Review By: Grant McCallum
|Developer:||Digital Illusions CE|
|# Of Players:||1 (2-24 online)|
|Accessories:||Xbox Live (online play)|
The Battlefield series has long stood as one of the champions of multiplayer FPS madness, and now it’s time for another instalment to step up to the plate and take a swing at online gaming fun. For the first time in the series there is a strong single-player campaign with fleshed out characters and a fairly decent storyline. Bad Company is one of the best shooters released this year without a doubt, although it isn’t without its flaws. The new Frostbite engine allows almost entirely destructible environments which turns FPS gaming on its head - in Battlefield: Bad Company, there is nowhere for you or the enemy to hide.
One of the main focuses and perhaps the greatest feature of Bad Company is in fact the destructible environments. Intense fire fights will lead to towns falling to a complete wreck with crumbling bricks, broken fences and the corpses of once-hidden snipers littering the streets. The potential demolition of the buildings leads to a completely new style of play. If you can’t find your way around a building, that’s fine – just blow a hole in it and storm right through. No longer do well hidden snipers remain an almost impossible threat, as you can simply destroy the face of the building in which they are hiding. Having said this, Frostbite is by no means a perfect system. From time to time, you will find yourself disgruntled by the fact that a chain link fence is seemingly impervious to missile fire and any explosions, and wooden boxes withstand bullets as though they were made out of some sort of indestructible material. These minor blemishes in the system are made up for however by stunningly destructible houses, factories and fuel silos which enhance the realism, insanity and enjoyment of Bad Company intensely.
For a change in the Battlefield series, this time around there is a full single player campaign with a decent story and cast of characters. The player is placed in the shoes of Preston Marlowe, a Private recently reassigned to B Company. Essentially, B Company serves as cannon fodder for the US Army in a fictional war against the Russians (which is never really explained in depth) and it’s a fairly intimidating concept knowing you’re an entirely expendable force in such a large war. The characters aren’t extremely fleshed out beyond their original introduction and the plot is hardly complex at all. That isn’t to say that the campaign mode isn’t enjoyable. Your team mates are humorous and although you never get to know the main villain of the piece, he still seems intensely evil. Although the story is very simple, it doesn’t try to be epic or complicated, and isn’t as gritty and serious as other shooters such as Call of Duty 4 or Halo.
Your fellow squad members are handily invincible, so you don’t have to worry about keeping them alive. That isn’t to say that they’re much use to you with a gun in their hands: you aren’t likely to catch another member of B Company kicking as much ass as you. Sure, they’ll duck behind cover and man mounted machine guns, but all in all it seems as though they’re just a humorous part of the scenery thrown in to move the plot along and prevent Marlow from talking to himself. Truth be told, in the section in which you are separated from the rest of the squad, I barely noticed at all and proceeded with the mission.
The artificial intelligence of both your adversaries and allies in Bad Company isn’t exactly sterling. Enemy soldiers are fairly incompetent at times, and will often perform idiotic actions such as taking cover behind explosive barrels, if they actually take cover at all. Often, they will run out in front of you, look at you, and do nothing – as though they are just waiting to be shot in the face. Conversely, enemy troops also seem to have an incredible ability for spotting and shooting you from afar. Nevertheless, even though in Bad Company the Russian army and mercenary forces seem to be composed of hundreds of village idiots, thanks to the sheer number of them the game is never too easy. In fact, the difficulty level in Bad Company is just right and with the three difficulty settings of Easy, Normal and Hard, you can be sure that no matter what your level of talent, you will be able to enjoy Bad Company’s campaign mode without being infinitely frustrated.
For all the attention drawn to the brilliantly destructible environments, this installment of Battlefield sounds great as well. The sound of a gunshot differs between weapons, and you will notice a stark difference between firing a weapon indoors and outside. From the splintering of wood to the loud whoosh of a rocket shooting past your ear, the sound effects in Bad Company are simply fantastic. The soundtrack isn’t quite as remarkable; however it isn’t poor by any stretch of the imagination.
Bad Company’s online multiplayer is a real treat. The staple conquest mode of previous Battlefield games is not included this time around; however there is talk of this being released in the future as a downloadable extra. In fact, in Bad Company there is only a single game mode, creatively titled Gold Rush. Essentially, it works as a simple attack and defend game mode, however it does give you a lot of bang for your buck. There are massive sandbox maps which can host 24 players each. On top of this, there are plenty of vehicles such as helicopters, jeeps and tanks. Although there are a nice variety of vehicles, the supply of them is remarkably sparse, so perhaps a higher number of the vehicles on maps would please players. Vehicles are easy to control and – apart from the heavy tank – aren’t really too cumbersome, which is a pleasant surprise considering the awful controls often associated with vehicles in FPS games.
Visually, you won’t find Bad Company turning too many heads. It doesn’t look bad by any stretch of the imagination. Sure, the buildings and the destruction thereof looks spectacular, but all of Bad Company seems to have been put through some sort of muddy filter. Everything looks pretty realistic, but with the usual quality of graphics these days, it doesn’t do much to impress.
Battlefield: Bad Company is by no means perfect. Having said that, it is still one of the most enjoyable and entertaining shooters of the year. The single player is a short but enjoyable campaign with fairly likable characters, and the online mode is incredibly addictive. This sandbox shooter is a bit of harmless, destructive fun, and is certainly worth your money. If you aren’t prepared to shell out the full price for this game, it makes for one hell of a good rental.
Posted: 2008-08-17 13:20:31 PST