Battlefield: Bad Company 2 (Xbox 360)

Review – Battlefield: Bad Company 2

FPS

EA takes on Activision.  It’s a sign of the apocalypse.

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Mafro

The original Bad Company was a refreshing change from the overly-serious tone of the Call of Dutys and Medal of Honors we had become accustomed to. With it’s group of military outcasts pursuing a shipment of gold, it felt like a buddy movie and reminiscent of Kelly’s Heroes, The Dirty Dozen or Three Kings, for example. Its singleplayer stood out for those reasons, but it was the sandbox gameplay that made it shine. Noting the location your mission objective on the expansive man, and getting their by any means necessary was the best thing about the campaign.

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To get the whole picture, get an American to scream insults in your ear.

Unfortunately, for whatever reason, DICE have decided to go a different route this time. Given that the singleplayer of the first game was almost the polar opposite of Modern Warfare, it’s very strange that they decided to change things and make it much, much more linear this time. The vast, wide open stretches of countryside are all but gone, and most of the time you are instead funnelled along a set path. By doing this, and removing the freedom of choice as to how you complete objectives, it results in the campaign being quite a disappointment in comparison with the first game.

It certainly has it’s moments, with one particular objective involving sniping enemies before sneaking into their base while masking the gunshots by timing them with thunder claps during a rainstorm. There are also one or two occasions later on in the game that hark back to the best moments of Bad Company 1, charging through the countryside in a convoy of tanks while facing an onslaught of shells/mortars/missiles, but they are too few and far between. The singleplayer isn’t bad by any means, just a big disappointment in comparison with that of the first game, and the fact it tries to imitate what the first almost deliberately set out to go against. Oh well, at least the enemies are no longer irritating bullet sponges.

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Out there... past dem trees....

Another aspect of the singleplayer campaign which has seen a substantial change is the story. Oddly, no reference at all is made to the events of the previous game, and it’s light-heartedness has been replaced with something much more generic and identikit (a top-secret superweapon) which wouldn’t be out of place in any other military themed FPS. The joking and banter between the squad is still there, but it’s been toned down a fair amount.

Aside from the predictable EA servers shitting themselves upon release like clockwork, the multiplayer is as fantastic as ever. Rush mode is still the pick of the game modes, with you attacking/defending a pair of M-COM stations (no longer the crates of gold from the previous game) until either all sets of stations are destroyed, the attacking team runs out of spawn tickets. In my opinion, this mode easily ranks amongst the best experiences any online FPS has to offer right now. It gives such a rush, if you’ll excuse the pun, when you work in a tight-knit squad of four with a good mix of classes, and each person knowing what they have to do as everyone carries out well-planned, coordinated attacks. When doing so, it’s amazing how quickly you can overpower teams who are ill-prepared and inexperienced. Conquest mode is once again included, although it just doesn’t seem quite right. In Bad Company 1, and 1943, capturing more flags caused the opposing team’s spawn tickets to decrease faster, but it doesn’t seem to have as big an effect in this. Instead, capturing more flags just seems to serve as extra spawn points, with no real noticeable change to the spawn tickets. Also included are the new squad rush mode, in which it’s 4v4 rather than 12v12, and a standard squad deathmatch mode. These serve as good alternatives to the normal conquest and rush modes if you just want to play a quick game – a game of rush can easily last upwards of half an hour.

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Adam

Secondary Review

Bad Company 2 is an iterative sequel. For all the things it adds to it’s 2008 predecessor (fully destructible buildings, parachutes) it takes away other fondly remembered features, (sandbox levels, the laser-designator) while some expected additions like planes and full class customisation are MIA.

That said, the first game was my favourite online FPS and this, despite EA’s unreliable (or rather, reliably shit) servers, continues it’s legacy.

Class war

Whether it’s detonating the C4 you sneakily planted on an enemy chopper and watching the point-combo rack up, or repeatedly resurrecting a squad-mate while he gets ripped apart by a tank gunner, the joy of these ‘Battlefield Moments’ cannot be denied, but that has to be measured against the sorrow of watching an objective tick away to destruction while the rest of your team don’t even think to look away from their sniper scopes to disarm it.

See, Spot, Shoot

That’s the trouble with a team-based shooter: your enjoyment is dependent on the quality of the player-base. You may find yourself pitted against FPS gods who exploit the mortars and generally make you feel like the bad AI in their singleplayer campaign, while you’re teamed up with the kind of retards who fly a transport chopper solo. This isn’t helped by the lack of a tutorial.

Easy mode. You know, for “content tourists.”

At this point I would talk about the campaign, but the third level has a grenade frustration-launching boat “boss” that, combined with the brain-dead AI and the overall lack of humour that defined the original, frankly isn’t worth the effort. The singleplayer is not what I bought this for and I wouldn’t be surprised if I never go back to it. This is a game defined by it’s multiplayer, so if you have at least 3 comrades to play with, pick it up now before the plebs learn how to play.

Secondary Score: 8/10

The character classes have been shaken up a little, with some abilities from old classes being merged into new ones. Support class is now the Medic with the ability to resuscitate downed team mates with the defibrillators, and the Specialist has been replaced with the Engineer who has the use of the power drill to repair vehicles. My particular favourite is the Recon class since I enjoy sniping and counter-sniping – the moments when you are spotted by an enemy sniper and you both race to get the first shot off are some of the tensest you’ll experience in the game. The Recon’s laser-guided missile has been replaced with the mortar strike (previously exclusive to the Support class in the first game) and the damage it can cause against tanks has been significantly increased. A big addition to the character classes is the inclusion of perks. While not as elaborate as Modern Warfare 2, for example, they do add an element of customisation that wasn’t there before, it’s just unfortunate that there’s no way to save different loadouts of perks. Most of them are class-specific, such as the selection of sniper scopes with different zoom levels, but others are available to all classes. However, the magnum rounds and body armour bring back horrible memories of Juggernaut and Stopping Power from that game.

It is the multiplayer mode in which the Frostbite engine really shines, and no more so than in rush mode. Rather than setting an explosive charge, buildings containing the M-COM stations can be completely levelled after enough damage from rockets/mortars/C4, causing it to come crashing down and destroy the stations, along with anyone else unfortunate enough to be inside. The destructibility is what sets Bad Company 2 apart from other shooters. While not as intricate as that seen in Red Faction: Guerilla, it does more than enough to give you the sense of “nowhere is safe to hide”. Running through clouds of rubble and dust as a pursuing tank destroys the cover around you really is something else. The contrast in the state of the buildings and environment at the start and end of a round of multiplayer is startling.

While the singleplayer is enjoyable, it’s a slight disappointment, but the multiplayer has more than enough to keep you coming back for more. A brilliant variety of maps, coupled with the excellent rush mode and well balanced character classes, It easily holds it’s own amongst the other big hitters in Halo 3 and Modern Warfare 2, and possibly surpasses them.

Rating: ★★★★★★★★★☆ 9/10

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