Battlefield: Bad Company Beta Impressions

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Blowing up stuff is fun, at times hilarious, and usually awesome. DICE know this, and seem to have demanded things to be more awesome with their latest edition to the Battlefield series. Upon first impressions they certainly seem to have got it right with Bad Company, as for the first ten minutes of my time in the beta I was not helping my squad at all, and spent most of my time blowing apart walls for no apparent reason. Then afterwards, when I actually started to play I noticed others marvelling at the destruction – which of course made them an easy target. Of course, just blowing things up, regardless of how awesome it is, will get a bit boring after a while. But thankfully the beta is much more involved than that.

It all started of on the 25th of March when the servers went live. Gameplay might have been highly laggy at the point, with each step forward looking like two steps back, but thankfully that got sorted out after a few hours. It was then that initial impressions could be honestly made, and my first thoughts after having a solid match under my belt was that Bad Company is a game that certainly felt like Battlefield, albeit somewhat different. The sprit of the series was certainly alive and well but there were changes on show. It may be harsh to say, but the game is a toned down version of what came before. It not as bad as it may sound though, and yes, we may be missing a conquest mode but the game is still highly compelling, with the Gold Rush option being a different but welcome replacement.

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The two maps on show in the beta are also superbly made, offering a huge amount of different ways to approach depending on how you play the game. There are little alleyways on both to make fantastic use of shotguns, vast open areas which will suit rocket launcher and snipers, and tight roads for assault rifles and pistols. I can see it getting even better in the full game. The unlockables are also very well done, and just like COD4 you won’t gain a huge advantage with different weapons you unlock as you level up, but you will instead be offered different way to approach objectives. The option to buy weapons as DLC a huge no-no though, and hopefully something that will be dropped soon or EA will see more people angry with them.

On the maps you can choose to try and sneak up on the gold crates (which are the main objective in Gold Rush) if you want, and place a charge, but that will alert the defending team, which will no doubt storm your location and disarm the charge if the rest of your team is not backing you up. If you don’t want to sneak you can then get hop in a tank, drive up to the building housing the crates and blow up a wall in your way, and they launch a few more rounds at the crate itself. However, someone on the opposing team with a rocket launch will soon stop you. Whatever your decision though, it is always best to have someone backing you up as that offers you the best chance. Furthermore, if all of your team are attacking, and no one is focusing on re-supplying then you won’t have much success either.

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In addition, most of the vehicles in the game are excellent to drive, with the view from inside the tanks been particularly impressive. Music in the game is also top notch, with radios in jeeps a nice touch, and although the menu music is different to what you would expect it quickly ends up being highly suited to this style of the game.

There are lots of things I don’t like though, and I am sure these are been brought up elsewhere too. Number one on the list would have to be that falling damage is set extremely high. If you spawn on a roof, your first instinct in a shooter like this is to jump right off and race back into the action. It’s something that you do that in most other games, and something you’re very used to. However, jumping off a roof in Bad Company takes a huge chunk off your health, and at times kills you outright. Even jumping from a crate only a few feet high seems to take a chunk away as well which is just silly. The lack of an option to go prone is another unwelcome exclusion. I am sure DICE did it in an effort to speed up gameplay, forcing you to try and keep pushing forward at all times, but seeing as it was a mainstay in the Battlefield series it’s not something that easy to say goodbye to.

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Speaking of pushing forward, the option to respawn as part of your squad when you die is another facet that is not quite right at the moment. Sometimes if your team has pushed very close to the objective you can respawn right beside an enemy, resulting in a quick death. Because of this I found it is usually best to spawn back at your base, and try and work you way up to the objective again. Helicopters in the game also feel like a death-trap and the only vehicle to cause me problems. I am not sure if it is just me though, but just they seem impossible manoeuvre, leading to multiple crashes.

But when all is said and done it is easy to see that DICE have once again laid the groundwork for an excellent game with what’s on show in the Bad Company beta. The gameplay is still as deep as it ever was, but crucially more welcoming to outsiders, with teamwork and tactics still highly important to succeed. If you enter the game coming straight from the likes of Halo 3, and arguably COD4, then the initial joys may be sparse as you learn how to play, but once you know how to approach different aspects of the game, understand different classes, and crucially learn how to re-supply, you’ll start to have loads of fun.

In its current form the game still boasts some problems that need to be ironed out before release, but that is after all what a beta test is for.