Last night for the first time in probably two years I sat down and reunited with my old comrades for some good old fashion, ass kicking computer gaming. The members of the world famous Texas Combat Crew got together and had what I would consider to be a pretty awesome showing of raw gaming playing skill. We’re all older, we’ve all moved on to other things, but damn, we can still kick ass when we want to.

Of course, this meant I had to find and then install a copy of Battlefield 2, a feat that proved to be more difficult than shaking off the rust in-game. I had, at one point, two copies of BF2. One for the house and one for work. Playing at work was always a huge perk, one I genuinely enjoyed, and so that second copy was a necessity, especially since EA was (and still is) being an asshole about what computers use what CD keys. I managed to find both boxes. I managed to find both install CDs with both CD keys. What I couldn’t find anywhere were the “play” CDs.

That entire concept, from the beginning, has always been flawed and this is a perfect example of why. I own, legally, two $59.99 copies of that video game. I can’t use either one of them because I have to have a disk in the PC to play it. There’s nothing actually ON that disk, it’s merely “copy protection”. Now, 5 years after I bought those copies, I can’t find the disk to play. My install CDs, my CD keys, everything is useless without that second disk, the disk with nothing on it.

So, what did I do? The only thing a consumer can do (and they know it), I bought a THIRD copy.

Luckily, it was only $20 and included the entire collection (main game plus 3 expansions). Unfortunately, my fun lesson in economics didn’t end there. No, in order to maintain their place in the universe as a manifestation of everything soulless and wrong, EA requires “product activation” for the expansion packs. “Well, that’s not a big deal” you think, “I’ll just click this…..hmmmm…..why isn’t this working?”

Yeah, in order to play the expansion packs you have to visit EA’s website to register and activate your product. Only problem is, the websites for those expansion packs have long ago disappeared. The embedded links in the installer are dead. So, you get redirected to a page that says “sign up for an EA account”. I opt to login instead, because I already have an EA account from playing Skate and Skate 2. Oh no, that’s an EA Games account and the Battlefield page wants an EA Classics account. So you have to make a new one. Then, you go back and try and register again. This time it tells you it has no record of you playing Battlefield and can’t unlock the packs for you. This is because you haven’t “tied” your EA Classics account to your EA BF2 account. Oh, by the way, the page to do that, also dead.

You can see where I’m going with this. It took literally 10 tries, multiple account logins, multiple account merges, activations, dozens of dead links and finally a trip to customer support to finally get it straitened out. Two hours later (no exaggeration), I was ready to play.

Oh, and in the end, the expansions I was trying to unlock and install, add three (yes, 3) maps a piece. Oh, and the servers to play those on? They were shut down 3 years ago. Isn’t that awesome.

Way to make an installer EA. Keep up the awesome work. It was totally worth it to require I install (and then spend hours activating) those packs so that the main game install would finish. Totally worth it.

In the end, I really did have a blast playing. It was good to meet up with the guys again. It’s been too long. I look forward to the return of “Drunken Wednesdays” from now on.