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The switch back and forth from PC to 360 controller is never easy, but Battlefield: Bad Company certainly incentivises the experience. It even got me wrestling with my AV amp in search of some quality surround sound to match the rest of the game.
Using technology to improve gaming immersion is all very well in theory. But in practice, when I came to play Battlefield: Bad Company, I found that my surround sound system was not co-operating at all! Admittedly it started to die a few months back when you'd switch it on and hear the sound stuttering until it had warmed up. Being a bit of a tech head I've tried investigating various options to get it working but to no avail. So until I receive the new system I've got on back-order I have to turn it on a while before I want to play.
This is all compounded by the fact that oftentimes it simply refused to accept the audio feed from my Xbox 360. All in all this adds up to quite an additional challenge in trying to get my Xbox 360 gaming sessions in - not only am I juggling it with everything else I have going on in my life - I'm also wrestling the technical gods.
It takes me a while to get used to using those sticks - my thumbs just don't seem to be as nimble as other people
As any experienced PC gamer will attest, adjusting to the 360's twin stick approach can take a little time. I've been using the same control system since the likes of the original Quake, so whenever I step over to the Xbox 360 and find myself playing an FPS I'm somewhat out of my comfort zone. It takes me a while to get used to using those sticks - my thumbs just don't seem to be as nimble as other people who have grown up playing games with a variety of console controllers.
Approaching Battlefield: Bad Company from a technical point of view, its big advancement is probably the destructible environments such as the ones you find in Crysis on the PC. From what I've seen of Crysis (it's not a game I've got myself yet), one of the big highlights of their game engine is that you can hit any specific point of the environment and it responds as you would expect it to. For instance, you can shoot trees and your bullets will end up cutting it down at the point at which the bullets hit it.
Battlefield does a similar thing whereby you often find trees being cut down due to a hail of bullets heading your way and it's quite a cool thing to see, assuming you don't then end up dead! From my tests, the environments tend to break-up at certain set-points and perhaps not quite the level of detail of Cryengine, but in the heat of battle, it's not the kind of thing you're going to be focussing on! Even so, it's certainly a great attempt at this level of involvement and 'real world feel' to appear on the Xbox 360.
Battlefield is a game with quite open environments - now I've not played Call of Duty 4 yet, so I can't compare Battlefield to that, but certainly in comparison with my other Xbox 360 war shooter experiences, there is a big improvement. You no longer feel as if you are running along on a very scripted, pre-planned path, set of rails. Battlefield is very much open to various tactics that you want to employ due to the more open nature of Battlefield.
I welcome this trend of more open-ended, freedom of movement gameplay, in the style of games like Grand Theft Auto. For instance, you're able to hop into a vehicle and drive around the Battlefield game - although obviously it feels a little empty as these battlefields tend to be more sparsely populated and often only contain your objectives without having other things to do along the way.
From a technical point of view, its big advancement is probably the destructible environments.
I'm not saying that I would necessarily expect or want more than that - I mean being able to go quad biking or something in the middle of a war isn't something I'm saying that I want. This is a 'battlefield' after all, but I just can't help but think when the camera pans out and you're driving your Humvee around yourself, rather than just being sat in it while you're transported by your AI comrade driving to your next FPS shoot-out, it just feels somewhat like you're driving around in GTA.
Overall, I think that if this is the shape of things to come in terms of further immersion and involvement in your FPS-style games, the future bodes well. Battlefield: Bad Company could be looked back upon as one of those landmark console games that leads the way, but in the meantime, is just a lot of fun to play!
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
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