Once upon a time, I was a hardcore FPS gamer. I literally played nothing else. I gamed at crazy hours so I could get a killer dial-up connection and catch the busy times when the rest of the world was gaming. It was a sickness that lasted for a significant chunk of my pre- and early teen years, only concluding when I finally got off my butt and pursued the female species.
When you spend so long living and breathing Quake and Half-Life, just a small amount of off-time cuts into your edge. You lose your game. And I never went back to the hardcore FPS persuasion. I knew I’d never be as good as I was. Console FPS’ were to me – for a long time, the no-go zone of gaming. How do you adjust from the ease of the mouse, to fiddly little analog sticks after so many years?
The original Battlefield: Bad Company was my first serious foray into a ranked, online console FPS. And I failed miserably at every aspect of its execution. I vowed never to try another again. Yet there I was; a fresh copy of the collector’s edition of Bad Company 2 on my lounge. Memories of my previous failures came pouring back, hours of frustration and high blood pressure still causing me nervous ticks.
Could this time around be any different?
Bad Company 2 is – like most FPS’ these days, largely ‘online-centric’. With a short, tacked on campaign element to keep the minority of us who fail at online with a brief reprieve from the frustrations. The campaign begins in World War II and follows the development and subsequent extraction of a top-level Japanese scientist working on the “Aurora” project; A secret and highly destructive weapon of mass destruction.
Fast-forwarding to the present day, we are reunited with Marlowe, Sweetwater, Haggard, and Redford from the original Bad Company – as they attempt to secure a device related to the very same Aurora project…
Those familiar with the original Bad Company will feel right at home in the sequel. Much of the core game play element has been maintained here, albeit with beneficial tweaks and some fine tuning. In fact, the only game play mechanic that seems to have gone backwards is the Knifing. It seems significantly more ‘clunky’ and certainly not as satisfying at the end of the day. Thankfully however, it has seemed to have put an end to people managing to charge at you through a hail of bullets to knife you in the face.
There’s a great new diversity in vehicles. You can now take a Jetski deep into the heart of enemy territory, or load up to a console and control a UAV, armed with missiles and/or machine guns. The tanks are still immense fun – and coupled with some of the unlockable perks, pack a mean punch too.
Weapon unlocks are earned on a purely experience, “XP” basis now. Rather than dedicating one unlock point to one weapon, XP earned from matches goes toward progress bars unlocking new class specific weapons and items. It feels more rewarding and makes more sense.
Besides Squad Deathmatch, the original two team game modes make their return online. Rush; the Attack or Defense of two M-Com stations over a number of separate bases in a map – and Conquest, the control of specific flag points throughout a large open map area. Rush is largely unchanged from the original Bad Company, but you now have the option of Squad Rush, which pairs you in a squad vs. squad environment on slightly smaller versions of the default Rush maps.
Conquest is the most improved of the game modes. Bad Company 2 addresses the issues of the first game’s Conquest mode with tighter maps, rewarding better team play and offering faster and more frenetic pace, while increasing the vehicles and attack option available. Gone are the 2 minute walks to an objective only to get sniped from a mile away – only to have to do your walk all over again.
Destruction has been improved as well. Dubbed ‘Destruction 2.0’, it is now possible to bring an entire building down around an M-Com station, instead of just blowing out walls as seen in the original Bad Company. While it offers a whole new way to take out an M-Com station, the experience feels a little bit cheap when a tank can lurk back half-way across the map and bring down the building without even getting close to the action. That said the experience is impressive, in a shallower way. Previously buildings would remain standing even when you could barely see how it was possible, now they crumble under the stresses of intact ceilings and over-burdened foundations. It looks great and keeps Defenders on their toes, regularly having to juggle between sneaking back into enemy territory and physically defending the M-Com stations from direct charge plants.
Well aimed shots are paramount online. The ‘spray and pray’ mentality will get you nowhere in Bad Company 2. A single, well-timed shot to the head will generally get you a kill every time. Extra points are awarded for such a talent (or luck) as well.