Battlefield: Bad Company 2

19 04 2010

Best online multiplayer ever? Maybe. My favorite? Definitely.

In the war between online “modern combat” shooters, Battlefield: Bad Company 2 and Modern Warfare 2 are the clear front runners. I haven’t played much of the Call of Duty/Modern Warfare franchise outside of the first 4 levels of Call of Duty 4 and the demo for World at War.  Though there is no denying the polish of Infinity Ward’s Modern Warfare series, I just felt the gameplay was too chaotic, too arcadey.  CTF and deathmatch just get old after a while.  But I have enjoyed the Battlefield franchise for a few years now, first playing 1942, Battlefield 2, and 2142 on the PC. I liked how tactical the combat felt, how if you tried to “Master Chief” your way through any of the virtual battlefields on any difficulty other than easy you would be slaughtered, not to mention online play, where if you tried any Rambo shenanigans you were laughed off the server. I was (as is almost always the case, it seems) admittedly a late comer, and the same goes for DICE’s last XBOX 360 foray, Battlefield: Bad Company. But man, was it worth the wait.

A squad readies itself for battle. Or tea. Your choice.

The first Bad Company game was interesting move by DICE, putting in a single player campaign with a cohesive story, rather than just multiplayer maps with bots. Though the tale was your fairly generic excuse to shoot guys until you see the credits, the characters were my favorite part of the first game. The banter got a little campy, yes, but I took it as a winking nod from the developer to the player, a kind of “we know you’re not taking this seriously so neither are we” unwritten agreement. And that let me laugh along with Haggard, Sweetwater, Marlowe, and Redford. But what I found after I finished the campaign was very serious indeed. See, I had never been a big online player. I’ve dabbled, mostly in Halo 3, and a tiny bit in GTA IV, but for the most part I’m a single player/offline co-op kind of guy. I’ve never been very competitive, but something about the objective-based combat (and my familiarity with Conquest mode, due to mine and my wife’s deep love of Pandemic’s Star Wars: Battlefront series) and the emphasis on vehicular combat really appealed to me. Also a plus was the destructible environment, which after Red Faction: Guerilla I am always disappointed when it’s not included in the game.

Extreme Makeover: C4 Edition. Eat THAT, Ty Pennington!

Bad Company 2 takes everything I loved about the Battlefield series and improves on it. Though the single player campaign is once again an afterthought, it is a heck of a lot of fun, if a bit more serious than the first game.  The humor is toned way, way down.  But the online component is what Bad Company 2 is all about, and my God, I have never met a game so addictive. The two main modes of play are Conquest and Rush, and they are a blast. Conquest is the standard mode of Battlefield play, wherein you reduce the enemy’s points to zero by not only killing the crap out of them, but by capturing spawn points throughout the level. The result is a frantic tug of war for the map, and in some of the larger, more vehicle heavy maps,  glorious destruction of the most epic kind. Buildings fall, tanks explode, and deadly mortar rounds rain death from the sky. If you’re not on a server with a lot of people, these matches can take a while, but with a full roster of 32 people online, it’s an amazing experience.

This dickhead will stand here the whole match, because his mom called him downstairs for dinner.

Rush mode is a newer mode first introduced in the first Bad Company, wherein you take the role of either attacking or defending crates stationed at various points on a map. Two crates are available to attack/defend at the same time, and the attacking team has only so many points (or respawns) before they lose. Rush is well named, because there is a real drive to execute your objective as quickly as possible. This mode is very fun when you’ve got two large, evenly matched teams, or very frustrating when there are just a few people on, and the defenders are all higher level than you. Rush seems to bring out the Rambo in your fellow players more than Conquest, and I am constantly irritated in how stupid my fellow players seem, until I realize they’re probably thinking the same thing about me. The other modes, Squad Rush and Squad Deathmatch, are basically smaller, faster, more intense versions of the other two game modes, and honestly I haven’t tried them out. Sue me. I like the big battles.

Never bring a paintball gun to all out war. Just sayin'.

The four classes and the upgrade system are what will addict you to this game irrevocably. Basically, the more stuff you do, the more points you get per match. The more points you get, the better weapons, upgrades, and special abilities you have available to your kit. For instance, I mostly play Engineer. As an Engineer, I can shoot people with my silenced SMG, spot enemy players by getting them in my sights and hitting the back button (allowing my entire team to see them), blast enemy tanks with a round from my RPG (rocket propelled grenade), or hop in a friendly tank and either drive or assist the driver by manning the tank’s machine gun. All of that is available to an Engineer right off the bat, and all of that earns me points, along with destroying crates in Rush or taking bases in Conquest.

There are no points awarded for hugging.  Just a good feeling about yourself.

There are no points awarded for hugging. Just a good feeling about yourself.

Once you earn enough points with the Engineer, you get the ability to repair damages vehicles, earning you even more points. That’s just with the Engineer, mind you. Recon (the sniper class) gets C4, motion sensors, and the ability to call in a mortar strike. The Assault kit gets a rife-mounted grenade launcher, smoke launcher, and eventually an underslung shotgun, in addition to the earned ability to hand out ammo packs. Lastly, the Medic class gets a light machine gun (like an M60), the ability to toss out health packs, and the ability to revive a player right there on the field. That’s not even scratching the surface of all the available gun types, player improvements (like faster movement and more ammo), and vehicle improvements available through the generous upgrade system. It’s like virtual crack.

I don't know about you, but blowing stuff up never gets old for me.

I don’t believe at this point it’s necessary to say it, (because as I reread this review, man, I really fellated this game) but for the sake of uniformity I will anyway: Yes, I can recommend Battlefield: Bad Company 2. Once you get past the fun but shallow single player, the multiplayer gives you endless hours of fun. As long as you don’t mind dying quite a bit at first, and have the patience to work for the unlocks, the sheer size of the battles and the thinking behind the combat system will inspire awe in what an online shooter can, and should be.

Follow me on Twitter! @CharlieHamlin

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