Bad Company 2 – First Look

Title   Battlefield: Bad Company 2
Developer  EA Digital Illusions CE
Publisher  Electronic Arts
Platform  XBox 360, PS3, PC
Genre  FPS, Action
Release Date  March 5, 2010

Its been a while since I’ve been seen round these parts with one of these article things, which is largely down to the fact that I recently got married, and that takes up a hellofalot of time (preparations, ceremony, the dinner afterwards, the consummation, the honeymoon, getting back from the honeymoon, starting work again and then realising that we need to move house in a month)

Oh, and I’ve been playing Bad Company 2…

Don't cross the streams!

This review itself is in fact late. Or at least later than I had planned for it to be. A good reviewer would tell you at this point that this was due to squeezing every last drop of gameplay out of the game in order to give you dear reader the absolute best and most complete verdict that is humanly possible. However a) This is the first review of any kind that I have ever written, and therefore to make claims about my goodness or otherwise at it would be at best premature and b) I am pathologically honest – always have been, ask any one of my ex-friends (honesty doesn’t go down as well with people as society tries to teach you it does). The net result of which is that I will tell you that I have taken this long to write this review because I have been playing the damn game with every spare waking second that I have – its like a crack habit but without the necessity to take up a life of crime/prostitution to support it and that attractive ‘waif who hasn’t eaten a decent meal in a year’ look. I just realised that the excuse I could have used and the truth are pretty similar – probably could have blagged that if I’d paid more attention…

Anyhoo, I digress – here is my review for Battlefield: Bad Company 2 (henceforth BC2 to save my poor fingers). As I mentioned above, I’ve never done this before so lets just dive in shall we? Anyone who is offended by patently amateur games journalism (in which case why are you even here?) should probably leave now…. Ok? Good, then if you’re all sitting comfortably children, lets begin.

House could use a bit of work to be honest, but at least there's room to park the tank! We'll take it!


For those unfamiliar with the franchise, a small history lesson is necessary. If you’re bored then you may skip this part, but don’t come crying to me later when you can’t answer any of the questions in Part A of the exam.

Battlefield began life – as did so many popular FPS franchises – as a PC game. Specifically though, it was an online multiplayer WWII FPS PC game. There was no ‘single player’ to speak of. It did well. VERY well, and spawned a few add on packs and a sequel. As consoles stepped up a gear and came closer to what PC’s were capable of, a number of previously PC-only titles made the leap across, and Battlefield was to be no exception. Of course, this was in the days of the PS2 and Xbox, when online console gaming happened, but not so much. Still, DICE decided to bring Battlefield to ‘the masses’ (read: to those of us who don’t want to bother upgrading our ‘gaming rig’ every 6-8 months)* and so of course they decided that there must be a single player ‘campaign’ element to the game to keep us all happy. Battlefield 2: Modern Combat was thus born to the PS2 and Xbox. It was a fairly respectable title. Sure, the online could handle only a fraction of the number of players that its PC big brother could handle but that was ok because there simply weren’t that many people online playing it. The campaign though, well… At best you could describe it as a shooting gallery, a way of learning the controls and weapons for the mulitplayer game. It was very formulaic, being essentially a series of ‘missions’ loosely tied together by a (largely forgettable) plot, all of which involved a structure of ‘Go to point A and fend off wave X. Then move to Point B and capture Objective Y, finally move on to Point C and kill enemy Z, rinse and repeat’. Now of course, most such games are objective led really, but in an accomplished single player game this formulaic skeleton is covered by a lovely story and plot which help disguise the fact you are just doing what the computer tells you to. This was absent here, so if you had the game but no online access (like me at the time) then it wasn’t bad, but it was by no means great. The one truly unique feature was ‘hotswapping’. This meant that if you could draw a line of sight to another soldier in your force you could press the ‘hotswap’ key and be instantly transported into their shoes together with a spiffy ‘swoosh’ effect. Great if you’re an assault soldier getting pummeled by a tank but can draw line of sight to a bazooka armed demolition guy. As we all know though, one innovative feature does not a great game make.

Fast forward a few years and the new generation of consoles got a new kind of Battlefield game. Battlefield: Bad Company had arrived, and by now console online gaming was very much more mainstream. So you’d think they would’ve concentrated on doing what they did best and crafting a mutliplayer only game right? Well, wrong because it seems that when developers and publishers take chances like this *cough Shadowrun Cough* NOBODY BUYS THEM. So it is now written in the bible of games development ‘Thou shalt not release a multiplayer only game on consoles at retail in case some of the oiks don’t have a subscription’ or something. Anyway, for BC, DICE had created a whole team of loveable misfits and an actual plot – surely they were onto a winner? Well, no. As good as the original BC was, it had nothing to do with the campaign. It may have had loveable rogues for characters, and an actual (if nonsensical) plot but the truth was that these were all just veneers. It was still very much the A-B-C routine of before, and again just seemed mainly to serve as an extended tutorial for all the weapons/vehicles etc to get you into the multiplayer. Still, at least they tried.

So, for the new game, have they learned? Well, ish. The opening mission begins in WWII as you play out a prequel to the events of the main game. I won’t release spoilers here for any who have yet to try it but suffice it to say that if you have never played a Battlefield game before and you start with this then please stick with it past this opening mission. I don’t know why but the WWII opener just feels stilted and weird, and to be honest I was almost crying with the disappointment as I played it. However, when it finished things got interesting…

It seems that DICE have eyes you see. They saw the success of a certain other game set in the modern day about soldiers shooting other soldiers (Modern…somethingorother I think) and they obviously took copious amounts of notes. For all that they managed to cram in dozens of sly references to the competition (a line about snowmobiles being for pussies springs instantly to mind) they are obviously mindful of the success of Infinity Ward’s beast. And you know what they say – if you can’t beat them, then copy them. Thus we have a campaign that sees our heroes jumping from one part of the globe to another with each mission. We also have set pieces. Lots and lots of set pieces. To be fair (though it breaks my heart to say it) I’d say that MW2 still has the edge in terms of sheer adrenaline fuelled set piece laden shiny havoc. Then again, BC2 has 2 things massively in its favour. 1. It has a plot that actually makes sense (its silly yes, but it follows through logically) and 2. It has the majesty that is the updated Frostbite engine.

One of Bad Company’s main selling points was its destruction. ‘Nowhere is safe’ proclaimed the blurb ‘Cover can be blown away in an instant’. Well, they were exaggerating a bit. What you actually got was trees/fences etc that could all be levelled and buildings that could be reduced to skeletal structures with all the walls/doors/roof missing which would then become indestructible. It DID change the way that you played (Halo 3 never felt the same afterwards with its insistence on you using the doors it gave you, rather than allowing you to rifle grenade your way through the wall) but it also didn’t quite match the hype. Bad Company 2 rights this. Completely. Every single building in the game can in fact be reduced to total rubble with enough ordnance. Far from being a gimmick, this means that you genuinely have some leeway in how you complete each objective. It also means that you can’t just hide behind a strangely rocket proof tree whenever your health is low. It makes each fight more tactical and tense, and potentially no two people will quite have the same solution. Of course, there is a downside and it is that the AI is not great. Not terrible by all means, but it will give you few surprises. I breezed through the whole campaign on Normal difficulty in less than a day. Still, whereas its no MW2 beater in the SP stakes, BC2 shows that DICE have made genuine progress in this area, and I can only applaud the effort. It helps that the characters really are just that – characters, with genuinely funny banter and engaging personalities, much better than the oh so po faced and serious one dimensional action heroes that MW2 throws at you. A solid thumbs up then, but with the same caveat often given to MW2 – if you don’t go online consider rental rather than purchase.

Gotta love quads on the beach... any minute now Steve Guttenberg is going to burst in, I swear!


The meat and bones of the experience, and the REAL reason why anyone should buy this game. The reason why the first BC game rarely strayed out of my 360 for the first 6 months I owned it was that it simply offered the best kind of online play for me – teamwork. Now, Halo, COD et al – they all get a bit better with teamwork sure. But BC DEPENDED on it. If you had a team of Rambo’s, all intent on running out on their own then your team would lose, and lose BADLY more often than not. The main reason for this was the classes. Instead of COD’s ‘create a soldier with all the types of guns you like best’ template, what BC gave you was a number of different TYPES of soldier, each of which had their place in the team. So Recon’s had sniper rifles and could deploy motion tracker grenades so that you could tell when the enemy was sneaking into your base, support could call in mortar strikes and also carried med kits that could be thrown down to help heal injured comrades and so on. There were 5 classes in the original BC, and when the early press releases announced that BC2 would only have 4 then there was concern – would it really work with one less class? Which one would they get rid of and why? As it turned out, all fears were unfounded. What they did was to amalgamate certain characteristics and swap some bits of kit from one class to another in a way that totally makes sense. So what you now have is soldier (assault as was) who can drop crates of ammo for the team and has a standard assault rifle/pistol default combo, Recon, who comes with C4 and mortar strike capabilities (when unlocked) and a sniper rifle/pistol combo, Medic, who comes with med kits as before and de-fibs which are new and enable you to revive ‘dead’ team mates if you’re quick enough and an LMG and pistol start up and Engineer, who comes with a rather nifty repair tool for fixing damaged vehicles and an SMG and rocket launcher combo startup. What this means in real terms is that if you want to have a chance of winning you need a balanced team. A team of 4 snipers or 4 soldiers is going to struggle to get much usage out of vehicles and is going to die a lot. A squad of 4 medics is going to run out of ammo a lot. But importantly, this also means that everyone can get progress. Points are handed out for doing your thing – if you’re a medic you get healthy amounts of points dished out to you for every revive or heal that you do – ditto for repairs as an engineer and ammo resupplies as a soldier. So its not just a case of all the ‘l33ts’ with the mad shooting skillz getting masses of points and topping the leaderboards – if like me you’re happy to hump it around after the squad dishing out the meds and reviving people Lazarus style with the paddles then you too can reach the heights.

Of course, the Frostbite engine adds immeasurably to the experience. More so than the single player, it really adds a whole layer of tactical depth that other shooters can only dream about. Of the two main multiplayer modes, I have only played RUSH, which involves one team defending and one attacking. The defenders must defend a series of crates (two at a time) whilst the attackers must attempt to destroy them. Rush sounds limited, especially when you consider that there are only 5 maps for it. However, with the versatility offered by being able to blow everything up, coupled with the strong emphasis on teamwork, this simply is not the case. Set charges on the crates and attempt to defend them until they blow up, shoot them from far away with rockets or a tank, or simply keep pounding the building that they are in with shells until it collapses on the crate and kills any enemies in there as well – the choice is yours. Conquest, the other main multiplayer mode has another 5 maps, and is essentially capture the flag but on a fairly large map and with multiple flags all needing to be captured. Again, I would imagine that the Frostbite engine and team play of the game only add to the experience, but I can’t tell you for sure. Yet.

And of course there are the vehicles. Oh god the vehicles… Being as how BC2 has bigger maps than MW2 you see, they can adequately fit vehicles on them as well. And what a selection you have. From Helicopter gunships through main battle tanks to jeeps, quad bikes and jet skis, there is something for every petrol head here. And joyously, they all work properly, controlling like a vehicle of the type should. So many FPSs try and shoehorn in vehicle sections that are awkward and frankly rubbish and it is to the developers credit that the vehicles in BC2 never feel anything other than a natural part of proceedings.

Of course, there must be balance in every good review. Yes I love this game and no I don’t see me playing much else online for the forseeable future, but its not without its issues:

  1. Lack of maps – yes the environments are huge and the destruction possible means that they will last for ages. Still, 5 for each mode (assuming that you buy brand new and get the code for the two unlockables) seems a tad stingy. More are allegedly on the way (again early brand new adopters will get the initial ones at least for free) but still, its hard to not feel that the EA of old is in danger of rearing its ugly head again. Speaking of which…
  2. When are EA actually going to release an online game where the servers are actually adequate to task from release? I know that thanks to the vagaries of online pre-orders and unscrupulous indies (and no I’m not telling you which I used) several of us were playing the game a day early but it took TWO WEEKS before the servers were working silky smooth for the majority of playtime – and even now they’re not perfect. For a game this big, with this expectation attached this is unacceptable. Just because IW haven’t managed to properly fix the MW2 servers yet is no excuse. This happened with the original BC and with Battlefield 1943 (BC’s WWII based Downloadable multiplayer only little brother) so ignorance is no excuse.Naughty EA, naughty.
  3. The Sniper class – maybe its just my play style, but I really don’t like the sniper class now. I think perhaps its tailored to the ‘l33t’ gamers who would normally be playing COD – certainly all the snipers I have seen so far in the game are happy to camp at one end of the map and rain snipey death on all. Bearing in mind how closely intermeshed the other 3 classes are in terms of teamwork it just doesn’t really fit – the snipers don’t even have any kit that helps others. Bear in mind this is a personal gripe of mine rather than an objective criticism of the game though.
  4. There are glitches and annoyances – its inevitable with a title of this magnitude and ambition I guess, but its still irritating when people are shooting you by glitching their guns through solid walls. More importantly, they mapped the melee attack to a specific button this time around (good times) but its so bloody clumsy to use that more often that not you just end up in a weird dance that looks like your and your opponents soldier are both having a fit until one of you either a) pulls out a gun and shoots the other Indiana Jones style or b) randomly (and I mean randomly) manages to knife the other. It CAN be done right – MW2′s knife attacks work fine – so I don’t see why it was still cocked up here.

Screw you guys, I'm going home... to replay this mission and pick up some cheevs!

Overall though, I have to say that I have immensely enjoyed the games I have had so far, and look forward to many more over the coming months. If you have a few mates who are into online FPSs and you fancy a game where teamwork is crucial then you will find no finer game to suit your needs than this and I heartily recommend a purchase. If however you have no friends and/or you’re not online then I’d say rent it for a week.

Thus endeth my first review – wake up at the back there!

*Please don’t write and complain about this comment – I love our PC gaming brethren, the truth is that I am just too lazy to join them

    - Much improved campaign
    - Awesome levels of destruction
    - Some of the best sound design that you will ever encounter in a game of this genre
    - Possibly the deepest, most rewarding multiplayer online console game
  • Campaign is rather short, and apes the competition that it so openly mocks, so if you're not going online then consider a rental instead of a purchase
  • Minor glitches can annoy in Multiplayer
  • Snipers can spoil the fun
  • Servers... damn you EA, get the bloody servers working properly!

If you are tired of hanging out with the overgrown bunch of kids that is the COD 'l33t', but you still fancy some online shooting stuff, then you will find no finer example of team based online FPS-ing than this little beauty. But if you like to play solo, then look elsewhere for your thrills as the multiplayer is VERY team biased and the campaign won't sustain your interest for long enough to justify your £40.

Last five articles by Greg



  1. Samuel The Preacher says:

    It shows that you spent a long time playing this, that’s one hell of a detailed review. I’m more of a PC gamer for shooting games, though, so I intend to wait a few months for the price to come down and then get it for that, since I know people will still be playing it online when the Xbox Live players have been distracted by something else. I did that with Battlefield 2 and the first Bad Company, so it seems a solid plan, and when I played Battlefield 1943 on my XBox I had some minor… issues, with aspects of the game.

    I’ve noticed too what you mention about online-only shooters on the Xbox. I liked Shadowrun, it’s over there on my shelf. It’s been too long since I played it, but there’s nobody to play it with. Considering those kinds of shooter do extremely well on PC (Unreal Tournament, Counterstrike, Team Fortress 2) the only thing I can think of is that shooter fans are extremely cheap and don’t buy Live subscriptions unless they like Halo.

  2. Mark R MarkuzR says:

    I’m not sure what to make of this really… my first trip into the world of FPS was with Fallout 3, and that was being heavily subsidised by the VATS system, and when I ended up trying out Modern Warfare I just couldn’t get on with it at all… it’s not really my type of game. Having said that, my costumed friends, I do love Crysis and even though it’s classed as an FPS I tended to treat it more like an action stealth game instead where every enemy was sniped with a precise headshot. It’s how I’m playing through Borderlands too, mostly with critical hit headshots… but I’m still not sold on the whole “here’s a crosshair… now kill shit” way of playing. It’s too different from my usual laid back RPS style.

    I DO want to vary my gameplay somewhat, and BC2 sounds like it would certainly do that… but I think it’s too much, too soon. Great review though!

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