In Bad Company

I was absent for a few days last week, first because the WordPress app for my phone decided to stop working and lose my drafts, and second because I spent part of Friday and Saturday playing the new EA game Battlefield: Bad Company 2.

The newest in the long line of Battlefield brand games, this one is as fun as its parents, although bringing little new to the Battlefield family and a bit too linear for those used to sandbox games.  The old feature of blowing holes in buildings and the landscape remains, slightly updated to allow you to totally demolish buildings.  You’ve got some bad guys holding out in a building?  No problem; you can bring the whole building down with a few well placed shells or explosive packs, similar to last year’s sci-fi shooter Red Faction: Guerilla.

Visually, the locations are pretty and colourful, avoiding the washed-out bleak style of much of the Modern Warfare games, and the landscape views are wide and distant, and in the jungle levels, lush.  The plot thread about a lost super-weapon from a 1940s Japanese research facility falling into the wrong hands keeps the interest, along with some snappy dialogue, but with a sadly predicable plot twist.

Fortunately, the old characters are back, minus an explanation of how they ended up back on the frontline; at the end of the last BC, they were rolling off into the sunset with a truck full of gold.  The characters still have a gritty bad-boy charm, and a few snipes at Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 litter the script (“those special forces with pussy ass heartbeat sensors on their guns”).

The other rare novel addition to the campaign is on one level in the Andes where your character has to contend not only with bad guys, but with the elements and avoid freezing to death.  The colder your man gets, the more frosted his vision becomes and the more he shakes, creating difficulties aiming.

Ultimately though, the offline campaign mode for BF: BC2, even on the hardest skill setting, is too easy.  Despite more accurate weapon ballistics creating some challenge, the enemy AI is a bit dim, and a regular shooter player can easily complete the game in much less than 10 hours.  If you don’t enjoy online gaming, the short gameplay time in BC2 will make the game extremely limiting, and definitely not a good value for money purchase, and campaign-only players are advised to rent instead.

The original PC BF game, Battlefield 1942, introduced the multi-vehicle multiplayer online shooter to the world, and like it’s BF forbears, the real fun of BC2 is found in the online play.  And here is where BC2 becomes more challenging than the last.  Rising through the online ranking system takes a lot more work, and you aren’t able to pick your weapon unlocks like the last game, instead featuring an unlock system where you need to complete player class challenges to unlock weapons for that class.  If you want the best sniper rifle, you’ve got to play hard as a sniper.  However, the flexibility in choosing your load-out from your class allows you to play according to your style and preferences.  This flexibility also allows you to change mid match, and possibly turn the direction of a battle.

Although the maps are big (but not as huge as BF1942 or BF2), the field of view seems a little narrower than CoD: MW2, making for some paranoia to keep checking behind you for some sneaky geezer after your dog-tags.  In BF2 you could specify maps to run without the vehicles, and I wish this mode was available in BC2, as it would add variety to the online gameplay, forcing players to apply different tactical styles to the same maps.

If you like online multiplayer shooters, Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is different enough to MW2 to justify spending your hard earned on, and just as much fun.

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