Reviewed: March 12, 2010
Released: March 2, 2010
There has always been a bit of an unspoken rivalry between the Call of Duty franchise and Battlefield, especially when last year’s Bad Company introduced a solid single player campaign mode with an enjoyable and engaging story full of humor and adventure. Well, those bad boys from Company B are back with an all-new story plus an enhanced multiplayer game that is certain to cause thousands of Modern Warfare 2 players to go AWOL.
Battlefield: Bad Company 2 piles on the improvements in nearly ever facet of gameplay, and while the epic storyline that gets its start back in 1944 will certainly grab FPS fans and keep them busy for 6-8 hours, you’ll stick around for months working up through the ranks of the massively addictive online play with support for up to 24 players.
The campaign is a fun little romp that gets its start with a tutorial mission that takes place in 1944 with a squad of U.S. soldiers sent onto an island to rescue a defecting scientist who has invented a weapon of mass destruction. This by-the-numbers tutorial level gets you introduced to the various controls for movement and switch and firing weapons. They even throw in the first of several on-rail vehicle sequences, but we never ultimately learn the fate of the soldiers or the weapon they were sent to retrieve, at least until much later in the game. Flash forward to present day as we join the boys from Bravo Company, sent into the snowy mountains of Russia to supervise a top-secret exchange of some unknown device. Naturally, things go wrong, the contact is killed, the head terrorist escapes and our guys our recruited to track him down and secure whatever WMD this guy is after.
The first Bad Company featured some of the largest levels I had ever seen. If you could see it you could likely go there. Modern Warfare 2 might not have been as large when it came to levels but they featured much more detail and realism. Now Bad Company 2 arrives with the perfect mix of both – huge expansive levels full of incredible detail whether you are making your way through the crumbling ruins of a hillside village or navigating a winding jungle river in South America. There was no part of any level that didn’t have my jaw sagging, and each level bested those that came before it with even more astonishing visuals.
The sheer amount of detail in these levels is only matched by their level of destructibility. I remember hearing the call, “MG-42 ahead…” and I dove behind what I though was a safe concrete wall only to hear the gun rattle to life and the wall start to chip away before me until I was left exposed like a deer in the headlights. I would dart into a house to seek cover and some sniper would be shooting me through the walls. Of course it plays both ways and a carefully lobbed grenade or expertly targeted RPG will remove a wall or even bring down an entire building.
The levels are huge, not just in size of landscape but in the missions that you undertake in each, often mixing in multiple scenarios of land, sea, and air transport. You even get to take control of a targeting drone – something like a remote control helicopter – to pinpoint and guide in targeted airstrikes. Of course the real fun is using your binoculars to call in air support then watch as A-10 Warthogs come swooping in to level entire city blocks.
To enhance the stunning visuals is one of the best sound packages I’ve heard in a military shooter. Each and every weapon sounds amazing and the voice acting is topnotch. I love the jokes and taunts exchanged by the guys and the radio chatter adds an extra level of immersion. The music is also superb, ranging from inspirational military themes to exciting action music for the battles, or even more sinister, when it drops out entirely leaving you to traverse down a mountain in a blinding blizzard with nothing but the wind howling in five channels of Dolby Digital surround.
The story is exciting and suspenseful with a great deal of humorous banter thrown in to put a smile on your face and even take a few jibes at Modern Warfare 2, although the references are so subtle you will have had to played that other game to catch references like "heartbeat sensors" and "snowmobile races". There are some excellent in-game graphic cutscenes as well as the now-standard satellite map view loading screens. Speaking of loads, the game streams constantly from the hard drive, so much that I though I would burn the thing up. I definitely recommend installing the full game to your hard drive which will quiet things down and also speed up a few minor loading issues.
Your four-man group is mostly around for random chatter and atmosphere. While they are slightly useful in distracting the enemy they usually leave most of the work for you. At least with their uncanny ability to take a rocket to the chest and get back up you won’t have to worry about running around healing them like you did in Army of Two. You can see their blue triangles on the mini-map, either hanging back waiting for you to clear the way or rushing to the next staged waypoint while you search bodies and ruins for the spoils of war.
The first game had you looking for gold bars, but this time around you are looking for satellite uplinks, 24 in all, some of which are fiendishly hidden in remote parts of the map. I found 14 in my first play through then went back and picked up the missing ten on a chapter-by-chapter replay. There are also special weapons in many of the levels, but these are easily found by looking for the gun icon on the map and checking dead soldiers for new weapons. Once found, these weapons will be unlocked and available in future weapons containers dropped into the battlefield.
The multiplayer modes for Bad Company 2 are where the game really shines. While not quite as robust as Modern Warfare 2 with all their perks and banners and logos, Bad Company offers a much more team-centric atmosphere. Let’s face it; even in the team games of Modern Warfare 2 everyone is out for themselves, but in Bad Company 2 you are really encouraged to play as a team and for the most part, everyone does. It’s still lacking the cooperative structure of a game like MAG, but I really felt I was contributing to something larger than my own rank and XP acquisition.
As before, you can choose from various kits that dictate your duties on the battlefield – anything from medic or recon, engineer or assault soldier. Each kit has its own weapons and tools and you can expand upon this with countless unlockables. The maps also factor into the gameplay with scaled landscape suited to the number of players whether you are playing Rush or Squad Deathmatch or the epic CTF Conquest mode. There are plenty of in-game rewards for completing various challenges and reaching certain milestones – again, not as vast as Modern Warfare 2, but infinitely more fun to play.
As if the gameplay weren’t enough to keep you playing this game until Bad Company 3 comes out, there are 50 achievements, about half of which are easily earned through solo play and the rest through some dedicated effort in the online modes. There is also a Limited Edition of the game that features an unlock code for several weapons, giving you instant access to six weapons. Once stores sell out of this edition you’ll have to earn these weapons on your own.
I love military FPS games, and even though I am committed to an ongoing career in MAG I still have the time for fun and friends and awesome team battles in Battlefield: Bad Company 2. I love the maps; love the weapons, and especially the vehicles. When you get tired of all the stress in MAG and all the haters in Modern Warfare 2, come join the boys in Bad Company. We’re always looking for a few good men and this is some of the best team-based multiplayer available.