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Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Review

4
  • PS3
  • X360
  • PC

Bad Company 2 is a terrific multiplayer shooter that offers the scope and strategy that made the Battlefield series so great in the first place. The single-player, however, feels a little flat this time around.


Chopper Flynn. 
Battlefield: Bad Company 2 builds off of the previous game by adding more multiplayer options and refinements and delivering a new single-player campaign. As someone who happened to enjoy the previous game a great deal, this is a fantastic thing. But the single-player campaign, despite offering a lot of the same charm and character that made the first Bad Company so memorable, doesn't pack the same punch the second time around. Sure, the wholesale destruction of buildings has gotten a bit better, but it feels like you aren't put in enough situations to actually take advantage of that fact on a regular basis. Instead, it feels like building additional multiplayer modes and refining that aspect of the game was a priority, and multiplayer fans should find those changes to be quite exciting.

The four guys that make up Bad Company are some of the greatest new characters to come out of this generation of console hardware. There's a natural sound to the voicework that makes them seem like some regular guys thrust into some pretty messed-up military maneuvers. Last time around, they broke ranks and attempted to steal a truckload of gold. In fact, the ending of the first game implies that they got away with some of that gold, too. But there's no mention of the gold in Bad Company 2. In fact, the events of the first game aren't really referenced at all during the main story. Instead, the same four guys are sent after a mysterious super-weapon that dates back to World War II, which makes a guest appearance in the game's prologue level before things get going in modern times. After a brief stint in Alaska to set up some of the action, B-Company is transferred into a special ops division and sent off to Bolivia. There's a bit of globetrotting going on between missions, but the core mission of finding out more about this secret weapon and stopping the people who would hope to uncover its secrets and use it against the United States remains the same.

Though you stick with your squad throughout the game, you don't often feel like you're fighting right alongside Haggard, Sweetwater, and the Sarge. After battles cool down, they seem to stand around, and it feels like they're warping ahead of you when you start running to the next checkpoint, just to make sure that they're in position for any scripted sequence or dialogue that may come up. Overall, I felt pretty disconnected from a lot of the action, and the campaign often felt pretty mindless.

 In single-player, there are new guys to mow down around every corner... like this corner up ahead, for instance.
However, a lot of that is because I wasn't stopping to let the environment and the squad sink in. There's a fair amount of incidental dialogue from your squad in Bad Company 2, but since they tend to stand still and not stick with you whenever there's no fighting going on, it's very easy to miss. If you stand around with the guys for a bit, you'll hear some hilarious exchanges, with jokes usually made at the expense of Haggard, the Texas redneck of the crew. In one moment, he'll attempt to tell the team that he's fluent in Spanish... or Spanglish, at least. But then he'll refuse to actually speak it. In another, he'll comedically brush up against the edges of racial sensitivity by asking the Sarge why "Afro-Americans" pronounce the rapper's name as "Fiddy" Cent instead of "Fifty." In yet another, he'll talk about how there are parts of his brain that could certainly use some washing. They'll debate the existence of God and what makes a man eligible to go to Heaven. At one point one of them will talk about the "big bong in the sky." The characters talk over each other and interrupt one another in a very natural way that sounds more like a movie scene than a video game. But the main story dialogue, by comparison, is extremely on-task and usually very dry. It's also received a liberal sprinkling of Generation Kill-inspired mil-speak, just like Modern Warfare 2, so expect to hear more than a few "Oscar Mikes" in there. And unless you make it a point to wait around for those incidental moments to trigger--and they don't seem to always pop up in the same place--you're going to miss the best part of Bad Company 2's approximately seven-hour campaign.

The action in the campaign feels flat in spots. The big thing about the first game was the introduction of destructible buildings and other covered positions. Walls blast apart beautifully when you launch grenades into them, and using a tank to decimate everything around you can be satisfying, as well. All of that returns for Bad Company 2, and you can now hit some buildings so hard that they collapse entirely. But the areas you're fighting through often don't take advantage of those strengths. There aren't many situations where you're given enough explosive hardware and enough nearby buildings to really tear the scenery apart, and it makes Bad Company feel a little less unique in the process. You'll move from point A to point B, shooting down everything that gets in your path. You can't absorb a ton of punishment, either, so you'll have to play fairly conservatively in hectic situations. Primarily, it just doesn't feel as wild as the first game did, even though it pushes many of the same buttons along the way with tank battles, a few spots where you're firing from mounted weapons on helicopters, and so on.

Meanwhile, the multiplayer side of Bad Company 2 feels like it got significantly more attention during the development process. To the casual onlooker, the differences might not seem enormous, but if you got up close with the first game and stayed there for a good length of time, you'll definitely appreciate the new modes. Conquest mode, which was released as an add-on for the previous game, comes stock now, and you can also play in squad deathmatch mode, where four teams of four players each fight it out until one squad gets 50 kills. There's also a mode called squad rush, which plays like a speed round of the standard rush mode for up to eight players. In squad rush, the attacking team only gets 20 tickets, but there's only one point to destroy at a time. If the attacking team can destroy two such control points, they win. It's a great mode for players who might not always have time to play through a full rush or conquest match. On the downside, squad rush is currently a pre-order bonus for console versions of the game, and will be that way for 30 days following the game's release, at which point it will be unlocked for all to use. Additionally, the game ships with a "VIP" code in the box on consoles, which like Mass Effect 2 and other games before it, is designed to deter second-hand purchasers by locking them out of certain content. Or you could look at it as "if you buy the game new, you'll get a free map pack out of it in a few weeks." Debating the pros and cons of such tactics is outside the scope of this review, but consider yourself informed about the nature of this game's code-based offerings. PC owners get squad rush immediately, with no code required.

The characters of Bad Company are still, well, characters.
Regardless of the modes and all that other stuff, the action in multiplayer remains largely the same, which is to say that it has a tactical depth that most shooters lack. You can hit a button to "spot" enemies, causing them to show up on your team's radar for a few seconds. You can pilot a UAV, giving you a sky-high view of the map, which makes it easier to spot for your team, though the drone can also fire a few missiles at targets. The UAV, as it turns out, leads to one of my favorite things to do in Bad Company 2: sneaking up on someone that's currently using the UAV station and stabbing them in the back, then sending the UAV crashing to earth. Of course, other vehicles are in play, giving you plenty of chances to royally mess up while attempting to pilot a helicopter or drive a tank while shooting at targets. The game retains its layered approach to unlockable items by tying most of its weaponry to the specific classes. So by playing as a medic, you'll gain additional medic weapons, which are usually light machine guns. By playing the engineer class, you'll get more submachine guns and gain access to the repair drill, which you'll need if you want to repair vehicles. Though I'm effectively married to the assault class and its ability to toss out ammo crates to help resupply troops in the field, the classes all have a different feel that makes them compliment each other very well.

The things that sticks with me about the multiplayer, though, is its audio. While most games can do up-close gunfire extremely well these days, once you get further away, it often loses a lot of its character. Battlefield's indoor/outdoor exchanges, where you might hear someone firing their XM8 all the way across the map while standing around a corner, all sound acoustically appropriate. Weapons fire and explosions muffle properly at range and echo around the environment amazingly well. You'll hear callouts from the troops as they perform tasks, and all of them sound, well, kind of savage. Hearing an American soldier curse up a storm as he's stabbing an enemy from behind is downright jarring, compared to the dry military talk that most other multiplayer shooters deliver. It's impressive, and all of that audio goes a long way toward making Bad Company 2 feel huge.

That huge feel has always been the big differentiator between the Battlefield series and other first-person shooters, and Bad Company 2's multiplayer has plenty of that to go around. Where the first Bad Company felt like a solid take on placing the PC-friendly Battlefield experience on consoles, Bad Company 2 settles in and feels right at home on both consoles and PC. This no longer feels like a compromise made to keep the console kids busy while PC owners wait for the next "real" Battlefield game. It feels a lot more like the genuine article, streamlined and bumped up to 2010 standards. If you appreciate the way Battlefield has done this kind of open, spacious warfare in the past, you're going to love it. Fans of the previous game's campaign mode, however, will probably feel a little disappointed. Jeff Gerstmann on Google+
132 Comments
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Posted by Yukoei

Great review.

Posted by regnits

I don't get the review about the single player. This is not meant to be Crysis but a COD type experience. A shooter on rails in other words. I found the SP a lot a fun and the story was no worst than MW2s what the hells going on.
 
But I can see no one going to agree on SP but I'm glad we all agree MP rocks. The maps take a few days to work out but once you know what the hells going on the fun starts here. This is the first MP game where I like all the game modes. There are not as many as other shooters but all of them are high quality.
 
This game is a must for any shooter fan.
 
Easily 5/5 for me.
   

Edited by Trilogy

Its funny to watch everyone get pissy over the the 4 star review and then say shit like "call of duty fanboy" and "the star system has to go". Its pretty damn hypocritical. Most people only care about multiplayer when it comes to Battlefield games. Jeff mentioned the multiplayer being the focus of the game and that it was good. So shut up, buy the game, and enjoy it. I know I will.

Posted by ImBigInJapan

Somehow I completely failed to notice this game coming out until I saw just about everyone on my Steam friends list playing it.

Edited by Gregomasta

I'll be honest, the singleplayer comes in second place compared to the multiplayer.  The singleplayer is very good and my squad is really fun to be around, hearing their anecdotes is a treat.  Multiplayer however gives me high octane perk lust like no-one's business.    The squad based gameplay is refreshing, it creates awesome moments such as working with my squad in squad deathmatch, holding down a building and working together to keep health up, ammo filled and spotting anyone that comes near; or defending crates in Rush always trying to make sure at least one guy stays alive.  The gameplay is fulfilling in every way I want a shooter to be but at the end of every match I want more, thank goodness all I need to do is click big JOIN button to continue on.  The game as a whole, multiplayer and singleplayer gets a 5 star rating for me, I don't see how it couldn't, however to judge singleplayer alone I'd understand it having only 4.  Good game, honest review.  Stop the mw2 hating, its even worth mentioning in the same page as bfbc2, and start spotting people.

Posted by Spongetwan

I played alittle of the game yesterday and I actually was enjoying the single-player. The graphics seem really good. I am hoping i will get a change to jump into the multi-player this weekend!

Posted by rta

the fact there is actually anything good to say about  single player in a bf game is a HUGE compliment. this game is looking sick. some real messes to sort out on the pc end (server issues) but it's going to be a great ride.

Posted by CTS_1987

I didn't really care to much about the fist Battlefield bad company, but this one blew me away. Singleplayer is sweet also funny the audio and lighting are some of the best i have heard and seen this generation for games. I also like the multiplayer to me its better than Modern Warfare 2's multiplayer.
Edited by ryukendevereaux

BC:2 single player > MW:2 single player 
  
BC:2 multi-player > MW:2 multi-player 
 
and it got 4 stars..........  BC:2 kicks ass, I enjoyed the SP and the multiplayer is the shit. 
 
 
btw 4 stars is good, but when you have to compare it to other FPS shooters that got 5, I won't mention any names .
Edited by pavakah

[Edit]
 I was surprised that you didn't feel the game was good enough for 5 stars.  I guess I'd understand it more if you didn't like the multi player, but you seem to have nothing bad to say about it.  If you're basing the score heavily on the single player campaign, then I guess I'd have take issue with the 5 stars MW 2 received.  Either way, it's a little incongruous.

Posted by Mezmero

I'll be giving a lot of time to the multiplayer.  I shoot better after I've been blazin'. <===~

Posted by Gizmo

People play the Battlefield series for the singleplayer?
 
Give me a break.

Posted by MeatSim

My copies coming in the mail today, get wait.

Posted by Sam3R

did not relies how good CoD MW2 until I played this game I think ppl who made this should be more than happy for 4 stars...
from me I think 3.5 at best... the whole engine that game is based at is rubbish... the controls are annoying.. dont know what
is wrong with the original controls that are used all over fps games.. I think they are a mess...
 
play CoD insted, ooor.. just rent a typical hollywood movie... maybe some rambo movie.. coz that what the campaign felt like.
multiplayer... stick with the demo... thats the most fun about the game. 
better spend ur money on what ever makes u happy

Posted by Valru
@JEC03 said:
" I disagree with Jeff this still doesn't feel like a real bf game it feels much more like a cod game unfortunately im dissapointed with it :( but im still going to keep playing it ,if this was a real bf game it would  be.  1.PC only  2.no regenerating health. healthbars intstead. 3.jets 4.prone 5.64 players 6.slower pace not so fast and arcady. 7.Commanders I could go on and on i  really hope bf3 is the next real bf game bbc2 isnt even close.      "
I've been playing Battlefield competitively since 1942 and goddamn you are nitpicking 
 
1)irrelevent since everyone knows bad company is more console focused,  but goddamn is the PC version superior 
2)dated game design, RED = DIEING THERE IS YOUR HEALTHBAR
3)bf3 
4)badcompany is a faster pace so prone is useless, wait for bf3 
5) 32 PLAYER BATTLEFIELD HAS ALWAYS BEEN SUPERIOR. 
6) Battlefield is not slow paced, ARMA is slow paced 
7) Commanders are a failed BF2 gimmick, 1942 didn't have any. 
 
in summary stop being so fucking anal, all my buddies from the 1942 competitive scene absolutely love this. 
 
1942 MADE THE SERIES, fuck off BF2 fanbois.
Edited by Valkyr

MW2 had the worst single player campaign on a AAA game in a long time, it's just a shooting gallery with some nonsense cutscenes going on between levels, that you barely understand and even understanding what it's going on, the script is so corny and dull you would wish you didn't get it. Come on, BC 2 could just be a multiplayer only game and it would be 5 stars any day, so you lowered it to 4 because of the single player??, why didn't you do the same with MW2??, and the bombcast this week,  why the Infinity Ward events were discussed at the very beginning of the podcast??, they are only news like for example EA shutting down Pandemic , but it seems that a lot of people being fired goes on the "News of the world" segment because it's not very important and some rumors about the devs of MW2 goes right after the bombcast theme.

Posted by Quacktastic

I love the crates in the campaign that let you change your weapon load-out whenever you want.  I want more games to act like games.  And the banter was easily my favorite part of the single player too.
 
Sarge v Hulk Hogan, Chopper Flynn, The Predator - I was stopping to let them talk pretty often and it was never not worth it.

Posted by Greywilde

This game has single player?

Posted by Camurai

I'm about halfway through the campaign and this review is spot on about it, MP is top notch though.

Posted by honeycut1

So it's worth picking up?  I picked up the first Bad Company and never played too much of it.  I guess I do need another game to add to the old pile of shame.

Posted by Gregomasta
@Sam3R said:
" did not relies how good CoD MW2 until I played this game I think ppl who made this should be more than happy for 4 stars... from me I think 3.5 at best... the whole engine that game is based at is rubbish... the controls are annoying.. dont know what is wrong with the original controls that are used all over fps games.. I think they are a mess...  play CoD insted, ooor.. just rent a typical hollywood movie... maybe some rambo movie.. coz that what the campaign felt like.multiplayer... stick with the demo... thats the most fun about the game.  better spend ur money on what ever makes u happy "
Your typing speaks for itself.
Posted by handlas
@Valru said:
" @JEC03 said:
" I disagree with Jeff this still doesn't feel like a real bf game it feels much more like a cod game unfortunately im dissapointed with it :( but im still going to keep playing it ,if this was a real bf game it would  be.  1.PC only  2.no regenerating health. healthbars intstead. 3.jets 4.prone 5.64 players 6.slower pace not so fast and arcady. 7.Commanders I could go on and on i  really hope bf3 is the next real bf game bbc2 isnt even close.      "
I've been playing Battlefield competitively since 1942 and goddamn you are nitpicking  1)irrelevent since everyone knows bad company is more console focused,  but goddamn is the PC version superior 2)dated game design, RED = DIEING THERE IS YOUR HEALTHBAR3)bf3 4)badcompany is a faster pace so prone is useless, wait for bf3 5) 32 PLAYER BATTLEFIELD HAS ALWAYS BEEN SUPERIOR. 6) Battlefield is not slow paced, ARMA is slow paced 7) Commanders are a failed BF2 gimmick, 1942 didn't have any.  in summary stop being so fucking anal, all my buddies from the 1942 competitive scene absolutely love this.  1942 MADE THE SERIES, fuck off BF2 fanbois. "
well you are a ray of sunshine.  A lot of your points are completely stupid.
Online
Posted by Erkenbrand

Anyone else experiencing problems connecting to the EA servers?

Posted by PhannIOUS

God... how long does it take to edit a video review? I don't have the time to read all this. And reading isn't like seeing.

Posted by KillerKahuna

I thought the Story felt nice, not flat at all :S
 
The story was better compared to the first. I mean there was no gold this time but it was a good run and it pocked some fun with the shooter that has nothing better to offer a.k.a. Modern Warfare 2 :P

Posted by posterguy

bad review if only I don't know what tickets are and other things are just unclear.
Posted by lockwoodx

Jeff  needs to shut his mouth before Shaft shows up. BF:BC2 is a sterling example of how to get a multiplayer right to the point nobody should give a flying rats ass about single player. 

Posted by lockwoodx
@MAN_FLANNEL said:
" @Kamasama said:
" @MAN_FLANNEL said:
" I called it.  Great multiplayer + so-so single player - coop = 4 stars.   "
When was this? You said 5/5 in a comment on the MAG review. "
Wow, somebody has a good memory (I didn't even remember saying that at first).  Anyways, I voted 4 in a "what do you think Jeff will give it" thread after hearing the campaign wasn't too hot. That 5/5 comment came from me being surprised by Jeff giving MAG ( a game which he didn't seem to like all that much) a 4.  "
Shit.. it rolls down hill.
Posted by durden77

Good review, bad score. 
 
There's no reason why this game shouldn't have at least the same score as MW2. The both have lackluster campaigns, (with MW2 being only 4-5 hours long on top of that) and great multiplayer depending on what your into. If your into very tight deathmatches, go to MW2. If your into massive war-simulating battles, go with BC2. 
 
Either way, their faults are in the same areas. Either MW2 should've gotten a 4, or BC2 should've gotten a 5. This just doesn't seem right.

Posted by RYNO9881

Just finished this game and this review is exactly what I was thinking about while playing.

Posted by ElectricEye

Love the Multiplayer, but the single player lacks the personality the guys had in BC1.
Posted by MormonWarrior

Huh. Seeing as I absolutely hated the controls and guns and basically everything in Bad Company, I'll skip this one.