Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Battlefield: Bad Company 2 (single player)

Post-Launch Reviews #4
Battlefield: Bad Company 2 (single player)
Developer: DICE
Publisher: EA
Released: March 2 2010
Platforms: PC, XBox, PS3

(short review today. Gearing up for all three Assassin's Creed games in the coming weeks.)

At Launch
Battlefield: Bad Company 2 was very well received, with critics very impressed with the improvements over the original. The online multiplayer was especially well reviewed.

Post Launch
Bad Company 2 has received seven map packs for multiplayer, as well as a much larger Vietnam multiplayer expansion, adding 5 maps, 6 vehicles, 15 weapons, and 49 contemporary songs available through an in-game radio. The Vietnam expansion became a must-have for multiplayer fans, although it received some criticism for its stat tracking and progression system.

The Good
Fully Destructible Environments
I always love good simulated destruction. The ability to destroy any standing structure helps differentiate BC2 from the other realistic war shooters out there. You can use an RPG to destroy an enemy's cover... but he can do the same to you, so in the middle of a firefight you might suddenly find yourself without a wall to hide behind and scramble for new cover. Adds some unpredictability and extra action to the genre. It never made much sense in games to be standing in a normal house, fire a rocket at the wall, watch it explode, and somehow the drywall is completely intact.

There are some genuinely funny and clever lines. In the icy mountains there's a reference to Hoth. A satellite crashes, creating a massive explosion and shockwave, and one of the characters' reactions is “That is the best thing I've ever seen in my life”. When deciding whether the squad should pursue the objective themselves or call for assistance, one character refuses to call it in, saying that they'll probably just send in “those black ops pussies with their heartbeat monitors”. The redneck suddenly spouts off hardware specs on an airplane, and when the others look at him in surprise, he replies, “What? I'm allowed to know things”.
The Neutral
Graphics & Sound
Both are merely okay. Going for realism means that there's not much room for an art style to compensate for any flaws, meaning we get some dips into the uncanny valley. There are a couple of nice subtle effects I noticed, such as the reflection and refraction of one character's glasses. Some of the textures are really nice, in particular a jungle floor with sticks and leaves — but it's noticeably flat despite its detail. Foliage is all sprites.

The Bad
Cliché Everywhere
Your squad consists of the won't-take-no-shit black sergeant, the tough-talking redneck, the funny bespectacled nerd, and the kid (that's you!), supported by the hippie pacifist helicopter pilot. The basic plot: the Russians are developing an EMP superweapon which could paralyse the entire United States. We have the standard jungle level, snow level, tank level, etc. Weapons are the standard assortment: SCAR, SPAS-12, RPG, etc, with only one or two interesting exceptions.
The Verdict
Recommendation: maybe
There are some nice touches that make Bad Company 2 stand out from the war genre, and it has a nice final act, but too often it falls into the same conventions and clichés seen for years in video games and Hollywood movies. I wouldn't rate it anywhere near its mostly-high review scores, but I suppose that's personal opinion.

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