delta_ass's Battlefield: Bad Company 2 (Xbox 360) review

In this review I make some comparisons to Modern Warfare 2.

 My review:

Battlefield Bad Company 2 is kind of a mixed bag for me. I played through the campaign and it was... really a bit of a disappointment. They seemed to really strip out all of the... open worldiness that you would expect in a Battlefield game. I never played the original Bad Company, so I dunno how that campaign was, but BC2's is just... kinda fucking bland and lifeless. Everything's tight and scripted, except for that one open level in the desert, but even that was very limited and bordery. Cause you'd drive around in your jeep but if you didn't approach the three separate objective locales in the way that they (DICE) wanted you to, you'd just run up against their fucking lame ass uh... I don't even know what to call it. The "You are leaving the game level, 10 seconds to turn back" prompt pops up. You guys know what I mean. That fucking limit. Cause DICE isn't even capable of conjuring up traditional level boundaries. They don't use trees or debris to block your path, or invisible walls, they just hit you with that prompt and the 10 seconds to cease and desist. Just... ughhhh. In a multiplayer game like Battlefield 2... maybe that's okay and fine and whatever, cause you're just playing against other dudes and spawning and doing shit, but in a singleplayer campaign... it just feels very out of place and lame and um, dumb.

So yea, everything's generally pretty damn linear and scripted, but... there isn't the polish that a similar game like Modern Warfare 2 has. In Modern Warfare 2, everything's scripted to hell and back but at least it provides a pretty cool experience. There's a lot to look at and take in and it's a roller coaster ride. With BC2's campaign, there's not much polish, there's not much excitement. You just move from one encounter to another while marveling at how the graphics look not so great.

Again... MW2 has its share of problems, but the game looked good for the most part. Infinity Ward got a lot out of their refined CoD 4 engine. BC2 on the other hand, has a startling lack of AA, so you've got jaggies everywhere. Then you look at the outdoors terrain, and some of it can look alright, but then other times you'll glance up at a hillside and see a bunch of... uh, rows of trees? At least, I think that's what they're supposed to be depicting? Cause honestly, they seem like a bunch of placeholder textures that DICE's newest intern placed on the level because he didn't know what the fuck else to do with the map editor. Really low rez textures of trees bunched together, placed about 4 or 5 times up the side of these hills... it's pretty atrocious. They're like DooM-era sprites. Very hard to miss, I think. A lot of the terrain unfortunately looks like that.

BTW, what is up with the turret on the Humvee? Did anyone else notice that when you swivel it, it'll just go off the axis? So you can shoot it, but the damn thing is aiming off to the side from your perspective? It doesn't look straight ahead like a regular turret? Why the hell did DICE have that in the game? Do people actually shoot the humvee MG like that? It just... it looks fucking weird. And I'm kinda OCD, so it bugs the hell out of me. Was there some reason they designed that to look that way? It's so confounding.  

Now, the shooting in this game is pretty interesting. I was kinda surprised by the shooting mechanics in this game at first. Cause if you've played MW2, you're pretty used to that sort of shooting. Everything feels very easy and smooth in that game. You press the trigger, and your aim doesn't alter much. There's a real sense of ease with which you tap-tap-tap things to death. It's like firing a nailgun or something, there's just very little recoil or feedback to the shooting. It's why most people just snipe with the assault rifles in that game, there's not much difficulty to it.

BC2's shooting is almost a sea change in comparison. There's way more kick, way more jolting and jittering going on. In fact, the first level in WW2 had almost a bit too much of that, it felt like your aim was shaking all over the place like you had Parkinson's. Just a ridiculous amount of that. But in general, the feeling of shooting is much more visceral, and probably much more realistic. The recoil kicks your view around a bit and makes it somewhat harder to land shots. Like I said, firing in MW2 feels like you're shooting nails or something. In BC2, you definitely feel like you're firing a big heavy firearm and sending some nasty ordinance downrange. It's a satisfying feeling and being different from another game is fine. It just takes a bit to get adjusted to.

Now, what isn't fine is the amount of damage that enemies take. I'm not sure if this happens on Normal mode, but on Hard, it just felt like enemies weren't going down in a reasonable amount of shots. Unless you're shooting them twice in the head, they seem to take a lot of punishment. If you shoot twice in the body, they'll often just drop down and roll right back up in this kinda funny animation. So... I feel that the increased difficulty in shooting, combined with the more fortified enemy soldiers, makes for a less satisfying single-player experience then MW2. Making shooting a bit harder is fine, but you don't get much satisfaction from it, because they just get right back up after you land the first burst. The end result is you requiring a reload after every 2 or 3 kills, which sucks because the reload animations in this game aren't that fast. Marlowe's very deliberate in how he reloads. Which is strange, because he can flip up those M203 sights lickety split. He can do that in a jiffy, boy howdy. It is really fucking fast how his hands dance across those sights. But just reloading a magazine seems slooooooow.

Speaking of reloading, I really like the ammo counter in BC2. The thing I find really annoying in MW2's ammo counter is that your magazine rounds are just depicted as these tiny little pips. Why the hell would anyone want to count tiny little pips in a row on the bottom of your screen, which is semi-hidden against the terrain of the ground? Why not just use real fucking numbers? Instead of populating the lower righthand corner of my screen with 30 tiny fucking bullets, why not just write a big 30 there? Which is, ya know, what most FPSs do? Well, I guess Infinity Ward thought they were being clever and innovative or some bullshit, but it's just stupid. Nobody needs to see all 20 or 30 or, the worst one of all... 200 fucking wide ass bullet symbols for your machine gun. Seriously, they actually go to the trouble of fitting in 200 really short, wide pips on the HUD for the machine gun ammo count. It's ludicrous. Thank god for BC2's normal numbers. Three Zero. Or Two Zero Zero for MGs. That's all we need. Everyone playing your game can count numbers, we don't need bullet symbols. Ya know what, I'm glad ActiVision tore those IW guys down. Stupid ass pips.

So yea, the overall story... couldn't really tell ya. Not very well told at all. MW2 had one crazy ass, Michael Bay retarded plot, but at least I knew the major players. I could tell what was going on. It didn't make much sense logically, but it was narrated somewhat well. With BC2, it was... just a blur. Something about scalar things making EMPs and this Russian dude with the other insider CIA guy and... uh. It was just not told in any sort of competent manner. I had no idea why I was defending a fallen satellite in one level and trekking through a jungle in another. The Russian guy seemed pretty bad, but why I was finding an EMP weapon in the hold of a cargo ship in the fucking desert... I couldn't begin to tell ya. Just uh, very confusing. What can I say, the campaign wasn't good. It was bad. It was a bad bad campaign.

Okay, now we get to multiplayer. The leveling up system seems good. It seems better than MW2's in some ways. For example, you had to unlock the red dot sight for each gun you used. You had to level up each individual gun to get the red dot sight on it. That is fucking retarded. That is really really dumb. In BC2, it's a bit better. Now, you just have to unlock it for each class. Within a class, you only unlock it once. After that, you can mount it whenever you want to. You want a red dot on your XM8 or your M416 or your F2000... it's all good. Only one unlock and all those guns can use the sight. That's pretty good. Of course, you have to unlock it for the other 3 classes, but hey... life isn't fair. It's still a better state of affairs than that other game.

BTW, just my personal preference here but uh... WTF is up with the red dot sight in this game? I don't mind that it looks different from the one in MW2 but... dude, it looks fucking terrible. Just really really bad by comparison. I'm not sure if BC2's depiction is supposed to be more realistic or what, but on a purely aesthetic level... BC2's looks like dog shit. It's pretty huge and solid red and there's an obnoxious red glow that kinda takes over the entire dot in certain lighting situations and also, the rest of the sight has this greenish texture over it. Again, being different from MW2 isn't a sin in and of itself, but this is just straight up inferior. It's an ugly sight. Now, it's still useful because it's less obstructive than iron sights and better for close range combat than the 4x ACOG, but Jesus Christ, DICE really could've helped themselves by ripping off Infinity Ward in this area. I doubt I'm the only one who thinks this red dot's a stinker, either.

Multiplayer is... a lot better then MW2's, I think. The openness of the environment is what I really appreciate and you're not gonna find that in MW2. MW2's multiplayer kinda plays like a very arcadey version of Rainbow Six in how the levels are all rather small and everyone has the chokepoints memorized. BC2 feels like a more arcadey version of Ghost Recon or OFP. Which is great, because there's a bit more freedom involved. Of course, being able to destroy buildings realistically is a great feature. That's something that you'll never see in MW2. I'm not sure if 40mm grenades are quite as powerful in real life as how they're portrayed in BC2, but what the hell, it's just fun to blow walls apart.

However, the game still ends up suffering from a lot of the... Battlefield jank that I've always felt. Ya know, stuff from Battlefield 2 that never felt right. Of course, they did get rid of dolphin diving, which was a huge problem in BF2. But on the downside, they accomplished this by totally getting rid of the prone position. Kind of a throw out the baby with the bathwater situation, I think. But the Battlefield jank persists in a lot of ways. I think one of the big problems is just how much movement is constrained in the environment. You're constantly running into steps or debris or rails sticking out of the ground that hinder your movement. And so you press your jump button. You press it a hell of a lot in this game. You need to jump two or three times sometimes to clear a sandbag. A lot of debris from the destructible buildings also requires a ton of jumping. It's just... it gets to be a bit bothersome, especially if you end up getting caught on some part of the environment, which requires additional jumping. Just mindless mashing on the jump button. The game starts to feel almost like a platformer, instead of one focused on combat and shooting stuff. MW2 had a jump button too, but in general, there really wasn't as much of a need to use it, I feel. A lot of areas had cover that you could contextually use the jump button on, but then you'd just do this sorta deliberate mantling maneuver over it. It felt much less jumpy, and because of that, the emphasis was squarely on shooting, which is how I feel it should be. Maybe even just changing it to more of a climbing mechanic would help, because right now it's just a ton of hopping and hopping and hopping around on debris until you get unstuck.

There's also still the issue of a lot of weird rubber banding at times. Sometimes it's just a strange lag spike, but the rubber banding seems to be exacerbated by driving around in vehicles. Vehicle use has always been a defining characteristic of the Battlefield series but it's always felt a bit off. BC2 still hasn't quite cracked the nut. First of all, why the hell is left bumper the fire button? That feels so odd. Right trigger should always be fire. This isn't some weird Japanese game, where you expect controls to be complete garbage. But DICE thinks left bumper is a perfectly fine button for firing. I dunno. I just don't understand it.

But yea, back to the vehicles. You take control of the turret of a humvee, or an MG turret of a tank, and there's a lot of jank going on. There's a lot of aiming getting disrupted by rubberbanding, or just responsiveness issues. It's like the vehicle's going way too fast for the server latency to keep up with, so you just end up with times when your aim goes to shit and you can't do anything about it. Battlefield 2 felt the same way. Maybe broadband just isn't good enough to support vehicle netcode yet. But it always feels a bit off at times.

BTW, I've never enjoyed the Battlefield approach to vehicle positions. In both BF2 and BC2, you can get into a tank and just drive off and do your own thing. You can drive and fire the main gun yourself. Now, how is that realistic, and how does that encourage teamwork? I hate how that mechanic works. A tank should require a minimum of two crew members, one to drive, and one to fire the main gun. And optionally, a third person to fire the mounted MG. Then you've got powerful vehicles, but you've also got the requirement of having people working together, as a team. Just like in real life. As we all learned from Uncle Ben, with Great Power Comes Great Responsibility. Except DICE disagrees. DICE just wants to let anyone hop into a tank and drive off doing whatever they please. Terrible, terrible design. I have always been against this, and I probably always will.

Hardcore mode is something I am very disappointed in. The only reason I want to play Hardcore mode is for increased lethality. I want to kill and be killed in 1 or 2 shots, because it's more realistic. However... Hardcore mode fails spectacularly to satisfy that need, because they go overboard and introduce a bunch of bullshit limitations that... go beyond realism and into the realm of fucking retarded. Most of these problems are also evident in MW2's Hardcore mode. But some are unique to BC2, like... getting rid of spotting. Spotting in BC2 is great. I love spotting and helping my team. In Hardcore, spotting still sorta exists but there's no longer any marker. Well, what the hell is the point of spotting, then? The marker is why you spot. Sure, they'll still show up on the minimap, but cmon... that's such a terrible gameplay decision. In real life, you can't put magical markers on people's HUDs, but you're able to point to an enemy spot out yonder to your buddy hunkered down next to you. The marker kinda works as a gameplay substitute for that. Getting rid of it in Hardcore makes it almost useless and ruins the mechanic. There's no call for that.

Plus, there's no ammo counter. Now, you might think this would be realistic at first, but no... no it's not. In real life, you don't have an ammo counter on a HUD, but you've got a pretty good sense of how many rounds you've shot off. Plus, some guns use transparent magazines, or ammo belts, which allow you to visually check the number of rounds left. And of course, you can check your total ammo amount by looking at how many magazines you've got left in your vest pouches or pockets. None of this is doable in BC2's Hardcore mode. So why is there no ammo counter? Are we just supposed to write down how many rounds we have left on a notebook somewhere when we're not firing? Is that what DICE expects us to do? Seriously, it's just really annoying, and I can't do it. I'm not gonna mentally keep track of ammo or write it down on notes next to my controller. That's not fun, that's bullshit. That is pure bullshit gameplay.

Lastly, you lose the reticle on your screen. Now, this one... it's just my personal preference, but I don't care for it. I like having a reticle on the screen. When you're firing from your hip in real life, you've got a well tuned spatial sense of where the gun is firing. It's something that, I think, is represented in a video game by the reticle. Obviously, you should aim down the sights for precision fire, but I think having the somewhat inaccurate reticle for normal firing is fine at simulating how a well trained soldier would fire their gun from the hip in a sort of instinctive manner, when you're caught in situations without the time for aiming down the sights. So the disappearance of the reticle in Hardcore just annoys me. Plus, honestly... what ends up happening is that people are just going to exploit the game by drawing a reticle on their monitor screen. Which is lame, but that's what the game forces them to do. So all this ends up accomplishing is putting those people (me) who don't care for defacing their monitors at a disadvantage in certain combat situations. That's just a shame.
 
One aspect I was thinking about right before going to sleep last night... the helicopters. There aren't any jet fighters, so now we just have the helicopters. Now, the helicopters in Battlefield games have always been really overpowering in the right hands, but also a tad bit difficult to pilot for new players. They require a lot of skill to utilize. And, thinking about that problem... it occurred to me that you don't really get any opportunity to try them out in singleplayer. There's a level called Heavy Metal where they let you drive tanks around and then you can use a UAV for a bit, but that doesn't really do much. You just kinda hover there and fire a bunch of missiles at buildings. It's not what I had in mind. It would really have helped if they'd included a dedicated helo section in the game to help beginners and just people who have always kinda shied away from the intimidating task of piloting a Helo. Cause valuable vehicles in BF have always been fought over in multiplayer and if you don't know what the hell you're doing in em, well, people on the server kinda get pissed off. And... rightfully so, it's stupid to just let a noob crash them into the ground when they're an absolute juggernaut in the right hands.

Some sort of tutorial level in the campaign would've gone a long way to making sure anyone can choose to operate a vehicle in multiplayer. Cause it generally comes down to people who can't pilot the helos just staying away, and people who are really good at flying em get to use em all the time, and that gulf just remains. It stays that way and that's not fun. 

So overall, I enjoy the multiplayer way way more than MW2's, but as far as singleplayer campaigns go... MW2's was much better. It didn't make sense, but it was polished and somewhat cinematic and fun. BC2's just kinda limped along.

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Other reviews for Battlefield: Bad Company 2 (Xbox 360)

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