Between Activision pumping out a new Call of Duty every year, and Electronic Arts dropping a new Battlefield game annually too, I just can’t keep up. I still haven’t answered the last couple of calls (Of Duty), and I haven’t played a Battlefield game since 1943 (The game, not the year). After finally playing my unopened copy of Bad Company 2, the game reminded me why I love this series, even if I don’t spend as much time as I’d like with the franchise.
My first response to the tutorial level set in WWII was that I had been there and done that way too many times. My grizzled sergeant explained to me how to walk, shoot and sprint, then we taught those Ratzi bastards to keep their grubby mitts off Betty Grables’ gams!
Mercifully, the game quickly made a shift in time period to a modern setting. A time when civilized men fight with technologically advanced weaponry like 40mm grenade launchers and RPGs. I suddenly remembered why I keep playing Battlefield – I can kill houses!
After spending too much time firing short controlled bursts, and trying to snipe enemies as they took cover, I noticed that all the buildings had big holes in them. Why was I trying to flank my enemies by running from cover to cover, when I could just blast holes through a house, then shoot that pesky machine gun nest from a flanking position I had just created with my M203?
The destructible environments are great toys to play with. I appreciate that the developers gave me a squad of chatty, quirky characters to play with, but the real enjoyment is blowing up stuff.
While destructible environments have been around since Red Faction arrived over a decade ago, DICE and their Frostbite engine do it better than anyone. Being able to flatten entire villages, blast apart cover, and punch a hole through obstacles is far more extensive in a Battlefield game than in anything by the competition.
Even though the single-player campaign was enjoyable, this franchise has always been about online. With Battlefield 3 just hitting shelves, I was expecting a ghost town online and, after making a mistake in the server set-up, I briefly thought I was literally the only person in the world still playing this game. However, I managed to find that the multiplayer is still densely populated, even at odd hours.
Joining a multiplayer shooter after its has been out for a while is always a brutal and humiliating experience. Battlefield is particularly harsh on n00bz due to its strategic nature. An unskilled player who is at least familiar with the maps can always help out the team by sneaking into a base, then cowering in a safe spot to capture it. Being new to every map, my tactics consisted primarily of floundering into choke points where I was mercilessly gunned down. It’s a steep but enjoyable learning curve.
With this game being in my backlog for so long, I also have the Vietnam expansion pack, which had never been played until this week. I’m not the only one who complains that the major shooter franchise release sequels too quickly, or that there are too many DLC packs with negligible content. Bad Company 2 put out a proper expansion with Vietnam it’s not just a “Jungle Map Pack”, or “’Nam Skin Pack”, this is an impressive total conversion. The period music, the news reports between rounds, and the voice work all add up to give it a very authentic feel.
Instead of firing off some quickly made Battlefield: 1968 as a full game with a tacked on solo-campaign, DICE just put out a multiplayer-only expansion to an existing game. It’s a shame that EA couldn’t have done the same with the 2010 Medal of Honor game – which used a completely different engine and developer for single-player, but had Battlefield developer DICE do the multiplayer with a version of their Frostbite engine. Instead of an unsuccessful attempt at a reboot, players could have gotten Battlefield 2002, and DICE could have had resources freed up for Battlefield 3.
Even in the wake of its technologically advanced sequel, Bad Company 2 is still something that deserves to be played. Not confining itself to just one time period, it’s a grab bag of 20th century combat, plus some modern warfare too. The reappearance of the ‘Nam setting in the Battlefield franchise is a very welcome addiction that makes this particular game stand among the modern “gritty “ shooters, and day-after-tomorrow pseudo sci-fi settings. Bad Company 2, and Vietnam are often found on sale from digital distributors, but remain worth their full retail price even after a year and a half on the backlog.
Next week on The Backlog I’ll grab one of the many un-played Call of Duty games stacked up on my shelf. In the meantime, are you still playing Bad Company 2, or have you already jumped to Battlefield 3?
Charles is a proud contributor to Default Prime, as well as the Xbox/ PC Department Lead at Player Affinity, a reviewer for The Indie Game Magazine, and a Special Agent at the U.S. Department of Electronic Entertainment.
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