Review: Battlefield: Bad Company

Battlefield BC Bridge

Battlefield: Bad Company Review

You ever feel like you were born to die?  Well you will after playing Battlefield: Bad Company.  Bad Company starts out as a really fun game but quickly becomes incredibly frustrating to the point that you find yourself constantly asking questions like, “why do I engage in self-destructive behavior, like playing this game?”, “why do we have to die, all the time in this game?”, “If God is both all-powerful and all-good, why would he allow artillery and snipers to exist?” and “Life used to be so beautiful, what happened?”  That last one is easy, you played this game.

I feel like I should preface this review by pointing out two things, one I am a HUGE fan of the battlefield franchise and I have been enjoying the series since Battlefield 1942.  Second, for some bizarre reason, I cannot seem to get into online console games.  I mean, I’ve certainly enjoyed the online multiplayer of some console games in the past; in fact, I don’t think the Halo games (excluding the first), the Gears of War games, or even this game would be worthwhile without their online multiplayer component. However, these games have never been able to keep me playing for longer than a week or two unlike many online PC games such as: Company of Heroes, Team Fortress 2, Counterstrike, or even Demigod.

Battlefield BC destruction

At its core, Battlefield: Bad Company is a fun game.  The game’s main draw is its incredibly destructible environments made possible by the internally developed frostbite engine.  The destructible environments affect what is already a solid shooter in many ways.  For one, it makes the fire fights much more intense.  In other games, players often find themselves desperately running towards brick walls screaming, “sanctuary!” so that they can sit pretty and heal themselves while enjoying all the comforts and amenities that come with having an unnaturally stoic solid object separating you from an oncoming death.  In Bad Company, walls have the life span of a fruit fly.  Artillery punches holes in roof tops, grenades blast open new doorways and those sandbags you’re cowering behind can be gone in the flash of a rocket strike.  With your world crumbling around you, Bad Company has you constantly moving and adapting to your ever-changing environment.  Whether you are mowing down trees in the forest or leveling urban, industrial compounds, Bad Company’s destructible environments keep your heart pumping and your mind racing.

Although you can destroy most things in Battlefield: Bad Company, it is actually only 98% destructible.  This is because the developers had the forethought to realize that if they allowed the player to smash everything into a steaming pile of rubble, key locations would be reduced to smoldering craters rather quickly and players would be left to play out the rest of the rather lengthy battles on a very bland and very flat field without anything to take cover behind or sneak around.  With this in mind, the developers decided to always leave the frame and floors of houses standing.  While I believe the reasoning behind having only 98% destructible environments is sound, it does become a little annoying and sometimes makes the environment feel like it has been fragmented into specific chunks that can be destroyed as opposed to feeling fluid and natural.  It only really stands out because every now and then you’ll shoot a grenade or rocket at a wall and wind up hitting the specific point where the frame of the building is.  While this may be a rather jarring event when sneaking about, you barely notice it when in the middle of a fire fight and this small flaw is easily forgivable when you consider just how much else you can destroy and the reasoning behind it.

New to the Battlefield franchise is the addition of a fleshed out single-player component.  This is a very welcomed addition and the humorous, lackadaisical nature of the plot gives it a real charm.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t really play to the strengths of the franchise.  The whole campaign feels really disjointed, with each individual level being divided into many concise separate sections.  Once you complete a portion of a level, say you blew up a radio tower, you go to a smoke signal at some point and once you get near, you teleport a few feet or so and watch a scripted dialogue between your squad mates.  Once the dialogue is over, the new section starts and you have to do some other concise and independent objective like, escort some tanks to some place.  While all of these sections of a level technically take place on the same “battlefield,” the way the stages are divided up prevent you from ever feeling like you are actually part of a large scale conflict.  You never feel like you are working towards some larger, over-arching goal and the sections almost feel like they could be interchangeable without any real consequences.  Regardless, you do sometimes get drawn into the fire fights.  The intensity of the destructible environments and amazing sound of the game sweeps you away every now and then, but these moments never seemed to occur with any consistency leaving the encounters with a rather hit or miss nature to them.  The single player is still a thousand times better than the previous half-hearted efforts offered by the franchise though and is a great way to cool off if you get frustrated (and you inevitably will) while playing online.

Battlefield BC tank

Speaking of which, multiplayer really is where the meat of the game is.  Touted by many as the best console multiplayer game available, Bad Company finally brings proper Battlefield game-play to the consoles and it’s just as good as ever.  Bad Company started with only one multiplayer mode called gold rush, which was essentially an attack and defend game type, with each sides taking turns assaulting and defending bases housing crates of gold.  Later on, due to popular demand, Dice released a patch that offered the traditional conquest mode from the previous battlefield titles for free.  Dice is also continuing their excellent support for the title by releasing a community map pack later in October.  I believe the most welcome addition to the multiplayer is that players are automatically placed into squads upon joining.  In previous games of the franchise, if you played on the wrong server, there would be many players who completely ignored squads and would never make use of them, despite the fact that the only way to get the most out of the game is to play in squads.  By placing players in squads automatically, it not only always makes sure you have a squad of other players to stick with, it also helps newbies who aren’t familiar with the squad system to be able to experience one of the most enjoyable aspects of the Battlefield franchise.  It is also nice that there is no longer a designated squad leader, so no one player has to play extremely conservatively and never take any chances just because none of the other squad members will be able to spawn close to the front if he dies. Instead, players can spawn on a random living member of the squad at all times.  Sometimes it will have you spawn on a sniper who is thousand miles away from the action, but it usually works out pretty well.

The excellent multiplayer has a dark side however.  It can be extremely, unrelentingly, mercilessly, frustrating.  No multiplayer game has ever frustrated me like this game has.  You’ll often find yourself dieing for what appears to be no reason what so ever, and the game doesn’t offer any hints to clarify why you suddenly became an amputee.  After an hour online, you’ll find yourself ready to implant your controller firmly into your T.V. set and thoroughly prepared to go to war with the world. If a study was conducted on whether or not violent video games made people more violent using this game, I can almost guarantee that video games would be outlawed in all of the first-world, industrialized nations of the world.  The game makes a compelling argument for predestination, as you will often find yourself dieing and feeling like there was absolutely nothing you could have done to stop it, whether it be spawning in the middle of an artillery strike, or just strolling down the street in your own base, on your way to pick up a tank, and having a sudden heart attack on the one day you forget your heart medication at home.

Now, it pained me to do so, but I actually took back Battlefield: Bad Company.  It’s a fantastic game and it does so many things right that I almost feel obligated to enjoy it but the level of frustration in the multiplayer is so high, that I simply can’t get past it.  Bad Company is a fun game, but the thing is that there are a lot of other really fun games out on the market I can get for the same price or cheaper that aren’t nearly as frustrating.  If you have the patience to take your lumps and learn the game and really enjoy console online multiplayer, you will probably really enjoy this game.  But it is for this reason I took it back: I can get the same fun with much less frustration at a cheaper price with other games that are out there.

Is this game worth 18$: eh, if you don’t mind frustration it might be but for me NO Rating: B!


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