Battlefield: Bad Company Xbox 360, PS3 Review

It’s probably safe for me to say that the console Battlefield game that came out a couple years ago was never as good as the ones released on PC. It suffered from being downgraded, which is what happens to a lot of the multiplayer game ports that get sent from computer to game consoles. The game wasn’t average or anything like that; it just lost some of that special feeling that makes Battlefield what it is on the PC.

It was only in my last review that I was speaking about ports from PC games and how they always get butchered some way or another, making them never as good as what they should have been. So what do you do when you take the name of a well known multiplayer class based game and make it from the ground up for the console? Don’t know? Ask DICE as it seems they’ve manage to hit the spot this time round with the newest instalment of the Battlefield series, Battlefield: Bad Company. Rather than try to move that game across from the PC, they’ve just made it fresh, with new multiplayer, graphics, physics and even a single player story mode, holy crap, a story in a Battlefield game!?

So let’s speak about the story mode for a bit. The game sets you up in single player as a Private Preston Marlowe, a new recruit to the Bad Company squad. Bad Company is a squad that consists of men that have been in some sort of trouble with the law. Rather than doing community work, prison sentences or whatever, they get sent to war to fight in Bad Company. The squad is always needing new squad recruits because they never last too long in battle. They’re the cannon fodder of the army, the throwaway troops. Private Marlowe ends up befriending three other squad mates that go by the name of Haggard, Sweetwater and Sarge. The story starts off bog standard, with the squad just doing what they are told. This is until later on when they find some gold bars, deciding that the U.S Army doesn’t give two fingers about them, they decide to go AWOL and chase down a whole lot of gold from a mercenary group.

Battlefield: Bad Company’s story isn’t to be taken seriously. The characters feel as if they were put into the single player to add some comical value for the gamer. This isn’t bad at all because they do come out with some great lines from time to time, and even when the other lines that come out aren’t as good, you’ll still chuckle because they were damn stupid instead. The characters come to life with their likeable personality. There’s a lot of dialogue spoken between these three major characters that hang around with the protagonist. The rest of the story doesn’t really seem to be as well thought out. You never really know why you are fighting the war but then that doesn’t matter as it gets pushed to the side when you start chasing down those gold bullions.

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Overall the story isn’t really the main problem of the single player section. The game is still a blast to play through because of the amount of action. The main problem is really down to how easy it is to finish the campaign. The game gives you an item called the health injector, this is a needle that you slam into your chest that instantly sends your health back to 100%; you also have infinite use of it. The health injector does have to charge up, but it doesn’t take long, so you can just jab it right back in you when you see yourself about to die. But it’s not just the health injector that makes the game easy. It seems while designing the game DICE decided to follow in the footsteps of Bioshock. This doesn’t mean that you can shoot out lightning or attack with a swarm of bees, I’m speaking about how dying in the game doesn’t hinder you in anyway. If you get killed you will spawn back at the last checkpoint.

There are loads of checkpoints throughout a level, so you are never too far away from where you died. When you’ve spawned you’ll notice that everything is where it was when you died. This is because the game continues playing onwards, as if you were playing online. None of the enemies that you killed before come back alive. It ends up making the game really easy to get to the end because you can just either keep dying or heal yourself; there is no punishment from the game.

It’s probably easy for you to see that the game isn’t the best bet for single player action. Speaking about the single player alone, the game is decent enough to satisfy you a play through or two (for achievements), but it really doesn’t do anything amazing, so it will be long forgotten in the future. There’s also no sign of co-op, which is a little strange because you are with three other team members and that to me sounds perfectly set up for a four player cooperative action. I guess DICE just wanted to have a pure single experience because they have never done one for the series before.

One thing the single player does do fantastically is show off the new Frostbite Engine that DICE has been working on. This new engine means that environments are destructible, be it houses, trees, sandbags, whatever stands in your way, it will most likely be able to take damage. EA say that “Battlefield: Bad Company’s sandbox environments are 90 percent destructible.”

This is a not a joke statement either. It’s not like Red Faction’s GeoMod technology, where you were disheartened to see how poor it was when you were blasting buildings. This is maximum damage. It’s still not done to perfection though, because if you shoot a grenade at the bottom of the wall, the whole wall will still blow up, it’s like no matter where you hit a certain area, the whole area will still be blown away. This should no way get you upset because it still looks amazing when you see the explosion in action. By the end of the level you will have done so much damage to the surroundings, it actually looks like a full blown war has gone on. It also majorly effects how you play the game too. You are no longer safe behind your precious invincible sandbags and walls. If you are going to camp behind something, expect to get a face full of bricks when some tank blasts a shell in your direction. You’ll be left there in wide open space after the debris has cleared. It has changed how you play the Battlefield series… and changed how you play the entire first person shooter genre – DICE should give them a pat on the back for doing that.

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Players better get used to this whole no place to hide feeling because the multiplayer also contains all of the Frostbite Engine features that are in single player. But unlike the single player portion of the game, the multiplayer is far more than just a decent play, it’s what Battlefield is really about and it shines out well above the single player.

Let’s get the negatives about the multiplayer out of the way first. While these don’t really damper the experience of the game, they are still stuff that the series has always had before on PCs. The first major thing is yet again the player count on the maps. The game’s multiplayer is for up to 24 players online. This is a big difference compared to the PC games that can hold up to 64 players per map. This shouldn’t be taken to heart though because unlike the games that get directly ported from PC straight across to the Xbox 360 (take Quake Wars for example) the maps have been specifically made for this amount of players. It means that thankfully you still get to experience some hectic action.

Conquest mode will ring a bell to any Battlefield veteran. It’s a game mode that require you to go around capturing flag points to make the other teams counter get to zero. I say this right now, straight out of the box, Battlefield: Bad Company does not include this game mode, “WHAT THE? WHAT IS DICE THINKING?!” I hear you shout. That is a question I have no answer to, but I can say that it is coming very soon as a free download (this message is flashed constantly on the online newsflash). The only reason I can think of to why it wasn’t included is EA wanted to get the game out on the market faster. So while it’s depressing that it isn’t in, it’s nice to see that it’s coming for a free download, and that kind of makes it a little better to take in.

That’s enough of the teary details, so let’s speaking of the good stuff. Battlefield: Bad Company has five classes to play as, most which are the same as ones you find on the PC. Also the game has the same reward unlock system that is feature on those games too. As you play the game you gain points. These are stocked up in a total amount and when you break past a certain quantity you will go up a rank. This starts from nothing and works up through 25 ranks to the top, which is “General of the Army.” Breaking past certain ranks earns you unlock points. You use these to gain new weapons or items for the classes. Not all are done this way though. EA have added five weapons which are unlocked by visiting a website called findallfive.com. This is certain stuff you’ve got to do to get some of the weapons. So if you haven’t pre-ordered, or don’t own another Battlefield game then expect to miss a weapon or two. EA have kind of slapped the gamer in the face for doing something like this, they should be other ways for players to get those weapons.

While conquest mode isn’t there, the mode of play that is included, and is the only one, is Gold Rush. Across eight maps players will take turns in attacking or defending creates of gold in the defending team’s base. It plays well with the balanced classes, so no complaints there. The style of the mode means lots of frantic, fast action around the bases. Vehicles are also featured on the maps, jeeps, tanks, boats and helicopters are all useable and aren’t overpowering if you’ve got the right classes in your team. The game even includes its own stat website, just like the PC game, so you can look at all your stats from multiplayer. There’s so much to unlock through multiplayer. Plenty of badges, medals and ranks to gain that you’ll be spending a hell of a lot of time if you wish to get them all. The stat website has waves of information to shower yourself in, and show off if you are a top player.

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DICE haven’t really pushed the hardware in terms of technical details. The game looks solid, but not jaw dropping. They have decided to focus mostly on the physics, the damage physics that the Frost Engine deploys in the game are top notch. Explosions look the part, with debris flying everywhere, mixed with the audio; the explosions are really something to be seen. The game has a filmy grain look to it. It’s something you’ll notice when you first put on the game. You might find it a bit annoying at first, but after a while your eyes adjust and you really don’t think anything of it. DICE have probably used it to give the game a raw look.

Something that does standout to your ears in Battlefield: Bad Company are the sound effects. Sound that is pumped through your speakers is coming to you in High Dynamic Range Audio (HDR Audio). This means that depending on the surroundings, the effects that happen in that environment will change to suit the setting. For example, if you go into a house while firing a gun, the effect will change to an echoing noise. Blow some walls away and you get an extremely realistic effect of debris falling down and around you. The game features some of the best realistic sound effects and is one of the highest points of the game. Audiophiles will wet themselves silly.

The thing with Battlefield: Bad Company is that it still is a multiplayer game at heart. It’s nice that DICE has added single player, which is funny and entertaining. It gives the player something to sidetrack from the multiplayer, and it’s much better than just slapping a bot filled fake campaign mode like some other games do. The game knows it is for multiplayer and it totally comes out that way.

Microsoft’s Xbox 360 already has masses of First Person Shooters on the shelf, so Battlefield: Bad Company was going to have to do something great to stick out, and it does. It’s the best multiplayer game to be released this year and is certainly up there with Call of Duty 4. It’s a different type of multiplayer to that game, but it’s a worthy investment. It might not feature a class based objective system like Quake Wars, but it’s sure a damn better multiplayer experience than that port. If you enjoy shooters then you shouldn’t shy away from Bad Company, which really has the wrong title because this game will be a great companion for your games collection.

8/10

by

Version tested: Xbox 360, PS3

Developer: DICE

Publisher: Electronic Arts

Genre: First Person Shooter