Battlefield: Bad Company 2 takes you on an adrenaline fuelled ride to some awesome locations, blowing up everyone and everything in your path. This time round you get to fill the boots of Preston Marlowe who forms part of the ‘B’ company squad, also known as Bravo Two, in their search for a weapon of mass destruction (WMD). And, obviously it must under no circumstances fall into the hands of your enemy, which, just like MW2, is the Russians.
Unlike other FPS games where you can just duck for cover after being shot to replenish your life, doing this in Battlefield: Bad Company 2 won’t work for very long. This is because most elements within the game's environments are destructible and your enemies can, and frequently will, destroy your cover. Obviously you can do the same and half of the fun is cutting away walls with a spray of bullets before taking out the adversaries that were hiding behind it.
Your search for that WMD takes you through some beautifully designed environments. Whether it's a frozen mountaintop or a flourishing jungle, the shear detail of it all left us breathless and completely engrossed in the game. Fireflies buzzing around, reflections in the water and the realistic shadows also add to the game's atmosphere. These aren’t just for show either, for instance at one point during the game you have to wait for the sound of thunder before you can take out guards with a sniper rifle. There are a few environment niggles though as it's possible to get stuck in certain places within the game, like in the jungle if you move beneath the wooden huts.
Between all the shooting fury, the storyline is presented to you via cinematic styled cut sequences. There isn’t an overwhelming amount of dialogue taking place between the main characters, but the elite unit does seem to have a knack for delivering some tension-cutting one liners that Arnie and Stallone would be proud of. Since your squad members are crucial to the progression of the story, they cannot die, regardless of how many times they are directly pummelled by enemy tank fire.
Although in the beginning of the game your squad mates are quite lethal with their chosen tools, later on they’ll tend to keep the approaching enemy soldiers bogged down, killing only a few foes, leaving you with the lion’s share of the work. This isn’t an issue for the most part, but in certain sections it can be rather annoying, as you’ll be occupied with having to stop enemy soldiers from destroying a target with their RPGs and some extra help from the squad in taking out the supporting enemies sure would be appreciated. We also felt that some of the checkpoints in the game are too far apart, meaning you’ll have to re-take an uneventful boat ride again or go back to a particular mission’s starting point.
The multiplayer side of the game features a never ending battle between two factions, the US and Russia. The issue with the uneven distribution of workload within the team that one experiences in the single player campaign, is adequately addressed when playing the multiplayer campaign. The game doesn’t have the run-and-gun frame of mind of similar offerings, rather focusing on squad play and tactics. You can fulfil one of four roles within the group, those being medic, recon, assault and engineer.
Choosing to be an assault class soldier will mean you get to be kitted out like Rambo, armed to the teeth with assault rifles and selectable grenade types, such as a smoke grenade. As an engineer you get to take out tanks with your RPGs and fix your teams vehicles with your repair tool. The medic gets to heal those that do the brunt of the fighting, but gets compensated for this Florence Nightingale attitude by being the easiest class to move up to a higher rank, with 50 dedicated ranks to achieve. Last, but definitely not least, is the recon class which sees you getting our favoured weapon, the sniper rifle, allowing for a bird's eye view of the action. Recons also get to unlock a mortar strike with which you can send multiple enemies to their violent end.
There are two main multiplayer modes, Rush in which the attacking team must destroy two M-COM Stations on the map, marked A and B. The objective is to blow up these two points before your team's tickets (respawns) run out. Once your team destroys these points, the game map expands to reveal a further 2 points and so forth. There are also multiple ways to destroy an objective like using C4, collapse buildings on top of it, shoot RPG's at it and more. The best method for us was to plant a explosive on the station, then defend until the timer runs out. Next is Conquest in which you hold points on the map untill the opposing team's tickets run out.
Two subset multiplayer modes are also available, Squad Deathmatch which is pretty self-explanatory with four squads, each with four members, battling it out to be the first team to 50 points. Rounding it off is Squad Rush which is the same as Rush, only on a smaller scale featuring two teams of four members each. There's also the chance to discover over 15 000 kit variations as well as 13 character specialisations and a host of new vehicles including the all terrain vehicle (ATV) and the UH-60 transport helicopter that allow for new multiplayer tactics in the warzone.
Battlefield: Bad Company 2 offers a visually stunning and immersive gameplay experience that already rocks in the single player mode, but is even better in the excellent multiplayer mode. It's going to be a very tight race between Bad Company 2 and MW2 for the title of Best FPS Ever.
(Written with Jason Silva)