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Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Review

Review; Dec. 15, 2010; Channels: Video Games; By Kyle James Hovanec
In a crowded market of virtual warfare, Bad Company 2 stands above its competitors

The market for the FPS is similar to the fighting game market of the early '90s, a time in which companies pumped out fighter after fighter in an attempt to cash in on the success of big titles such as Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat. Some were met with varying forms of success, but most were destined to be forgotten and abandoned as the juggernaut titles continued to dominate.

Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Screenshots
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In this generation, there are big titles that have become household names and multimillion-dollar sellers. Titles like Call of Duty, Halo, and Modern Warfare have become well known with casual and hardcore gamers alike. With yearly sequels being released and the addition of new players and veterans returning for more, the virtual battlefield has become a profitable market.

Battlefield Bad Company 2 is a sequel to the original Battlefield: Bad Company and a title in the line of its previously PC-exclusive Battlefield shooters. The Bad Company series’ claim to fame was the addition of the Frostbite engine, which enabled nearly every object in the game -- be it vehicle or building -- to be destroyed. The Bad Company series was also known for its lighthearted storyline and characters rather than the gritty, serious storylines that Call of Duty and Halo often had. Bad Company 2 has all of these features from its prequel, and along with an entertaining single player, it has arguably one of the freshest FPS experiences available on consoles to date, with a combination of PC Battlefield-styled big teams and a strong focus on teamwork as well as smaller, more enclosed maps for intense close quarter battles.

The single player mode of Bad Company 2 takes the characters from the original and puts them in a scenario not far removed from any other military shooter. Bad guys have a super weapon capable of changing the face of war; good guys (that’s you) have to stop them. What make this a unique take on the genre are the characters themselves, from the Danny Glover-esque “I’m too old for this shit” Sarge, to the tech nerd Sweetwater, to the raging-redneck-from-Texas Haggard, to the silent and deadly main character Preston Marlowe. All of the characters exist beyond the typical silent soldier who only follows orders so often seen in this genre. Your team will trade wisecracks as the bullets whizz past, poke fun at the competition in some not-so-subtle jabs at Modern Warfare 2, and even carry out full conversations with one another as you battle Russian forces. There was one point when the team talked about death, the afterlife, and the concept of faith in a godless world. It was a full-blown conversation going back and forth as I stood there, wandering through their personal beliefs, memories, and wishes to return home. This was not a cutscene or scripted event, but a random conversation which took place between firefights. If the player pushed on, he probably would have missed it, but for those who stick around, it serves as a stark and powerful reminder that these are more than just faceless soldiers, but men with lives, dreams, and fears. 

The levels are also diverse as you’ll quickly go from snowy mountains, to rain-drenched jungles, to massive deserts. The combat scenarios also present opportunity for some original scenarios like sniping in a thunderstorm to cover up the sound of the shot to an introductory level set in a Japanese army base during World War II. The Frostbite engine is also used in single player, so you’ll be able to do the same amount of destruction as in multiplayer. Another thing about the single player that feels so nice is the guns themselves. Unlike the guns in the Call of Duty series, the weapons you’ll wield as you traverse through the levels look big, sound loud, and leave satisfying trails of destruction like bullet holes and blown apart buildings -- you can even send enemies recoiling back from each shot. Not since Black has just the simple act of pulling the trigger felt so good.

The main event for this game is the multiplayer. At a glance, it resembles any other modern warfare game, but jumping into a match will quickly prove it is very different from the rest of the crowd. Bad Company’s multiplayer relies on teamwork as a key component. Whether you play conquest (capture points on a map and defend them from the opposing team), rush (invade or defend an area with strategic items that need to be destroyed or protected), or team deathmatch, teamwork is the only way to ensure your survival. You can choose four classes to play as: assault, medic, recon, and engineer, and each of these classes not only come armed with different weapons but tools to help your fellow teammates as well. Assault classes come with the ability to refill ammo; engineers can repair vehicles; recon can use C4 to take down vehicles and buildings; and medics have the ability to heal and revive wounded and dying teammates. Each of these special abilities becomes essential to a functioning team, in most cases even more so than the actual weapons themselves. It’s a refreshing change of pace from the run-and-gun game play dominated by most console FPS’s.

Your player can also level up similar to the level up system in Call of Duty or Halo, and as you gain levels and battle experience, you’ll unlock specific weapons and gadgets for each class. The catch is that it takes much longer to earn items than in most shooters. While this may seem like a frustrating aspect of the game at first, it’s actually a thought-out aspect. It puts less of an emphasis on earning weapons to dominate your opponents and more on keeping the proverbial “carrot at the end of the stick” in your view. The focus is on helping your teammates; the weapons are only the frosting on the cake, but it still feels significant to earn new gear. You have to work to earn it, and it actually feels like you truly earned it rather than just receiving a reward for a quick gaming session.

The destruction aspect plays a large role in multiplayer as each of the buildings and vehicles can be destroyed. Maps will often look completely different toward the end of a match than at the beginning. It forces the player to stay on his toes and constantly change his battle options. No longer can you hunker down in a house when the house can be obliterated, nor can any objective be safe, as anything can be used as a weapon against the team. There were matches in which players used shotguns to blow down doors, or snipers strapped C4 to quad bikes and drove them into houses. We even used tanks as mobile cover as we made our way to the next objective. That’s the genius of the game -- ingenuity and teamwork are rewarded, and the battlefield is constantly changing.

This genre is crowded, and while Call of Duty and Halo may grab the headlines and sales, Bad Company 2 is a nice alternative to the hectic run-and-gun style of Call of Duty and shielded opponents of Halo: Reach. EA is still continuing support with a new pack recently released and a full expansion called Battlefield Bad Company 2: Vietnam. Innovation is what keeps this genre alive and flourishing. DICE studios has done a great job adding new ideas and concepts to the console FPS genre -- it makes some of the changes brought on by the competition seem amateur in comparison. The are many virtual wars to fight, and many virtual opponents to shoot, but Bad Company 2 makes it worth your time to enlist in this crowed FPS market.

Comments

Review Score
9.6

Mature

Titles rated M (Mature) have content that may be suitable for persons ages 17 and older. Titles in this category may contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.

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