First Impressions: Battlefield: Bad Company 2 (Multiplayer)
March 8, 2010
After a week’s break between the end of the demo and the release of the full game, the addiction has set in again. The single player campaign has been completely ignored for the multi-faceted, frenetic warfare that comprises the online multiplayer, and the best part of twenty hours has passed in the blink of an eye. During that time, preferences have changed – I now find myself picking the Medic class, whatever the situation, with my favourite class in the demo, the Engineer, a distant second. And then there’s the inevitable comparisons with the monster that is Modern Warfare 2, and Battlefield: Bad Company 2 will divide opinion as to which is the better game. For me, the answer is clear cut. This is a CoD-killer.
There’s been a number of changes since the recent demo. The most significant of these are the tweaks made to the ‘spotting’ technique. In the demo, it was possible to simple sweep your crosshairs over the enemy base, spam Select (or Back for Xbox owners) and light up pretty much the entire opposing team with the red triangle marker, making them easy prey for your snipers and skillful RPG-wielders. In the full release, you have to be much closer to an enemy to ‘spot’ him, and very precise. Bizarrely, spotting a tank or helicopter is more difficult than spotting infantry, which is one of a few oddities that should be patched out for the sake of realism. Also, the ‘spot’ doesn’t last long at all anymore, meaning a colossal points tally made up largely of Spot Assists is no longer possible. You have to earn those points now!
M-Com Stations in Rush mode also seem to be a bit harder to blow up using explosive weapons. The main cannon of a tank was very effective at bringing them down pretty quickly, but now other tactics need to be used. Also, tanks and helicopters feel as if they are better armoured now. Oftentimes in the demo, several mags of an LMG would be enough to bring down a Blackhawk or Apache; now they barely make a dent. These are changes for the better of course – everything feels a like more robust and realistic, balancing out the strengths of Attackers and Defenders a little more evenly.
Despite the changes, online battles still have that exhilirating sense that no two matches are alike. The major differences between play styles between the four classes mean you’ll constantly approach each map differently, sometimes even during the same spawn, as you can switch classes by picking up the kit of a downed friend or foe. Indeed, one such Trophy for the online component of Bad Company 2 dictates that you perform a knife kill (available to all classes), notch a kill with the M60 (an LMG only available to Medics) and kill yet another with the RPG-7 (an explosive rocket launcher carried by Engineers). This is a clear indication that the developers actively encourage experimentation between the classes.
And then, of course, there are the personal anecdotes, tales of amusing or heroic deeds on the Battlefield. For me, I can recall defending a Rush game in Port Valdez and jumping on the stationary AT gun, effectively a anti-tank missile launcher that can be guided once fired. Looking up into the sky to see the enemies parachuting in, I ‘spotted’ one, fired and slowly followed his descent into his base at the top of the hill. Suddenly, I had a ‘Destroy Vehicle +100’ message pop up. Somehow I had managed to guide a missile up, over a mountain, down into the enemy base and into a tank, having never once seen the tank in question. Suffice to say, I now try this every time, but have never repeated the trick! Boosted by this earlier miracle, I then proceeded to destroy vehicle after vehicle with the launcher, the opposition failing to notice what was decimating them each time before it was too late. I must have personally brought down six or seven tanks in that one round. It wasn’t a coincidence that I ended up on the winning team!
It’s moments like this that will ensure players come back to Battlefield time and time again, long after other games have grown stale and lost their novelty. With four classes to unlock gadgets and weapons for, as well as a seperate track for vehicles, and not to mention the ability to ‘rank up’ yourself, there are also plenty of incentives to keep coming back, not counting the enormous amount of fun to be had. At a time when Modern Warfare 2 begins to infuriate as much as it entertains, Bad Company 2 is a breath of fresh air; a tactical, grown-up shooter with an emphasis on teamplay, where the average marksman can still enjoy himself and shine. This one is going to rumble on and on.