DICE nails Single Player
DICE's console-centric Bad Company makes its return in the aptly titled Bad Company 2.
EA has quietly built the best collection of FPS developers in the business. They have DICE, Criterion (who are still, allegedly, going to make a Black sequel), Respawn (the former Infinity Ward guys), and the upcoming Epic/People Can Fly gem Bulletstorm all under their banner at present. It's a Murderer's Row of gaming that has not been matched, possibly, ever (and I'm still hoping...admittedly, it isn't likely to happen...for a Mirror's Edge sequel as well). Activision's dominance in this arena is now possibly killed permanently.
Bravo Squad returns and they are still a ragtag --- yet exceedingly qualified --- collection of soldiers with a bit of an issue with authority. One thing that comes through loud and clear is that your teammates and you are exceptionally tight...and that you happen to enjoy engaging in some weird-ass dialogue. From discussion of Harrison Ford roles to discussions of the proper way to pronounce 50 Cent's name, they will discuss any absurd topic that they can think of. Whomever wrote the dialogue deserves an award because it is genuinely amusing, but it doesn't seem forced and simply serves to really make the characters seem more real.
The plot has some odd twists and turns...but none of it seems far-fetched. They manage to make the plot perfectly logical, if not a little weird.
You get a really intriguing opening level where you are shown all the basics while being stuck in Japan during World War II at, arguably, the worst possible time somebody can be stuck in Japan. You are then thrown into the modern day setting where your overriding goal is to prevent a Russian general from gaining control of a superweapon. Of course, the plot does not remotely move in a straight line, but the ride you are taken on is one you really need to sit back and enjoy.
One thing the game does exceedingly well is ambient sound. Your guns sound truly powerful. Sniper rifles provide a nerve-wracking crackle that you hear far away right before either you or your target cease breathing. Your other guns all sound powerful and have the impact a weapon such as these should have, Unlike a lot of shooters, enemies aren't bullet sponges (and, in the higher difficulties, you aren't one, either). Your AI teammates will do enough to help you along, but it is impossible to rely on them alone to drag you through a level.
The developers even manage to cram in several different mechanics. In one area, you have to find fire to prevent from freezing to death while traversing the level. You get the pilot tanks, control UAV's, fire remote controlled rockets at helicopters, etc. The game doesn't really get boring, nor does the relentless pace ever seem to let up.
Everything feels properly visceral...chaotic in a way that only war can truly feel chaotic. The vehicle sequences all seem to feel like you're holding on by the skin of your teeth, but in those sequences, that is precisely what you are doing. The vehicles control pretty well, although they do seem awfully fragile. It doesn't take a lot to explode your vehicle.
DICE showed that they can actually do single player gaming. Before this, in Battlefield games, they were quite content to simply slap bots into multi-player maps and call it a single player affair. The prior game had some solid signs, but the storyline was pretty disjointed and it didn't really feel like they put any thought into the sole affair. This time out, though, they have produced a phenomenal single player campaign that is well worth your time and energy to play.
Multiplayer has the same problem all MP games have (namely, there are always a selection of pathetic losers who spend all day playing this one game, so most people will simply get into a match and get slaughtered in seconds...repeatedly). I am not sure how this issue can be fixed (a lot of these trolls would play in a set-aside noob area if they could). This is a growing problem and could end up severely hurting MP gaming online, much as the assorted freaks who became insanely good at fighting games helped kill the appeal of fighting games in arcades.
The single player game alone makes this one a must-buy. If you like the online, it is only that much better.