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This man on a quad-bike is being chased by a gunship.Ddoes not condone being chased by a helicopter while riding a quad bike. If you’re being chased in such a manner, you probably deserve it.
DICE’S Frostbite engine is set to deliver all manner of battlefields, from frosty to sandy, in lovely smoky detail. Does condone smoke, but not smoking. Smoke is awesome, but smoking isn’t. Fire is awesome too, but very dangerous, so if you can try to get smoke without fire, it’s definitely for the best.
That bloke’s gun is one of up to 46 weapons that the player may wield and customise with up to 200 accessories, such as that grenade launcher. Does not condone the accessorising of weapons, as warfare and fashion should not mix.
Bad Company 2 gives you a choice of 15 different vehicles with which to crash into rocks, teammates and other vehicles. Does not condone this either, although crashing into things can be very funny.
Bad Company 2 boasts environments that can be blown to even smaller bits than before. However, does not condone the destruction of the environment, and this man is clearly just a vandal.
With a free-roaming approach to its battles, destructible environments and lots and lots of guns, perhaps the Battlefield series’ walk on the wild side isn’t such a bad thing after all.
Like an unruly teenager, the Battlefield series was led astray and found itself lost and confused in the land of the console. However worry not, for the prodigal franchise returns to us, at least in part, with the crossplatform release of Battlefield: Bad Company 2. All that time spent on the wrong side of the tracks has taught it a few dirty new tricks, resulting in a flashier incarnation that draws upon the depths of Battlefield’s PC heritage, but adds a Call of Duty -esque cinematic flair to the proceedings.
You May Cry Out, “Bad Company 2? What nonsense is this?” reading the title of this page. “How can there be a Bad Company 2 when I do not recall a i?” The answer is that Bad Company 1 didn’t exist for those of us who follow the righteous path of the PC.
With the emphasis on vehicular warfare, as well as the obligatory Humvee you’ll be able to take the controls of helicopters, tanks and jeeps as you throw yourself into a massive virtual war. Furthermore, each player will be able to utilise some 15,000 character specialisations, ensuring that everybody on the battlefield is different. The Battlefield series may have been usurped by the Modern Warfare behemoth in recent years, but those Swedes at DICE know how to throw together a decent multiplayer war. Battlefields coming home.
Due to logistics (we’re in the dairy again) we couldn’t manage a full 32-player affair but did have the chance to dabble with a five-vs-five multiplayer match, finding it a moderately engaging experience. With a steadier pace than Modem Warfare 2, some definite strategy was required, even if that meant jumping in the nearest Humvee and driving at the enemy until they inevitably slaughtered you. And with the level set in a dusty decimated town, it looked almost exactly like a scene from HBO series Generation Kill.
Included in the four multiplayer modes is the classic Conquest a staple of the Battlefield series since its inception, and an objective-based affair called Rush, which has its roots in Battlefield 2 . As Van Dyke says, “There’s been a lot of trials and tribulations in making this right, and we nailed it with this, bringing multiplayer into an open environment sandbox.” As for the other two modes, they’re yet to be announced but will apparently feature “really cool squad-oriented gameplay.”
As for that multiplayer, it will feature a massive 32 players, as opposed the console version’s paltry two dozen, “Frostbite is a leading technology,” says Van Dyke “It’s not for the faint of heart. For PC we’re able to squeeze more juice out of it and get it up to 32. Also it’s a version that’s being developed specifically for the PC. The core guts of the game and the idea is there but everything is being re-tweaked and everything is being balanced specifically for the PC.” Hurrah.
More specifically, the game involves not a food fight but an entirely fictional conflict between the USA and Russia. Taking place on the western coast of the Americas, the action – both single-player and multiplayer – will play out all the way from Alaska down to Chile, which obviously offers something of a mixed bag in terms of environments, covering familiar arid areas as well as jungle, alpine, foothills, and barren snowscapes.
“I think Battlefield as a whole, we’ve been doing it so long we’re like a chef who knows the exact amount of spice to put in if they want it a little bit spicier, or how to make it a little more savoury or a little more sweet.”
This time us PC chimps are allowed to the party, and Battlefield: Bad Company 2 promises more of the same, but naturally bigger, better, and, er, badder. And possibly slightly easier. As producer Gordon Van Dyke admits of the original game, “I think we made it too hard to kill people. In a shooter game people want to kill people. So we’ve upped damage and the pacing is a lot better, it’s tuned more.
A lighter affair than the core franchise, Bad Company saw you playing one of four ne’er-do-wells thrown together in the name of war and inevitably overcoming the odds with explosive action and comedy one-liners. While it was easy for PC snobs to accuse it of dumbing down the franchise, the Frostbite engine provided supremely destructible scenery, the squad-based single-player campaign was tight – if artificially difficult – and the multiplayer was a frenetic 24-player scramble with a chaotic mode called Gold Rush.
Time Was You knew where you stood with Battlefield. That was in 1942 , fighting World War II in a game that pioneered online military-based multiplayer action. Since then we’ve had Vietnam, 2142, back to 1943, Modem Combat, Special Forces, something about Heroes, and of course Bad Company. Except we didn’t get Battlefield: Bad Company, the series betraying its PC roots in favour of a console-only spin-off.
IN THE OLD days, if Blackadder Goes Forth and the one history podcast I listen to are to be believed, a soldier’s life was 99% tedium. But at least there was that exciting 1%, where you were running hopelessly through a storm of bullets, or getting piked in the guts.
It’s difficult to imagine the kind of banter that went on in the trenches, or whether soldiers inside a Roman tortoise shell trumped and giggled. They probably talked about women, unburdened by modern political correctness. Perhaps they fantasised about a future in which unmanned mechanical drones would patrol the skies, bomb the enemy, and flash disabling strobes at tourists taking photos. Personally, I’m willing to bet they sang, “We hope it’s chips, it’s chips”.
The single-player element of Bad Company 2 has a couple of outstanding features, but my personal favourite is this banter. Hang around, and a conversation might start up about what superpower everyone would choose: flying or breathing underwater? It might not sound like a groundbreaking comedy moment, but it’s cleverly and warmly written, in a way that makes every character seem likeable.
Even the gruff sergeant, who starts off telling you to pipe down, eventually comes around, reassuring people that their pun, which went ignored, was actually funny. These guys might not be the most decorated soldiers around, but they’re better company than the barking professionals of Modern Warfare, or the standard butch grunts we’re used to.
This is a tightrope of dialogue that’s expertly walked. Never falling into the trap of easy, wearying macho bullshit, Bad Company 2 credits the player with a good level of intelligence. Wisely, it also never topples into Stoner whimsy, although you do get the feeling that the scriptwriters have seen more than one episode of Aqua Teen Hunger Force. The script and acting makes the whole war experience rather pleasurable.
Bad Company 2’s other outstanding element is a remnant from Bad Company, but it’s worth mentioning because no other game does it to this degree: virtually everything can be destroyed. We’ve been taught, by the likes of Mass Effect 2 and Gears of War, that cover is sacrosanct. Pillars might get chipped, but only a boss creature can destroy them. Oh, and don’t hide behind anything flagged as a “Fragile Crate”.
But the rule remains: in cover, you’re safe, so you just wait until they’re reloading to pop your head out and return fire.
Bad Company 2 doesn’t have a cover mode, relying on crouching and old-fashioned line of sight -but even more terrifyingly, anything you hide behind can get blown up. Not just wooden fences and other classic soft cover: stone walls and mounds of sandbags get ripped up by RPGs, houses have their supporting walls blown away by shells from a tank.
In the level when you’re manning a helicopter’s minigun, you spend half the time demolishing the buildings with bullets, just because you’ve learned that you can.
As far as realism is concerned, it’s great: watching a house get reduced to a brick skeleton is satisfying or terrifying, depending on whether you’re using it as cover or not. But, combined with the
particle effects and uncompromising first-person perspective, it can also be disorientating. It doesn’t take much to kill you, and many of those deaths will be suffered while lurching for new cover through a fog of rubble.
On the other hand, it doesn’t take much to lose aeatns win De 3 for new rubble, kill the enemies either. The feel of the assault rifle is a surprisingly pleasing balance between mild inaccuracy and real power.
Bad Company 2s single-player game will be compared to Modern Warfare 2. It’s lazy, but DICE’S fault for including green world maps as the introduction to levels. To their credit, you sometimes get the feeling they’re taking a swipe . themselves, such as when your
sergeant says, “I’m just a grunt, not some spec ops shitbird.” And to this writer, Bad Company 2 is better than MW2. It lacks the self-conscious highs of that controversial and noisy blockbuster, but it lacks the punishing lows of terrible levels like Wolverines!. You always feel like you’re doing something for a reason, and not running around from one Burger King to another just because that’s what someone’s shouting in your ear. In short, Bad Company 2 is always good. Some of the action scenes (like the car chase through snow to reach a crashed satellite) get the blood pumping as much as they get your head tilting.
The steady action is marred only by the ease with which you can die, coupled by frequently ungenerous checkpoints. Once your cover has been blown, the negotiation through the particle effects to find new cover usually means that you’ll die before you get there. The system may have been designed to make you constantly move from one area to the next to prevent you replaying long scenes, however it simply encourages you to seek out a bit of robust cover and pop out to snipe. It takes discipline and a measure of willing selfpunishment to play Bad Company 2 as it was intended.
Other than that, there are all the basic elements we’re used to and expect: a forest level, a snow level, a sniping level, a level where you get told to pick up an RPG and take down a helicopter, and the empowering levels where you man the gun on a truck, a boat, and a helicopter. And of course, there’s a scene where you have to shoot a man without hitting his hostage – a scene in which, mysteriously, your sniper rifle disappears.
This game is far from innovative. But it’s held together with warm glue that makes the familiarity a happy one, rather than the tired kind.
Battlefields heart has always been its multiplayer game, and that’s where Bad Company 2 becomes workmanlike. The choices open to the first-time player are the rifle-shooting and grenade-launching Assault soldier, the RPG-wielding and tank-fixing Engineer, the Medic who spits out first aid and machine gun bullets, and that sniping Recon bastard.
DICE are veterans of multiplayer games, and their maps have the accomplished feel you’d expect. Plenty of room for snipers, and strongholds leaving defensive teams stretched just enough to allow an organised team in.
Squad Deathmatch divides classic Deathmatch rules into more personal four-man teams. Conquest is the usual matter of point capture and defences, and Defender sees the attacking team trying to plant explosives in the two marked buildings. It’s all classic, old-school entertainment that valiantly attempts Nelsonian ignorance with regards to the innovations made in multiplayer shooters elsewhere.
We only had a few hours on the server that was set up for this review, so we didn’t get to see much in the way of levelling up. Experience is earned for performing your class’s role (healing, repairing), and for straight kills – with bonuses for headshots and defending a base.
This means even poor players will eventually climb the ladder, which spares them the frustration having to fight with fewer weapons than the people who’ve been levelling up from their own deaths.
The unlock systems of Battlefield 2 and 2142 have come to Bad Company 2, fleshing out the options available to you, and allowing you to smudge the initially bold lines between the classes by creating your own gear loadout. Three empty slots for special equipment are filled as you’re promoted. However, this feature wasn’t open to us so we can’t say what a difference it makes.
Again, the multiplayer is everything you’d expect, and you’ll wonder whether DICE are cannibalising their own online players with another strong Battlefield experience. Human opponents aren’t as physically fragile as their single-player AI counterparts, and the huge wafts of physics-powered particles are more pointedly irritating when you’re trying to run in zig-zags.
UP YOURS EA
While I’m not suggesting that every game should copy Modem Warfare 2 -DICE’S promise of dedicated server support is a very welcome departure from Infinity Ward’s approach, for starters – but the reason Modem Warfare 2s multiplayer is such an overwhelming success is the compulsion of the overall levelling system, coupled with the fact svery game is a microcosm more is classic in its approach, with every level maintaining a similar level of tension, with the ungifted and unpractised getting left behind. While it is still great fun, with all of the classic moments of multiplayer panic and action completely intact, I found myself missing the banter of the single-player game. Perhaps I could get some real soldiers to let me join their squad.
Should you buy Bad Company 2? If you’re asking the question, then you should. The single-player missions might not be headline-grabbing or audacious, but they’re solid, entertaining and occasionally frustrating. The multiplayer is also strong – not innovative, but it re-uses the good stuff from DICE’S other games, but goes no further. This game certainly deserves a look of increasing reward – even throwing a consolation bone to the losers.