Sunday, April 4, 2010

Battlefield - Bad Company 2

On the face of it, Bad Company 2 isn't a game I should have enjoyed. It combines the non-stop action of Modern Warfare 2 with the multi-player Juggernaut that is the Battlefield franchise. Despite admittedly impressive sales, neither series has managed to win me over. And how does Bad Company 2 fare? Surprisingly enough, I liked it.

Forget the multi-player aspect; my interest is entirely in the single-player campaign. It is hard not to compare this game to Modern Warfare 2; it's a nearly perfect clone of that game. A band of special ops fighting off the Russians in battlefields across the globe? Check. On-foot and mounted combat? Check. Special mission modes involving tank combat and UAVs dropping ordinance on hostiles? Check. A contrived plot involving betrayal and electromagnetic pulse weapon? Check. 

But there's one big difference between the two: Bad Company 2 is fun.  Modern Warfare 2's false gravitas, ridiculous storyline and terrible pacing ruined the overall experience. Bad Company 2 is a more relaxed game. The combat is every bit as intense but -largely due to the lack of infinite respawns- the pacing is significantly improved. It was a pleasure not to be constantly pressed to move, to run, to do something; the game was quite willing to wait a few moments while I caught my breath or took in the ambiance. And while its story in Bad Company 2 is every bit as ridiculous at least it doesn't take itself quite as seriously (and it has no qualms about taking potshots at its rival; as one hero quips while fleeing from enemies on an ATV, "snowmobiles are for wimps"). Dice deserves credit for remembering that games are supposed to be fun.

Bad Company 2 isn't perfect, of course, but its problems are minor. Too often the gameplay is interrupted by cutscenes, some separated from a previous cutscene by only a minute of gameplay.  The developers also have an obvious love affair with particle effects; they are used to such an extent that battles devolve into random firing into thick clouds of dust. I suppose it could be argued that this is a more realistic depiction of combat - the oft-mentioned fog of war- but as far as the gameplay it's frustrating not to be able to see anything. Most disappointingly, the developers only open up the gameworld once, making most of the game a long, linear corridor shooter. But these are just minor gripes; in the end, I enjoyed by the game and compared to that everything else is a secondary concern. Bad Company 2 was a welcome addition to my game collection and I expect I will replay it frequently in years to come.

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