Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Review
I've been playing the Battlefield games since 1942, not the year, the game Battlefield 1942. I've always loved that the games were unapologetically multiplayer only, and that that multiplayer action was always so frantic and wide-open. No other series of games has been able to match the kind of gameplay in Battlefield games that lets you do things like hop into a plane and fly to an enemy base, parachute in and capture it, hop into a machine gun nest to defend it from counterattack, and then drive off in a tank. Because the multiplayer gameplay has always been so much fun, I was a little worried when Battlefield: Bad Company was released. It was the first Battlefield game to come with a bona fide single player campaign, and I was nervous that the campaign would be little more than a bot battle with a story and, even worse, that the addition of a single player component would divide the development team's attention to the detriment of the multiplayer game. Luckily, Battlefield: Bad Company turned out to be quite enjoyable, on both the single player and multiplayer sides of the coin, and as I sat down to play Battlefield: Bad Company 2 the feelings of apprehension I had with the first Bad Company were replaced with feelings of anticipation. And Battlefield: Bad Company 2 did not disappoint.
The game's single player campaign opens with a prologue that has the game briefly returning to its World War II roots, but soon enough you're returned to the familiar squad of Sarge, Marlowe, Sweetwater, and Haggard (you're Haggard) who are on a relatively quiet assignment in Alaska. Things do not stay quiet for ling, of course, and soon the squad finds itself on a Special Operations assignment in South America in pursuit of a rather nasty weapon that the Russians have been trying to get their hands on. Yes, the Russkies make a much appreciated return to their role of heavies in a first-person shooter after an endless stream of games that have you fighting terrorists and insurgents in one Middle Eastern city after another. The campaign does a great job of mixing up the objectives and gameplay from one mission to the next, and in true Battlefield tradition has you doing everything from driving a tank to manning the door gun on a Blackhawk, and from sniping to assaulting bases to defending against waves of attackers. The South American locations give you a wide variety of environments to fight in - high alpine, jungle, grassland, desert, and urban - and all of there environments are amazingly destructible. Not only can you bring down towers, blowout walls, and cut your way through fences and barbed wire, you can also lay waste to the local flora. And while it's particularly satisfying to take down a pesky sniper by blowing out one of the legs of the tower he's hiding in with a grenade launcher, there will also be tense situations in which the building you're trying to use for cover against an enemy assault is being rapidly chipped away from around you.
It's good to see that the humor that helped make the story in the campaign in the first Bad Company stand out from other shooter games' campaigns has made its return in this game. In fact, I'd say that I enjoyed the humor in this game more because the characters' personalities are more developed this time out and the humor sharper - with the exception of Sarge, that is, who is relegated to playing the gruff-career-soldier-given-one-last-impossible-assignment-right-before-retirement role that's been done to death in movies and television. You need to pay attention to the conversations that the other characters carry on during the action to pick up on all of the humor and pop-culture references packed into the story, and I especially found all the playful digs at Modern Combat 2 to be particularly enjoyable.
For the most part I really enjoyed the campaign, but there were a few moments when a high-degree of difficulty and a scarcity of checkpoints pushed my frustration meter too close to the peg. Of particular note are two encounters with attack helicopters that come at the end of extended battles. The helicopters need to be taken out by you with an RPG and, believe me, hitting a moving helicopter with an RPG is no easy task. You need to compensate for the arc of the rocket, the motion of the chopper, and the slow reload time of the RPG, and on top of that you have to hit the chopper twice in a short period of time to take it down. And we're talking Hinds here, which if you didn't know are armed to the teeth. Fail, and you will fail more than once unless you're incredibly lucky, and it's back to the checkpoint at the very beginning of the battle, which means fighting the battle again and surviving it just to get another crack at the attack helicopter. Argh. After that my only complaint is that the story sort of petered out by the end, as if the writers didn't quite know what to do with the intriguing premise that kicked it off. And the ending … well the ending left a lot to be desired and was rather unsatisfactory. At least the gameplay itself held up all the way until the end.