- Rated: M for Mature for Violence, Blood, and Strong Language
- Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC
Ah, the distant crackle of M16 three round bursts…the rumble and squeak of rolling tanks…the lightning crack of sniper fire…a nearby death cry…the thundering booms of anti-aircraft guns. Is there any sweeter music to the ears of first-person shooter fanatics? I think not. While Battlefield: Bad Company 2 (BC2) doesn’t quite deliver this complex cantata to it’s audience with the finesse of the Philharmonic, it definitely gives it one hell of a shot with the gusto and satisfaction you’d get from a local community symphony.
In this case, the Philharmonic reference applies to Infinity Ward’s monstrosity, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. And like any good community symphony, BC2 does it’s best to imitate the best of the best. In fact, at times it even mocks Modern Warfare. Ultimately, EA DICE realized that it needed to step it up in order to compete with the FPS juggernaut, and it shows.
The first (and most impressive) of the many things that Battlefield revamped is the sound design. This made a huge impact on the gameplay, both online and offline. I’m not just talking about the realistic gunshots; I’m talking about the distance to decibel/pitch ratio, the reload sound variations between weapons, the glorious little environmental sound effects that make the maps teem with life and realism, and the unsettling sound of a long-lost mega-weapon that makes you wonder if there’s a Metal Gear around the next corner. Truly, the sound guys from EA deserve some serious ‘props’ for their hard work and dedication.
The original Bad Company was noted as the first attempt Battlefield had taken at a serious single player campaign. BC2 improved it’s campaign mode by making the story more linear through interlaced cut-scenes, path direction, and doing away with the ‘conquest’ feel of the original campaign. The plot is fairly generic. It basically boils down to the original “B” Company foursome trying to stop an evil Russian from unleashing the fury of the aforementioned super-weapon. You travel through some beautifully rendered maps with top quality graphics as you progress through the story. While it’s seriously better this time around, you will fly through the campaign in only a few hours. There isn’t a very high replay value, unless you missed a few of the relatively easy achievements/trophies attached to the campaign. It’s all pretty straight forward with some sizable holes and improbabilities, but the combat is what holds it all together.
There are standard missions that will require you to practice different methods of combat and try out different weapons. Your AI teammates seem to put a lot of effort into the battles, but instead of being called “Bad Company,” they are much more suited for a name like “The A Team.” They do a ton of shooting but don’t really hit anyone, leaving it up to you to get the job done.
Another thing that BC2 revamped was the ability to blow up just about everything you see around you. Want to take cover inside a house to fight off incoming waves of enemy troops? Think again. As soon as they realize you are there, they proceed to blow a hole directly through the wall that you thought would keep you safe as you pick them off. Trees, walls, and crates are just a few of the things that can be completely demolished. This drastically changes your approach to combat. No more camping, snipers! Luckily the same applies to your enemies, and you have the ability to remove their cover and blow up sniper towers as well.
These elements carry over into what is the real mover and shaker of Battlefield: Bad Company 2: the online gameplay. This is really what you are spending your $60 on, and trust me, it’s well worth it. BC2 learned a lot from CoD 4: Modern Warfare, and it shows mostly here. (There are some jabs made in the campaign toward Modern Warfare, like comments about snowmobiles and heart-beat-monitor rifles, as well as some gameplay situations like the final mission taking place on a plane.) When you go online you have a choice between two game types, either Rush (formerly Gold Rush) or Conquest. The sandbox maps feel a bit tighter, and there is much more emphasis placed on close-range battle. Add to that the ability to blow up buildings/hiding spots and shoot through walls, and you have yourself some pretty exciting multiplayer battles.
You can choose between four class types and are able to change classes before each spawn. Experience points are earned for doing well in each class, allowing you to unlock various class-specific gadgets and weapons. The strange thing is that some vital kit items have to be unlocked, such as the medics having to unlock the ability to drop health packs and engineers unlocking their repair guns. Depending on your FPS skills, it could take a while before you can use these important items. This forces the player to get extremely familiar with the specific class weapons and different combat techniques before being allowed to actually perform their true function for the team. It’s a double edged sword, and I haven’t decided if I like that or not. XP will also boost your rank. Higher ranks don’t really do much other than earn you a few achievements/trophies and boast to others how good you are. (Or does it really just show how lonely you are, considering there isn’t a split-screen multiplayer or campaign option? Just kidding, you 1337 BC2 Brigadiers and Generals, we all know you have infinite girlfriends.)
The other complaint I have is the changes made to Conquest mode’s XP rewards and point system. Typically, conquest game-types revolve around capturing flags that serve as respawn locations for your team. The more flags you have, the less respawn areas and tickets are available to the other team, eventually leading you to victory. BC2 has decided to give more points to slaying the opposing team rather than the actual objective of the game type. Very little points are given for capturing a flag, killing an opponent while guarding a flag doesn’t amount to much, and the losing team can still spawn even without any spawn ‘locations’ available. You can be on a losing team and possibly get more XP points than someone from the winning team, if you got a lot of kills. So why not just create a slayer mode? Kills are all that’s really rewarded in the new Conquest, and frankly, I don’t like that. Players still attempt to cap flags, but it serves more as a place to congregate for some close combat to try to up your KDR (kill/death ratio). Conquest is really fun if it’s done right, and can keep a gamer enthralled for hours at a time. By shifting the major rewards to kills, they have taken away the importance and fun of really working as a team to pull off a win.
Complaints aside, Bad Company 2‘s multiplayer is still REALLY fun. The maps are well laid out, the ability to destroy almost everything in your path puts a spin on tactics, and the vehicle warfare is out of this world. There is nothing more satisfying than jumping in a tank and taking out enemy helicopters and vice versa. You earn vehicle XP for kills as well, which earns you some really great upgrades, and this keeps you coming back for more and more, since every time you play, you have an opportunity to change up your kit and learn new combat techniques. This game is definitely worth playing, and I would recommend a buy on this one if FPS’s are your thing. It will make a nice addition to your collection.
I give Battlefield: Bad Company 2 4 ‘Reasons to Put the Game Down’ out of 5.
by Rachael Edwards Hite, Staff Writer