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Battlefield: Bad Company Review
developer: Digital Illusions
|ESRB rating: T
release date: Jun 23, 08
|» All About Battlefield: Bad Company on ActionTrip|
Battlefield: Bad Company was a welcomed surprise when initially announced by DICE and EA. The developers set out to create a single-player oriented Battlefield game with some gameplay elements that are new to the franchise. Numerous features were promised, including rich characterization, engaging storyline and an altogether exciting single-player experience. At some point, EA proclaimed that certain weapons in Bad Company would be available strictly as downloadable content or if you purchase of the collector's edition. This lead to the well-known Bad Company boycott, which eventually forced EA to change its tune. Later on, they announced that extra weapons included in the Gold Edition of the game will be free. Other players, however, would be able to get the weapons by ranking up their avatars to the max level. As it turns out, this feature wasn't a bad move. But let's not get ahead of ourselves.
We've always enjoyed BF and were keen to see the series in its first single-player form. The story itself doesn't rank very high on the originality scale - Ruskies, mercs, World War 3 or something, greed, all of which ultimately leads to blowing stuff up. In short, you've pretty much seen and heard it all before. This one's more about the characters though. There are four key characters in the game, including Preston Marlowe (i.e. You). Preston is assigned to B-Company, which is usually sent into the most dangerous enemy territories to secure areas before the army can send in its top units. Actually, the army sees you and your squad-mates as cannon fodder and won't hesitate to give you the toughest assignments instead of sending in a rescue chopper, so you best be on your guard.
The characterization makes the single-player worthwhile and you'll soon grow to like each member of your team. DICE also seasoned things by adding a fair dose of humor and for the most part it works rather well.
During the first mission, the game immediately introduces players to one of its essential facets - environmental damage. Your character can use high explosives and stuff like grenades and grenade launchers to blow holes through walls and literarily demolish houses, buildings and other structures scattered throughout the map. Like any previous BF game, vehicles are an important part of gameplay and Bad Company is no exception; you'll find everything from armored cars, boats, trucks, tanks, helicopters and so on. There's even a handy golf cart available at one point. The developers have once again shown their talent for establishing solid vehicle physics. Whether you're maneuvering a speedboat, jeep or any other vehicle, you'll find that it reacts convincingly to the terrain and environment you're traversing through.
The mission structure is somewhat repetitive, with a relatively standard choice of tasks on offer, such as planting explosives on crucial enemy targets, disabling communication towers (which is essentially the same thing), defending friendly units for a certain amount of time, etc. In this game, combat tactics usually amounts to choosing how you're gonna blow something up or deciding from which direction you're going to attack an enemy encampment. Usually there are various ways to approach an enemy base - by boat, in a land vehicle or on-foot. No matter how you choose to attack, it's likely you'll be seen by the enemy, so you won't bother much with stealth approaches. At least I didn't.
Although enemy soldiers can put up a decent fight, the game in itself isn't much of a challenge to the hardcore FPS crowd. Still, I may have stretched things when I said "decent fight" just then. Occasional AI glitches did bother me. Enemies standing idly on their sentry posts, just waiting for someone to blow their heads off. In fact, you'll find that enemy troops are generally easier to overcome than in most shooters.
Unsurprisingly, it seems that, in the end, DICE managed to create a game that's more compelling and addictive in multiplayer. "Gold Rush," for instance, is where the real fun's at. Also, you can pick any one of the 5 character classes (Assault, Demolitions, Recon, Specialist, and Support), each with unique abilities and unlockable extras. Online matches can get pretty intense. The maps are huge and can accommodate up to 24 players and each one of these can hop into a vehicle of their choice - choppers, boats, tanks... you name it. Vehicles can be repaired during gameplay. Bear in mind that you're a sitting duck while patching up your ride, so instruct your teammates to quit slacking and provide some covering fire. All in all, it becomes very enjoyable, especially when you spice things up with destructible environments.
8.0 Very Good
The destruction is fun, cool weapons, engaging multiplayer, looks and sounds great;
We expected a bit more from the single-player, combat gets repetitive as do the missions, glitchy AI, relatively short single-player campaign.