Review by horror_spooky

"Bad is good"

I rarely ever play games on my PC and because of that the only experience I've had with a game in the Battlefield series was an extremely terrible title called Battlefield 2: Modern Combat, which is easily one of the worst games on the Xbox 360 and in the seventh generation in general. I absolutely loathed that title and I found it to be a generic and broken mess, so I was understandably skeptical of the latest entry in the series, Battlefield: Bad Company, but I decided to give it a try anyway. I'm glad I did.

The main selling point of this title is that 90% of the game is destructible. You can blow holes in the side of houses, you can destroy roads, you can destroy vehicles, and you can even destroy each individual tree you can find. I loved the destructibility and I think everybody should try this game out at least once just to experience some of the awesome destructiveness that's only found in this game.

Obviously, you'll have to have some ways of creating this destruction, and Bad Company isn't shy about providing you with some equally amazing firepower. There is a huge variety of weapons at your disposal that range from shotguns to sniper rifles to machine guns. Some weapons come with a grenade, other weapons come with a grenade launcher, and other weapons still have you toting around a pistol as your extra firearm. The sheer amount of weapons available in this game is astonishing as it seemed like I was picking up a new gun every time I picked one up.

Ammo is plentiful and if you don't feel like scouring any dead bodies for some extra ammunition, you can find some ammo in little supply crates lying around. Similar to the supply crates, you can also find little boxes with gadgets or another gun lying on top of it. Hell, you can even find little boxes filled with gold bars!

The gadgets are an interesting addition and help the gameplay out greatly. You see, while the two right triggers control your firearms, the left bumper controls your gadgets. One gadget you always have with you is a healing item that, while it is infinite, it must recharge after every use. There's a gadget that allows you to call in controllable air strikes and C4 also counts as a gadget as well. Any RPGs or rocket launchers you pick up during the game also count as gadgets so you don't have to give up your weapon to tote around one of these weapons just to use them once and then drop them.

While all of this may sound confusing, the buttons are actually mapped out brilliantly. You will become very good at switching between your gadgets and your weapons without even thinking about it. The X button reloads, the B button switches to your secondary weapon, Y uses your knife, and A is for jumping. It's simple and sometimes simplicity is the best way to go.

There aren't very many levels in Bad Company, but the levels are very long. Thankfully, the game uses an auto-save function frequently so if you have to quit for whatever reason you will never be set back that far. On top of that, Bad Company utilizes a checkpoint system similar to the one found in BioShock. When you die, you are just pushed backwards a little way, but all of the enemies you have killed are still dead and the damage on all of your enemies remain. Unfortunately, Bad Company sometimes sets you back a little too far so you have to spend a few minutes getting back to your objective and this can get annoying quickly.

You won't be just walking to each one of your objectives though. There are a variety of vehicles at your disposal in order to travel in Bad Company, ranging from transport trucks to tanks to helicopters. Your partners very rarely will ever drive the vehicles, but you can switch to the gunner positions whenever you feel like it if you need to take out an enemy tank and you don't trust your partners to get the job done fast enough. All of the vehicles control well (though I found it weird that the acceleration was the left trigger), but sometimes when you are going downhill in a tank the camera gets locked in weird positions so you can't see where you're going all the time.

Just like any soldier, your vehicles take damage. Thankfully, one of the gadgets are your disposal can actually heal your vehicles so you very rarely are left without transportation.

As you explore the massive levels, you will see on your map (which is very easy to use, though some of the icons looked too similar) that there is a red outline surrounding some of the level. If you walk out into this red zone for more than five seconds you will be killed and some players may find this as a cheap trick to make the levels smaller, but this couldn't be farther from the truth. As you get farther in the level, this red zone starts to disappear without any loading and the developers only put it there to keep you on track to your objective.

This may make the game sound like it's very straightforward, but there is a level of nonlinearity in Bad Company that almost makes it feel like Grand Theft Auto sometimes, which is definitely a good thing. You can tackle objectives the way you feel is best, whether that is sniping from a distance or barging into the area you need to be in a vehicle.

There are a ton of enemies in this game and they absolutely overwhelm you and your three partners sometimes to the point that it's ridiculous. While your partners can't die, you can, and will, many, many times before the credits roll. The checkpoint system eliminates unneeded frustration, but the enemy A.I. can sometimes be overly brutal. They are very smart and they will use everything you do to their own advantage to take you out.

I mentioned gold bars earlier and I guess I should explain how they factor into the game. You see, just like finding those laptops in Call of Duty 4, you basically can go around and collect gold bars and collectable weapons for awards like achievements. At the beginning of the game, you will be frantically picking up every weapon you see and then trading it back to your original weapon just to get these collectables, but as you progress further in the game you will start recognizing the weapons and this whole process becomes much less redundant.

From reading what I've wrote so far, you'd probably think that this game must be a co-op game. I mean, a lot of first-person shooters nowadays do have a cooperative function just because playing with a friend makes everything more fun, so why wouldn't Bad Company be on that bandwagon? I often criticize developers for not including offline multiplayer modes, but it's even worse when there's not even an online version of a function that would have made the game loads better. While on that note, Bad Company features no offline multiplayer modes, which is a big no-no, and on top of that the online offerings are meager at best, though the destructible environments almost save it.

Alright, so now that you know the multiplayer is lackluster, but the campaign does manage to have some pretty awesome gameplay with a few flaws, you're probably wondering how the story fairs. While the plot is a mixed bag, it does have its high points and it's better than most stories in first-person shooters. Bad Company is mostly a comedy story with a war background about a squad of soldiers who are considered expendable by the U.S. army for committing various crimes, except your sergeant who has made a deal with the government to lead your squad in exchange for an early trip home. The U.S. is at war with Russia, but you soon realize that there's an entire army of mercenaries who are also involved with the war, hired by a country that is supposed to be neutral. Your team discovers that these mercenaries are paid in gold, and your squad decides to steal all the gold from the mercenary army.

The characters are very likeable and there are some hilarious moments in nearly every cut-scene. I enjoyed the new comedic approach to the FPS genre and while some characters don't develop enough for you to care about them (specifically the main villain). There is a twist at the end and you know that I absolutely love twists, so there is always that shock factor there, though they admittedly stole the ending from another game series.

Due to how destructible the environments are, the graphics are actually not that good, but definitely a huge leap forward from the last game which looked like it belonged on the PlayStation 2. Some of the textures are very good and the character models are, for the most part, very well done. There is a decent amount of draw distance and while there isn't really any pop-up, the game is slow sometimes at loading textures on things like trees. Some technical problems are present like enemies spawning right in front of you and teammates zooming across the map for no reason (this also happened to me a couple of times as well). Like I said though, the game is definitely not the best looking game on the Xbox 360, but it also isn't the worst.

Quirky music is one of the main reasons why I love this game so much and while the soundtrack may be a little inappropriate for the setting, you can't help but love it. There are even radio stations you can listen to in the cars that play songs that end up making battles have a little humor to them. Voice acting is superb and the game even includes voice actors from The Unit and Grand Theft Auto IV, so there is nothing but awesome present. Couple this with the hilarious dialogue, and Bad Company ends up having one of the most impressive audio presentations on the 360 to date.

With three difficulty settings and tons of things to collect, Bad Company can last you a decent amount of time with the campaign alone. For one play through, it'll probably take you about ten hours to complete the game, and you may just like the multiplayer, though I found it to definitely not be as awesome as it was hyped up to be. Achievements boost the replayability up even farther and there are even extra achievement-like awards exclusive to the multiplayer for you to complete. On top of that, there are even unlockable weapons that you can only get by doing things outside the game like registering your game on EA's official website.

Bad Company is always going to be remembered as that game where you could blow almost anything up. Tight controls accent the destructible environments and a decent plotline only makes things better. Unfortunately, Bad Company does have its flaws like some glitches that can hamper the experience a little and a lack of a solid multiplayer function. Still, every gamer should play this game at least once just to blow holes in a house. It's seriously that fun to do. After Modern Combat, I seriously doubted the credibility of the Battlefield franchise, but thankfully Bad Company has instated a new hope for the series in me and I can't wait for the next console installment.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 08/04/08

Game Release: Battlefield: Bad Company (US, 06/23/08)

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