The time-eating qualities of the BF:BC2 demo

February 24, 2010

I’ve sunk an extraordinary amount of time into the multiplayer component of Modern Warfare 2 – some 84 hours and 12 minutes to be exact – and while there has definitely been some improvement in my ability to compete, I’m still not good enough to hold my own consistently against all the young punks with better reflexes and more time than I do. My kill tally of 7095, compared to my death tally of 8821 (a k/d ratio of 0.80) reflects this fact! Although I could say I became addicted to it for a short while, that was always tempered by extreme rage – it never feels fun – but now I have a new multiplayer squeeze, and it isn’t even a full game. The demo for upcoming Battlefield: Bad Company 2, which comprises of a single map in a single game mode, has held my attention for pretty much my entire spare time for the last three days. Why? Because it’s astonishingly good fun.

In Bad Company 2, lone wolf tactics are out. Squad play is most definitely in. Getting yourself in a balanced squad, with each member knowing how to play their class well, is the key to doing well and amassing points. The Assault class is the basic all-round soldier, sporting an assault rifle for medium-to-long range death-dealing, an underslung grenade launcher attachment and the ability to drop ammo kits so that squadmates can replenish their stock. The Engineer is the class to pick should you want to tinker around with tanks, which add their own dimension to a battlefield, and are one of the most obvious differences with Modern Warfare 2. The Engineer can use his Repair Tool to fix a damaged tank, restoring its ‘health’, and can also lay waste to enemy vehicles with a devastating RPG. The Medic will save your life with droppable medi-packs, or restore it completely from recent death with a portable defibrilator. The Recon class is the closest archetype to something you would find in Modern Warfare 2, namely the bastard sniper, packing a .50 calibre rifle, C4 explosives (which destroy a tank with one charge) and also a Motion Sensor which exposes enemy infantry and vehicles on the map within its area of effect.

It’s this variety of roles that unlock the true potential of BC2 multiplayer – unlike Call Of Duty, you don’t need to be an exceptional shot or have cat-like reflexes to perform well. ‘Spotting’ your enemy, thus revealing them to your allies, nets you a Spot Assist. Healing your dying squadmate nets you points too. Even just driving a tank and keeping it ‘alive’ will score you assist points if you have an ally manning its weapons and racking up kills. There are so many ways to score points, unlock awards and rank up, that there really should be no two matches that pan out in the same fashion. Considering the fact that Port Valdez is the only map I’ve played, and I’m still not bored of it after perhaps twenty hours of play, is testament to how beautifully balanced the gameplay is.

The mode available in the demo is Rush mode, which splits teams into Attackers and Defenders. The Attackers must use everything in their arsenal to destroy two M-Com Stations, marked as A and B on the HUD, to advance further up the map. In the case of Port Valdez, there are eight such stations to destroy. Getting close to a station and holding down the cross button arms an explosive charge which will detonate after a short while should the Defenders fail to disarm it. A siren is emitted and Defenders are alerted via their radios that an M-Com station has been armed. The skrimishes that ensue around this objective are often spectacular firefights, with enterprising soldiers hanging back in the brush and lobbing grenades into the area to clear out any Defenders. The Attackers win the map by destroying all eight stations, the Defenders win the map if they deplete the Attacker’s respawn tickets, of which there are 75 for each pair of M-Com stations. Kill an Attacker, and they lose a respawn ticket, unless, of course, they have a Medic on-the-ball enough to revive their stricken comrades.

It’s the little moments in each map that keep bringing me back to the demo time and again instead of ploughing through my backlog of unplayed titles. The stand-out moment has to be the ‘treatment’ I gave to a plucky Recon upstart who was trying to blow up my ride. Whilst raining down hot death on the M-Com station, and all the defenders milling around it, with the main cannon on my tank, an enemy player had sidled alongside it, and begun to fix C4 explosive to its armoured shell. Because I keep my camera zoomed out for this eventuality, I spotted the little bugger, and hopped out of the tank. As an Engineer class who had been repairing any damage my tank had taken, I had my Repair Tool equipped. Running around the tank, with the sniper completely unaware, I literally drilled the back of his head till he collapsed into death at my feet. Believe it or not, there is a fan-suggested Trophy for this action in the full game: The Dentist – Get a headshot with the Repair Tool. I’m looking forward to doing that again, let me tell you… I fucking hate snipers! First day purchase for sure – Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is released 5 March in the UK.

For those struggling to come to terms with how to play the demo, this video proved invaluable to me:

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