Imagine if you will that you are crouching next to a wall. You appear to have a light machinegun, some med-packs and defibrillators. The sounds of battle, from the dull thump of distant explosives to the sharp crack of a rifle somewhere on the ridge ahead, surround you and your squad mates. Suddenly, one of your fellows is shot through the face by an errant sniper somewhere in the chaos. Hefting your defibrillators, you rush over to him and, amidst the confusion of flying bullets, revive him and grant him a faster recovery with your medkits. As you are doing this, the wall behind you, along with most of the house attached to it, is blown to smithereens by a high-flying Black Hawk helicopter. Grabbing the Engineer kit of one of your downed teammates, you fire wildly into the sky with an RPG-miraculously, the chopper flies straight into it, spinning down and eventually exploding. That, dear readers, is DICE’s Battlefield Bad Company 2.
It would be hard to compare this to any other First-Person Shooter, let’s say something like the popular CoD, as BFBC2 delivers a grossly more ‘real’ experience of modern warfare; from the fantastic audio quality of the many sounds of battle, to the constant nagging fear that almost no cover will remain standing for long, a blood-pumping sensation is created that hardly anything can compete with. This is, of course, in addition to the large selection of fully drivable vehicles on offer, from helicopters to Abrams tanks, with which to create a desolate wasteland of the battlefield.
Graphically, this game is beautiful. With massive, highly detailed landscapes, incredible explosions and terrific effects when demolishing the environment, such as dust clouds billowing out of holes punched into a house wall, BFBC2 is paradise for that part of the brain which loves pretty pictures. The audio quality is beyond compare too, the distinctive sounds of reloading a gun spelling out ‘lock and load’.
The game’s singleplayer again follows Preston Marlowe and friends from ‘Bad Company’ as they roam from environment to environment, driving and killing things and generally creating mayhem. Haggard, the resident madman and expert on explosives, seems a bit more aggressive and aggravating than in the first game, but in general the characters are as we know them from BFBC 1. Although the story is fun and always action-packed it is rather on the short side, multiplayer being where the game really shines.
Ah multiplayer. What a brilliant day it was when we tapped into the online masterpiece that is Battlefield Bad Company 2 multiplayer. Able to choose from 4 classes, Assault, Engineer, Recon and Medic, the player is assigned a squad (if they wish; it is highly recommended that you join a squad in the match!) and dumped into the battle, either spawning at a base or on top of a squad mate. From there, the player can hop into any nearby vehicles, control a miniature UAV helicopter from a terminal, unlock stuff and generally gain points. Points are gained from killing enemies (obviously), or performing well at your battlefield role as dictated by your class; a Recon class would ideally set up camp with the sniper rifle and ‘spot’ enemies by planting them in their sights and hitting the ‘Back’ button on the controller. Spotted enemies are highlighted for the whole team, and a Spot Assist is gained if someone else kills them. Likewise, a Medic could gain points solely by electrocuting seemingly deceased persons and reviving them. This is a fantastic way of making sure that everyone feels needed on the team, not just some wavering ‘noob’ on the outskirts of the fight.
The most popular mode of play seems to be Rush, where the attackers must destroy M-Com stations while having a limited respawn, while defenders lose if all stations are lost but have an unlimited respawn count. This is very evocative of classic war films, with the defenders hunkering down in a building somewhere and watching the mortar shells fall past like rain. Of course, a new feature of BFBC2 is that buildings can now completely collapse, so canny defenders won’t spend too long there after all. Other modes are available, such as Conquest where territories must be captured, or the new Squad Deathmatch, where you and your squad face off against 3 other teams. These are enjoyable in their own right, but it’s Rush where you feel the biggest...well, rush.
Such an almost perfect game sadly does have its share of little problems, although these aren’t exactly throw-your-controller-in-a-rage-and-buy-a-new-window kind of annoyances, just minor niggles. One such problem is when you first jump into multiplayer, especially buying the game recently (as I did); almost everyone will have some perk or ‘specialization’ that means that they will be able to kill you far more easily than you would they. Although this can be hard to cope with, running someone over with a tank makes things slightly more bearable. Another is that the singleplayer can feel a bit shallow at times, with there being just a tad too much non-stop action and not enough tense parts. However, as we said singleplayer isn’t where the most fun is at, so it’s a problem relatively ignorable.
Battlefield Bad Company 2 is a brilliant game, a coveted disk which should adorn any game collection. With an action-orientated singelplayer and an amazing multiplayer where everything from trees to houses can be demolished, BFBC2 is plainly fantastic. After all, this is probably the only situation where scrambling out of a collapsing building can be fun.