Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Xbox 360
Published by: Electronic Arts
Developed by: Digital Illusions CE
As enjoyable as Battlefield: Bad Company was, it left plenty of room for improvement. Providing just a single multiplayer mode was unfortunately an error and to make matters worse, the enjoyable single-player campaign wasn't subtitled meaning that it was quite a way from being an enjoyable experience for deaf gamers. Battlefield: Bad Company 2 addresses a lot of the problems the original game had and it's a much better experience as a result.
You'll once again step into the shoes of Private Marlowe and you'll be joined once more by Sweetwater, Haggard and Sergeant Redford on what should be the Sergeant's final mission before retirement. If there's one word to sum up the Bad Company 2 single-player campaign, it has to be explosive. Destructible terrains are the norm here and a lot of what you'll find in the game's environments can be destroyed and it can be enjoyable just seeing how much of it can be shot to pieces with the assortment of weapons that are at your disposal. It also has plenty of variety to mix things up. As with games such as Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, you'll find yourself in intense shootouts, manning weapons on a variety of vehicles (including tanks and helicopters) and being asked to take the role of a sniper whilst your comrades make their way into enemy territory. The game's pacing is spot on and the campaign has that certain something that keeps you coming back for more until you've finally completed it; which will take longer than the rather poor five hours that Modern Warfare lasted for.
The single-player campaign in Bad Company 2 isn't perfect however. Whilst it's great having AI companions who are generally interesting characters, you never feel as though their contribution in battles amounts to anything worthwhile and you have no control over their actions which at times can be frustrating. You're always the one who has to take the initiative and lead the men through the assortment of difficult situations and to some degree this is rather artificial. In fact you're going to be doing a much higher percentage of the killing of enemies due to the AI companions not being that effective. I was also rather disappointed to see warnings telling me that I had left the battle area (with a countdown appearing to let me know how much time I had to get back into the area). This may seem like a trivial complaint, but at times I hadn't deviated much from the path needed to approach the objective. Had I gone miles off course then it would have been understandable.
As well as an exhilarating single-player campaign, Bad Company 2 also provides a very impressive multiplayer experience. What will disappoint some gamers however, is the inability to play the campaign co-operatively. The team-based multiplayer modes support up to 24 players and can be hugely enjoyable. There are several modes on offer including Rush, Squad Rush, Conquest and Squad Deathmatch. There are four classes to play as including Assault, Engineer, Medic and Recon and you can level up your character and earn additional abilities. As a result, there's a strong incentive to invest time in the multiplayer game but the fact it's so much fun means you'll be playing the multiplayer game long after you've finished with the single-player campaign. The ability to destroy huge chunks of your surroundings is excellent and allows the multiplayer modes to take on a whole new level of enjoyment. Destroying parts of the map can be used as a viable strategic option too, with the ability to destroy those areas that are being used for cover. It's great to know that any of the game's maps can end up being changed significantly because of the damage caused during a battle and it essentially means that no two games on a single map ever feel quite the same. Incidentally the game also comes with a VIP code that allows you to download some of the upcoming new maps for free.
On the whole Bad Company 2 is a fine looking game but it has its share of rough spots. Regardless of the surroundings you'll find yourself in, and these range from the snow covered Andes to jungle, the environments look great. The same can be said for the character models, vehicles and weapons. Textures are generally fine but there are some which are awful and look as though they've been taken from an early PlayStation 2 title. Thankfully these few ugly blemishes don't manage to spoil the overall look of the game. Load times, when running from the disk, are more than acceptable. The frame rate remains smooth throughout and even during the moments of intense action I didn't notice any drop which is certainly impressive.
The biggest improvement this time around is the inclusion of subtitles, which are enabled by default. As a result deaf gamers can actually appreciate the single-player game in Bad Company 2. All of the essential dialogue is subtitled. The subtitles are displayed using white text and for the most they are clearly visible, although at times I found myself wishing the text was a little bigger. Not all speech in the game is subtitled but thankfully none of the omissions are important. The icons that warn you of a grenade being thrown in your vicinity could have been more prominent as they are not always that easy to notice in the heat of battle. All tutorial information is delivered through text messages and you're always aware of the general direction you should be heading, in order to complete your objectives, thanks to visual indicators.
Battlefield: Bad Company 2 manages to surpass the first game in just about every way possible. As a single-player experience it's much more intense and appealing and it's also much improved as a multiplayer experience too, offering more variety and long term appeal. It's also rather pleasing that the developers also decided to provide subtitles this time around and deaf gamers will be able to appreciate what the single-player campaign has to offer. The game does have a few minor problems but on the whole it's excellent entertainment and definitely one of the most impressive shooters on the Xbox 360 so far.