Battlefield: Bad Company 2 (BFBC2) has a lot of things going for it. It has a fantastic online and single-player experience, great visuals, and spot on controls. Unfortunately it also has poor writing and at the moment crippling online server bugs. So which part outweighs the other?
Let’s start with the main reason you’ll choose to buy this game—the online multiplayer. In it you can capture bases or destroy objectives, all the while battling the other team for dominance. There are two main modes: Conquest and Rush.
In Conquest, your team is tasked with capturing and holding as many bases as possible, in each map there are usually three bases all strategically placed. Usually there will be one base near each of the team’s starting spawn points, and then one base in the middle for the two to fight over. The more bases a team holds the more slowly their tickets will chip away, however if the other team kills enough of them, the difference might even out. More than once I experienced beating the other team even though they had more bases for most of the round, all because we killed a bunch of them and rarely died (which tends to be the case with a team full of snipers).
The Rush mode presents a slightly more interesting mechanic, in it the attacking team has to destroy pairs of m-com stations, meaning the attacking team has to get to a point, plant a bomb, and defend the point until the bomb goes off. Depending on the map they’ll have to do this to 3-4 pairs of stations. The defending team simply has to prevent this from happening. As each pair of stations are lost, the defending team will be pushed back and a new area of the game map opens up. The defending team has unlimited tickets, while the attackers have a finite amount. If the attackers can’t destroy all the stations before their tickets run out, they’ll lose.
In addition to these two major game modes, there are two minor but fun modes: Squad Deathmatch and Squad Rush. In Squad Deathmatch, four squads of four players each face off against each other in all out mayhem. Whichever squad reaches the kill limit first wins. In Squad Rush, two squads of four players each face off against each other for what would otherwise be a regular game of Rush. However, with only four players on your team, absolute teamwork becomes a necessity. This is a mode that should be played with friends with voice chat.
Helping you conquer the other team in all these modes is a large selection of vehicles and stationary weapons. You’ve got helicopters, tanks, quad bikes, trucks, boats and jet ski’s. Some of these can be a bit imbalanced. The fighter helicopters for example can deliver a huge amount of firepower, while moving too quickly for most players to bring them down. A good two man team can easily get a 20 kill streak if they keep moving and firing. Despite this, the win/loose ratio of both sides seem to be pretty even, which is worth noting as there are maps in Rush where only one side has helicopters available.
As any veteran Battlefield fan will notice, I didn’t mention planes and jets in my little vehicle list above. It is an obvious omission when looking back at previous Battlefield games, but for good reasons. BFBC2 focuses heavily on team play taking place on dense and cramped environments. While the maps are still huge for online shooter standards, they’re nowhere near that of Battlefield 1942. You couldn’t fly a plane here if you wanted to, as you’d have to do a U-turn every two seconds for hitting the edge of the map. So while we lose the experience of bomb dropping and dog fighting we gain highly exciting urban combat with destructible environments.
In multiplayer, there are four basic classes to chose from: Assault, Medic, Engineer and Recon, each one’s purpose being pretty much self explanatory. Each class has a selection of weapons and specialties, all unlocking as you gain points in ranked servers. The specializations usually allow you to carry more ammo, aim more efficiently or survive more damage. The exception to this would be the vehicle specializations, common to all classes. These drastically affect what you are allowed to do with the vehicles you pilot.
Of course, what good is all this talk about online multiplayer without mentioning the actual gameplay supporting it? The shooting mechanic holds true to previous Battlefield games in that it feels just right. If you’re playing on consoles you’ll notice that pulling off precision headshots is just as intuitive as spraying down a group of enemies. If, on the other hand, you’re playing on the PC you’ll most likely have to customize the sensitivity yourself to suit your style of play, nothing PC gamers aren’t used to. All the guns have a sense of weight and power and are surprisingly varied. You won’t find a single weapon that has identical accuracy, recoil, power and rate of fire. This wouldn’t be as impressive if it weren’t for the fact that they can all be used to achieve the same end. The result is you choosing to favor the weapon that fits your particular play style, making every soldier on the battlefield a little unique. The last rifle you unlock isn’t necessarily the best.
It’d be hard to judge BFBC2’s multiplayer without comparing it to another big multiplayer shooter set in modern times—Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. On the surface they both pretty much look identical. Both are about equal in graphics and sound. Both have spot on controls and mechanics. Both have TONS of people playing them. And both are available for the Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and PC.
The difference lies in gameplay style. While MW2 is a frantic and some would say random experience, BFBC2 is a more methodical cooperative experience, where team play and strategy is highly encouraged. That’s not to say you can’t go Rambo and snipe. In fact far from it. Often times a sniper will be best suited to spot enemies for his team or take out tanks with mortar strikes. Similarly, the Engineer is the most effective weapon against flying units, able to pin tracking darts to their body and take them out with a single rocket. Medics are the ultimate support characters. They can lay down cover fire with their light machine guns, not to mention reviving or healing fallen teammates. The Assault class is the ultimate in versatile fighting, having a lethal grenade launcher tacked on to their rifles, they can also resupply teammates with more ammo. A team with a lack of any one class will be put at a particular disadvantage, making class balance essential.
While you might buy the game for the multiplayer, the single-player portion of BFBC2 is far from scoff worthy. Clocking in at just over seven hours the game has it all; set pieces, humor, action and even a little bit of a bromance. While seven hours might seem like stretching it for a first person shooter, the boys and girls over at DICE have done a truly remarkable job at pacing the game and keeping you interested.
The story starts off with our four unlikely heroes, Marlowe, Haggard, Sweetwater and Sergeant Redford returning to finish of their last mission together. Things (as usual) don’t go according to plan, however, and they get sent pretty much against their will all around the world in search of a mysterious weapon. Compared to its competitors, BFBC2 is rather light on the story telling, giving you just enough for motivation to finish the game, but not so much that it invades the core experience. The core experience, by the way, is definitely shooting a bunch of dudes, and doing so in as many varied and fun ways as possible. For better or worse, this is not a game that has too many plot twists to keep track of.
If there’s one major complaint to issue it’s the writing. While some cut scenes are funny and campy, others just fall flat. Characters will say things completely out of place and unprovoked, or their choice of words will be too familiar to take seriously. Many times the characters will banter off each other in game, and this is by far where the best writing can be found. The problem is, however, that to hear this you pretty much have to be standing idle right next to them, as their AI is less than stellar and they’ll often lag behind.
Depending on what difficulty setting you choose to play on, you’ll have a vastly different experience. On medium and hard, enemies are bullet sponges and aiming is often a hassle. On easy, the bad guys go down when you expect them two, aiming is fluid and direct, and raindrops aren’t replaced by grenades. Start the game playing on easy and you’ll have a much more entertaining experience. Then if you feel like you want more of a challenge upgrade to medium or hard.
The single-player is a fun experience, not worth buying the game full price to experience on its own, but once you’ve got it for the multiplayer anyway I’d definitely recommend giving it a go.
If there’s one thing Bad Company 2 did that set it apart from the previous entries in the battlefield series it’s the destructible environments. In the last game this was the major selling point. In BFBC2 it’s more of an expected feature, though not without improvements. This time around you can bring buildings crumbling down into total destruction, while in the last you could simply blow out selected walls. They still haven’t gone all the way and implemented a full featured physics system (see Red Faction: Guerilla.) Whenever you try to bring down a building by taking out obvious weak points, there will always be certain walls that just won’t go down. Instead the buildings seem to have health bars, only going down after a certain amount of damage has been dealt to them. It’s disappointing, but the system is place is still better than any other online shooter of this caliber.
So like I said the game has a lot of things going for it. For this review, I focused my attention on the PC version. I did, however, try the different console versions in my spare time, all for giving you a more complete understanding I might add! And through doing so I learned one thing: buy the PC version. If you have a PC that can run this game relatively well it will definitely be the superior version. The console version has zero aim assist in multiplayer. The PC version doesn’t either but since that’s mouse controlled that’s not really a problem. The game also looks far better on PC and the menu system can also be considered better depending on your preferences. But in the end no matter which version you choose to buy, this is not a purchase you’ll regret.