Battlefield: Bad Company PlayStation 3 & Xbox 360
Published by: Electronic Arts
Developed by: Digital Illusions CE
Release Date: Out Now
Battlefield 2: Modern Combat was in many ways disappointing. That's not to say it was a bad game because it was actually quite good but the multiplayer experience wasn't as good as in the PC Battlefield titles and the single-player experience was passable without ever really being anything special. It's clear that the developers, Digital Illusions CE (aka DICE), were also dissatisfied with how the single-player experience turned out and they set out to provide a much more engaging single-player experience in Battlefield: Bad Company. The result is very impressive and the game is worth the asking price for the single-player campaign by itself. Unfortunately deaf gamers clearly weren't considered and the experience for deaf gamers isn't as good as it should have been.
In the game's single-player campaign you play as Private Marlowe who has just been assigned to B Company which is essentially where the Army likes to send its undesirable soldiers. Also in B Company are Sergeant Redford and two crazy individuals by the name of Sweetwater and Haggard. All three are disillusioned with their employers and most of the tasks that need to be done will be carried out by you as a result of their unwillingness to do it. There is a lot of banter between the characters, particularly between Sweetwater and Haggard which adds quite a lot to the enjoyment of the game and it's a shame that deaf gamers miss out on this. The story is set in the near future and you're in the middle of a full scale Eurasian conflict.
There can be no doubt that the highlight of Bad Company is the explosions. It's claimed that the environments in the game are 90% destructible and it has to be said that you can destroy more things in Bad Company than any previous FPS to date. You'll find lots of explosive barrels strategically placed next to buildings as well as on the backs of trucks and firing at these can cause some serious damage. It's possible to virtually (although not completely) reduce a building to a pile of rubble in most cases, such is the extent of the damage you can cause. Of course this opens up tactical options. Why go around a building or structure when you can go through it? You can essentially accomplish your goals in any manner you wish and you're not simply forced to take a set approach which is very refreshing. Of course this works both ways and the AI enemies can also make use of the destructive options meaning you are rarely safe on the battlefield but this is a small price to pay for having the freedom to practically do as you please.
The game's superb destructive abilities also have a strong and favourable influence on the multiplayer component of the game and it makes for a unique multiplayer experience. The game offers support for up to 24 players and comes with a single multiplayer mode called Gold Rush (Conquest mode is to be made available at some point in the near future). It's just as well that Gold Rush is an enjoyable mode then but it's a shame that the tutorial movie for the mode is not subtitled which means deaf gamers won't benefit from it. Given that the single-player campaign is set around a squad of four it's disappointing that you can't play the single-player campaign mission co-operatively and it feels like a missed opportunity.
Whether you're playing the game on the Xbox 360 or the PlayStation 3, you'll be satisfied with how good the game looks. Of course the most pleasing aspect of the visuals is the explosions which are very impressive. You'll find yourself wanting to blow things up just for the sake of seeing another explosion. Both versions are practically identical and perform equally as well as each other. Even during hectic shootouts the frame rate remains solid. The PlayStation 3 version does appear to have a minor v-sync problem but it's barely noticeable for most of the time.
As impressive as Bad Company is, the game is nowhere near as enjoyable as it could have been for deaf gamers. Unfortunately no subtitles have been included and this takes a lot of enjoyment out of the single-player game as you'll be completely unaware of all of the dialogue and you won't be able to enjoy any of the game's cutscenes. Despite the lack of subtitles and being completely unaware of what your three companions are saying to you it's not impossible for deaf gamers to enjoy the single-player game to some extent. The game automatically saves your progress at checkpoints and you're notified in text when a save has been made. Directional arcs are used to give you an idea of the direction you're being fired upon from. You can access a brief version of your objectives by pressing the start button. The locations you need to get to, in order to complete your objectives, are highlighted on the mini-map by red triangles and red dots are used on the mini-map to represent your enemies. The problem is of course that so much more information is given verbally and deaf gamers are by no means getting the full experience.
Battlefield: Bad Company offers the best single-player Battlefield experience to date. Previous Battlefield games have primarily been about providing an engaging multiplayer experience but I would argue that in Bad Company the single-player experience is superior to the multiplayer one. The big problem for deaf gamers of course is that there are no subtitles in the game and in effect this harms the experience considerably. It's also unfortunate that the game only has one multiplayer mode and that the tutorial movie for that mode isn't subtitled. Despite these problems however Bad Company offers the best Battlefield single-player experience to date and had it been subtitled it would have been one of the better single-player experiences on both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 to date.