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Monday, 19 April 2010

Review- Battlefield: Bad Company 2 [PS3]

Publisher: EA

Developer: DICE
Released: 5th March 2010
Other Formats: PC, Xbox 360

Inviting direct comparison to the most successful video game of all time is a risky strategy no doubt. But, Battlefield: Bad Company 2 embraces it; interjecting sharp, cutting remarks via “Bad Company's” bravado dialogue, “snowmobiles are for cissies”. DICE have undertaken a major job in trying to deliver a comparable experience to the might of Infinity Ward's epic shooter Modern Warfare 2, and therefore it's extremely humbling to say that they have delivered with aplomb.

The comparison to MW2 lays with the initial FPS game mechanics, which are positively fantastic. The shooting mechanics are tight, delivering a great sense of force to the weapons. The Modern Warfare-approved cross-hair also makes an appearance upon accurate fire, meaning there is a constant feedback loop that works extremely well. And where MW2 in particular was fiercely criticised, its handling of story- with characters swapped to-and-fro and a highly convoluted plot. Bad Company 2, in contrast, excels, following the misfit “Bad Company” once again- the group of rag-tag characters that form the central core of the game. Delivering comedic dialogue and likeable personalities mean characters are developed well whilst also allowing DICE to craft an engaging narrative (the soldiers are tasked to seek out a secret weapon, codenamed “Aurora”) that entertains to the end. And whilst this means that Bad Company 2 can not quite match its competition's set piece count or style (due to its rooting in a central location), it does have a few neat tricks of its own (the aircraft finale, for example) to keep it feeling inspired and fresh.

The improvement of DICE's own engine, “Frostbite”, has meant that the game is also visually excellent. The dank darkness that opens Bad Company 2's campaign soon envelops to the openness of the bright jungle setting, giving the engine a chance to shine. The visuals are crisp, colourful and incredibly detailed. The upheaval in technology to the engine has also meant DICE have delivered on their promise of true destruction. No other game, other than last year's Red Faction Guerilla have been so successful in doing similar tricks that can alter the way in which the game is played. The original Bad Company's 'hole in the wall' effects have been stripped. Here, witnessing the destruction physics in motion is breathtaking, whilst it also means combat is rich and varied in variety. No longer can the player stay in one place for the duration of a battle, as cover can be decimated in front of you as quickly as you pulling the trigger. On the other hand, it offers great tactical awareness in terms of offing the enemy forces- pick off them one-by-one with a trusty pistol or risk using a valuable RPG in the hope the collapsed building does the work for you? The variety afforded to the player is also improved with the vast openness of the level design on show, only squandered in the final third as the levels tighten and become much more linear. In conjunction with the brilliant visual clarity and particle effects, BC2 also delivers an immensely satisfying masquerade to the senses with its sound. From the metallic clinking of the gun to the low thud of bullets hitting enemies.

The featured single player campaign of Bad Company 2 is a resounding success for DICE and EA. The blend of believable (whilst slightly stereotyped) characters, an involving plot, a good sense of variety in level structure and location and short, snappy and well scripted cut scenes all mean that the experience is incredibly satisfying.

Multiplayer acts as a team-based, tactical FPS experience. Players can choose from any of four weapon kits before each spawn (Medic, Engineer, Assault or Recon), all with an initial primary weapon and a pair of gadgets unique to that class. Experience points are awarded during play, with a level cap of 50 on offer. Game types include a defend/attack objective mode, 'Rush', a capture-the-flag mode, named 'Conquest', 'Squad Death match' and 'Squad Rush'.

Overall, Battlefield: Bad Company 2 deserves to stand on its own two feet, not under the shadow of behemoth Modern Warfare 2. Rather it is, in actuality, a more fulfilling game in many instances. The conclusion to the campaign points straight towards a sequel, and frankly, if the step up from the first to second game is anything to go by, it's going to be fantastic.

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