I am not sure whether there is any merit in evaluating DICE's Modern Warfare competitor, nearly 6 months after release. With that said however, I was bemused to find that Battlefield - Bad Company 2 had not fared as well critically (at least quantitatively speaking) as Infinity Ward's last Call of Duty title. Why? Because save for its splitscreen multiplayer offering, I despise Call of Duty - Modern Warfare 2. The campaign is a frustrating, morally redundant tale of American militarism gone loco. A series of choke points punctuated by regrettable dialogue, spouted from testosterone-fuelled neanderthals, MW2's single player offering was a grind with very few rewards. The online competitive multiplayer while entertaining, often felt as though it was cheapened by killstreaks and lethal weapon attachments which I, in my limited skill level, have no hope of obtaining. Battlefield - Bad Company 2 however is a completely different monster. Sure it is a first-person shooter with lots of death and explosions, but the subject matter feels lighter. The sequel to the first console Battlefield game to offer a legitimate solo campaign, as well as a comprehensive suite of competitive multiplayer modes is a full-featured package worth experiencing.
Up there with the best - Bad Company 2 makes good on DICE's promise of a proper solo crusade, with some of the finest examples of set pieces, on-rails shooting and pacing ever seen in a console FPS. Save for a few frustrating shoot-outs towards the end of the adventure, this is all fun, and all thrills.
Feels right - Not since the original Quake has a boomstick provided so much joy. The shotguns available in BF:BC2 have respectable range, along with the stopping power expected from a youth watching Schwarzenegger films. Further to that, I usually don't enjoy using sniper rifles in FPS games, but the T88 S has started a love affair with long range weaponry.
Like a drug - With the possible exception of Gears of War, there is no greater multiplayer experience than that on offer in Bad Company 2. Offering enough of the quasi-RPG progression that makes Modern Warfare so addictive, as well as enough maps and different play modes to encourage persistent play, Bad Company 2 will take hours of your life if you aren't careful. More important than the plethora of maps, modes and equipment options however is the core gameplay, which is brilliant, if not chaotic. Due to the malleability of each battleground and balanced classes, there are limitless ways to approach each situation and engage with your opponents. The action is thoroughly satisfying, especially when you raze a structure that houses several enemies, or destroy a quad bike coming at you at full speed. Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is the best team-based multiplayer shooter since Team Fortress 2.
Balance (Part 1) - When a team comprised of each of the 4 classes (Medic, Recon, Assault and Engineer) works together, the action flows brilliantly; allowing for campers, run-and-gunners and support players to contribute to a win. Greatest of all, players are rewarded for contributing in almost any fashion. For those without the surest of aim, you can opt to repair vehicles, heal teammates or scour the road ahead for mines and other threats. It's so refreshing to play a game that rewards you for assisting the stronger members of a team.
Extensive support - Since release, there have been 6 free multiplayer map packs released to players who bought the game brand new. Most would argue that these packs are just the same maps reconfigured to be used in different play modes, however they present unique experiences in both Rush and Conquest arrangements. There are also paid expansions available, but I am yet to invest in them. There is enough content offered here for the purchase price without the requirement to procure paid DLC. There is more content coming though, with a Vietnam expansion due later this year.
Balance (Part 2) - More often than not, you will find your team consisting of an inordinate amount of players using the Recon (Sniper) class. Referred to as "Wookies," you will often find yourself frustrated as they camp and watch objectives fall to your opponents. Used effectively, the Recon class provides vital support to the team. Abused, the Recon class can drain the fun from a match as you struggle to complete objectives alone.
What are we fighting for? - Returning to the solo campaign, the story and dialogue are not entirely worthwhile. There are Russians, a secret weapon and a ragtag bunch of soldiers affectionately known as Bad Company. That's about it.
Dude I hit you! - Another minor solo campaign gripe. In a game built around the premise of everything being destructible, it is somewhat confounding when you hit a helicopter delivering enemies to the battle with a rocket, and nothing happens. I know that it is to ensure that players take part in each of the thrilling gunfights throughout the adventure, but still it is disappointing to find some of those troop transports are invincible.
Go it alone - Save for the new, paid (read: expensive) Onslaught expansion, there are no cooperative multiplayer modes in Bad Company 2. This is a missed opportunity, especially considering that there are four members in the unit and several competitors (Halo 3 and to a more limited extent, Modern Warfare 2) allow for a few friends to play through either missions or challenges in splitscreen or online.
9/10 - The best console FPS on the market, no question. The single player campaign moves at a frenetic pace, with some unforgettable sequences and enjoyable vehicle combat. The multiplayer offering is so incredibly deep both in terms of progression and the standard gameplay. With the ability to develop and utilize four distinct, balanced classes, Battlefield - Bad Company 2 offers limitless approaches to combat. Perhaps best of all is the freedom afforded to players in conflict, with almost any object being completely destructible. Essential action and unbeatable value.