Company, always on the run. Destiny is the rising sun. I was born six-gun in my hand. Behind a gun, I make my final stand. That’s why they call me…Bad Company.
Oh hi, didn’t see you there. I was just enjoying my new cassette tape of Bad Company’s Greatest Hits, by international recording artists Bad Company. I find it inspirational and more than a bit fitting as background music when enjoying a spot of the hit new interactive video title, Battlefield: Bad Company 2.
Bad Company 2’s campaign revisits the four misfit squad mates. There’s some sort of secret weapon at stake here that was lost in a shipwreck during World War 2, then uncovered in the present day in the husk of the ship, now accessible due to the ocean apparently having been evaporated and turned into a desert. The game begins in WW2, which left a very sour taste in my mouth and set a bad precedent for the campaign. I didn’t come here to fire muskets and slingshots, and although it set the scene for the story, I could’ve done without it. It was funny watching old timey dudes punch each other out on the deck of a Japanese submarine, but all of this could’ve been wrapped up into a cut scene.
I could’ve done with more cut scenes, because it wasn’t clear to me where the story was going or why I should care. Sarge is mad that his retirement is delayed yet again. There’s that Scottish guy and the nerd. Some terrorist or government or terrorist government has a super weapon and you need to go and get it. If there’s all there is to get, that’s fine. This campaign mode is technically proficient but loveless, like a kid whose dad makes him practice piano five hours a day. It lacks the “holy sh**” moments of Modern Warfare 2, which I have come to expect from an exceptional shooter but should still come out of left field to surprise me. I know, I ask for a lot. But we are talking about AAA titles here, ones that some outlets are dropping 10’s on, so I’m going to get picky.
But like I said, there isn’t anything exactly wrong with the campaign: it’s a technically enjoyable adventure but nothing that’s going to knock COD off its throne. The story takes you through a few exotic locales, including South America, where you’ll drive a powerboat downriver. One major gripe I had with this is that powerboats do not stop on a dime. When I put the “brakes” on my boat in the game (real boats definitely do not have brakes), I could almost hear the tires squeaking. Though I was cruising well over what would be a highway speed for an auto, I was able to come to a complete stop in a microsecond.
There are some neat new features in the campaign, which is becoming an increasingly difficult thing to accomplish in this genre: war doesn’t change. While making your way through snowy mountains, you’ll need to spend minimal time outside or become overwhelmed by hypothermia. Darting from house to house where I could warm up by the fire, or blowing up a readily available explosive box or barrel for some heat in a pinch, is something I haven’t done in a game before.
Multiplayer is what most people play this series for, and I’m happy to report that it’s in stellar form here. I’m not a person who buys a game strictly for multiplayer, but I’d recommend this game even if it cut out single player altogether. I don’t know how this game can make me sit down for hours every night, neglecting my responsibilities for something I’ve played a thousand variations of. Yet, it’s done with such sweet science. Maps are perfectly crafted; familiar and new at the same time, even through a hundred playthroughs. I have a stack of review games I need to get through—and yet, I can’t tear myself away from multiplayer. Perfectly executed by people who know where their bread is buttered.
Multiplayer modes are conducive to the new experience. Not a one feels like a tired old deathmatch. There are four modes available. Before the complaints start pouring in about the lack of modes, let me put it this way. Which would you rather own: four Picassos or twenty finger paintings? Four filet mignons or twenty Carl Buddig’s roast beef and Kraft processed cheesefood sandwiches?
Rush pits two teams against each other: one tries to destroy M-COM stations, the other to defend the stations from attacks. What is an M-COM, besides a bank in New Zealand? I’m not sure. I don’t know much about tactical military operations, I’m just here to jack up some cocky 12 year-old. Conquest is a base-capturing mode, with teams striving to raise their country’s (U.S. or Russia) flag on one of several bases. Possession can change back and forth, so the game’s never really over until it’s over. Squad Rush is Rush with two four-player squads squaring off (a maximum of eight players total) for a tighter, more intense game. For traditional skirmishers, Squad Deathmatch pits up to four squads against each other. First squad to fifty kills wins. If none of this sounds like a challenge to you, hardcore mode (available across all game types) makes spotting enemies more difficult, lowers health, and gives weapons more power.
You now are able to choose between four specializations (as opposed to Bad Company 1’s five). Recon (sniper in a ghillie suit), engineer (combining the previous specialist and demolition kits), assault (your front line, run-and-gunners), and medic kits are yours to choose from and switch between at any spawn if you want. Experience points help you level up through 50 ranks, unlocking new weapons, specializations, and gadgets.
My only gripe about multiplayer has nothing to do with gameplay: it’s based on a decision EA made (similar to what they’ve already done with titles like NBA Live 10) to discourage used game sales and piracy. Let’s say you pick up the game for 360 or PS3. You’ll get a code with the game that will give you free access to VIP content. Trouble is, it’s only good for one account. I live in a household where several people share consoles, and the idea that I’d either have to purchase new copies for each person or pay to download the VIP content for each account (to the tune of 1200 points or $15) leaves me feeling pretty steamed. A used copy of a game will never go for more than $15 less than a new copy, unless we’re talking rare games (which Bad Company 2 will never be). Therefore you can never really get a good deal on the entire gaming experience unless you pick up a new copy, which just isn’t a reality for a lot of people in this economy—hard-working people, not pirates, who just want to have a good time. This is just a round-about way of imposing restrictions on console games that ends up hurting far more innocent gamers than dissuading baddies.
That’s enough ranting for this review. Besides, I want to get back on Live.
Single-player is a solid experience worth buying. But multiplayer is the prom queen here, and a serious Modern Warfare rival. With Infinity Ward in flux, Battlefield could emerge as the premiere military shooter in the next few years.