Review: Bad Company 2
As a follow-up to my previous rant regarding Modern Warfare 2, I wanted to take some time to give my review of Bad Company 2 for the PC. Now I know I normally don't talk about non-MMO related games here, especially given the name and nature of this site, but this is a game that seems to be getting a lot of play with my guys and around the gaming community.
One of the main differences right out of the gate between BC2 and MW2 is that the folks behind BC2 had enough common sense not to roll the genre back decades and opted to use dedicated servers. This means that maximum players allowed into a game is 32, and that server admins can police their own servers and tweak the game settings to their liking. While 32 is not as high as some other games out there, the size seems to be a decent fit for the maps given their size.
In addition to the standard server structure, Bad Company also features a friends list capability that adds a variety of functionality to the game. For starters, the standard friends list shows you when your friends are online and what server they are in. The online leaderboard also has an option that lets you see just your friends so you can see how you stack up against your buddies, as well as where your crew ranks in the overall scheme of things.
Of course we have to remember that this game has EA stamped on the box, which means you should expect the usual variety of bugs and malfunctions with a lot of these features. We had the joy of logging in one day to have all of our friends lists completely erased for no reason at all. The friends list itself often times chokes when you try to join a game your friend is in. Browsing for servers can often times be annoying as servers often times don't display the proper ping, and there is no search filter checkbox for hardcore mode.
The good news is that along with the hair pulling bugs with the interface around the game, someone had the good sense to add an MMO-style patcher to this game. One of my main beefs with some of the previous Call of Duty games was scouring random websites trying to find the right patch, and not having download and install properly (I don't use steam). At the time of writing this, the game has already been patched twice, which is shocking from previous experiences with EA game. At the same time though, the game still suffers from a slew of random bugs that find me and my friends being random dropped to the desktop or disconnected with no real explanation.
The controls in the game are overall good, a little bit more sluggish to me than what I was used to from CoD. The knife for example does not seems as fast and fluid as it was in Call of Duty, but the rest of it seems decent for the most part. Bad Company 2 lacks the ability to lay down into a prone position, which put me off a great deal in the decision process buying the game. Once I played it though, I got used to it and certainly don't miss the "dolphin diving" that plagued many of the old Battlefield games. I also don't like the fact that there is no toggle for crouching, and non-toggle for aiming. I would prefer to be able to press crouch once and stay crouched, and the opposite with scoping as I prefer to hold the mouse button to zoom aim. Hopefully a future patch will add these to the game.
Bad Company 2 features 3 main game modes for online multiplayer: Conquest, Rush, and Squad Death Match.
Conquest is the standard battlefield type game you'd expect from previous installments from other games in the series. It features an open-style map with 3 or 4 control points to be fought over much like the Call of Duty mode Domination. The 2 teams fight over the various points trying to flip control while depleting the enemy's respawn ticket count until the game is over. The maps overall are larger than the standard CoD maps, but they aren't quite on the massive scale of what you would expect from Battlefield 2.
Rush mode features a more linear style map where one team attacks and the other defends 2 control points. The defenders must try to defend the 2 points from being destroyed until the attacking team depletes its supply of respawn tickets. If the points are destroyed, the attackers get a refill on tickets and the map unlocks the next stage with 2 more points. This process repeats until the attacks take all the points or run out of tickets.
Squad Death Match are smaller scale games in which 4 squads consisting of up to 4 players each (16 players max), fight in a smaller area for the purpose of seeing which squad can get X amount of kills first. The maps are taken from map pieces used in the other 2 modes.
One of the main features of Bad Company 2 is the use of destructable terrain. This basically means that any wall or obstacle can be complete destroyed if it sustains enough damage from a rocket launcher or tank shell. I have to say that this feature really redefines the way FPS are played and will hopefully be played from here on. Playing the same map over and over again in other games can be tiresome because certain spots are always used, and the strategy becomes stagnant around those spots.
This feature changes the dynamic and adds replayability to the maps. If someone hides behind a wall, instead of waiting for them to reveal themselves, you can just destroy it! Trying to get inside of a house but don't want to use the door? Blow a hole in the wall and make your own door! See a house full of scumbags you want to kill? Level the entire house! That's right, in Bad Company 2 you can completely turn a building into a pile of smoldering rubble if it sustains enough damage. Even trees can be toppled over from explosives or plowed into with a tank.
Bad Company 2 also features a leveling system for progression and the use of kits as found in previous Battlefield games . The 4 kits are Assault, Medic, Engineer, and Recon. Each seems to have their own role in the battle and different tools in terms of weapons and gadgets to help make them good in certain situations. The more you play with a particular kit, the more of that kits weapons unlock and become available to you.
The game also has a reward system of achievements built into it that reward your character for completing certain milestone tasks. These range from getting X number of kills with certain guns, collecting certain pins, and performing other various tricks. These rewards are neatly displayed on a page in the interface so you can track your progress and take a look at what you want to shoot for. A lot of these awards will reward you with a substantial amount of points as well which makes them even more attractive than just the usual e-peen stroking.
One thing that really annoys the hell out of me is the fact that the game does not save your kits when you join a new server. I don't know if this is intended or a bug, but this combined with some connection issues can make this a major annoyance. Bad Company 2 lets you switch your kit everytime you die, so I like to set up all my kits before I start playing since I tend to switch between them a fair amount depending on the map or battle situation.
Overall Bad Company 2 is a solid FPS that offers a nice diversion from whatever MMO you are playing or in between. The game has stunning visuals and sounds, and the destroyable terrain adds a new element to the genre that I hope will become standard. I'd definitely recommend the game, but be prepared to deal with the slew of bugs and screw-ups that come standard to a box with EA stamped on it. Hopefully they will continue to take an aggressive approach to patching, because the game is a blast to play when it actually works properly.
Co-Leader of Inquisition