Review by Mr_Ifafudafi
"As a Battlefield game, it's passable. On its own, Bad Company shines"
Crouched down behind a few trees in an open field, picking off straggling enemy forces, you suddenly spot a tank rolling down the hill. You stand perfectly still, hoping that the foliage is enough to mask you from its sightline. The tank begins to pass you; but all of the sudden, it stops and points that massive barrel straight at you. Realizing your impending doom, you quickly sprint out of the bushes. Within a second, your vision blurs and your hearing is reduced to a hazy ring as a tree falls down next to you. Barely alive, you take refuge in a nearby house. Then, all of the sudden, that tank drives straight through the wall of the house and blasts you twenty feet, with debris raining down in a giant shower of destruction.
This is only one of many moments you'll experience in the awe-inspiring sandbox of destruction that is Battlefield: Bad Company.
In the past, Battlefield's single player segments were nothing more than a measly 8 or so bots in a random map. Now, we have a full, lengthy campaign, which (in theory) should make the game appeal to a much wider audience.
You play as Preston Marlowe, the "new guy" in the Army's 222nd battalion; a.k.a. "B Company." It's where the military sends all its criminals and rejects to do all the dirty work before sending in the real Army to finish the job. Along with gruff sergeant Redford, blissfully ignorant Haggard, and cautious brainiac Sweetwater, you'll be pitted against huge odds and normally impossible missions that the military doesn't want their "real" soldiers getting killed in, before realizing that "sometimes the gratitude of a nation just isn't enough" and going on your own quest for personal gain.
Not exactly Oscar-winning material, but as an agent to drive the campaign it works well enough. Couple this with the hit-or-miss writing, and it's either comedic gold or cringe-inducing blather. This is no Call of Duty; the story and tone is constantly trying to be light-hearted; and while it definitely is a nice escape from the seriousness of other war games, at times it just seems too out-of-place.
To briefly mention the AI, it's either okay or horrible. The enemies and friendlies know how to shoot and occasionally take cover, although often they'll be standing in an open roadway reloading their gun. Your squadmates are invincible, which was a relief to me; it meant I didn't have to be constantly compensating for their lack of intelligence.
Worth mentioning are the Collectables/Gold Crates. You'll find these scattered throughout the various levels, but they don't really give any reward other than Achievement points and bragging rights.
Not much to say here. It's got the usual bloom and bump-mapping necessary for next-gen graphics, and effects that are either extremely beautiful or extremely ugly. Smaller explosions and raining debris are spot-on, whereas the larger bangs and most smoke effects are glitchy and inconsistent. Textures are realistic and detailed, but the dynamic lighting (or lack thereof) leaves much to be desired. There's also a Mass Effect-esque film grain effect, but it can't be disabled, which seemed like a bit of an oversight to me.
This is easily the best sound design I've ever heard in a game. A few excellent orchestrated pieces and wildly contrasting (in a good way) jazz melodies solidify a great score, even if it is a little sparse. Bullets, debris, and even tanks shells whiz by with a startling accuracy, the guns all sharply crack and boom, and the explosions shake the floor, both in the game and in your room. But the biggest thing here is the "high dynamic range audio." An explosion set off next to you will drop everything in pitch dramatically and blur your hearing, before gradually returning a few seconds later; as you become wounded, you'll lose focus of your surroundings until only the now-soft gunshots are audible. If you don't have a surround sound system, buy one. Borrow one. Steal one*. Do whatever you have to do to experience this exemplary audio work at its full capacity.
Bad Company features your standard shooter fare; crouch, aim, fire, reload, knife, etc. All of this is nothing special. The main draw that makes this game unique is how you can shape (or more accurately, destroy) the battlefield at a whim. Did a couple of enemies retreat behind a brick wall? Blow it up. Did that guy run into a building to avoid your helicopter? Bomb out the roof. Is that jeep evading your tank? Take a shortcut through a house.
Naturally, there are some issues. Those blasted wooden building foundations stay standing no matter how many mortar rounds you pump into them, ladders and staircases remain intact even while the rest of the house crumbles around them, and you'll occasionally run into the stubborn batch of crates that just won't blow up. Despite this, however, making your own doorways never gets old. Explosions also make physical holes in the ground as opposed to large decals; after an air strike, that road you just drove down becomes a lot more hazardous for jeeps.
Another neat (if unrealistic) quirk is B:BC's approach to health management. In single-player, there are no health kits or medical stations, but your health also doesn't regenerate automatically. Instead, you're equipped with an "auto injector." Stick this thing into your chest, and your health instantly pops back to 100. There's a small recharge time between uses, but it'll generally always be ready when you need it. Later in the campaign, however, it seems like you start to rely on the little gadget a little too much, as you'll find yourself frantically sprinting around waiting for it to recharge.
Back on the positive side, there are the vehicles. Per Battlefield standard, they're well rounded, fun to use, and quite frequent. Also per Battlefield standard, the helicopters are a mess to control and the amount of artillery is ridiculous. However, tack on the destructibility of the environments, and the higher-power vehicles become a blast. There's no going back after driving a tank straight through a house.
Unlike past Battlefield games, you have infinite "stamina" (for sprinting/jumping/etc.) and there's no option to go prone; both of which remove a little of the tacticality from previous games in the series. Overall, however the gameplay is solid, and combined with the expansive destructibility and the wealth of explosive toys, it can be very enjoyable.
Of course, if you're a Battlefield fan, all you're looking for is the massive, addictive online battles the series has all but trademarked. The experience here is half-and-half; several key elements of previous Battlefield games are missing, but what Bad Company does it does very well.
The most obvious thing you'll notice is how well the destructible environments fit into the gameplay. Since humans are usually more adept at taking cover, you have several more opportunities to blow apart that cover. On the other end, you're constantly looking out for that rocket launcher that could very well expose your behind. It also emphasizes the annoying indestructible staircases, however; just when you think you've got the jump on an enemy, your grenade simply leaves a scorch mark on the wall rather than the gaping hole you expected.
There's only one gametype out of the box: Gold Rush. (Sound familiar, TF2 fans?) There are two teams: Attackers and Defenders. Attackers are charged with blowing up Gold Crates, and Defenders are charged with preventing that from happening. For the most part, it's lot of fun, although a couple of maps skewer the balance between Attackers and Defenders a bit. The classic Conquest mode will be released as free DLC later on, although I personally think it should've been included out of the box.
Stat tracking, ranking, and unlocks are still intact. As you gain more points in matches, your rank will rise; as your rank rises, you unlock new weapons and gadgets; as you unlock new weapons and gadgets, you gain more points. A simple and efficient system that continues to work just as well as it did since its inception. It should be noted that the auto injector from the campaign needs to be unlocked, and then is only available as the Assault class. Yes, the class system is also intact, if not quite as deep as BF2142's.
However, a couple of notable Battlefield traits are missing. Those massive 64-player battles are now a measly 24. There's no Commander overseeing the battle and no Squad Leaders issuing orders; squads are assigned randomly. You can invite friends into your squad, which is an nice touch, however. Still, it's a large feature from the previous games whose absence is strongly felt. If you're new to the series, however, you shouldn't notice nor care about these problems, as the multiplayer segment is tons of fun anyway.
So in case you're still trying to make the decision of a purchase, let's point out what Bad Company has going for it.
-The destructible environments are an absolute blast.
-The best audio work I've ever experienced.
And what may turn you off.
-Campaign leaves much to be desired.
-Battlefield fans may miss some classic features.
So buy, rent, or burn? If you plan to make the most of the multiplayer, buy it. You'll be having fun for a long time. If you only intend to try out the single-player portion, rent. At the very least, it should persuade you to start playing multiplayer and buy it anyway.
All in all, Battlefield: Bad Company is a solid, if not necessarily outstanding, entry into the series. I'd personally consider it more of a spin-off, as many trademark features are missing and it's not available on PC, where its origins are. However, if that jaded Battlefield fanatic can ignore the Battlefield logo on the name, there's a lot of fun to be had here.
As Haggard says, "Why use a door when you can make one yourself?"
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 08/01/08
Game Release: Battlefield: Bad Company (US, 06/23/08)
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