Since its first release on PC’s in 2002, the Battlefield brand has be the epitome of engaging multipalyer combat in the eyes of gamers across the globe. Since then the game has also branched off into console territory, 2008 seeing the release of Battlefield: Bad Company; the first Battlefield game not to see a PC release, and to include a single player, story driven campaign. Two years later Swedish developer DICE are at it again, this time dropping Battlefield: Bad Company 2 on all major platforms, bringing the ever popular series back to its rightful home on the PC. Featuring some of the best multiplayer combat going around right now, and a solid yet slightly lacking single-player experience to boot, is BC2 worth strapping on those combat boots and going to war?
The single player campaign follows B-Company as they travel across the globe in desperate search of a mythical weapon that is capable of devastating destruction which cannot fall into the hands of the Russians. While the story is not exactly a strong point of the campaign, you will get the chance to travel through a series of gorgeous environments, ranging from frozen mountains tops to a jungle paradise. It’s the amazing amount of details of these locations that will immediately stand to attention as you begin fighting your way through the campaign. The developers have really pushed the graphics this time round, offering photorealistic vistas that seem to have a sense of depth that simply needs to be seen to be believed.
It’s not just the amazing views or the luscious environments that make BC2 a great looking game. The Frostbite Engine certainly has come a long way since the first Bad Company, improving almost every facet of the games look and physics. Fully destructible environments return, send enough rockets at any structure and simply watch it crumble as a result. Destroying a building with a group of enemy soldiers never gets tiring, and other than looking bad ass, knowing you can destroy everything and anything will change how you play the game.
The last Bad Company game was the first to have a story driven single player campaign, and as a result it had a little trouble finding its feet in the process. The experience is much better this time round, now featuring a more cinematic experience. The dialogue is less over the top while retaining a healthy amount of humour, the level design is smarter and as a whole the experience is far more compelling than the last title. Having said that though, there are some problems with the presentation and pacing of the campaign that makes it fall short. Your supporting cast of soldiers in B-Company are one dimensional, bulletproof machines who are only good for their cheesy one-liners. It’s hard to make an emotional connection with them, especially when they receive a ‘nade to the face only to get back up with no trouble and all and keep fighting. The constant action; while being extremely fun, also breaks immersion in the story. You tend to feel like you are a one man army, going from a stealthy insertion into a full on fire fight, riding a turrent on a helicopter and calling in an airstrike all in a matter of minutes. It’s fun and exciting, but ultimately takes you away from the story.
As expected the mechanics in BC 2 are nothing shy of perfect. All the guns feel correctly weighted and sound just as they should, the vehicles handle smoothly and make traversing the battlefield both a thrill and a pleasure. Instead of the instant respawns and health injections from the last outing, BC 2 implements standard checkpoints and regenerating health mechanic that makes the game flow much better and feel more realisitc. While you supporting cast are hard to connect to, they certainly do a great job helping you out in the many fire fights you will encounter. They act like real soldiers in a battle, holding down an attack allowing you to flank your enemies or take some cover and get your heath back. Other games will simply drop you into a squad of ineffective knuckleheads, but BC 2 stands up with it’s fantastic AI.
All said and done the campaign is a fun, albeit short lived experience clocking in at the 5-6 hour mark. There is a collectible weapon system that may entice some of you to go back for multiple play throughs, but by and large this isn’t the sort of campaign that will keep calling you back time and time again.
While the single-player experience falls a little short, to most of you it simply won’t matter at all. Gamers buy a Battlefield game for an amazing multiplayer experience, and BC 2 is no exception. Offering one of the best online experience out there, BC 2 if full of large-scale battles, large and varied maps, diverse squad management and team based game play that simply cannot be matched. There is simply nothing more satisfying than working with your squad mates to take down an enemy position and rush a base.
BC 2 employs a terrific squad management system that really ups the ante. When on the spawn screen simply clicking the squad management button brings up a tab that will let you join an existing squad or create a new one. Four members in each squad may not seem like enough, but when you are running a combination of medic, some assault and a recon covering your rear you will find that it can be a deadly tool. Added advantage to being in a squad is if you are waiting to respawn and one of your squad members is still alive, simply click on their name and you will respawn right there next to them. This is a vital strategy that can change the outcome of a fire fight literally in seconds. The layout of the maps demand a focus on team based strategies, and the squad mechanic is a perfect way to enforce that idea.
The destructible environments are a whole different kind of monster when jumping online, adding a whole new layer of strategy and depth to the multiplayer experience. You will need to learn to adapt and work through the environments to survive. You enemies are holding up on a tower sniping out a whole division? A few strategically placed C4 charges and some explosions later on will soon bring an end to your enemies and their vantage point. Not only does it look cool, but it certainly brings a whole new strategic spin to things.
BC 2 offers a series of game-modes and maps will have something to offer everyone, no matter what type of gamer you are. Rush is an attack and defend mode that is played across expansive maps, features a entourage of vehicles and will ensure an edge of your seat experience as you edge through a base onto the next, or hold off your enemies for just a bit longer for the big win. Squad Deathmatch games is your average frantic team deathmatch mode which is much more close quarter combat. If you want to kick it old school the classic Battlefield Conquest mode has been included, which has teams fighting to control specific control points by raising and lowering flags. There truly is something for everyone in BC 2.
For those who are worried about making the switch from Modern Warfare 2 don’t fret, BC 2 features an impressive reward scheme that will feel right at home to those who have been playing the other modern warfare games out there. BC 2 will allow you to level up each class individually along with your overall rank, unlocking new weapons and gadgets along the way to flesh out your arsenal. You will also get even more rewards to completing small challenges, winning battles or simply pwning your opposition. The levelling system is rewarding and will leave you with a sense of accomplishment after all your hard work.
Finally which version should you go with? If you have a good enough rig you’ll want to get the PC version. Those with high-end graphics cards will enjoy better visuals and smoother frame rates than those with the PS3 or Xbox 360 version. Possibly the most important feature though is the ability to browse servers to discover the exact game you want. The last reason why the PC version is better, you’ll enjoy 32 players in game, as opposed to the 24 offered on both consoles.
The Final Verdict
While the single-player campaign certainly is an explosive no holds barred adventure, it almost feels like a bonus game mode to the expansive and impressive multiplayer component of the game. Bad Company 2 does a great job of engaging the player with it’s rewarding online experience, continually getting you back to rank up just one more time. Varied game play along with excellent squad management is the key to epic team based battles. Back this up with realistic weaponry, great sounds and gorgeous visuals, and you have one hell of a ride.