This is a review by Barnsy
No matter the hype, no matter how good people tell me its going to be ultimately I'm wary of sequels. There have been too many cash in sequels that either take away what was brilliant about the first game or take the game in a direction that tarnishes earlier experiences.
The story in the first Bad Company was, in my eyes brilliant, it had a different feel to most modern, gritty shooters and injected a real sense of humour and light heartedness into what would otherwise have just been another very well polished first person shooter.
Now onto the sequel. When I started to read early hands on information about BC2 and watched the first few teaser trailers I was a little bit worried. To borrow a Heath Ledger quote 'why so serious'... all the talk surrounding BC2 was that EA and Dice were gunning for Infinity Ward and Modern Warfare and I must admit that I was a little concerned that BC was going to lose its unique selling point and just become another shooter. Everything from plot to action appeared to be a more serious game that left the humour and warmth of the characters firmly at the door in exchange for a darker experience.
Fortunately I was to be relieved when playing through the single player campaign, the humour is still there, the throwaway conversations between B Company is still as funny and genuinely has some laugh out loud moments (mostly involving Haggard the heavy weapons loving Texan gun nut.) and there are more than a few tongue in cheek digs at the story in MW2 along the way 'We're not a bunch of whiny bitches with Heart Beat Sensors' for one.
I won't talk too much about the plot or story that develops along the way but as an overview the single player is well paced with a good combination of Stealth, Gun Battles, free roam vehicle sections and on rails vehicle battles, there is no point in the game that feels contrived or excessively difficult for the sake of it. With the on foot sections the game gives you many ways to complete objectives which segways me nicely into one of the best parts of the Frostbite engine the game uses. Destruction 2.0.
Now for anyone who played the first game you'll know that it featured a fairly significant level of destruction, buildings, trees, even leaving deformation craters from large explosions. Now where Destruction 2.0 comes in is that in the original whilst you could decimate buildings you'd still be left with a steel framework that seemed to be completely indestructible even to the heaviest of aerial bombardment. In BC2 you can now bring down the entire building crashing onto the heads of anyone who wasn't fast enough to get out in time! (And yes, before you ask I've dropped them on my own head.)
There are still some inconsistencies with this such as you can drop a stone building to rubble but the framework of a timber portacabin will stay standing no matter what you do!
The single player is a comfortable 8-10 hours (even longer if you take your time and look for all the unlocks, guns, etc..) but it's almost just a taster for the main crux of the game.
If Bad Company 1 was a game to hook people with a good story and then wean them into onine then lets not kid ourselves this is battlefield game. Just look at the box art, the big BATTLEFIELD that obscures the Bad Company sitting under it. The multiplayer is expanded from the original and now has 4 game modes (BC1 shipped with only one game mode which was later expanded to 2 by DLC)
The 4 modes are:
Conquest (basic domination game mode)
Squad Death match (4 v 4 v 4 v 4 first to 50 kills wins!)
Rush & Squad Rush, Rush (and its smaller cousin squad Rush which only involves 4v4 combat) is a basic attack and defend game mode with 2 crates that need to be detonated to 'clear' the base. Which opens up the next base further back with the next 2 crates. The attackers must clear all the bases to win, the defenders must simply eliminate all of the 'lives' the attackers have before they destroy the crates.
What Rush does is focus the fighting over a smaller area, which for me allows battlefield to maintain the large scale warfare without exposing that ultimately we're only playing 12 v 12. Lets be honest, Consoles will always suffer in comparison to PC's for player counts. On one hand its good, as you haven't got to worry about 27 snipers with their eye on you, on the other hand, on a large map you can go 5 minutes without coming across another soul if you're unlucky!
Battlefield 1943 on xbox arcade had times of suffering from this quite badly in its conquest mode and its good to see that Dice have learnt their lesson and reduced the amount of flags to take from 5 down to 3 (in most cases), which focus's the gameplay better and makes the battles more intense.
The classes have been cut down from 5 to 4, we have Assault (rifleman), Recon (sniper) Medic (ermm... the medic, who also carries an LMG) and engineer (who can repair stuff and carries a rocket launcher.)
The unlocks are class specific so you build yourself a trooper based on how you play, always play recon then you'll unlock your sniper rifles, mortar strikes, and some serious scopes! Play medic and you'll unlock health packs, the defibrillator and more LMGs.
However, where this will suffer is that its not going to be very encouraging for new players to start, or even advance. For example. You now have specialisations. I'm only level 9ish in game but as I've spent most of my time sniping I have 5 rifles at my disposal, of various calibres and ranges/ROF. I have a 12x scope and an add on that helps me identify and highlight enemies. Now put me against someone who's only just started the game and has one rifle with only the basic scope and even with my poor aim and ability I'm probably going to come out on top of him 8/10 times..
The point I'm making is that, as with a lot of shooters like this nowadays the unlocks just make the people who've been playing the longest better and isn't going to encourage new players down the line. I was always a fan of what Rainbow 6 did in the Vegas games. Most of the unlocks you got for levelling were generally visual only, you started the game with a lot of the guns that you'd need to give you a fighting chance from day 1.
Vehicles in multiplayer have been ramped up, we have more use of helicopters than in the last game and the inclusion of a UAV chopper adds another element to something that we didn't have before. Fortunately the Artillery from BC1 has been removed so the constant team killing to get the seat on easy kill street has been dealt with.
Map wise, we've got 5 at the moment for each game mode (2 of which are day one DLC) which isn't a great amount so I hope we get some more in the next few months as otherwise it could get old after a while, Dice have at least varied the maps to suit the modes now, its not just a case of 'lets build a level and force each game mode on whether it suits or not!' They've been thought through more as well, potential choke points and obvious routes of attack now have gun turrets and much better cover for defenders to work with.
Visually the game runs at a great rate, I've had no slowdown and no lag whatsoever, I had 20 minutes or so last night with server issues and DC's but I've had none of the problems that have been plaguing the servers all weekend by the looks of it. It does raise a question with these games that the last few battlefields on the 360 have suffered with server issues, maybe its time to start a launch week with a few more?
Bad Company 2 is a fantastic game, the single player is over far too quickly but by the standard of other shooter stories it's a fair length on the tougher difficulties. But the main crux of the game is the multiplayer and it excels on every level, it's a worthy adversary to Modern Warfare and both have their place with different types of online experiences. Its one I'll be playing for a long time!