gs_dan's Battlefield: Bad Company 2 (PC) review

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Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Review

If you mentioned the phrase “modern warfare” to a PC gamer 5 years ago, it is likely only one title would spring to mind. It sure as hell wasn’t Call of Duty either.  Battlefield 2 is widely regarded as one of the best, if not the best, first person online shooter ever made.  Over 100,000 players are usually still online every day, half a decade after the game’s release. While the subsequent game in the franchise- Battlefield 2142- improved many of the series’ mechanics, it never met the same critical success. Battlefield Bad Company 2 (the sequel to 2008’s console exclusive Bad Company) is the first title since then to appear on the PC, but is it worth the purchase or should gamers just wait for the inevitable Battlefield 3?

Bad Company 2 is the first of the PC releases to feature a valid single player campaign, so needless to say many have been fairly dubious about it. While the previous games simply had you facing off against computer controlled AI in the multiplayer maps, this iteration sees a far more focussed attempt at satisfying the solitary player. Console gamers will be glad that the main characters from the first Bad Company have returned and have brought their off the wall humour along for the ride. In game banter and long, Easter egg reminiscent conversations will provide insights into each character’s personality, usually with amusing results. You’ll hear the gang discuss their favourite kill scenes from the movie Predator while trekking through a forest, for example. Frequent teases about the series’ main competitor are also rife- quips about heart beat sensors being “for pussies” and snow mobiles being “lame” while having a quad bike race truly put the tongue in the game’s cheek. You’ll be glad to have these guys to lighten the mood when the “excrement hits the oscillator”.

Unfortunately the rest of the single player doesn’t have the same appeal.  The bland plot doesn’t exactly have you yearning to get to the next cut scene, with the usual predictable betrayal not carrying any weight. The ending is abrupt and fairly shallow, leading straight into a sequel.
However, you can’t say that the locals aren’t varied- it’s almost as if Bad Company 2 is a culmination of DICE’s previous wartime romps. There are the snow levels reminiscent of 2142, the desert of Battlefield 2, the lush jungles of Vietnam and a World War 2 opening ala 1942. The final level is fantastic, with a section ripped straight out of something like Die Hard 4.0. There are a few good ideas thrown into the mix- being forced to keep warm in a blizzard and sniping in sync with booming thunder were highlights. The trek is shallow fun and it doesn’t take itself too seriously, never becoming too frustrating.
The single player should only be treated as a distraction from the game’s main draw- the multiplayer. The usual conquest mode- the staple of the Battlefield franchise- returns, alongside a couple of new additions. The biggest is the new Rush mode, which sees the two teams take up the roles of attackers and defenders, fighting over specific locations.  Should the attackers destroy the objective the map extends, giving the teams new areas to fight over. This gives the attackers a nice sense of progression, and having to retreat as a defender feels punishing. The attackers generally have superior vehicles to take control over, such as tanks and unmanned remote control helicopters. To counter this the defenders are given infinite respawn tickets, meaning the matches are pretty balanced. A smaller, more tactical version of Rush is available with two opposing 4 man squads. I found Rush to be a fantastic new addition to the series, really emphasizing the game’s ‘capture and control’ mechanics.
A team deathmatch is also available, but with a twist. Four teams of four fight in smaller areas over control of a single vehicle in an attempt to boost their kill count. This mode was simple fun, but didn’t have the same draw to me as Rush or conquest.
A large assortment of unlockables and gadgets will keep you busy levelling up for months, with teamwork promoting items like motion sensors and laser painting devices being brilliant fun. You won’t be found wanting for something to do. More complicated aspects of the game such as the battlefield commanders have been omitted, but features such as squad spawning make up for this.

The game’s presentation is a mixture of annoying, good and outstanding. The character models are particularly good- I was strangely attracted to Haggard’s perfectly fluffed moustache. The occasional flat texture did little to detract from the overall environment vistas, as they were lavishly decorated with vegetation and detail. One element of the graphics which I found to be frequently irritating was the copious amount of bloom lighting used in the game. Several areas were completely blinding (one deliberately so)- I appreciate graphical realism but not if it makes the game harder to play.
All is forgiven when you first whip out your grenade launcher, however. Newcomers to the Bad Company games will likely be floored the first time they fire an RPG and completely level a building, crushing those inside. The previous game only allowed holes to be blown in walls, but with the new engine concrete cover can be whittled down by gunfire and whole villages can be levelled. There’s a reason you’re never more than an arm’s reach away from an explosive device or the infamous red barrel.

The destruction is amplified by the fantastic audio. This is the best sounding shooter ever made. This is the game which will justify that ridiculously expensive speaker system you were eyeing. Change the sound options to “war tapes” then pump up the volume and the neighbours will be wondering why they bought a house in Baghdad. The deafening explosions, echoing gunfire and sharp, metallic clanks caused by reloading these tools of death will leave you completely floored. It has to be heard to be believed.

Battlefield Bad Company 2 is what your Battlefield player would want. It is also something which they didn’t know they wanted, but will gladly receive anyway. A fun single player romp combined with a near-perfect multiplayer, this game is certainly worth the investment and will (almost) make you forget about the wait for the mythical third installment. See you on the battlefield!

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