Thank you DICE… thank you very much. You see, for once I was lost, and now… I am found. For the past two years, I have been suffering from “mapathy.” The same old maps, the same old glitchers, the same old drop shooters, the same camping spots, the same blood boiling, hair pulling, mindless, run-and-gun, pray –and-spray drivel that makes the Call Of Duty franchise so little fun. The fact is, I didn’t know any better. All my friends were playing it, I had never really been big into shooters, so I got strung along with the Call Of Duty pain train, and man did it hurt. But you know how it goes, you get sucked in. So now I’ve got all six games, and I’ve got my special edition Task Force 141 X-Box 360 and I might have lost years of my life from all the drinking I’ve endured because some god damn little kid thinks it is fun to lay down in one little spot for five minute until some unsuspecting dope turns the corner and blam, dead.
But you, DICE, you have saved me from future heartbreak. You see, you have created perfection in a box, and it is called Battlefield: Bad Company 2, and now… my life will never be the same. I really have no one to blame but myself. I have the first Bad Company, but I never really gave it the respect it deserved. I skipped multiplayer. Who does that? I have Battlefield 1943. I know how great your multiplayer is. I should have trusted you! So much pain and sorrow could have been averted. I promise I will never take you for granted again.
All dramatics aside, I’m really sick and tired of Modern Warfare 2. Even before the release of Bad Company 2, I had been looking for every reason not to play it. I’d love to sit here and say I am not going to turn this into a Call Of Duty vs. Battlefield article, but that is pretty hard to do when everything about the marketing of Bad Company 2 has been a direct shot across the bow of Modern Warfare 2. Even the head of DICE publisher EA, John Riccitiello , came out guns blazing, putting a bulls eye on the back of Activision and letting it be known they were coming for them. Talk is cheap in the gaming community, where big talk and broken promises have left many of us disappointed, disenchanted and down 60 bones. So it was up to DICE to deliver, and man, did they ever.
One thing that DICE/EA did that Infinity Ward/Activision did not was open up a beta demo for everyone to try out. On January 10th, 2010, the Port Valdez map for the Rush mode was made available on PC, Playstation 3 and XBox 360. Maybe the fact that DICE had the balls to put it out there and let people try it out and find any holes is the reason they don’t have any known glitches and Modern Warfare 2 has a new one each week, but I digress. Like many others, I downloaded it, played a few rounds, and found myself extremely frustrated and discontent. As a matter of fact, I hated it, and vowed to never play it again. I was pissed off and told myself I was going to skip Bad Company 2 all together. I would later find out that this is a common side effect of the transition from the unrealistic combat style of Modern Warfare 2 into a the much more realistic fire fights on Bad Company 2. So a few weeks go by and suddenly it is the night before release. I’ve been watching the videos, I’ve read the message boards full of people telling me I was crazy, that this was going to be great and I need to give it a chance and I see Gamestop is offering some preorder bonuses and I cave. The next day, I picked it up and the rest is history.
I skipped the multiplayer in order to tackle the main campaign. Like I mentioned earlier, I own the first Bad Company, so I had a little bit of an idea as to what I was in for. I’d love to say the campaign picks up where the first Bad Company left off, but that is definitely not the case. As a matter of fact, the last we saw Sarge, Sweetwater, Haggard and Marlowe, they were standing in the middle of a port on the Caspian Sea with a crapload of gold. What happened? Where did it go? Why are they all of a sudden somewhere inside the Russian borders looking for some contraption related to some “Project Aurora?” I suppose the answer to these question aren’t entirely necessary, but I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t ask them anyway.
The game actually does not start off with our lovable band of losers, it starts off somewhere off the coast of Japan during World War II. The entire mission is explained through the story, so I will well game play give that to you, but I do want to point out just how amazing the visuals are. As a big fan of Battlefield 1943, this feels like it was meant to be the campaign mode it never had. I actually really hope they do delve further into World War II with another Battlefield title. I know it would be outstanding. I realize that there is a growing contingency of FPS fans that are growing weary of World War II era shooters, but I am certainly not one of them.
Once completing the one-off, World War II era level, you find yourself back in the role of Private Preston Marlowe. We still don’t know how he screwed up and ended up in Bad Company, but he continues to be the strength of their operation none-the-less. Sarge is still talking about retirement, Haggard is still a dopey meathead and Sweetwater is still a dork. The commentary between these guys can border on the ridiculous and hilarious. Haggard and Sweetwater are not the brightest bulbs, and have a tendency to get into childish arguments.
The mission itself is pretty straight forward. You’re after some device that you’re told nothing about and you chase after it from Russia to Bolivia. Throw in a double cross, an ATV chase and a helicopter ride from a pacifist, and you get a campaign that will take 8-10 hours to run through. One word of advice would be to pick up every gun you see. Not only is there an achievement for finding a certain amount of guns, but you will have access to that weapon from that point on any time you find an ammo crate. You’ll learn to appreciate the ammo crate, because not only does it allow you to reload on ammo, but you can change out both weapons as well with anything you have found along the way.
One of my favorite features in the game is the destructible environment. In many other shooters, you can hide behind a wall for as long as you want to in order to regenerate life. That would not be the case here, as standing behind a wall too long during combat is likely to cause the wall to disappear. I can guarantee you will spend at least an hour walking around after killing all the enemies just shooting grenade and rocket launchers at buildings trying to knock them down. It is especially satisfying to get a Destruction 2.0 kill by destroying a house on top of an opponent in multi-player.
I have one small critique about the campaign before I move on to multiplayer. I understand that they are gunning for Modern Warfare2, and I can even appreciate a quip or two, but the entire game kind of plays as a parody of Modern Warfare 2. Sweetwater makes a comment on the helicopter about “special ops guys with pussy heart beat monitors,” and then they make fun of the snowmobile chase while on ATV’s, but the entire mission itself sort of follows a similar pattern to both Modern Warfare games. Even the final mission is a jab at the “Mile High Club” achievement on Call Of Duty 4, where you have to beat the level on hard. The only difference between the two is that while Call Of Duty 4 is damn well near impossible to do it in the time limit, the “Airborne” level that you play to complete the game, on a plane, is insanely easy on any difficulty. It’s not that big of a deal, but it gets to a point where you’re kind of like “ok, I get it.”
There are four game modes available in multiplayer: Rush, Conquest, Squad Deathmatch and Squad Rush. Once you pick the mode you want to play, you are given the option to play as one of four classes: Assault, Engineer, Medic and Recon, with each class coming with a wide array of weapons and tools. The Assault class is full of your higher power assault rifles like the M16A2. You can add shotguns or grenade launchers to your rifle, and you also get the ability to resupply squad mates by dropping ammo. The Engineer class has the lighter machine guns like the SCAR and the UMP 45. You also get to choose between a rocket launcher or anti-tank mines (my personal favorite) and you get a repair tool that lets you fix damaged vehicles. The Medic class has the heavier machine guns like M60 and M249 SAW. The medic can drop health to wounded teammates and even has defibrillators to bring dead squadmates back to life. The final class is Recon, and this is your sniper class with the M95 and GOL sniper rifles. For extras, you get C4 or the ability to call in mortar strikes from afar. You can also spot enemies through your scope, essentially giving out the location of enemies to everyone else on your team. There is also a wide array of hand guns, shotguns and basic weaponry available to all classes.
The four game modes are pretty straight forward. Squad Deathmatch pits four squads of four against each other in a race to 50 kills. Two squads are assigned to each team (US or Russian), but the first four man squad to 50 kills will be the winner. The maps are a little smaller here compared to the other game modes. Conquest is essentially like Domination on Modern Warfare 2. There are either three or four flag locations, with each team starting at a base on opposite sides of the map. You get points for capturing and defending the flag, but actually holding flags is non-essential to winning and losing the game. Each team is assigned a number of “tickets” (lives) at the start of the match, and the first team to exhaust all of their tickets loses. Holding the flag has its benefits, though, as you can spawn on each flag you hold instead of your home base. Rush is the most game mode for Bad Company 2. For Rush, you will either play as the attacker or the defender. There are six M-Com stations along this massive map, which is dived into three sections with two M-Coms at each station. The attackers must destroy both M-Com stations in order to move on to the next pair before their use up all of their tickets. The defenders kill everything in site while trying to prevent the destruction of either M-Com station. With both Rush and Conquest, each team can have up to 12 players. Squad Rush is a smaller variation of Rush, pitting two four man squads against each other.
Regardless of the game mode you play, there is one basic necessity that is going to make winning and losing much more attainable: TEAMWORK. Whether you are in a squad full of friends or a bunch of randoms from XBox Live, playing together as a group is essential. One advantage is spawn locations. If you are playing Conquest and the other team is holding all of the flags, you are going to be in a world of hurt if your teammates can’t get away from your home base, because the other squad is going to start attacking your home base. Likewise, if you are the attackers on Rush and die, you are going to hope one of your squad mates is closer to the battle and still alive, otherwise you will be forced all the way back to the beginning location, which can be difficult to advance from. Other benefits include resupplies, vehicle fixes, healing and revives. If you go loan wolf and end up on a squad full of snipers, it is going to be difficult to win. Maybe you’ll score a lot of points with long range kills, maybe you won’t, but sooner or later, it will catch up to you. Likewise, if you enjoy playing as the Assault class, it’s going to be hard playing with a bunch of snipers that are never near any of the objectives. You don’t have to have the most kills to help your team. There have been rounds where I’ve gotten four kills and 10 deaths, yet still been the round Ace by being a medic and doing revives and heals, or by being an engineer and fixing tanks and capturing flags.
That maps in Bad Company 2 are massive. There is so much area to cover and it can take some getting used to. Like the campaign, just about everything in the environment can be destroyed. That means trees and buildings alike. Many of the maps have vehicles like tanks, helicopters, boats, ATV’s and jet skis. No matter how you approach the game, there is always a way to counter it, which generally makes every match you play pretty balanced. You also have the elements to deal with. On the snow maps, you will see snow squalls that impair your vision, and likewise on the desert maps with sand. Night maps can also provide visual difficulty because, well, it’s dark. This was one of the hardest adjustments I had to make in switching from Modern Warfare 2.
I think what DICE and Bad Company 2 have done with the multiplayer here is taught everyone in the industry how to do it right. I feel like every time I get killed in this game, it’s my fault. Sure, there are spots to camp and sure, there are plenty of people sitting back and not going for objectives, but it is nowhere near the level of Modern Warfare 2, where you will run into people that think they are awesome because they can get into a game of Headquarters and camp near the HQ and pick everyone off as they try to cap it. They don’t care about winning, just the amount of kills they get. That lone wolf mentality makes it hard to succeed in Bad Company 2. It can be done, but considering that instead watching how you died after you die you get to see who killed you and where they are, they are probably going to get what’s coming.
Perhaps the best feature of them all is the lack of communication between opposing teams. This is very refreshing in that you don’t have to listen to the absolutely garbage that you do in any Call Of Duty game. I realize this type of behavior is not exclusive to Call Of Duty, that you also run into the same antics in Halo and a number of other games, but to not have to listen to the high pitched, pre-pubescent squeals from morons about what they plan on doing to your mother, or other racist and homophobic rants that simply have no place in society, it’s just refreshing. This is a game you can jump on and just play. As a matter of fact, there aren’t that many people talking at all in Bad Company 2 in general, even though good communication can be the difference between winning and losing. I generally do not wear my headset if I am playing alone, but I have also been in games were there were eight of us in a party and on the same team. Guess what, we usually win, because we are constantly working together to achieve common goals.
That is not to say Bad Company 2 does not have its’ flaws. The server issues the first two weeks of release were inexcusable, though they seem to have been corrected at this point. There can also be some childish behavior when squad maters argue over the helicopters or start shooting tracer darts at people who are sniping, and nothing is worse than being in a game of Rush where just about the entire team is sniping. But as bad as it gets on Bad Company 2, it is nowhere near the level of madness that I have experienced in Modern Warfare 2. I feel like my blood pressure has shot down 50 points since making the switch.
As far as my personal preference goes, I love playing as the Engineer kit. I rock out with a SCAR and anti-tank mines, and love seeing “destroyed vehicle” flash on the screen when I am nowhere near the action. I am one gun away in the Medic and Assault kit from having every gun in the game unlocked, and have a platinum star on my heavy vehicles and am a gold star 7 on my anti-tank mines.
At the end of the day, I feel like the folks at DICE have created the best multiplayer experience on the First Person Shooter market to date. I am very happy that I did not give up on this game after the demo, and I would definitely recommend people that have not played a Battlefield game before take their time and give Bad Company 2 a chance. Even though it is by far the superior product, I don’t think that will necessarily translate into the game play charts simply because it is almost too much for your average Modern Warfare 2 fanboy to handle. That’s right, I said it. This is easily the most realistic combat/warfare game on the market, and I think your average Modern Warfare 2 player is going to have a hard time wrapping their brain around everything that is going on. Even though I am sure DICE would like to pick up the extra sales, this is not a bad thing. Considering the way the campaign ended, along with the fact that Bad Company 2 was the highest selling title in March of 2010, I expect to see this franchise continue to grow. Until then, I’ll see everyone on the Battlefield.
This review was originally written by me for analoghype.com.