Bad Company 2 appears to be EAs attempt to make the Battlefield Franchise more like the Call of Duty franchise. This may seem like it could be a step in the right direction for anyone who owned a console last holiday season, but I’m probably the only person on the planet who didn’t find much to be impressed by in Modern Warfare 2, so you can imagine my surprise when my beloved PC favorite Battlefield: 2142 suddenly took a few steps backwards to accommodate Xbox live and destructible buildings.
It’s not that sequels are inherently bad, it’s just that lately some invisible Lovecraftian monster seems to have enveloped the games industry feeding on good ideas and defecating out sequels in their place. Even Bioshock 2 suffers from this somewhat, having updated and improved upon just about everything except the actual game.
But Call of Farfield: Modern Company 2 sells itself on its multiplayer, right?
Battlefield: 2142 was ahead of its time. It featured good graphics, squad commands and dynamic objectives, extremely good map design, fantastic class balancing, several cool vehicles and, best of all, walk animations that seem to have a direct correlation to the player’s movement from the perspective of an observer! The Bad Company franchise has so far managed to lose about half of these for the sake of console support and a single player campaign that plays like several other first person shooters loosely stitched together by a multiplayer engine. Though I’d love to say this is the wrong direction to be heading, the series is undoubtedly making far more money now than ever.
The plot of the single player campaign seems to revolve around an unambiguously evil bald Russian who wants to use weapons of mass destruction to invade America. Despite his being in your sights early on in the game, you’re forced to fight his troops on snowy mountain tops in Russia and deserts in the Middle East. The villain’s super weapon launches despite your best efforts and turns out to be a device which disables electronics in a major American city. While playing through Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, I felt the plot and villains were seconda…. Wait a minute, I see what you did there EA. Excuse me; while playing through Battlefield: Bad Company 2 I felt the plot and villains were secondary and bland excuses for the player character to follow along behind a team of wisecracking jokesters who really have no business saving the day. In this regard Bad Company actually stands out above Call of Duty, IE having protagonists you care about and like. And while the villains were just as uninspired as Call of Duty, I’m actually moved to care somewhat when my allies in Bad Company are betrayed by the guy we’ve been taking orders from.
The story telling is certainly good, but Bad Company loves taking control away from the character for even the slightest bit of narrative. When someone starts talking or you’re supposed to look at something important the screen fades to black and teleports you a few feet just to forcibly turn your head for only a couple of seconds. Does the design team not trust players to look in the direction they were already going, or does Marlowe just have a strange habit of blinking very slowly?
While not entirely original, it’s certainly an update to the first Bad Company. For one, it’s now available on the PC, so you can make the shadows not look like the sun got lazy that day and decided to illuminate objects only in interlocking squares. Also player death forces you to reload from the last check point, a game mechanic that was well established only shortly after the invention of the save file but was somehow lacking from the previous game which favored respawns and persistent enemy damage.
Ok so it’s not exactly Modern Warfare 2. There was a section somewhere toward the middle that was straight out of Farcry 2. I found myself wondering around in a desert with a few orange squares on my map telling me I had to drive a stolen vehicle a couple of miles then raid a base for their stuff, take one of their vehicles and do it a few more times to bases roughly a mile away from one another in an order of my choosing. It’s as if one of the designer teams slept through part of the meeting and wasn’t quite sure which game they were supposed to be ripping off.
But Call of Farfield: Modern Company 2 sells itself on its multiplayer, right? I mean that’s what the franchise has done with pride ever since 1942 *ba dum tish.*Well Battlefield: Modern Farcry 2 does compare favorably to other shooters of the last couple of years, not that that’s saying much. The buildings are almost entirely destructible, even though they sometimes aren’t in the single player campaign. This means when you drive a tank through a city you don’t get caught up on corners and snipers don’t use tin sheds as cover. The best part is when you move on to the next objective and the area you leave is a smoking crater. The game even ensures a maximum number of explosions by letting any individual player take several hits from virtually any weapon including a rocket launcher and fifty caliber sniper rifle without so much as flinching. And while your combat knife is clearly a disguised light saber with the ability to obliterate doors and thin walls with the slightest tap, your assault rifle ammunition is clearly made of rubber and angry words for all its ability to hurt your enemies. And now that buildings can be destroyed completely, it turns out the best way to win a match is to shell the buildings into rubble than pick up the sniper rifle with the fastest rate of fire and go to town, or lack thereof. Just make sure to toss some marshmallows on your bayonet for a snack later.
Battlecry: Bad Warfare 2 has no other major selling point besides the aforementioned destructible environments and a memorable cast of characters. I have to admit I found much of the dialogue to be legitimately humorous. So this, combined with the fact that it costs less than buying both Farcry 2 and Modern Warfare 2, means I can recommend it for those who have little patience and just want to shoot guns and chuckle. For those not in the redneck demographic, I suppose you’ll have to settle for those scores of cheaper, better games that have been out for years, like Modern Warfare 1, and Battlefield 2142.