Battlefield: Bad Company 2

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Genre: First-person shooter

Platforms: Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Steam (Microsoft Windows)

Multiplayer: Yes

Developer: EA Digital Illusions CE

Release Date: March 2, 2010

Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Review

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First-person shooters are a dime a dozen. Every other game to hit the market is about dudes in military uniforms, nuclear conspiracies, and someone screaming "Frag out!" every five seconds. So how does the Battlefield series continue to distinguish itself in a world saturated with shooters? The unique multiplayer experience. Battlefield's squad-style combat encourages teamwork, a stark contrast to the lone wolf mentality in most shooters. Earning experience for repairing, resupplying, and healing teammates creates a drastically different online environment than one overwrought with players frothing to boost their kill count.

The star of Battlefield's unique multiplayer is rush mode. In rush mode one team defends a series of nodes while the other tries to blast and bomb them into oblivion. The action progresses across three varied terrains (if the attackers are successful enough) and a slew of vehicles, turrets, and class-based weaponry add to the mayhem. You can spawn as one of four different classes and then earn experience within that class for kills, assists, healing, resupplying teammates, etc. This leads to unlocking new guns, gadgets, and other upgrades which you can then equip to your liking. Earning experience and unlocks is an endlessly satisfying process. The grind to higher levels and new equipment maintains variety thanks to an ever-changing tactical landscape. Destructible buildings and the fragility of cover keep things fresh.

Battlefield's multiplayer is a gorgeous beast and the single player component lives in its enormous shadow. The campaign is your standard linear progression through waves of Russian soldiers (I thought the Cold War was over?), but the occasional injection of the unexpected keeps the formula fresh. During one sequence, for instance, sniper rounds must be timed to the roar of a thunder storm to avoid detection. Later, while caught in a blizzard, the player will freeze to death unless they find or somehow create fire every few yards. If these flourishes were more frequent the campaign may have been able to stand on the wobbling legs of its feeble storytelling.

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Battlefield's single player story shifts erratically between taking itself too seriously and being way over the top. Consistency in tone would have improved the experience overall. To the detriment of the narrative, the characters are all stereotypes (tough-love sergeant, cowardly nerd, gun-loving hick, etc.) and empathizing or connecting with any one of them is difficult. Despite its shortcomings, the story leads to some exciting moments - particularly the first and final missions.

Whether you're playing single player or online, this game is easy on the eyes. Character animations are fluid, explosions are full of detail, and the vast array of firearms are all uniquely tactile. Three primary locales are cycled throughout the game: jungle, snowy tundra, and desert. Each of them has a different feel and they all look downright gorgeous. However, the addictive nature of the multiplayer means you'll be seeing the same areas over and over again, so additional locales would have been nice.

Every firefight is made exciting by the sound design. From a stray sniper round whizzing past your head to the weakening support beams of a collapsing building, the game always sounds gritty and realistic. The radio chatter is occasionally repetitive and annoying, however. The AI voice loves to shout, "Enemy infantry!" and "Sniper!" every few moments in multiplayer, but never has anything useful to say (like where that sniper is, maybe).

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Overview

Battlefield's single player may be relatively short, but the leveling and unlock mechanics in multiplayer are enough to keep anyone playing this game for a very long time. The multiplayer in Bad Company 2 is, quite simply, phenomenal. Adopting RPG mechanics into shooters is proving to be a continued success (as seen in Borderlands or with Call of Duty's unlockables). A competent single player narrative and a greater variety of multiplayer maps would have improved the experience, but overall Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is an outstanding first-person shooter.

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