28th March 2010 - EA Dice’s latest game in the long running and very successful Battlefield series makes its console return and see’s the misfit Bad Company take on yet another perilous mission all by their lonesome. But the single player campaign here isn’t what this game is all about. Quite the contrary, as Battlefield Bad Company 2 throws a hefty layer of multiplayer action that aims to please old fans and win over new ones alike. But with Modern Warfare 2 still making groundbreaking rounds over Xbox LIVE, and the recent announcement of a modern setting for the next Medal of Honour game, how can this massive shooter compete with the stiff competition?
It seems like every second game that doesn’t feature a overly young spiky-haired teenager with a big sword on the front cover is a war shooter these days. So, with so much competition on the market, how does a shooter series that some say has outlived its glory days compete with heavy weights Call of Duty and soon the newest Medal of Honour? By making itself stand out from the crowd and bringing modern gamers the stuff which dominated the genre back in the early 2000’s; the Battlefield experience.
The Battlefield Experience
The experience I speak of, of course, is the ever famous Battlefield multiplayer. Now, rest assured that the game isn’t just all online gaming, it does feature a single player campaign, but well get to that a little later. Bad Company 2 brings back the classic multiplayer us PC gamers will remember from the glory days of ‘1942’ and ‘Vietnam’. The first Bad Company didn’t quite let us relive the goods as well as it could have, but Dice have taken this and improved on it for the second coming of this particular series.
The first thing you will notice when starting up the online portion of the game if you’re a hardcore CoD or Halo player is that the weapon selection is set up into ‘Kits’, which are simply different types of weapon sets and each offer a completely unique style of gameplay. As you play with one of these kits more and more, you unlock yourself the newer, shinier weapons that pack a bit more of a ‘Bang’ and some more advance and (sometimes) enjoyable gadgets, but only the ones for that particular kit, e.g., Sniper, Medic, Assault. This is where the game creates its own experience. You feel attached to whatever class you invest more time into and start to really feel like a master of the battlefield with your favoured brand of designer death. And given how long it takes to increase in rank and gain certain upgrades like weapon attachments and the best of the best in weaponry, you will find yourself playing non-stop in the addictive action.
Another stand-out point about the games unique experience is the very large, open battlefields. This is where we get the classic Battlefield feel from. ‘Play how you want‘, would be a suitable tagline for this game. Whether you choose to take to the hills and pick off the enemy with a sniper, run-n-gun (good luck with that one!) with a sub machine gun, go spec-ops on the unsuspecting enemy by sneaking around up close with high calibre assault rifles and take to the skies in a realistic feeling chopper is all your choice. Heck, you can even wreck havoc in a Tank and hope to whatever divine spirit you worship that you enemy hasn’t taken the smart choice and equipped themselves with a rocket launcher.
The majority of the your online experience will most probably be within the game modes of Conquest and Rush. Conquest is what Battlefield is and was built on, and really opens the playing field for choices galore and some great tactical gameplay, and Rush is a much improved version of the dull Gold Rush from the first game. But when your not bust bring destruction on such a massive scale, you can play the games Squad modes. The pick of the litter here is a Squad Deathmatch mode, with has up to 4 4 man teams taking each other on the old fashioned way; with guns and close teamwork. No objectives here, just kill or be killed. It’s a nice change of pace, but in a game that’s built for larger scale conflicts, doesn’t quite cut it.
Lame while lonesome
But while that’s all good and bagged, the game isn’t all guts and glory. As I touched on earlier, there is a Single Player Campaign present. The Bad Company titles came about when someone over at Dice realized that the great Battlefield multiplayer needed a strong single player experience to appeal more to console gamers after the shocking Battlefield 2 single player was chewed up and spat out by the majority. But what they came up with doesn’t and never did, quite cut it for shooter fans. You play as part of the ‘Bad Company’, a small band of misfit militants working for the US Army. And while that may seem like a very obvious and predictable story setting… well, that’s because it is, and it doesn’t even try to hide it. Certainly not trying to break and barriers or push any boundaries, Bad Company 2’s campaign brings the game down a few levels.
Filled with frat-boy humour, self-righteous attitudes and far too many bad one-liners, Bad Company is an immature soldiers wet dream. It fails on every level to be a ‘Realistic’ experience, and even if that’s not what Dice were aiming for, it’s the only thing that would have gone down well with players get out of the multiplayer portion of the game. One thing I will give to their credit though, is how they certainly had the balls to poke fun about everything players loved about Modern Warfare 2. Some more obvious than others, but all valid jokes. Listen to conversations the characters are having in cutscenes and during certain climatic scenarios, and you will pick up a few tongue-in-check references to ‘everyones’ favourite modern day shooter. Whether it be the ‘pussies with heartbeat sensors on their guns’ or ‘snowmobiles are for pansies’, there’s many quotable jokes in bound.
All up, it simply seems like Dice where trying to put in a little too many ‘memorable’ moments that a few too many developers have been trying since Call of Duty 4’s ‘All Ghillied Up’ mission got such a grand public response.
Certainly no Modern Warfare in terms of visuals and character models, and even environment, but hey, not many games are. But although not a top-of-the-range looking game when compared to CoD6 or Uncharted 2, Bad Company is still very far from bland. The guns are more detailed than ever, the scenery moves with amazing grace and realism, and the character models are varying and different.
But you wont be paying attention to that stuff mind you, because where Bad Company 2 makes yet another stand out move is to put in such a great level of destruction into every building and barrier the eyes can see. The first games destruction was cited by many as a ‘gimmick’ and a cheap selling point, and to say the least, they were right. The game had very blunt and unbelievable destruction models, but this, its successor vastly improves on that and has building parts and collapsing roofs going up in smoke on a massive scale. Every building is able to be completely levelled (a smart and underrated way to win Rush, mind you) and every hidey hole is able to be blown to smithereens. This really adds a great deal of depth and uniqueness to the online experience, again making the Battlefield name stand proud above the competition.
As with all Battlefield games, the sound plays an important part in the aforementioned Battlefield Experience. Each and every gun has unique and very precise, crisp sounds and mixed with the echoes of many firefights happening on the very same battlefield and vehicular combat, make a great immersive experience. If you’re fortunate enough to have your console hooked up to a surround sound system, you will be in war-game heaven here, and certainly feel as close to a real battle as most of you will want to be (if you want to be any closer, maybe you shouldn’t be playing violent video games?).
But as with the overall gameplay-experience, the sound of the single player doesn’t match the quality of the multiplayer’s. Of course, it has all the same SoundBits and voices, but when not on such a large scale battlefield, there’s only every one firefight going on, and its yours. This deteriorates the experience leaving you not as immersed as a battlefield game should have you. After all, the word Battlefield doesn’t usually mean a small firefight between two 4 man squads.
As I’ve come to expect with shooting games, the single player is always a letdown and not worth replaying. And another thing I’ve come to expect from this genre is how the multiplayer will almost always make up for that. Both true with this fine example of how a multiplayer shooter should play out, as after a single player through of the campaign, its likely the bland story and unrealistic characters will have you pulled in for another bout.
The Multiplayer on the other hand, makes this game worth every cent you spend on it. You will get hours of fun out of trying to level up and unlock your favourite sniper rifle or assault rifle, whatever your choice of preferred hardware. Not to mention the immersive capabilities of the widespread destruction and firefights whose sounds flood the air with wartime pollution and a genuine sense of realism. So think twice, and even a third time if need be about this game if you haven’t got a connection to Xbox LIVE.
In case you hadn’t noticed, I talked a lot about how great the multiplayer is with this review. The reasons for that are many, but none more valid than the fact that that portion of the game is where it actually makes its stand out from the crowded industry of war shooters and under par gunplay experiences. Battlefield Bad Company 2 brings back the beloved Battlefield Experience anyone who’s played the series classics will know and love. Its just too bad the single player campaign couldn’t live up to the multiplayer mode, with its shallow characters, predictable and under worked story and overall lack of the Battlefield spirit.
But with no end to the utter insanity and enjoyment of the games large scale battles and immersive teamwork-based game modes, Bad Company 2 has manages to not only compete with its rivals, but actually overcome the pressure it has had from Modern Warfare 2 and emerge the best online shooting game on the market. That’s a bold statement, but open your eyes and you minds and you will see that its true.
AAG SCORE: 9/10
+Utterly immersive and practically perfect online gameplay
+Heavily updated damage models and graphics make for even greater firefights
+Openly has the guts to make fun of the competition, and with good reason
-Single player lacks the intensity and enjoyment of multiplayer
-Shallow and quite corny characters and story
Reviewed & Written By John Elliott