Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Online multiplayer shines in "Bad Company 2"

"Battlefield: Bad Company 2"

Developed by DICE
Published by EA
Available: NOW
Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Rated M
Price: $59.99

Let's get one thing straight before I proceed with this review. First, "Bad Company 2" isn't "Modern Warfare 2." Yes, both deal with tough-as-nails soldiers keeping the world safe from terrorists. Yes, both games have superior online modes and feature some pretty slick weapons. However, as much as I enjoyed "Modern Warfare 2," the ability to destroy a building AND get gamer points for it is what makes this game a very, very fun ride.

Developed by DICE and published by EA, "Battlefield: Bad Company 2" is the shooter sequel to "Battlefield: Bad Company." Just like the original, you are a member of 'Bad Company,' a four-man team of Army specialists who do missions all around the world that other units don't want to do or can't do. Enough said.

The main draw of "Bad Company 2," of course, are the stellar multiplayer modes. DICE has tweaked their winning formula and continued to make it stellar. From tanks and personal watercraft (I love these things!) to UAVs, online players can snipe, blast, run over, pummel and own opponents with a large variety of weapons and vehicles. As with the original, the more experience you earn during online sessions, the more gear, weapons, awards and achievements you unlock. I'll discuss this mode more later on in my review.

The game has a pretty good single-player campaign too. You assume the role of Preston Marlowe, a soldier skilled in pretty much every weapon and vehicle known to man (slingshot and smooth stones, FTW). Along for the journey are your squadmates, Sarge, Sweetwater and Haggard. The crew is ok - their quotes are annoying at times and very corny. They aren't memorable but get the job done most times. They aren't very motivated either - you can hang behind, searching cleared areas for enemy intelligence - or computer terminals you can rig charges to and blow up - and they will wait for you, aka the rookie - to lead them on.

The story, however, starts off at the end of WWII, very reminiscent of "Battlefield: 1943", with your squad going to rescue a Japanese scientist working on a uber secret WMD. Of course they locate the scientist and the device ... Fast forward to modern day - and the device, lost several moons ago, is located and in Russian hands. Unknown to Bad Company squad, who was working on a mission for something else, they discover a scalar generator prototype. This device, when used on a battlefield, would render the enemy army helpless. That's where the action really picks up.

You will operate in exotic locales - from Okinawa to Chile - and all points between - and be greeted with some very lush and detailed environs. I was impressed by the look of the game - the detail is definitely upgraded from DICE's last offering, the amped-up "Battlefield: 1943." You may need to tweak the visual settings a bit - I had to adjust them up in the jungle, and adjust them way down in the desert missions. The graphics are excellent.

Which brings me to the destructible environs. They return and in a big way. You have an enemy taking shots and hiding behind a wall? Don't waste time - just take out the wall! Or - better yet - bring the house down! Yes, it's not a new concept, but I love being in a tank, see an enemy in a house and just take out the house. No need to serve an eviction notice - my tank is good enough.

The gameplay moves swiftly in SP, and the enemy is relentless at all levels. The objectives are pretty clear and straightforward - and your squad will bring it when they have to. However, the one gripe I have here are with the weapons you discover throughout the game. You can unlock a slew of weapons by finding them visually or via your on-screen map. It's a task to find the weapons - and supply caches to replenish your weapons. However, if you aren't paying attention - yes, I am example A - you can find yourself advancing on the mission and not getting all the special weapons on a level. When that happens, you could end up blowing your chances to have certain weapons in the game that were only available on that level. Opps. Fortunately, I found the sweet .50 cal sniper rifle, usefully to give baddies closed-casket funerals and reaching out and touching people from a distance.

Need to 'bring the rain?' A few missions allow players to call in A-10 Warthogs to send some metal rain on unsuspecting enemies. You can even gain access to UAVs to send down missiles all over the battlefield.

The game doesn't feature co-op or offline multiplayer modes - it's just single player, sorry - but features 24 players online. The modes online include Rush (you defend or attack M-COM stations), Conquest (capture and hold flags), Squad Rush (two squads in Rush mode) and Squad Deathmatch. There are also 8 maps initially - with two additional VIP maps (you get a free download code, if you have the Limited Edition version of the game) available at the time of release.

The sounds are good - the soundtrack easily forgettable. The voiceover acting, however, is often laughable and reminded me of intoxicated fratboys screaming at each other.

The verdict: 3.25 (out of 4 stars). "Bad Company 2" is a way cool ride. The online multiplayer is awesome and could easily be worth the price of admission. However, the single player mode is good but not memorable or stellar. It feels, to me, like DICE let off the gas right before they hit Victory Lane. They definitely created a shooter that will keep gamers busy - but need to give players who don't have access to LIVE or PSN more options for playing with friends.

No comments: