Name: Battlefield: Bad Company
Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 (Reviewed on Xbox 360)
Battlefield: Bad Company is the first entry in the Battlefield series made specifically for consoles. Unlike Battlefield: Modern Combat which came out a few years back, Bad Company was constructed from the ground up with the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in mind, and because of this the game is drastically different from its PC brethren. Since it was announced, gamers have been looking forward to the quirky plot, airtight gameplay, and destructible environments promised with the inclusion of DICE’s new Frostbite engine. However, many thought that being able to destroy a few walls was more of a gimmick, and that the game would end up becoming repetitive fast. Now that the game is out, I can promise you that these fears are off-base, and the game definitely lives up to the standards DICE’s Battlefield series has always maintained.
Destructive environments don’t feel tacked on or gimmicky in the game, and being able to destroy walls significantly alters the gameplay for both the single-player campaign and online multiplayer. The aspect of “cover,” which has been becoming more and more important in this generation of shooters, is completely twisted around, and hiding behind a wall for too long can be as dangerous as running down the middle of the street. Nearly everything in the game can be blown apart with the proper tools: grenades, rockets, and all types of explosions will send rubble flying in every direction, leaving a building with nothing to speak of other than a frame.
While the entire foundation cannot be taken to the ground, being able to knock out walls with the alt-fire of just about any weapon creates a very different game experience. Instead of slowly working your way to the front of a building to breach the door you can simply create your own in the back, instead of trying to wait until the sniper peeks his head out a window to take a shot you can simply remove his wall, and instead of flanking an enemy behind cover you can take blow his cover to pieces, exposing him for the frightened child he is.
The game is amazing both visually and audibly. Character models and textures are top-notch, and it would be hard to find many blurry textures. Explosions are obviously fantastic, and while the occasional reload may look off or a player’s death might be strange, Battlefield: Bad Company still stands tall amongst first-person-shooters this generation when it comes to graphics.
The sound quality is also worth mentioning, being, in my opinion, some of the best in gaming. The sound is very dynamic and an explosion or gunshot will give off different noises depending on what it hits, where the player is standing, and what weapon was used. A deafening screech is emitted when you stand too close to something being blown apart, and echoes inside of buildings make the game sound very realistic. If you are looking for a game to test out your new high-definition television or surround sound setup Battlefield: Bad Company will not disappoint.
In what appears to be a fluke, DICE has managed to achieve a fairly comprehensive single-player campaign in Battlefield: Bad Company. The plot features a squadron of soldiers in B-Company, the US Army’s not-so-special forces, with the highest mortality rate in the entire military. Dubbed “Bad Company” by most, the party moves from suicide mission to suicide mission, fighting their way through Russian and mercenary forces until they decide to find something else worth fighting for. It plays like a combination of the movies Three Kings and The Dirty Dozen, and thanks to some clever scriptwriters and voice-actions the plot is actually funny, which is something that can’t be said about too many videogames these days.
The gameplay during the single-player campaign has B-Company fighting their way across several large levels, completing different goals to progress the story, with little cut-scenes in-between the objectives. At first it seems tedious and somewhat repetitive, but as the game gives you more options on how to handle each objective it becomes clear that there is much more to Bad Company than meets the eye. Littered across each map are crates of gold and collectible items, giving even more of an excuse than achievement-whoring to work your way through the game a second time. While I feel like the game could have included cooperative play, especially since it is focused on squad-based combat, the multiplayer portion definitely makes up for this shortcoming.
The biggest successes and failures of Battlefield: Bad Company lay in its multiplayer. Some issues, which will likely be addressed within the coming months, stop the game from being as good as it should be, and I can’t help but think it is due to DICE not being used to developing for consoles. Certain aspects of Battlefield 2 that were implemented into Bad Company are stunted by strange limitations that shouldn’t even be issues. Like BF2, the game employs a squad system and the ability to spawn near your squad leader. In an effort to build a more involved companionship, voice chat is limited to the four squad mates without the ability to talk to the rest of your team. Battlefield 2 handled this well, by allowing for squad leaders to communicate with each other separately and allowing for players to create and manage their own squads.
This game lacks that option entirely, and joining a squad is automatic, so playing with a few friends can end up being dissatisfying. One would think they could even keep it as is, but take the Halo 3 route of requiring a button push to communicate with the entire team, as opposed to just your squad. This isn’t an option in Battlefield: Bad Company, and the multiplayer suffers horribly from it. I believe that this will be attended to in a future update, but as of now it limits the replayability of the title. Other than that, the multiplayer is extremely deep and despite there only being one mode, the game features an elaborate leveling system and fantastic, addictive gameplay.
Battlefield doesn’t put a scratch on Call of Duty 4 in either the multiplayer or single player departments, but it doesn’t really try to. Bad Company refuses to let you take it too seriously, and the constant humor and over-the-top gameplay blend together well to create a unique experience. Most gamers, by now, have played all there is to play of Call of Duty 4, Halo 3, and just about every other first-person-shooter released in the past two years. If you fall into this group, and you probably do, then Battlefield: Bad Company is waiting.