Battlefield: Bad Company Review

I didn’t really care for early builds or releases of Bad Company. In fact, I was so uninterested in the game after initially trying it out that when it came time to finally put GamerNode’s beta impressions down in a preview, I wasn’t opposed to letting Eddie take care of it. (He loved it, by the way.) Even after Eddie’s favorsome words for the game, I still considered it just another FPS clone which would inexplicably win game of the year awards despite not even being the best game in its genre.

How wrong I was.

Not only is Bad Company not an FPS clone, but it goes above and beyond what most FPSes are told — and expected — to do. In their first true console attempt this generation, DICE throws in the usual single-player narrative, and in doing so showcases a side of their team rarely seen in videogame form. The gameplay, engines, and physics? Everyone knows they can pull that off. Subtle humor, outright laugh out loud moments, excitement, satire, and a well-crafted plot built around characterization? I bet most of you PC fans didn’t see that one coming.

One of the strong points of Bad Company is the writing. The titular company in the army is where the US sends those who aren’t the best and brightest; they’re expected to pave the way for the guys who show up on commercials and in photographs, often at the cost of their own lives. As a rookie to the squad, you’re thrown in with three completely different characters: Sweetwater, the conspiracy-loving, pessimistic, sarcastic one; Haggard, who only joined the army to see things explode; and Redford, the sarge in charge who only signed up for B-Company in order to considerably lessen his touring duration.

These three interact often in the game, sharing quips and dialog both in and out of cut scenes that would make even the best game writers proud. Less than a handful of FPS games can claim to have a story and characters as engaging as Bad Company; only one war-based one can even come close.

If that weren’t enough for you, DICE also hasn’t forgotten what the Battlefield vets want, and that’s gameplay. Along with new environmental destruction, Bad Company has some of the most unique FPS combat yet. While games like Red Faction and Stranglehold are no strangers to destructive terrain, no game really takes it to the degree of Bad Company in terms of gameplay and planning.

Any object you can hide behind can be blown up, broken, and exposed. What was once a great fortified building to hide in can instantly become a charred skeleton after a blast from a tank. It makes every playing session unique, and no matter how often you play through the story, chances are you’ll end up using a completely different gameplan to complete the objectives.

This carries over to multiplayer as well, as planning and communication becomes even more vital with the added ability to shape the battlefield to your team’s advantage.

Unfortunately, Bad Company isn’t without its faults. For starters, only explosives can really damage and destroy the terrain. Even with guns that should realistically tear through housing, you’ll rarely get results in terms of destruction. The other weak spot of the game is the AI, which on the lower settings (and sometimes the higher) is some of the stupidest AI yet in a game. It rarely reacts to what’s going on around it, and often chooses instead to stare straight ahead rather than keep an eye on the gaping hole in the wall behind them. You’d think half a building blowing up ten feet away would draw at least SOME attention, but guess not.

If you were worried about DICE’s first Xbox 360 effort, you can relax. While Bad Company is far from perfect and could have used some better AI and a few more weeks in testing, the game still stands tall and proud amongst the other big name war-based shooters. The writing is good, the characters are great, and the destructible environment actually plays an integral role in the game rather than just serving as a claim to place on a sticker to move copies at Wal-Mart. Bad Company may not be the best game of the year, but it’s easily the king of the FPS heap so far in 2008.


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Author: Brendon Lindsey View all posts by

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