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New South Wales, Australia
Game Developer, Composer & Gamer.

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My upcoming reviews are subject to change & availability, so i won't be listing them anymore

Friday, February 18, 2011

Review #7: Battlefield: Bad Company 2


Platform: PC/Steam    
Type of controller: Mouse+KB    
Install time: N/A 

Dependancies (Included in installation): DirectX, Punkbuster, VC++ 2005 Redist  

Notes about installation: None   

Game website: www.battlefieldbadcompany2.com    
Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battlefield:_Bad_Company_2 ----------------------------------------------------------------

First of all i hope you all had a good Christmas and New Year!
I know i did, and infact i will be moving house soon so there may not be a review for March as with January, i will be much too busy to sit down and review games. But do not fear, my game reviews will continue to be monthly after i get settled into my new place, who knows, i might even be able to write 2 big ones for March because this year is going to be a big year for gaming :D

NOTE: Ok much like Yahtzee (the game critic), i think a game should stand up on single player alone, Multiplayer should be more of a bonus feature than a focal point of a game, but i digress, this review will be mainly concerning the Single Player campaign of Bad Company 2.

My thoughts about the game;
Originally i was hesitant about the campaign in this game, because i owned the first Bad Company on XBOX360, and did not have access to XBL at that time, all i played was the single player campaign. The story was fairly decent and i did play through it about 4 times over the course of about 6 months, while the visual style and effects were impressive the story somewhat lacked replayability, however it did have enough depth for me to be actually interested in the characters because of how they were treated by the military but also by their fellow soldiers.
I wish i could say the same for Bad Company 2. The story, what's left of it, and the characters more importantly, are so different to the first game. In Bad Company 2, they are treated more like Special Forces soldiers and not some B Grade B company doing all the dirty work and being blamed when shit hits the fan. In this one it seems the Single Player was slapped in after the Multiplayer, because although the scenery is amazing, there isn't much atmosphere for the story to feel engaging enough. I was really disappointed at this because i had been playing Multiplayer for about 10 or 15 hours straight before i played the single player campaign.
I also played through the Medal of Honor (2010) campaign and found it to be much better than Bad Company 2's campaign.

The first mission gets a really good pace set for the game, without spoiling too much, it's one of those "play as some dude in the past and have the game refer to those moments later on in the present day story" types of campaigns, and believe me you need to pay close attention to the story or hardly anything will make sense later on in the game.
My first run through the campaign was exactly that, i didn't pay close enough attention to what was being said and implied, i just run and gunned my way through and totally missed huge chunks of the plot because of it.

I can't help but think as i'm playing this of "because the plot said so" kind of moments, like the Russian colonel you fail to eliminate not once but twice... the first time sure but the second time is a very "because the plot says so" kind of moment. I mean anyone with a gun at that point had the shot at him, because he comes right up to you in plain sight and brags about something, and just runs out the door? Seriously that right there was a turning point in my opinion of this plot. It's all too... 'setup' for my liking.. and don't even get me started on the end of the final chapter... Stories that follow the 3 act method of beginning, middle and end should not have a setup for a sequel at the end, and if they do, it shouldn't be anywhere near as obvious as the one in this game. Honestly folks if you haven't finished this game, prepare yourself for the ending, because i could see alot of people getting pissed off about it.

Developer standpoint;

Ok well as usual i played through easy first, and medium/normal second, and honestly there wasn't that much of a difference. I wish more games would actually change the AI when the difficulty is changed, not just the amount of health you and the enemy have, and how much damage each shot does, because having the same AI with slightly more health and bullets with slightly more damage doesn't actually make it any harder, just makes it either shorter or longer depending on the players skill level.
So as for the difference in difficulty, there isn't much between easy and medium, however the consistency of the difficulty is quite good, you can slowly tell that it becomes more challenging towards the end of the game, which is good and what games should be about.

Animations and visual effects
This one is hard to comment on, because while face value of both animations and visual effects is quite impressive, if you know what your looking at and actually really look closely at them all, you will see that infact there are alot of shortcuts being used to give the illusion of it being much more complex. That said, some companies go for that, because it enables the game to gain more popularity quickly for something that looks more impressive than it actually is. The animations can be jittery and or buggy which is noticeable in the first mission's in-game cutscenes.

The damage "physics" is another thing i should mention here because it falls under the VFX category. Now just to clear this up with people... The damage is NOT dynamic. If you want to see proper dynamic damage, go and play Red Faction 3, because that is one of the only examples of realtime dynamic destruction and damage to buildings. The buildings in Bad Company 2 and also the first one are not dynamic. They are infact predefined places of buildings, and also predefined pieces that fly off when you blow it up. In the first Bad Company this was very obvious to me about the second time i ever blew up a wall, however this is more carefully disguised in Bad Company 2, because they have increase the size and amount of dust and debris that fly off when the wall actually explodes, it's still a predefined position and number of pieces of debris, but the cloud of dust and smoke is much larger which gives the illusion of the explosion/destruction being more damaging. To their credit i thought that was a clever way of getting away with it, but i still can't help but see through the charade.

Level design
The level design for the most part is excellent. The sceneries and vistas are stunning, the foliage and amount of detail models are done very well however, it is quite sloppy, and feels very rushed. This is especially noticeable in multiplayer, where in nearly every single map i have found at least 1 static model floating above the ground, and i haven't even been looking for them either, just stumbled across it while moving around the map normally.
Another thing (related more to the visual effects) is when a mortar or any large explosion originates from the ground, it creates a crater where the explosion happened, this also appears to be dynamic at first but i have a sneaking suspicion it too is also predefined at certain areas of the map. The problem though is if a crater forms at an area where there are static objects on the ground, such as rocks or junk piles, often these static props stay in their original position, obviously because they are static, but leave a huge gap under them because of the newly formed crater, surely they could of had some way of deleting any static objects in the area of the craters, after they are formed because the amount of dust and debris would mask the obviousness of the object vanishing...

Sound design
The sound design is probably the strongest point of this game for me, apart from the multiplayer. When set to "War zone" setting in Options, the sound of this game is absolutely incredible, especially on 5.1 surround sound. Not only do you hear the shell casings hitting different sounding surfaces, if you are in a room with any sort of close range acoustics, you can actually hear the echo of the shell casings (known as reverberation). This is an incredible aspect of the sound design and makes it so much more immersive. I know other games have had this sort of HD audio but i struggle to think of any other game with sounds this good.. possibly Medal of Honor but that's kind of par for the course because of it being same designers, same engine and also more recent.

Story and character development
I won't go into much detail here because of what i said in my thoughts about the game, however there are some moments that i thought could use a mention;

Normally i wouldn't review multiplayer of a game, but because this game has such a solid multiplayer platform, and it appears to be the main focus of the game, it more than deserves a mention.

As mentioned earlier, i played the multiplayer component before playing the single player, so in hindsight that may have been for the best. I was interested in multiplayer more anyway, simply because of what i read to be a vast improvement of the Bad Company 1 MP. This is also the closest thing available in the next gen market to Battlefield 2 which was a classic MP game, that is of course until Battlefield 3 comes out in the next few months, the only other game like this at the moment (with vehicle warfare, gadgets, ranks and XP) is Frontlines: Fuel of War, which was a huge flop in marketing aspects for multiplayer, and a huge flop for single player campaign.

There are alot of flaws with Bad Company 2 MP aswell, some of them i thought worth a mention.
First of all the 3D Spotting system while a good system and a good idea, i think is a bit too easy and a bit too spammy for my liking. Apparently there will be changes to it in Battlefield 3 so hopefully it will be better, but for the meantime in Bad Company 2, you can pretty much just camp with sniper, look around the map slowly while spamming Q, which is the "spot" button for spotting enemies in the distance. On non-hardcore servers this means a big orange triangle appears above their head (that only your teammates can see). This means that if there isn't anything in your way between you and the enemy (might be some bushes or trees but regardless of those) you can pretty much shoot at that orange triangle and hope for the best you get a little white cross come up in the middle of the screen to indicate you hit an enemy (anyone familiar with Battlefield 2 should know what i mean).

Ok secondly there is a huge bug with zooming, it doesn't happen with every map, doesn't happen with every gun, but the people i have talked to who play multiplayer have experienced this at least once if not multiple times in one match let alone their entire multiplayer experience. This usually happens to me when using a gun with a red dot scope, a sniper rifle scope or even when using the ironsights on pistols. This can for the most part be extremely annoying, but there have been one or two times when this has happened and worked in my favour. For example, i was a sniper and was at the end of a tight lane way sort of thing, and i zoomed in just an enemy came across the screen infront of me filling my whole scope up with just torso, at that exact moment the zoom bug happened where it completely zooms back to normal view but the scope is still active while im still holding the zoom button, so i was able to take the shot with alot more accuracy because the huge scope filling torso is now much easier to hit because of the zoom bug (this all happened in the blink of an eye but it did work in my favour and i probably would of missed the shot if it didn't happen).

Lastly there is a much more annoying bug possibly to do with the level of detail for shadows, many people i know with very different specs to each other experience the same black screen bug, it's strange because the whole screen doesn't go black, all the HUD, '3D Spotting' (the orange triangles above enemies) and the overview map all stay onscreen, just everything inside the 3D world goes completely black, the only way to fix this is to turn shadows to medium or low, having them on high seems to cause a very high rate of this black screen bug thing... Also it doesn't matter if it's ATI or nVidia either, for those fans of you out there for one particular brand jeering the other one down for this problem, you're out of luck because it happens on both.

Closing statement
Well there isn't much else to say about this game, i picked it up for 12 bucks so in my eyes i definitely got my money's worth, however if you don't have the patience or time or courage to play online and just want a Single Player experience, i would personally recommend getting Medal of Honor instead, because Bad Company 2's Single Player campaign is much less exciting that the first game, or the aforementioned MOH.

Story: 5.5/10  
AI: 6/10
Sound: 10/10
Voice: 7.5/10    
Controls: 8/10    
Models: 7.5/10  
Level Design: 7/10  
Textures: 7/10  
Technical Complexity: 7.5/10    
Replayability (SP): 4/10   

Replayability (MP): 9/10   

Total (SP): 54.5/100

Total (MP): 59.5/100
Total Avg. Overall: 57/100

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