Thursday, 25 March 2010

Review | Battlefield: Bad Company 2

Yes, Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is better than Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2. I apologize for the direct approach I have opted to take for the introduction to this review; however, I felt that for the majority of people who decided to read this review that was the one real question they wanted answering. Here is why:

Indeed the gaming market is flooded to the brim with First Person Shooter titles, all of which are dominated at this moment in time by the Infinity Ward’s Goliath, Call of Duty. However, amidst the chaos, David stand’s tall and for this metaphor, goes by the name of Bad Company 2, are you following me? In all seriousness, Battlefield: Bad Company 1 was an excellent title that boasted great potential for expansion into a staple FPS franchise. This is exactly what has happened as Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is an intense package that boasts superb online multiplayer, a thrilling and engaging campaign, all strung eloquently together with great voice acting, script, technical design and physics; just about all of which, is executed with perfection.

Bad Company 2’s campaign mode is certainly an epic ride. You find yourself traversing beautiful and vast locations from the jungles of Bolivia to the Andes Mountains, all of which boast huge firefights and lots of action to sink your teeth into. Unfortunately, one of Bad Company 2’s only faults is spotted almost immediately upon playing the game; there is no co-operative campaign mode that allows you to play with a buddy. This is a real shame, but is sort of amended by superb character involvement. Your entire squad is vibrant and bursting with personality, making it not only intense, but also extremely entertaining to play out the campaign. The campaign’s difficulty curve is very well done, challenging with the ability to make it a real battle for survival on harder difficulties. Your AI buddies are also balanced brilliantly, getting involved with the action but allowing most of the fun and glory to be done by you.

Bad Company 2 also boasts incredible destructive physics, allowing everything to be shot through, blown up and just plain ravaged by war. This spawns into the multiplayer also, giving maps a real post battle tone, making victory that much more fulfilling knowing you’ve not only destroyed the enemy, but also absolutely everything else in your path. There is absolutely nothing like blowing the side of a wall off with a grenade launcher, to get allow your sniper a better shot at the enemy inside. A lot of games actually boast this physics, most recently being the new Red Faction game. This destructible environment perk can easily go wrong, with things landing in awkward positions and sometimes being stuck in the air, fortunately in Bad Company 2 this is certainly a rarity. You will a few times in your adventure stop and laugh at a stupid result to an explosion, but for the most part it is implemented very well.

Battlefield: Bad Company 2’s highlight is by far the multiplayer and also arguably the most important comparison for Call of Duty, the dominant multiplayer shooter on the market. Up to 24 players battle it out in squads across various maps in four different game types. These are Rush, a defensive based battle where players must either attack or control M-COM stations until the time runs out. Conquest, a capture the flag game mode where the aim is to not only hold the flags but until the enemy runs out of respawn points to continue fighting. Squad Deathmatch, a brutal battle between four squads and an Infantry Fighting Vehicle, first to fifty kills. Last but not least, Squad Rush, a miniature version of the first game mode where four on four do battle over the M-COM stations.

The multiplayer shows off technical genius with well-designed, balanced and large maps for this action to unfold. The game just oozes adaptability and skill in online game mode as Bad Company 2 is all about cooperation and team work, solo efforts go few and far between for victory, something that a lot of Call of Duty players have been saying is missing from their online experience. The demographic is also much more suited to how shall I put this, mature gamers, you will find yourself getting a lot less annoyed with the people you play with online here.

Just like any other competitive shooter, Bad Company 2 of course rewards players for their service on the field with experience points and unlockable content. You will be able to choose from one of four classes when you play online: the aggressive soldier who is your grunt man, the engineer who is your anti-artillery and heavy duty, the sniper who is your distant assassin and the medic who keeps his team alive. Each class feels very balanced but the right mixture is needed in order to be successful online and they must be used for what they are good for, as there is no use in running head first into a battle as a medic with his sub-machine gun. That is, until you start unlocking lots of upgrades for those particular classes, making yourself and enemies unpredictable, and as a result, very deadly.

I keep mentioning Bad Company 2’s incredible destructible environments, but this is largely thanks to the well-designed weapons and the powerful vehicles that you are at your disposal. There are 15 vehicles available, including new additions over the original such as the Black Hawk and a quad bike. Obviously each vehicle is used for a specific purpose, be it recon or sheer destruction, whichever way you choose to use them, the game does a terrific job at balancing combat and allowing engineers to really do a number to vehicles, preventing them from being overpowered. That’s not to say however, that you cannot catch a team off guard and go ballistic with the tanks turret cannon and rack up a huge score count, if a team chooses to not work together to take you down, reap the rewards.

I think it is here that I am going to take the moment to truly point out the excellence in the game’s sound design. I don’t think I’ve ever played a game that has immersed me so much war. Aside from the obvious things such as hearing footsteps and the rustling of the jungle, depending on the environment you are in, it is a joy to hear snow crunching underneath your feet or the water splashing from your boots. On a more dynamic scale, huge explosions cause momentary deafness as it cracks the skull of your character. I thought the opening segment of Killzone 2 was incredible for this, but Bad Company 2 is really in a league of its own here. Alongside the sound design, the graphics are also surprisingly beautiful, I think it is more the colour design that makes the game so rich and nice to look at, but character models, building destruction and firefights are all very well presented with almost no slowdown time in the heat of the action.

Ultimately, this is a complete First Person Shooter package. I bought Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2, have played it for countless hours, and still have not even touched the campaign mode or sniper classes online. What does this tell you, it’s a linear game that does not promote variation. Battlefield: Bad Company 2 emphasizes that the campaign is a huge part of the game, rather than a slung on addition, it demonstrates through combat that each and every class type is power in its own way and should be used and it damn well boasts some phenomenal game play that will have you questioning your FPS loyalties. This is without a doubt, the shooting title to own right now.

Igor Kharin
CeX (UK) Contributor
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