Battlefield Bad Company 2

The original _Bad Company_ was somewhat of an anomaly for the _Battlefield_ franchise; rather than offering a multiplayer only experience, _Bad Company_ focused heavily around a single player campaign with distinct characters and an original narrative. With the franchise’s success based solely around its innovation in this online multiplayer space, it was a considerable risk on EA’s behalf to deviate from the franchise’s well establish formula and try something completely different.

For the most part, this gamble paid off. Although some of _Bad Company’s_ gameplay mechanics lacked the polish of that of _Call of Duty 4_, the game offered two differentiating features; firstly, destructible environments and secondly, a light hearted tone conveyed through the general banter of your ragtag band of brothers. While this resulted in an entertaining experience, with its short campaign and lacklustre multiplayer component, _Bad Company_ quickly faded into the background while _Call of Duty 4_ continued to dominate the modern warfare FPS genre.

It’s a shame that, as with the original, _Bad Company 2_ has been released in the wake of another Modern Warfare game, one that is sure to overshadow _Bad Company 2_ in nearly every way. Only months after the unbelievable success of _Modern Warfare 2_, which culminated in the biggest entertainment event in history, _Bad Company 2_ has made its way to retail offering an array of similar features that are sure to draw comparisons.

Following the exploits of the same misfit group of soldiers found in the original, _Bad Company 2’s_ story spans countless regions of the globe, from arctic terrain to desert wastelands, as the lovable team prevents an advanced weapon of mass destruction from getting into enemy hands. The tone remains the same as the original, with the Texan, Haggard, wise-cracking throughout, and the level of destruction has been taken to an all-time high. Unfortunately, this new campaign is still as short, lasting for only 5-ish hours, and the first few levels lack the excitement found later on, resulting in rather bland kill corridors nearer the start. Once _Bad Company 2_ gets going the experience is like no other, primarily due to the game’s impressive scope. While some levels are similar in size to those found in _Modern Warfare 2_, others open up the combat to miles of terrain, fully explorable on foot or in one of the myriad of vehicles on offer. These range from tanks to UAVs, breaking up the on-foot combat at regular intervals and insuring that the gameplay never gets old.

To be blunt, the story isn’t fantastic; there are no noteworthy twists and none of the situations presented to the player provide any emotional depth. While it may lack a captivating narrative, the story acts as the perfect platform for the combat with well developed characters and a host of witty remarks throughout. Openly mocking the competition is always entertaining and _Bad Company 2_ doesn’t let down here either; the team makes references to _Modern Warfare 2’s_ infamous heartbeat sensors as well as how much better ATVs are over snowmobiles. This may sound like a pathetic stab at a more successful franchise but it’s actually a testament to the developers’ ability not to take everything so seriously, a mentality present throughout the entirety of _Bad Company 2_.

This mentality is most pronounced in _Bad Company 2’s_ destructibility; while most first person shooters offer combat on static environments, _Bad Company 2’s_ take place on dynamic, ever changing battlefields. If an enemy combatant is cowering behind a wall, the game allows you to simply remove the wall through a well tossed grenade. This feature was present in the original, however _Bad Company 2_ ups the destruction to the next level with the most apparent improvement being the possibility of collapsing entire buildings. Previously structures remained standing even if the majority of their walls had been removed, now they simply buckle under their own weight, crumpling in a spectacular display of dust and debris. The problem is, the buildings can take a considerable amount of punishment before reaching the point of collapse and, due to the firepower required, it only very occasional happens in the campaign. In general though, the destructibility of the environments adds an additional layer of immersion to the experience, emphasising how “gamey” the likes of other shooters truly are; when most shooters have invincible wooden fences, it’s extremely refreshing to see any form of cover ripped to shreds by an exploding grenade or rocket within _Bad Company 2_.

The combat within _Bad Company 2_ is also top-notch, complimenting the game’s unique destructibility perfectly. The weapons feel powerful, with a few well aimed shots being all that’s required to take out an enemy, and unique in relation to each other. The game’s shooting mechanics are precise and responsive, and movement feels just right. There’s very little to complain about with regard to _Bad Company 2’s_ gameplay and, even though it has a different feel, it’s on par with the likes of _Modern Warfare 2_. The vehicle controls are equally satisfying with tanks feeling sluggish, as they should, and ATVs feeling nimble and manoeuvrable; the diversity is impressive.

In terms of _Bad Company 2’s_ presentation, it’s the sound design that truly stands out above the sea of modern FPSs. This game sounds absolutely incredible. The weapons are extremely punchy, with each one sounding completely different from the last. There’s also considerable variation between gun shots far away and those nearby, meaning sound can be used as an advantage in combat. Ambient background noise is also perfect; jungle levels contain chirping birds and rustling leaves while the more open desert levels feature howling winds, all of which compliments the graphical presentation excellently. The graphics are by no means the best available to date but the fidelity is still impressive when the scope and size of the levels are taken into account. There’s a high level of detail throughout, be it the dust and debris from a collapsing building or the densely packed vegetation, which results in some very atmospheric scenes.

It’s strange that, although the _Bad Company_ franchise was initially created to produce a singleplayer Battlefield experience, the sequel’s multiplayer component has been marketed far more; there was an online public beta, highlighting the games strengths over the competition, and even the back of the box is primarily dedicated to the numerous multiplayer features the game has. Considering how short the campaign is, it’s a good job that the multiplayer has been focused on; the result is some fantastic online gameplay that gives _Bad Company 2_ a considerable amount of longevity.

Of course, _Bad Company 2_ offers everything you’d expect from a modern online shooter as well as a fair bit more. All the vehicles present in the campaign are user controllable online; ranging for the usual tanks to attack helicopters, the experience is extremely dynamic with no two matches on the same map playing out the same. When combined with the previously mentioned destructible environments, the gameplay transforms into fast paced and frantic skirmishes as you move from one destroyed building to the next, desperately seeking cover. There are numerous game modes, ranging from capturing control points to attacking and defending satellite uplinks, which all offer something unique and are entertaining in their own right. One of the best examples of how destructibility plays a vital role in the multiplayer is when attacking the uplinks; it’s possible to plant a bomb (as seen in a host of previous FPS games) or, unique to _Bad Company 2_, you can simply destroy the building the uplink is situated in. It’s this diversity of combat, the size of the maps and an excellently implemented progression system that elevates _Bad Company 2_ above the majority of online shooters and places to firmly next to_ Modern Warfare 2_. It actually makes _Modern Warfare 2_ look rather tame in comparison to the epic battles you’ll face in _Bad Company 2_.

_Bad Company 2_ is worth every penny, as long as you’re into online competitive multiplayer. Offering one of the best online experiences, be it on console or PC, that possibly surpasses that offered by _Modern Warfare 2_, _Bad Company 2_ lives up to its back of the box statement, “Defining online warfare”. The campaign is extremely short, however, and lacks that extra something that the original had. There’s is some replayability to be had through collecting the game’s various weapons, in addition to destroying M-COM stations that are hidden throughout each level, but this isn’t enough to warrant a second play through. As long as you’ve got an internet connection and are willing to invest a lot of time into progressing through the game’s numerous online racks, _Bad Company 2_ will keep you entertained for months to come.

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