Battlefield – Bad Company 2 Review

Objective Bravo is takin’ heat, we gotta get in there!

I’ve always liked the earlier Battlefield series. It was kind of like Tribes, except in a modern setting. Back when BF1942 came out there weren’t so many games that had lots of vehicles for us to drive or pilot as well as the maps to let us actually use them. BF1942 wasn’t the first, but it was the first to do it in such a slick way. Then it fell into the EA school of developmental theory and they pushed out pointless versions which are better left forgotten; the countless addons for BF2, Battlefiend: Vietnam, BF2142, and the less said about Battlefield: Heroes the better. The last BF game I played with any sort of dedicated was BF2, but BC2 seemed like it’d be a fair bit of fun. If you’ve read my preview, you’d know that I enjoyed it. But now that the whole game has been opened up, what’s it like?

We’ll get SP mode out of the way. It’s pretty standard. It more or less just introduces you to the different weapons and vehicles. There’s a storyline. I didn’t pay any attention to it. The end. Really it’s not particularly exciting or challenging, so getting BC2 for SP mode is pointless. Multiplayer action is where it’s at.

MP mode comes with a few different game modes for you to try. Rush Mode sees one team defending two M-COM at a time while the attackers do their best to blow up both points. As the defenders lose their M-COM stations, the map boundries change and the attackers push further and further into the defender’s territory. As the defenders lose, they tend to get new vehicles or better fortifications to help them. The attackers also tend to pick up a few new toys along the way. The attackers have ticket which deplete as they’re killed, so the defenders have to deplete the attacker’s tickets before the attackers can destroy all the stations.

In general, this works fairly well, but there are a couple of problems. Some maps are pretty poorly balanced; in one tropical-themed map (Laguna Alta) the defenders get pretty much nothing from start to finish while the attackers pick up helicopters and light armour vehicles. Arica Harbor also suffers from this to a lesser extent; by the end of it there’s practically no cover for the defenders. Also the M-COM stations can be pretty easy to take out at times. The first method of destroying them is to walk up and hold down the USE key to plant a charge, eventually resulting in destruction of the station. The next method involves tossing ample amounts of C4 onto it, or driving a quadbike loaded with C4 right into the station to take down a chunk of its health. The final method is to simply destroy whatever building it’s contained in, if it’s a substantial concrete structure. Now on one hand, variety is good. On the other hand, it tends to lead to cheap tactics (like spamming artillery) which makes rush maps a bit boring.

Conquest mode is what you’ve seen and played before, and it works reasonably well. The maps are all well thought out but they’re not as large as BF2 players might be used to. That said they do usually have a fair number of vehicles for people to play with, so there tends to be less wandering around and more action. For those not in the know, you just capture control points and wait for either side to lose all their tickets. Pretty simple stuff, really. The other mode is Squad Deathmatch which pits small teams of people against each other. Yawn, IMHO.

The last “mode” is Hardcore Mode, and really if you’re going to play, you’d probably want to play on this mode. HC mode ups the ante quite a bit. You lose your crosshairs, you lose your map, you lose the enemy spotting icons on your HUD, your heath doesn’t regenerate, and everything does more damage. This is great because by default you pretty much have to unload most of your ammo into someone to kill them, and spotting enemies (although enhancing teamwork) tends to make hiding an impossibility. There are a few things that I don’t like about HC mode though. Firstly, when driving a vehicle, there’s no armour display. There’s very little visual feedback about the health of your vehicle, so the only time you’ll know that you’re in trouble is when the alarm sounds, but by that point a single RPG shot will destroy your vehicle so it’s pointless. Also there’s no minimap, which is a pain because it stops you from easily location teammates that want healing, or repairs, or who can be revived. Spotted enemies could still show up on a minimap too (they do on the main map overlay) without breaking the game. Finally, there’s no ammo count. Why the hell would they do that? Yes, in real life there’s no ammo count. But this isn’t real life, there are respawns for crying out loud, and I’m not going to count off 100 rounds in an LMG. I frequently don’t recall how much ammo I have in reserve, so this unnecessary handicap becomes more of a pain in the ass than anything else.

Still, HC mode is definitely the best mode to play. Although the vastly crippled HUD is a pain, by default there are too many odd gameplay decisions regarding damage. I’m not super fond of the regenerating health mechanic in an MP game but it does work reasonably well here. That said, it takes WAY too many bullets to take someone down. That’s the main reason I play on HC; bullets have a stopping power above that of a paintball round. Also I’m starting to dislike the HUD spotting mechanic; marking the enemy on a minimap is a bit more fair than putting their icon on your HUD. It’s like a giant beacon going “SHOOT ME!” With that said though, it does cause trouble for snipers. And that’s another thing. TOO MANY GODDAMN SNIPERS. In HC mode it’s worse because the sniper rifles destroy people but even without HC mode there’s an insane number of people sniping away. And the noob-tube makes a return, and it’s just as much of a pain in the ass as it was in BF2’s day.

Graphically the game is pretty damn good, though the DX9 renderer has some bugs that need to be fixed, namely the shielded machineguns have no window translucency; it’s completely black, making them impossible to aim. DX10 mode doesn’t have this problem. It wasn’t like this in the beta, so what the hell happened? Also you’ll want a reasonably beefy system to play it at higher details with a smooth frame rate. The physics are pretty good and destroying buildings is as much fun as it sounds. Textures are crisp and well detailed. There are also lots of visual effects, some of which do more than just look good; smoke, dust and snow actually obstruct your vision quite effectively. The sounds are pretty good, voice acting is well done and fits the game quite well.

No complaints here, but it’s not Crysis either. DX9 mode is bugged though.

Some of the weapons have that “kicking a metal bucket” sound, but the rest are great. The mixing is done really well and the voices are good too.

Whether you play HC or normal, the game is a hell of a lot of fun, but in saying that, there is a bit of work to be done here.

REPLAY: Excellent
Lots of gameplay here, and the unlock system will keep you playing even if it’s just to gain access to as many weapons as possible.

BC2 needs a bit of work before it can get a higher rating from me, but it’s still a fantastic game and lots of fun to play. But wasn’t the whole point of a near-public Beta to iron out all these issues? The DX9 render path problems is one that mystifies me the most. How did they manage to break that? HC mode’s ultra-minimalist HUD also needs to be re-evaluated a bit as well. Despite all of this though, this is a hell of a good game, and one that I can heartily recommend you pick up.


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