Say what you like about Modern Warfare 2, but it is impossible to deny that Infinity Ward’s seminal game has had a tremendous effect on other videogame developers. It was a pretty perfect package that boasted an endlessly appealing and varied multiplayer component, and in its wake, never again would a new FPS title be able to launch (unless it was a forward-thinking maverick like Zipper Interactive’s MAG) without offering something similar both in quantity, but also in quality.
DICE’s estimable Battlefield franchise has offered up single-player missions before (firstly in 2005’s Battlefield 2 on the PC) but they were nothing more than rudimentary offline approximations of the online mode, with bots and the vague suggestion of a plot replacing other players and the standard multitude of self-made stories of your own. The first Bad Company from 2008 made amends, but the single-player campaign only ever felt as if it was intended to be an optional extra for fans who had perhaps overdosed on the multiplayer. It was entertaining, but it wasn’t quite the genuine article.
Conversely, Bad Company 2 has a categorically superb single-player campaign mode; robust and lengthy, it serves both as a training ground for the bountiful (and almost incomparable) online modes, but even as a stand-alone it rocks nearly as hard as Infinity Ward’s currently all-conquering king. The popularity of a modern setting in current FPS games clearly makes its inclusion a necessity for some development teams, although there are times when you wouldn’t know that Bad Company 2 was even set in the present day at all.
Some of the initial weaponry that you’ll find at the beginning of the game seems haggard; an ample part of the story is set in the jungles of South America; and your team are flown around by a stoned, paranoid longhair who is obsessed with CIA “spooks” and karma, and says “niner” instead of nine. It may not be set during the Vietnam War, but the allusions to it are refreshing. There is also an achievement/trophy called “Heart Of Darkness” which is a nice nod to everyone who is as obsessed with ‘Nam war films as DICE clearly are.
The destructible environments, prepped to near-perfection in the original Bad Company, now stretch to include entire buildings. Taking out a sniper by blasting through a wooden door it still as thunderously satisfying as ever, but when vehicles come into play, you can destroy an entire house with a handful of well-aimed tank blasts. This will obviously take out all enemies unlucky enough to be in the building when it goes boom, but it also destroys a massive piece of cover that they’ll be unable to utilise later on. In multiplayer, this adds yet another strategic element to the core gameplay, as well as countless opportunities for some pretty intoxicating thrills. Capturing an enemy location, whilst a tank slowly blows the building that you’re standing in to smithereens, is quite frankly an experience that every gamer should have.
And the multiplayer is still outstanding. Toeing the unbelievably fine line between the kamikaze man-on-a-mission excitement of Modern Warfare 2, and the stray-and-you-die team component of MAG, Bad Company 2 takes the very best moments of both to create something that DICE will have a horrendously hard time topping. One new addition – the ability to spawn next to your squad mates after you die – completely changes the state of play, often inspiring brilliant moments of haphazard stealth. It may have seemed like a gamble when DICE first toyed with it; but now it is doubtful if other squad-based online FPS titles will ever do it any other way.
It isn’t as godlessly obsessed with carnage and technology as Modern Warfare 2, prioritising strategy and character over everything else. There is some nice dialogue in the main story mode (“Maybe one day we’ll visit some place like this and not just shoot the natives…” “Yeah, right…”) the collectible weaponry is a masterstroke, and there is enough content on the disc to keep everyone busy until Bad Company 3 inevitably comes along. But how are DICE ever going to top this?
Watch the Battlefield Bad Company 2 trailer here…
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