Since the beginning with Battlefield 1942, DICE's Battlefield series has been hugely influential of all other multiplayer shooters. Over the years, the series' focus on large-scale battles has dwarfed the competition, taking the core concepts of games like Tribes and making them work with a more realistic military backbone. For years, DICE focused on this concept, bringing game after game to PC, something that changed with the release of Battlefield: Bad Company. For the first time, the Sweedish developer brought a game exclusively to consoles, and focused on delivering a strong singleplayer component to support the multiplayer, which was scaled back dramatically from the typical PC installments. It was a huge success. Now, with the sequel, the developer decided to continue the Bad Company series to include a more robust multiplayer experience, spreading it past consoles and onto PC as well. This choice seems to have worked out for them, since there's little doubt that Bad Company 2 has a lot more to offer than the prequel, and should provide fans of the genre some much needed modern combat.
DICE went out of their way to keep a lid on details involving the singleplayer campaign for this sequel, only revealing one bit of information prior to launch: B Company is back. The full squad from the original returns in the sequel, on a mission much more serious than they are used to. Storylines from the first game, involving stolen gold and the Legionnaire, are dropped entirely. Instead, the security of the nation rests in B Company's less than capable hands, and it's up to Sweetwater, Haggard, Redford, and Marlowe to save the day from a mysterious, devious weapon. It’s a more linear and, more importantly, serious trek than it was before, and while obviously taking a back seat to the multiplayer offerings this time around, Bad Company 2’s story is still an entertaining ride from beginning to end.
Massive action sequences populate the six-hour long campaign, and the nonstop action leaves little room to breath in-between on-rails shooting segments, vehicle combat, and exhilarating firefights. For as fun as they are, though, the game's few problems show through in the singleplayer fairly often. While the graphics and sound are phenomenal, needless transitions between gameplay and cutscenes break everything up, and come far too often. For whatever reason, DICE decided break to a cinematic camera nearly every time characters interact, and while it makes sense at times, there's no reason for short interactions need to bring the game to a grinding halt. Other problems are with the checkpoints, which are inconsistent, and make the oftentimes cheap deaths infuriating.
Beyond those issues, however, the game’s presentation is absolutely stellar, sporting some of the best sound in any shooter to date. There's even a "War Tapes" audio option, bringing overpowering volume and sound effects to the game. Visuals are also impressive, with massive, beautiful vistas populating the singleplayer, and large, open levels giving plenty of variety to the multiplayer. It might not be able to stack up with the likes of Killzone 2, but it has some remarkable environments, and odds are no one is going to be let down by how Bad Company 2 looks or sounds. Or plays, for that matter, as the sequel enhances the game in every way.Everything, in general, feels greatly improved over the original. DICE really nailed the controls this time around, meaning the console version should play as well as the PC version. The largest technical enhancement comes in the form of Destruction 2.0, seeing buildings collapse entirely when enough damage has been dealt. The destruction feels more like a gameplay element than a gimmick, meaning no cover location is safe for too long.
Destruction's importance is most important in the multiplayer, which is the real focus of the game. Without question, DICE has managed to outdo themselves with Bad Company 2, making their best game yet. In fact, they’ve outdone just about everyone. There are few games out there as addictive and rewarding, making it nearly impossible to stop playing. Almost every action is signified with points, meaning that playing as a squad even more important than it is in other team-based games. Healing and reviving teammates gives as many points as killing opponents, and every ally to help complete an objective is rewarded points. Not only that, but players can easily make and manage a squad, spawn on their squadmates, and receive bonus points for working as a squad. So, yeah, squads are very important, and working as a cohesive unit is paramount to enjoyment and success in Bad Company 2. It has been done in the past, with different developers trying their best to find a way to organize the chaos that is massive battles. DICE has done it perfectly this time around, and the multiplayer mayhem needs to be experienced by all who considers themselves fans of the series.
Battlefield: Bad Company 2 isn't good. It's so good. There’s little doubt that DICE has secured its game a spot as the best shooter of the first half 2010, hurdling the impressive MAG by a few dozen yards. The multiplayer manages to feel completely fresh in the modern era, making the dual-shotgun wielding Modern Warfare 2 look like a fantasy game by comparison. The story might not be as impressive as some hoped, failing to match the humor of the prequel, but the multiplayer goes above and beyond the call of duty, providing the best competitive gameplay in recent memory. DICE has, once again, helped redefine the online shooter, and should provide fans of the genre a plenty of fun for some time to come.