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Battlefield: Bad Company 2 360 Review

20/05/2011 Specialist Tech Gamer Review
Guest author: Tom Dann
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Battlefield: Bad Company 2 360

Battlefield: Bad Company 2

Format:
360

Genre:
Shooting

Style:
Firstperson
Competitive
Cooperative

Further reading:
Tom Dann

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Battlefield: Bad Company 2 distinguishes itself from the military shooter crowd through technical prowess and good design rather than story or emotions. Its open levels, choreographed sequences and environmental destruction make it a first person game-changer.

October, 1944: Operation Aurora. A team of American Commandos infiltrate a Japanese Island to learn more about The Black Weapon, a WMD built on scalar technology. The mission still has consequences even in the present day, as Bad Company, an elite Special Operations team, get drawn into a web of corruption and betrayal as they pursue the truth behind Operation Aurora.

I enjoyed the storyline in Bad Company 2. I found comfort in the cliche and looked forward to each new location and plot twist. Although I felt no emotional investment with the characters or had a genuine sense of urgency, it was just as enjoyable as a blockbuster movie.

Theres no hiding the fact that the story is really no more than a loose set of excuses for action sequences, but this is a game about entertainment rather than emotions or meaning. On this basis it works. The Bad Company 2 campaign feels more ambitious than its contemporaries with larger environments and more scope for improvised fun.

For example, one sequence sees you and a squad-mate holed up in a hut when an enemy counter-attack arrives. Whereas many games might restrict you to the hut, Bad Company 2 not only allows you to leave, but provides a large area for you to take on the enemy as you like. There's even a forest in which to hide and take them out guerilla-style.

My experience with first-person shooters has taught me that cover is best, and so I hunkered down with a sniper-rifle to pick everyone off. However, thanks to Bad Company 2's advanced environmental destruction, the hut started collapsing around me, especially when a tank rolled up. I had little choice then but to take the fight outside and keep moving.

This simple technical change alters first-person shooters irrevocably.

This simple technical change alters first-person shooters irrevocably. By making all forms of cover so destructible, you're encouraged to keep on the move at all times, constantly re-evaluating where you need to be and what your priorities are. I found this technique infinitely more appealing than the directed shoot-outs found in other contemporary shooters. That's not to say there were no such sections in Bad Company 2, but by using them sparingly their effect was not diminished.

Several of the missions stayed with me. Driving a tank in an armoured column, winding through the hills of Chile. Descending the Andes in a blizzard, having to make short sprints between shelters before hypothermia kicks in. Sequences like this break up the standard shooting elements and add variety, so I never felt bored.

One issue I found with the snow missions, however, was that everything was overwhelmingly white. While it seems an obvious statement, the locations didn't do the powerful graphics engine any justice, especially not compared to the jungle missions. I found the opening modern day mission disappointing for this reason, which didn't fill me with hope for the rest of the game.

Luckily, the following missions set in the jungle brought my screen to life in a way I'd not seen except in Crysis. Graphics don't make the game, but when they're this good they definitely don't hurt, and I found myself far more immersed in the world.

Of all the characters, my favourite was Flynn, the hippie helicopter pilot. Despite being a pacifist, he flies missions for the U.S. Military. He had a good chemistry with Haggard, the all-American redneck of the team, due to their polar ideologies.

It is the destructible areas that really make this a technically revolutionary game.

There's a sequence later on in the game where Flynn is forced to pick up a gun and kill someone. I wondered how I should read this action: that violence is the only viable option? That the liberal (or "commie" as Haggard puts it) approach is impossible? Or is it a satire of other games' trigger-happy approach to war? Although in other, more worthy, games I'd have felt the need to find some deeper redeeming meaning in this moment, in Bad Company 2 I could simply enjoy the ride for what it was: a game.

Bad Company 2 is a great military shooter, having the freedom to approach situations in my own way made the game far more rewarding. I admired the beautiful environments as much as the polished gameplay, but it is the destructible areas that really make this a technically revolutionary game. One stray rocket in a small town can bring down an entire house, which can change the layout of a battlefield completely. For me, it's this ambition that puts Bad Company 2 a notch above its competitors.

Guest review by Tom Dann


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Tom Dann wrote this Tech Gamer article under the watchful eye of Simon Arquette.

"Gaming technology and techniques fascinate me, always have and always will do. They've driven me to a gaming degree, and aspirations to a whole lot more. Here though, I'll be reviewing games for how they put their technology to work to deliver a compelling experience."


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