I have a short attention span. It’s rare that a game will hold my attention for longer than a few weeks (FIFA aside obviously). Yet when the emails that formed this series were flying around, I could only think of one game that I would want to write about. A game that nearly 15 months after its release, still has me playing regularly, with the same enthusiasm I had on day one.
I remember my first playthrough clearly. I picked it up on the Friday it came out, got too drunk to play it that night, then started and finished it in two sittings over the Saturday and Sunday mornings. It was short, but still incredibly satisfying. I found that the FPS side blended well with the sections involving vehicles and commend DICE for being brave enough to try a few new things. Descending the mountain in “cold war” being one that seemed to divide people. For me, it worked. It helped break up the shoot and run monotony that most of are accustomed to.
The story is cheesy at best, but if you take it for what it is, it’s still entertaining. You can easily reason and sympathise with the characters, something that Call of Duty (there was always going to be at least one comparison in here somewhere) didn’t do for me and it remains funny, even through a second playthrough. Maybe I give the single player campaign extra credit because I was so fond of the first Bad Company, but I genuinely enjoyed seeing the characters again and seeing how their relationships had changed from the first game to the second. That aside, this isn’t supposed to be a serious story. It’s almost a parody of games that try to walk that path. It’s never afraid to laugh at itself and there’s an underlying feeling throughout that the developers and writers were just having a good time.
Overall the single player is pretty solid, but I’ve not been replaying the same 6 hour campaign repeatedly for the last year and a bit.
With the multiplayer, DICE absolutely smashed it out of the park, and I can say with ease that it’s the best multiplayer game I’ve ever played. Some will agree and others won’t, but for every flaw there are 100 things that strike near perfection. I’m usually someone who strays away from competitive multiplayer, not knowing the people you’re playing with and taking the gamble as to whether your team will play properly or not just doesn’t appeal to me. Despite that though, Bad Company 2 has kept me completely hooked. Jumping blindly into a match has never caused me any problems.
The first time you snipe a chopper pilot and watch as the bird comes crashing back to earth is near orgasmic, and it remains that way the next 10 or 20 times you do it. The same goes for bringing one down using a well placed rocket, placing the killer charge on the tank that’s been causing chaos, finally sticking a knife into the sniper that’s nailed you three times in a row, pulling a down a building that the other team is set up in, or sticking a grenade under a medic that’s just revived someone and taking both your opponents out. Please, stop me if you’ve seen this all in Black Ops (there was always going to be at least two comparisons in here somewhere).
The Frostbite engine and destruction 2.0 are a large factor in the multiplayer consistently feeling fresh. If you see someone run into cover, pop a grenade over there and “poof!”, the cover is gone. I have so many fond memories of using C4 to bring down buildings with snipers holed up on the top floor, they never see it coming until it’s too late.
Allowing players to sculpt the maps as they play is what sets Bad Company 2 apart from other shooters, it helps to negate camping and it creates that feeling of never being safe, something that will hopefully become standard fare across all FPS titles. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’d be crouched in a corner reloading and a rocket would slam into the wall, completely obliterating it and me in the process. Every time that’s happened, I’ve chuckled and waited to respawn without the slightest hint of annoyance or frustration.
The class system works really well and, for the most part, is pretty balanced. If you get a good squad who play well together, making use of all the options available, you’ll dominate. Which is exactly as it should be. If your Assault guy isn’t keeping you topped up with ammo you’ll run out and you’re screwed. Likewise, your medic needs to stick with the squad and think before trying to revive out of cover. Good teamwork is key, you might survive as a lone wolf, but it’s unlikely you’ll contribute to winning.
The multiplayer has been extremely well supported in terms of maps, although I understand some people will say that they just recycled and shifted them from mode to mode. I get that, but it didn’t really matter to me or harm my experience. The VIP code system was infuriating to people who bought the game used, and I’m not going to get into how I really feel about P10D or VIP codes as it isn’t really the place for it, but it’s probably here to stay in one form or another. Being a relatively positive chap I try to look at it as thanking players who bought new rather than punishing those that didn’t, although it’s probably a bit of both really.
Aside from regular map updates, DICE also introduced the Onslaught mode. Up to 4 player co-op on slightly modified maps. I played it for a short while, but it lacked the rush (no pun intended) of the competitive multiplayer. I don’t think it went down entirely as well as DICE would have liked. Thankfully, for them and for fans of the game, they went back to the drawing board and came back in December with the Vietnam expansion.
£14.99 or 1200MSP nets you an entirely new skin for the tried and trusted multiplayer model. New character models, new weapons, new vehicles, and new maps. It probably couldn’t have been better timed or better value. To me it speaks volumes about the quality of the title that there is still a huge player base on both the original multiplayer and on the Vietnam expansion, I can’t remember the last time I joined a game on either with less than ten players per side. Nothing really changed in terms of gameplay, the weapons and setting are specific to the Vietnam war, but other than that it’s pretty much more of the same with an ever so slightly different feel.
To me, what the Vietnam expansion demonstrated perfectly, was the great ability DICE have to adapt. They tried Onslaught and it failed. “Not a problem, what do these fuckers want then?”…“Well everything is pretty much perfect, but could we get a new setting and have everything tailored around that”?…“Sure, it’s gonna cost you 15 quid though?”…“Bargain!”
As someone that put a good 50 hours into the first incarnation of the multiplayer, I’ll admit I was tiring. You learn the maps inside out, you start to get almost robotic when playing. Vietnam shattered that and made me fall in love with Bad Comapny 2 all over again.
My kill to death ratio is terrible, my stats are terrible and (according to my girlfriend) my hours played tally is both offensive and pathetic at the same time. However, none of that matters because I’ve enjoyed every single second I’ve spent playing and have never felt cheated or let down by the game, only by my crappy thumbs and alcoholism.
Even though DICE have set the bar extremely high with Bad Company 2, from early coverage of Battlefield 3 it looks like they know how to top it. I can honestly still see myself playing Bad Company 2 right up until the day Battlefield 3 is released.
Bring on Frostbite 2.0…