by Joseph Barron
reviewed on X360
Time for DICE to reclaim their FPS throne?
Only a few years ago, DICE's Battlefield series was considered to be the height of first person shooters, particularly on the PC. However, the success of Activision's Call of Duty franchise has been like a heavy artillery strike to the reputation of DICE's once standard-setting games. With Bad Company 2 though, DICE have perhaps their biggest opportunity in many years to knock Call of Duty from its lofty perch.
In Bad Company 2, you are thrust into a US military unit with a wonderfully colourful collection of brothers-in-arms and tasked with taking down a Russian task force who have discovered an electronic weapon of mass destruction, once used by the Japanese in World War II. In fact, the game begins with a brilliant flashback sequence, set in Japan in the 1940s. Despite the briefness of this sequence, the heritage of DICE's previous WWII games really shows through. The rest of the game takes place in the modern day and really is a globetrotting adventure for the men of Bad Company.
Land, sea & air
Once the fight begins the controls initially feel a little loose, but once you are acclimatised to the aiming speed you will be taking down your enemies with the greatest of precision. Of course, being a Battlefield game, it isn't all about neatly aiming down your iron-sights. You will spend a lot of time in vehicles, such as boats, quad-bikes, jeeps, APCs, tanks and helicopters. There are also a few on-rails sections to nicely break-up the intense pace of the single player campaign. All of the ground-based vehicles control well and use traditional modern driving controls, on the other hand, the helicopter, like the planes in Battlefield 1943 requires a lot of practice. However, unlike 1943 there is no tutorial mode to train your skills in, so you are forced to learn the air controls in-game which can lead to some extremely frustrating moments.
Unfortunately, the campaign is very short at around 7-8 hours and each level seems to end just as the action really gets going. It is also a significantly easier campaign that the first Bad Company, though this is actually a good thing, considering how infuriating the previous game was towards the end. Occasionally, there are issues with checkpoints being set too far apart as well, but the overall difficultly level in Bad Company 2 certainly isn't intrusive. There are some spectacular set-pieces too and the sound design is utterly fantastic. There is more of a blockbuster atmosphere than the first game and the wonderful humour has happily remained intact as well. In particular, you will definitely want to keep a look out for some not-so-subtle dialogue, which has clearly been designed to poke fun at Modern Warfare 2.
Nowhere to hide!
The visuals in Bad Company 2 are a bizarre mix of flat textures, but with spectacular destruction. Many of the environments have very poor textures compared to other games in the genre, but the explosions and devastation more than make up for it. Walls can be blown apart, guard towers can be felled and entire buildings can be destroyed if the main structures take enough damage. Cover never lasts for long in this game. Instead of waiting for enemies to pop out and take their shot, you can blow apart their cover with a well-placed grenade and they resulting debris could take them out for you. You could even bring a building down on top of them by setting explosives on structural outer walls.
Sets new standards for online team-based shooters.
Very short single player mode.