Well, I went ahead and pulled the trigger on trading in some old crap and picking up Battlefield: Bad Company. After dumping about 3-4 hours into the single player (and a measly 20 minutes into the multiplayer) I have to say that I am really happy with my purchase.
The single player in the Battlefield series has never really had much purpose other than as a basic warmup for the multiplayer, but I’m happy to report that is not the case with BFBC. The single player story is certainly cliche ridden, from it’s stereotypical character archetypes (the dumb guy, the guy that just wants to go home, the smart guy, etc) and the story itself is basically ripped from the movie Three Kings, which if you haven’t seen it, is about a group of guys in the Iraq war who go off on their own to find some of Saddam’s gold. It’s a really good movie, I highly recommend it if you haven’t seen it.
The small group of mercanaries going off looking for gold is the basic idea that was stolen, but it works well enough as a plot device. The setting itself is kinda weird. I don’t mean specific things like it being fields and rivers… but the war itself, as far as I can tell it’s never explained why it’s happening. Oh, and the enemy is the russians. Why? Who knows. But I guess it’s cool to fight russians again.
The squad you are in, the B-company, short for Bad Company (bet you didn’t see that coming!) is explained to be where the army sends guys that should probably be court marshaled but instead puts them into this squad and sends them basically on suicide missions. All of the other characters tell you what they have done to get there, but you never seem to. I guess it’s setup for you to roleplay your backstory? Who knows.
So yeah, it seems like I am being pretty negative, but I wanted to get all of that stuff out of the way to explain that none of it really matters. The story while goofy is actually fairly engaging, it has it’s hooks in me now about chasing this guy who has lots of gold. I know I shouldn’t fall for it, but I have. And the stereotypical characters are filled with banter, which usually makes you want to shove hot knives into your ears, but these guys are actually entertaining, and you may even chuckle. The game overcomes it’s lack of creativity with creativity, if that makes any sense.
But the real star of the show is the gameplay (well, and the sound, but i’ll get to that). Each new shooter that comes out needs a hook, or so it seems, while also aping off of recent games that had their own hook. So the MP has a level up system similar to Rainbow 6 and COD4. The single player has a bunch of collectible and unlockable guns (ala every shooter since 1995). But the thing that BFBC adds is completely destructible environments. And I can’t even begin to explain how fun they are and how it changes how you play the game.
Like, for instance, lets say you are entering a town and there is a dude in a window sniping down at you. What’s a gold lovin’ soldier to do? Well, you can get a riffle with a nice scope and take him out (like all other games) or you can sneak around and try to get in the building behind him and take him out (like all other games) or you can take your grenade launcher and demolish half the building, which if that doesn’t kill him, it will at least leave him with no cover.
At first as I strolled around I didn’t use this enough, probably because I’m just not used to the ability (there was a game back on the PS2 called Red Faction that did something similar, but that was a long while ago). But after about two hours I was sitting there thinking “you know, this area coming up… it would be a lot easier to pick these guys off if there were no trees.” So I started blowing those bitches up, and now the AI had lost all its cover, which made my mission object much, much more simple. It’s the type of thing that may lose its appeal over time, but so far I am completely in love with it. Blowing stuff up is fun. Also, it should be noted that the sound in the game is pretty awesome. Well, actually I’m torn on it. The sound is very loud and jarring, which fits the feeling of being in a war (I would guess, I’m a pacifist treehuggger), but at the same time it sometimes just feels like they took a normal gun sound and added a shitton of reverb and echo to it. But it does make for a more dynamic sounding game, so kudos for that.
The game does have its issues. The AI seemingly can see through trees, foliage, smoke, etc… while you cannot. There are countless times where I am getting shot and I have no freaking idea where it is coming from. It can be frustrating, for sure, but the game is also very forgiving. When you die you respawn back at the last checkpoint, but everything you killed (or blew up) is still dead (or blown up). Also, you have this shot you can inject yourself with to regain your health. This setup works well, but I can’t help but feel like it’s just a cheap way to deal with the AI having an unfair advantage.
Like I said earlier, I only got to play one match online, and it was great fun, for sure. Snipers seem to be the flavor of the month, which is kinda annoying, but I do have a good time taking long, out of the line of fire paths and coming up behind them and shooting them in the ass. Friends of mine are complaining that the party system isn’t working correctly and right now there is only one game mode… but those are both things EA has said they are working on (in fact they said another game mode will be made available for free “shortly after launch).
If you like shooters you really can’t go wrong with this one. The graphics are great, the story while cliched and tired is still entertaining, and the multiplayer will of course have legs because it’s a Battlefield game. Come discuss the game on the forums.