Thursday, March 24, 2011

Battlefield: Bad Company 2 (2010)

More information here.

The plot. This game tells a story about a military special operations unit called Bad Company. It starts off with World War Two and you are taken on a mission to rescue a Japanese scientist. At one point the mission goes wrong and some weird weapon explodes killing the operatives and the scientist. The plot then continues in present day and follows a spec ops unit on a mission to help a CIA agent named Aguire.

General thoughts. This is the second game in the Battlefield series which has a proper single player storyline, the first being Battlefield: Bad Company. This is also the first time I played a single player Battlefield game. This is not exactly different from other games of the same type, like Call of Duty or Medal of Honor when it comes to gameplay, but there are a few little things that make this something a little bit different.
First of all, the Battlefield series has always had a big emphasis on vehicles. In any previous Battlefield games right from the Battlefield 1942 you could drive and fly around with just about any vehicle you could get your hands on. This made Battlefield very different from other multiplayer shooters. Combining the cinematic first person shooter genre with the capability to drive all sorts of vehicles presented a world, where you had to drive around a lot more than in any other games of this type. Not a bad thing, just interesting. There was a proper tank mission, where you got to roll around in a tank and destroy stuff.

This game has a really cool feature where you can destroy pretty much anything. This means that hiding in a house from heavy gunfire and RPG-s just won't work any more. With enough damage, the house could crumble on top of you. The vehicles also broke when shot at, but when a tank blows up, I'd expect a burning husk or a pile of bent metal. At one point I broke a tank and all that was left were a couple of wheels. A bit disappointing.

A big problem in this game is the AI. While I don't feel the AI of the enemies is so bad, apart from randomly popping in front of you, the AI of your teammates sucks. Sure, they can be helpful at times, but in a larger battle they tend to not cover you and just mess about like little children. At one point I saw a teammate standing in front of an enemy, both frozen and neither shooting. I had to shoot the enemy to get the ally moving. The allies tend to get stuck a lot, too. Every once in a while you have to move on to continue with the mission and your teammates will stay in the old spot. After a while, usually in the next checkpoint, they pop next to you and continue like nothing happened. This is a good thing, because with the amount of AI bugs this game has, it'd never end without this feature. The useless allies pissed me off at one point to the level where I closed the game and played something else. I don't usually do that unless the game gets really frustrating. Also, since the autosaves aren't in the most strategic spots, you usually have to re-do a lot of things to get to the hard part at which you fail.

Another thing to whine about are the controls. At this point I would like to have a little bit more control over how I move my character. For this game, aiming down the sight is only toggle and crouch is only hold. This means that when you want to crouch behind cover with the default controls, you have to bend your pinky to the left Ctrl key. Sprinting, while mapped under a key, didn't usually work and you had to double-tap the W button to sprint. I set my left Shift to crouch and Sprint, which was there before, had to be moved. Tab didn't work, so I used 'F' instead.

However, the weapon choice was quite wide. Right off the bat you get to use the H&K XM8, which is also the standard weapon for your teammates. Now, the curious thing about the XM8 is that it was actually never produced on a larger scale. Only a few prototypes were ever created. That being said, I think XM8 is the coolest looking rifle ever created and also the most practical. A lot of game developers seem to agree, because the XM8 appears in a lot of games. One of the first games I saw the XM8 in was Saint's Row.
There are a lot of other interesting weapons also, but only a single handgun and only two types of snipers. Each time you find a new weapon in the game it shows in the middle of a screen, even if you're in a middle of a battle, and after that it can be accessed from the supply drop menu to be equipped. Amongst others you get to use the USAS12 automatic shotgun. For each weapon, you have to unlock weapons with extras separately.

The game had an interesting choice of captivating missions and also, as a tradition for this type of games, a funny character. In this game, the funny one is Flynn, a pacifist hippie helicopter pilot who speaks like a hippie and always cracks jokes at you.
A very interesting mission was getting caught in a blizzard. The protagonist then has to make his way through the cold weather down the mountain to a village to be picked up. Since it's cold outside, the character freezes if he spends too much time outside. This means that you have to dash between houses on your way down to the valley and when you're outside, the HUD begins freezing. Quite an interesting idea.
Another interesting mission was in a desert with ships. Whereas the rest of the game was very linear and you only had one goal to go towards, this mission was multiple choice. You had three places you needed to visit. This gave the mission a sort of sandbox sense. Literally. Although, at one point I figured it'd be a good idea to cut through the desert to skip a village full of enemies and I ended up dead, because if you stray off the map for 10 seconds, you get killed by mortar fire. Stick to the roads, I guess.
This is also one of the first games of this type to let you shoot someone while falling out of an airplane. That was quite cool.

All in all, it's a nice cinematic shooter worth a try for anyone interested in the cinematic shooter genre. It had it's ups and downs. I liked how the Russian soldiers spoke actual Russian instead of the bad Russian with an English accent you usually hear in American games. On the other hand, the story isn't as captivating and epic as the music and the characters would like it to seem. They just didn't feel special. Also, this game pissed me off and if an 7-8 hour shooter pisses me off, it's not a very good shooter. Well, it is, but not at everything.
The ending also gave hints on what would be happening in the future of Battlefield, but from what I hear, Battlefield 3 will not have much to do with the ending of this one. Battlefield 3 should be something very different in the gameplay department also, with a new fancy engine. We'll just wait and see.

7/10 Flogs

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