The boys of Bad Company are back again to lay waste to the lands with their unique brand of destruction and humour. This time around though, DICE is ramping up the destruction and upping the ante of their online multiplayer modes. Despite this, the question still remains about saturation, and in a sea of modern first person shooters, will Bad Company 2 hold its own?
Bad Company 2 starts with a throwback to 1943 in Japan, unveiling a military secret unleashed during World War II, but kept hidden from the public eye. Following up from those events, Bad Company comes right back into play with the classic four soldiers of the original game. The unique thing about the characters of Bad Company 2 is that they are quite memorable and make the player care about them a lot more than most typical soldiers of other shooters. What makes them stand out is their humour and constant discussion that happens while going through the game, in combat or out. Even though the jokes have been toned down and the mood is a little more serious, there are still all the unique little quips and phrases that have been a trademark of Sweetwater and Haggard since the beginning.
The single player campaign is a lot of fun and is very action packed. One of the biggest improvements since the first game is that all the action is packed in to keep the game going, as opposed to the long and lonely trips that frequented the first Bad Company. There is a lot more constant destruction and fighting going on in Bad Company 2 that makes it exciting, but it does leave the single player a little on the short side. 8 hours is about all the time needed to compete the campaign. There are a few collectibles that can probably stretch the game out to about 10 to 12 hours for those heavy into collecting every last thing in a game. Besides, the 8 hours spent on campaign is well put together and it feels like no time is wasted.
It's also worth mentioning the game has an entire multiplayer aspect that is among one of the best multiplayer experiences in the genre. There are about 5 maps that are setup to be played in three different modes. Rush mode involves attackers blowing up communications sets while the defenders attempt to wear down the attackers' number of respawns. There is also the traditional Battlefield standard of conquest mode which is like a multiple capture the flag situation. Squad deathmatch rounds out the modes, with four squads of four pitted against each other, with the first squad to reach 50 kills declared the winner.
The multiplayer is probably the most stand out part of Bad Company 2 carrying over the destruction of environments that changes the shape of the battlefield as the combat progresses. The other unique thing about Bad Company 2 is that it uses physics on the bullets themselves, so at long range elevation and timing is required to ensure the bullet hits its intended target. Vehicles are also at the player's disposal to lay waste to anyone in the way. Vehicles range from ATV and jet-ski, to Apache helicopters and heavy tanks. All of the vehicles add a tactical advantage to the battle, while other players setup to take on heavier armour. There is also the unlock system in multiplayer that rewards player for playing specific classes and this allows for new weapon types and attachments. Admittedly, the levelling seems tedious at first, but once a player gets used to playing a class, upgrades start unlocking very quickly.
Both the single player campaign and the multiplayer are visually stunning as well. A lot of effects in the game make everything feel like one big action movie. Explosions are around every corner and everything can blow up in one way or another. The destruction of buildings is also visually impressive as rubble and shrapnel fly everywhere with a very stable frame rate all the while. The one problem with the visuals is that the rubble and bits of destroyed material can sometimes glitch and go flying through the air or get stuck from time to time, which can look pretty out of place.
Audio in games can sometimes be understated, but in Bad Company 2 the audio production is top notch. There is always a great mix of audio surrounding the player that is dynamic and changes accordingly depending on location. For example, when the player is in a building all of the gunshots and voices are echoed off the walls. Even distant explosions are all audible while playing. There is even a mode called "War Tapes" that works very well with surround sound to provide a realistic sounding battlefield that ramps up the bass and treble and opens the sound up to hear all the gunshots and explosions surrounding the player over the entire map. The only negative to the audio is that sometimes things can get a little too busy and just turns into a mass of noise, although it's usually a fairly rare instance.
Overall, Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is among the best first person shooters of the current generation. Top notch gameplay blended with an awesome physics engine and great sound production makes for a great game and top contender against some of the biggest hitters like Halo and Call Of Duty. In terms of the multiplayer experience, this is one title that should be at the top of the list.