat. And also turrets that shoot energy rounds with splash damage. So it is clear the Goliath has quite some fire power, though most of it is not very effective against Battlewalkers.
The Goliath runs on tracks and is very slow, making it an easy target for anti-armour weapons. But it has an extra defence formed by 7 shield generators. These big glowing pads are positioned all around and on top of the Goliath. All shield generators automatically repair the Goliath, making it almost impossible to destroy it, even if some shield generators are destroyed. Yes, it would be invincible otherwise, but direct fire on the shield generators can destroy them (two Pilum rounds will do).
This makes a very strong weapon in the hands of a good team, though it can be a death trap when opposing a well coordinated opponent.
Using similar hovering techniques to the Nekomata hover tank, Northern Strike introduces the Hachimoto. This is a super fast open attack vehicle, suited for a driver and a gunner. The driver can use side-mounted machine guns. The gunner can either use the turret causing nice splash damage. But somehow the engineers managed to add a guided-missile launcher which is similar to the one found in the gunner position of the Gunship. One such missile takes out a shield generator, making the Hachimoto a dangerous opponent for the Goliath.Unlocks and awards
The expansion pack gives the player access to 10 new unlocks. One unlock on top of all class unlock trees and also a new player upgrade and Squad Leader Spawn Beacon, which decreases the respawn time. Not all unlocks might seem too special, like the mentioned Spawn Beacon. But there are some very nice class unlocks.
The most useful unlock is given to the Support; the IDS-1. This is a sonar similar to the PDS-1 of the Engineer, but it shows infantry positions to the whole squad, though in a smaller area. This can help tremendously in defending, but also while attacking. I couldn't try out all new unlocks yet, because you have to unlock the normal four unlocks first, but this was obviously the first Northern Strike unlock I choose.
The Engineer can unlock the MMB-5 (Motion Mine Bait), which allows the Engineer to reposition the mines. This allows a vehicle to pass by safely, without requiring the Engineer to defuse them all one by one out in the open.
The Recon can unlock The Ghost, a decoy beacon, which fakes the position opponents see the signature of the Recon on the map. The other unlock of the Recon is an upgrade to the Optical Camouflage, allowing for longer periods of stealth.
To be able to gain access to these new unlocks, there are two new types of badges and four ribbons, making a total of 10 awards. Instead of giving extra Career Points, these awards allow the player to choose both Northern Strike as normal unlocks (though the NS unlocks are tiered on top of the existing unlocks). These awards are all focused on playing the new Northern Strike maps. The requirements for the awards are generally easier than the normal awards, based mostly on a couple hours of gameplay and number of kills in a round. This allows people to get access to quite some extra unlocks without too much effort.Game state
After about half a year after Battlefield 2142 I thought I'd shed my light over whether Electronic Arts has made a good impression or not. There sure have been some number of patches, each with quite some fixes. This includes reduction of lag and drag in Titan maps, as well as fixes to tweak gameplay and prevent exploits. EA has also regularly cleared the stats of players using exploits too often, so that the top ranks are filled by honest playing people.
But over time I still get annoyed by some 'features'. For one it is terribly annoying that you have to customize your unlocks every time you start the game again. And not just once, but a second time after a map ends. I still cannot understand why it would be so hard to store this between sessions. And it would allow the player to get into action much faster. Regularly I get stuck behind some small object, which is outside the view if you simply look ahead. This lack of sense of your surroundings is maybe a lack of general map experience. But it still is a shame to fall an easy victim, only because some tiny obstacle prevents you to take cover quickly.
The first person view (when on foot) still is a big enemy of mine, ever since Battlefield 2. You take out the anti-tank guided rocket, zoom in and shoot .. only to be killed by the blast of the rocket detonating against the wall you really thought was below or to the side of the trajectory. Luckily the blast of the Pilum doesn’t kill, though it still is one of five rounds wasted.Conclusion
Even though the game can annoy me, it has made improvements. The expansion pack gives nice new maps, especially because I myself like city maps. The new unlocks are nice too, and the new awards give fast access to normal unlocks I've had my eyes on for quite a while now. I sure enjoy playing Northern Strike. In short: the expansion pack is surely worth the money.