Tag Team Takedown
As if the record-breaking multiplayer beta wasn’t evidence enough, here’s my two cents: people are going to love this game! Battlefield: Bad Company 2 (BBC2) is a brilliant FPS that will give players loads of fun while romping through the single-player campaign, and keep them coming back with an even better multiplayer online experience. DICE’s proprietary Frostbite Engine, which makes destruction an integral part of you and your opponents’ strategies, really helps to set this game apart from the competition. This title is definitely worthwhile, even in the face of the other big time shooters out there.
I really enjoyed the original Battlefield: Bad Company (BBC); the collection of goofy characters and the gold-fueled storyline really resonated with me. Perhaps that’s because I was always such a huge fan of Kelly’s Heroes – a humorous WWII film from 1970 about Yanks thieving Nazi gold behind enemy lines and inadvertently spearheading a major assault. That movie somehow managed to bring Clint Eastwood, Donald Sutherland, Don Rickles, and Telly Savales together in a compelling way by giving them all very distinct, characteristic roles. DICE went ahead and employed that formula in the first game, and the same memorable characters have made their way into the sequel. Though I didn’t love the story this time around quite as much (a tale about saving the West from a mysterious, legendary WMD in Russian hands), the squad of Sarge, Sweetwater, Haggard, and Marlowe is perhaps even more enjoyable to venture into combat with in BBC2. Moreover, subtle gameplay refinements make the title superior to its predecessor.
If you haven’t played BBC or have heard nothing about BBC2, know that DICE’s Frostbite Engine makes the gameplay quite unique. While BBC2 seems like a conventional FPS on its surface – you’ll shoot guns, take objectives, and save the day – dig deeper and you’ll find a wholly original shooter experience. The fact that cover, whether it’s a palm tree, corrugated metal, or two feet of cement, is permeable and ever-changing, means you’ll have to shoot and scoot (or get crushed by your opponents) and can change the battlefield through destructive force. Inflicting indirect damage on the enemy by whittling away at their defenses and changing once advantageous installations into heaps of rubble is a satisfying and often cerebral game-changer.
Buildings will come down around you if you remain static for too long. Likewise, pesky enemy MG nests and TOW emplacements are not as insurmountable as they might seem. Because the physics and damage modeling employed in the game is so good, players will find themselves reacting to the opposition and the environment in ways that other games simply can’t elicit. Both in single- and multiplayer, BBC2 is a distinctive, strategic shooter thanks to the powerful Frostbite Engine.
Like any self-described Battlefield title, BBC2 will give you access to a ton of vehicles and mounted combat segments. The single-player campaign will have you joyriding in behind enemy lines in all your favorite rides of war, and the multiplayer maps (some of which emphasize vehicle combat) are frequently shaped by the use of helos, tanks, boats, and quads. The implementation of vehicles makes for refreshing moments within the campaign (keeping the pacing up nicely), and allows for truly expansive multiplayer maps. Plus, it’s fun to take out enemy positions with Blackhawks or via UAV without having to pull off a kill streak first.
Undoubtedly, players are going to want to jump into the story first. Though not particularly long (not as short as CoD: MW2, however), there are a lot of great moments and shootouts to be found throughout. Gameplay in BBC2 is extremely reminiscent of what was on offer in the original game. Thankfully, the unnecessary health booster mechanic was scrapped for a more traditional find-cover-till-you-heal system. Additionally, weapons feel better and there are much more varied environments to explore.
There are three difficulty levels to choose from when playing solo, so you can make the game as challenging or as easy as you’d like. Also, the game auto-saves constantly, making death less punitive than it can be in other titles. That said, especially at higher difficulties, you’ll likely find yourself redoing a few segments several times until you employ a better tactic for tackling the objective. Also, as was the case in the original, there are a ton of hidden collectibles and secret secondary objectives (M-Comm stations) you’ll want to find scattered around the maps. The campaign in BBC2 is a very good time filled with interesting set-pieces, adaptable strategies, and changing environments.
For me, the best part of the campaign was the interactions between the characters of Bravo Two. The dialogue scripting is tight and hilarious, and the delivery by the actors and their obvious chemistry made for innumerable laugh-out-loud moments. The timely cutscenes and in-mission banter between the guys makes the game believable, heightening the immersion significantly.
As much as I enjoyed the single-player action, with its quick pace, challenging objectives, and great characters, the multiplayer aspect of BBC2 is where I had the most fun. There are only four game types out of the box, but they’re so fun you don’t really need any more (though I expect more are inbound via DLC). Rush, Conquest, Squad Rush, and Squad Deathmatch bring a little something different to the multiplayer table.
In Rush, the two sides of the conflict will take turns playing as attackers and defenders. On offense, you’ll have to try to destroy two command links in order to advance. Once Alpha and Bravo have been destroyed, a new choke point with two new objectives will crop up. On defense, you’ll have to try and kill as many invaders as you can while protecting the comms. If you can successfully mow through 100 opponents as a defender before giving up the objective, you’re team will be crowned victorious. Team Rush is played the exact same way, but rather than squaring off in two-sided 24-player battles, each side will be divided up into four-man squads. This changes the dynamic significantly, as you’ll have to play in a much more strategic fashion.
Conquest is a seemingly typical territory control mode of play. However, things are shaken up mightily by the fact that the controlling side will be awarded with vehicle spawns the longer they hold the position, essentially turning the tide of battle in their favor. Finally, Squad Deathmatch pits four squads against each other in a team-based free-for-all. Working in concert is truly important, especially if you find yourself beset upon by a squad controlling the single infantry fighting vehicle. The first squad to secure 50 kills wins.
Like in most modern online multiplayer games, players will be able to choose between a handful of kits (Assault, Engineer, Medic, Recon) that define their role on the battlefield. The more you play the more experience you will garner, eventually opening up perk-like bonuses and customizing equipment. Ranks and titles are also conferred upon players. There are eight very different multiplayer maps to play in (10 if you pick up the first-run/Limited Edition copy of the game), all of which are easily learned but are so large in size it never feels like anyone has an unfair advantage. Moreover, because terrain is constantly changing throughout the fights, people digging into “favorite” locations and just sniping away the whole game is not really feasible.
The multiplayer component of BBC2 also feels really different because of the amount of teamwork that needs to be employed by players, even outside of squad play. Furthermore, being able to re-spawn alongside a teammate, in a tank or helo, or at a secure location means you’ll be able to get into the fight quickly, protect your teammates, and get into devastating positions even though you just fell in battle.
BBC2 is a great game that has honed its gameplay both in the campaign and multiplayer to a razor’s edge. The only area that doesn’t seem to be refined is the grainy graphics. Don’t get me wrong; the environments look great, the explosions are awesome, and the physics are uncanny, but I was hoping to be treated to crisper visuals and better textures this time. Alas, graphics look decidedly similar to those found in BBC.
There’s a ton of fun to be had here whether playing alone or with gamers online. The combat is fun, the characters are great, and there is a ton of gaming value shoehorned into this disk. Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is a worthy sequel to the original; I’ll be excited to see where this franchise goes next.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.4 Graphics
The visuals are a bit too grainy and need more textures, but the physics, explosions, and open environments are awesome! 4.8 Control
Everything you’d expect from a quality FPS. 5.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The music is sparse but nicely complements the action, lending the game a funny, cinematic quality. The voice acting is perfect! 4.8 Play Value
The single-player is a lot of fun and offers replayability through hidden collectibles. The online component is about as much fun as you can have with a controller. 4.7 Overall Rating – Must Buy
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.