Battlefield: Bad Company 2ESRB:
Category: First Person Shooter
Network Players: 2-24
HDD: 1143KB minimum
DualShock 3 Compatible
EA's original Battlefield: Bad Company, released in 2008, was a game by DICE that brought a new twist to EA's long running Battlefield series. It introduced a rag-tag squad of misfits that would offer a single player story in an attempt to compliment the series standard mutliplayer offerings. Back then it wasn't a bad game, but it just didn't stand out. Well fast forward to the present day, and EA has released the sequel aptly titled Battlefield: Bad Company 2. Back are members of Bravo Company for another crazy and harrowing adventure. Of course along with this revamped single player experience comes the same addicting multiplayer play that the Battlefield series is known for. After sitting down for some extended playtime with the retail version I have to say that the planets are all aligned as this latest game proves to be really enjoyable.
Visually Bad Company 2 is quite a looker. I found that the game was a quite an improvement over the first. This sequel uses DICE's proprietary Frostbite graphic engine and everything looks great. The environments are varied from wintery mountains, desert villages to dense jungles. Each level is painstakingly detailed and well designed, with varying paths, lots of obstacles, and quite a few areas to plan your attack from. I enjoyed being able to battle in different locales and finding refuge from enemy fire in such places as jungle huts, behind concrete walls in a desert fortress, or even in a shipping container. The variety is amazing. Of course don't forget that you can destroy pretty much everything too and the resulting carnage can make each level look like a war torn region.
Technically speaking Bad Company 2 is pretty solid, from the framerate, special effects (e.g. lighting, explosions, fire, etc) to the textures that were used to create each level. I did note some screen tearing on more than a few occasions. This was very notable on many different levels and something that caught me off guard given the quality of all the other visuals. There was also some strange glitches in the destructible environments where part of a house or structure would not be totally flattened and you may find part of a roof or wall in mid air, like it got frozen during its fall to the ground. In the end though the diversity of each level and the work that went into each one supersedes most of this. I think that most who view this game will be impressed by the graphics.
The audio DICE used in Bad Company 2 makes for an even more engrossing gaming experience. What is most notable is the sound effects. From the gunfire to the explosions to the sound of a bullet impacting your flak jacket, the realism and impact is amazing. I really enjoyed the effect of when I was involved in a firefight in an open street and I had to retreat to protective cover of a building. When I continued to fire at the enemy from the confines of the building the echo that resulted from the gun firing in a smaller confined space was amazing. It is the use of sound like this that really brings you deeper into the game. I have to say God Bless surround sound encoding.
Of course the squad banter from the first game returns. Listening to my fellow squad members chat about personal interests while trying to kill all the enemies in the level made for an interesting experience indeed. They also provide some useful chatter about the scenario you find yourself in. All in all the voice acting was pretty well done and added to everything in the game.
Prior to the retail release of Battlefield: Bad Company 2 I took some time to actually finish the prequel. Although it was released in 2008, and I did pick up a copy for myself, I never finished the game as I was not as hooked as I thought I would be; however, given the pending release of Bad Company 2 I thought it was prudent finish it. After getting through the original game I really wondered how they would tie the two games together. Surprisingly, they do not link up at all. If you played the original game, you are well aware of the story of Bravo Company hunting for mercenary gold. Bad Company 2's story does not link up to any of the original at all. Sure , you once again take on the role of Preston Marlowe who fights the good fight with fellow Bravo Company misfits Sarge, Sweetwater and Haggard, but this is where similarity ends. Bad Company 2 is not a continuation of the first game as the story, settings, and everything else is brand new. I found this somewhat disappointing in such that I wanted to know what transpired for our rag-tag heroes since the end of the first game to present. In some ways though this may be to allow newbies to the franchise the opportunity not have to know much about the first game's story and not feel lost.
As for the story of Bad Company 2, you and the rest of Bravo Company are tasked to search and recover a Weapon of Mass Destruction (WMD) that was said to have been developed during WWII. Interestingly enough, the start of the game does not revolve around Bravo Company at all. The first mission, which is also a tutorial for the game's controls, is set in Japan during WWII and you must infiltrate enemy defences to rescue a defecting Japanese scientist who has crucial information about this WMD. Needless to say the events that take place in the opening level set the stage for Bravo Company's newest adventure. Of course the Russians are also involved, which makes sense as they make for great cannon fodder. In the end the story, although somewhat predictable, does keep you fairly engaged and helps to make the single player campaign worth paying attention to.
Speaking of controls, Bad Company 2 controls quite well. To be honest I found that it controlled better this time around then in the first as the aiming seems to be tightened a bit making for a smoother experience. Buttons are intuitively placed as well. If I have any complaint in this area, it is that I never seem to be as good on the PS3 controller as I am on the Xbox 360 one, but that is personal taste and not a deficiency of the game. Overall most who play this game will find that the controls are a non-issue.
There are a couple of notable changes this time around. If you didn't play the original then these changes will be moot points, for veterans of the original listen closely.
First off, there is no more medi-needle for you to use. The prequel had a feature where you could switch from your weapon to your items and you could use a medi-needle to heal yourself. This needle 'recharged' and you could use it anytime your health got too low. This time around when you are injured the screen's border goes blood red and the sound changes. Once you get out of harms way for long enough you regain your health and you can then get back into the fight again.
Another interesting change is when you die. In the original Bad Company if you died somewhere in a level, and you respawned, enemies that you already killed did not return. Only the enemies that remained alive when you died were kept on the map. This was quite strange as when you died you did not have to start the section from scratch as the number of enemies would be smaller depending on how many you took out. This time around there is no such feature. If you meet an untimely death, the section of the level you died on respawns as a whole including all the enemies that were there before you gave up the ghost. I did not mind this change as it forced me to play smarter and not just run in like a mad man.
Part of the enjoyment of playing the single player campaign is interacting and fighting with your computer AI squad. Now given that the squad is four players, this game screamed for online co-op, but alas there is not. That being said, your fellow AI squadmates are pretty adept at fighting alongside with you and you will find their comments quite useful too. One such example that caught my attention was a mission where I was advancing along with the rest of my squad and we came to a section in an abandoned village where the pathway was blocked with a squad of enemies who happened to plant a heavy machine gun right at the top of the path. While the enemy AI proceeded to pepper us with machine gun fire I heard one of my own AI squadmates yell to me to come with him and we would flank the enemy position. I was caught off guard by this statement and being the good soldier I am I did what I was told. Sarge and myself went along another path and flanked the enemy position and we were victorious in taking out the very well placed machine gun. It was times like this that really made me realize how good the AI could be. During my time with the game I found that the squad AI was very capable of helping out during the various battle situations and assisted me by attracting enemy fire or killing that last enemy that seemed to pin me down. If there was any negative to be found here, it was that my fellow squadmates were invincible as they took everything the enemy threw at them, including rockets to the chest, without missing a hitch. The would just get up, wipe themselves off, and keep fighting. This was somewhat unrealistic and was quite noticeable during gameplay. It is not a major issue though, just something you will notice.
Speaking of AI, the enemy AI provides a formidable challenge. From long distance sniping while hiding in a spot that you can barely see to situations where they blast the wall your hiding behind in an attempt to expose your position in order to take you out, they are pretty good at making you work to survive. This game is not a cakewalk, even with your well honed squadmates fighting along with you, and the challenge you will find on some of the levels will test your gaming skills to the max.
Also back this time around are the destructive environments. For those new to Bad Company almost everything in the game is destructible, from buildings, fuel tanks, to the trees in the forests, most objects can be destroyed. This aspect of the game is very integral as you can blow open a wall to expose an enemy sniper or to create an escape route from a barrage of enemy fire. As with the original, this is a great feature of the game and adds a whole new dynamic to the battles.
Along with the weapon combat that takes place, Bad Company 2 also adds some great vehicle combat. The original had a taste of this type of gameplay, but this time around there is a lot more vehicle segments, whether you drive them or just ride along and control an onboard weapon. You will find yourself driving jeeps, tanks and ATV's to manning a machine gun/grenade launcher on a jeep or helicopter. These are a nice change and add a great feel to the game. One of my favourite ones was manning the mini-machine gun on the side of a helicopter while trying to clear an area to land. Great stuff indeed.
In terms of gameplay length, the single player experience will last anywhere from 7-12 hours or so, depending on one's skill level. Of course this also entails if you wish to search for all the collectibles and how much time you spend just soaking up the whole experience.
So there is no doubt that the single player experience but many there is also the well known and well loved multiplayer that will bring most gamers back.
Bad Company 2 offers different modes for those looking for multiplayer madness. Squad Deathmatch offers up the chance for four squads of four to take on each other in a traditional 'kill all' battle. Conquest has two teams trying to take and hold control of three points on the map all the while holding off each other from taking back said points. It is definitely a 'see-saw' affair which can be quite fun and offers up a heck of a lot of destruction. The final mode is known as Rush. This is more of an attack and defend affair as one team attacks two targets in an effort to destroy them while the other team tries to defend them. If the attacking team is successful in destroying the two targets then another two open up on a new section of the map. All modes are fun so you'll have a lot to play.
Adding the experience is the ability to choose to play as one of four classes. The soldier is the grunt of the classes and uses assault rifles, grenade launchers and deploys ammunition for teammates. Medics use machine guns and can revive downed teammates. Engineers are more stealthy and are able to destroy or repair vehicles. Finally snipers use their long range weapons to kill from afar and set up close range demolitions. You will find that each class offers up pluses and minuses for your style of play. As you take part in in any of the modes you earn points for killing enemies, supporting teammates, taking enemy positions, earning medals or destroying enemy targets. These points unlock new weapons, gadgets and attribute boosting features which can make you more powerful, and more proficient in the game. I have to say that there are some incredibly well equipped soldiers out there already and I had my butt handed to me more then I would like to admit.
Overall the online experience can be fun as long as you work as a team. If you plan to go all 'lone wolf' then don't expect to get much out of the multiplayer modes. Teamwork is important. If you and your team go along and make tactical decisions then you will really get a lot out of these modes. From deciding where to spawn to what vehicle to use for an all out attack or a flanking run, it can really be fun. That being said, be prepared for some frustration at first. You'll find the size of the maps disorienting at times, and learning the right places to go and the most effective load outs can be mind numbing, but you can get through it with patience.
I have to comment on the private match function, as well as the matchmaking features. They are far from refined, espeically the latter. First off, trying to host a private match for a large group of friends can be quite frustrating. Just when you think you have even teams, and you start the game, you discover the teams are changed up and are very uneven. Given that you have to go through EA's internal servers, you'll find that setting up a match can be quite trying indeed. As for matchmaking, I think that EA needs to fix this aspect of the game as it really does not exist. There is nothing more unfair then seeing a group of low level gamers being put up against a group of high level gamers. I saw, and experienced, many games where those under level 10 were put up against people 20 and higher. It made for some very lopsided matches given that the higher ranked people had better kits, a better understanding of the level, and were just more powerful overall.
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