Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Review
Developer: EA Digital Illusions CE
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Available on: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC (reviewed on PC)
It is no secret that EA have positioned Battlefield: Bad Company to take a piece of the market that Infinity Ward established with their much respected Modern Warfare series. The original Bad Company didn’t reach the heights of the rival franchise but with the release of the sequel DICE have another stab at taking the modern warfare crown. So does Bad Company 2 manage to overthrow the king or get hanged for mutiny? Hit the jump for the full review.
STORY: Battlefield: Bad Company 2 starts out strangely enough in 1944 where you are placed in control of Wyatt and sent in to the fray as cannon fodder for operation Aurora. Your task is to infiltrate enemy territory and retrieve a scientist who has valuable information about a new weapon of mass destruction produced by the Japanese. This prologue does a good job of establishing the ever persistent threat that you will be facing throughout the course of the campaign.
After a brief introduction to the games mechanics via the prologue you return back to present day where you are introduced to Private Preston Marlowe and the Bad Company squad who are on a routine assignment. Here they find evidence pertaining to the aforementioned weapon of mass destruction. The rest of the story revolves around you and your equally one dimensional companions trying to recover the missing Japanese technology and preventing the impending Russian assault on the United States. Let’s face it, it wouldn’t be modern warfare without a Russian raid on American soil.
Your squad is composed of those ever persistent walking clichés you could find in almost any action movie. From Haggard, your battle hardened explosives expert who just wants to kick some ass to your Danny Glover wannabe Sergeant who just wants to retire. It’s all a little too predictable.
As you may have gathered by now, the single player campaign is in the mould of a summer blockbuster movie. Unfortunately on the whole it’s a completely forgettable affair with the exception of some moderately funny banter and a few jabs at Modern Warfare 2.
GAMEPLAY: After hearing about the forgettable story you’re probably considering the jump to the multiplayer section of this review where Battlefield has always shined. Fortunately for Bad Company 2 though, the single player is actually quite good and serves as more than just filler on your way to the multiplayer. The campaign spans 13 missions including the prologue and is in the vein of games like Modern Warfare 2 albeit more structured. Although Bad Company kicks into high gear at a much slower pace than its counterpart you will find yourself in fire fights, tank skirmishes, AC130 style helicopter missions and genuinely fun set pieces that will put a smirk on your face. I would go so far to say that the slower start-up is one of the contributing factors to its better structure. The other being the in-game cut-scenes that push the narrative forward throughout the game. They also provide the occasional laugh thanks to the cheeky Modern Warfare 2 bashing and over the top dialogue.
There are an array of moments in the campaign that will stick with you over the course of the game but the majority of them take place in the latter part of the game. Whether you are fighting your way down a mountain in the midst of a blizzard desperately trying to find shelter so you don’t die of frostbite or racing your comrades on 4 by 4’s to you extraction point, it all remains entertaining and well put together. There are vehicle sections present throughout the game, the majority seem tacked on but there are a few that stick to the good old Battlefield formula and feel like second nature. The moment that springs to mind is a mission that requires you to triangulate the position of a derelict ship in the middle of a desert where it is believed the Japanese weapon you’re searching for resides. Here you are tasked with fighting your way to three points across a large map in any order you choose and given the choice of getting their by foot or vehicle. In doing so makes it feel like you are partaking in a single player version of a game of Rush, one of the Multiplayer modes in Bad Company 2.
This leads me on to the gun-play that represents the bulk of the single player campaign. As anyone will tell you, any good first person shooter comes equipped with a kick ass set of guns and for the most part Bad Company 2 doesn’t disappoint. The game uses the now accepted primary and secondary gun mechanic meaning your are only allowed to carry two guns at a time with the addition of a third place for the mounted grenade launcher for certain guns. Additional guns are acquired in-game as collectables spread about the 13 chapters and are marked on your map for convenience or picked up from fallen enemies. What Bad Company 2 does differently though is allow you to switch up your load out mid level. This adds the extra element of being able to select how you want to tackle a specific mission. Whether you want to sit back and pick off enemies or get close enough to see the their brains explode from that well placed headshot, it’s left up to you for the most part.
The destructible geometry adds another facet to the gameplay during certain points in the single player campaign. Those that are used to camping behind indestructible environments will have to adjust on more than one occasion. Many times during my playthrough I instinctively ducked behind cover to find that one well placed RPG had destroyed my cover and taken my head with it!
Sadly though the gameplay is let down constantly by the not so stellar enemy and squad A.I. Even on the hardest difficulty the A.I struggles to present a challenge. The majority of the game digressed into run and gun gameplay because the enemies were not clever enough to keep me or my squad pinned down. This was made worse by the “immortal” nature of my comrades who had the uncanny ability to shrug off grenades and gunfire like they had just been hit by paintballs. Squad A.I is by no means any better but I feel this was done purposefully to better the gameplay experience due to the lack of “intelligence” on the enemy side of things. The main problem is that your squad will refuse to kill anything despite shooting at the enemy for a good 10 minutes. This was tested on the hardest difficulty to the same result. So you end up with a squad that at times can’t be killed and refuses to kill, which is odd to say the least. This by no means is the worst A.I to grace a game but you would expect better for such a high profile game.
MULTIPLAYER: Make no mistake, this is where Battlefield: Bad Company 2 truly shines. In Bad Company 2, DICE have taken it back to good old fashioned solid basics. The multiplayer comes with 8 maps and 4 game modes, which might not sound like much but when you take into account the size of most of these maps you realise you could fit 4 or 6 conventional maps into one of them. Instead of trying to force a large amount of gameplay types into the game, DICE have kept it simple meaning all of the 8 humongous maps feel relatively balanced for all 4 game types. The modes consist of Rush, Conquest, Squad Rush and Squad Deathmatch, the later speaks for itself. As for the rest, Rush tasks you with defending or attacking two objectives until the attacking team’s tickets (lives) run out. Conquest gives the player capture the flag style gameplay in an attempt to make the opposing team lose their tickets. Holding more than half of the points on the map or killing the opposition will accomplish this goal, while squad rush is a toned down version of Rush with only one objective and two opposing squads.
The wealth of the games weapons/items have made it over from single player as well as quite a few extras to add to the already large catalogue of gadgetry. In spite of this things still remain relatively balanced between the 4 available classes in the game. If you are play your class correctly there is much satisfaction to be gained from the multiplayer side of the game. This is one of the few multiplayer experiences that has managed to cater to your more commonly found kill death ratio whore and the more strategically thinking player. Be warned though, run and gameplay won’t go down well here as Bad Company 2 is all about the team based gameplay.
The game sports a healthy number of upgrade/reward options for each class to the point that I have yet to fully unlock them all and anybody planning to will have their work cut out for them. There is definitely enough here to keep the average player going for some time. Experience for these rewards can be obtained from completing a myriad of tasks other than the standard killing of the enemy. Experience can be gained from capturing strategic points all the way to more class specific tasks like re-supplying allies with ammunition. These rewards are not just tacked on additions, they also help drive home the team based gameplay mechanic that Battlefield Company 2 supports.
GRAPHICS: Bad Company 2 is undoubtedly a pretty game from the impressive draw distances powered by DICE’s Frostbite engine to the outstanding particle system that effortlessly recreates desert sand storms and mountain blizzards.
It’s not all perfect though as on the odd occasion the PC version shows signs of tearing and I also noticed the letterboxing during the in-game cut-scenes were not aligned correctly, allowing you to see “underneath” the scene.
It’s also worth noting that the GUI during multiplayer sessions can be somewhat “glitchy” at times. It’s not uncommon for assets to overlap and run into each other as they struggle to fit onto the screen.
SOUND: The soundtrack for the game was composed by Mikael Karlsson who also worked on the original Bad Company so expect more of the same sorts of composition. I think it is testament to the gameplay design and the soundtrack itself that you barely realise the music at all in most cases, the two merge together effortlessly.
Voice acting is typically over the top and funny, just enough so that it doesn’t make you want to tear your ears off. Weapon sounds are fantastic and add an element of “weight” to their on screen representations. If you have a surround sound system then your ears are in for a treat.
LONGEVITY: The single player portion of this game is pretty short clocking in at somewhere between 6 to 10 hours depending on what type of gamer you are. That being said it’s fun enough that you will have no qualms replaying it again to experience some of its finer moments providing you can keep your itchy trigger finger away from multiplayer.
The multiplayer is where you will be spending the bulk of your time though and it has enough content to ensure that you will be playing this game for a long time, maybe more than Modern Warfare 2?! Those who are invested in the team/clan based gameplay will undoubtedly be playing this long after they have unlocked the last of the games 90 pins and badges. It is one damn addictive multiplayer game.
VERDICT: In a time where everyone wants a piece of the modern warfare pie, Battlefield: Bad Company 2 charges in and steals a couple of hefty slices. Despite certain limitations, the multiplayer manages to be highly enjoyable. Refined game types and superbly balanced team based gameplay will see players return again and again. Oh and the single player is pretty decent too! So, if you’re looking for a break from the run and gun shenanigans of Modern Warfare 2 then Bad Company 2 is most certainly the game for you. Who knows, you might not even return!