Thursday, March 11, 2010

Bad Company 2

Battlefield: Bad Company was one of my favorite games. I played that game over an over, trying to unlock all the non-online achievements that I could. I was successful, too. It's the only game for which I've accomplished this goal. So it was with great expectations that I awaited the release of Bad Company 2.

While I am largely happy with the experience, I find myself similarly disappointed. Don't get me wrong, I love the game, its characters, and mechanics. The AI is crisp and intelligent. I highly recommend getting this game.


Bad Company 2 doesn't pick up where the last one left off. In the previous game, you spent much of your time trying to steal mercenary gold. We last see the members of Bad Company driving off with a truck load of stolen gold bars. The new story completely ignores this, as though it never happened. We simply pick up with Bravo Company on a mission to save the country. And this time, the conceit of stealing mercenary gold is dropped entirely. This is a shame, because it put the "bad" in Bad Company. You were elicitly stealing, which put paid to the idea that you were in a unit of misfits. There was a guilty pleasure in hunting around each level looking for gold bars. Now, all you do is blow up satellite communication stations for your achievement. Not exactly exciting stuff.

And speaking of the levels, I find them tiny compared to the giant, sandbox levels of the first game. I used to roam around every inch of each level, looking for the aforementioned gold bars. Along the way, I'd usually find a pocket of resistance I'd missed during the mission proper, and get to cause mayhem along the way. This also helped me unlock some of the other achievements, like the one for destroying houses. Rumbling around a massive level in a tank gleefully demolishing buildings was part of the original game's charm. Now, the levels are more focused on the objective. There's less wandering around, which I suppose makes sense since they eliminated the primary reason for wandering around -- the gold.

The game is also missing a lot of the fun toys of the first game. Where the heck are all the secondary weapons? Gone is the radio transmitter that allowed you to call down artillery strikes, and obliterate whole villages. Ditto the tool that let you repair your damaged vehicles and stay in the fight longer. (This last one hosed me pretty good on the one mission involving the tank). I understand that maybe people thought these tools were a bit over powered, or perhaps unnecessary in a shorter campaign. But I miss them. I feel like I'm playing an autistic version of the first game.

In the end, I think this game suffers from what afflicts most video games these days: they're geared more towards on-line play. Hey, that's great. On-line play is a great arena to exploit. I'm all for on-line play. However, I don't have an internet connection. And if I did, I don't think I'd get much milage out of on-line play. It would be nice if developers would devote equal disk space to both on-line and off-line play, rather than sacrificing one for the other.

I liked Bad Company 2, even though it's less "bad" and feels truncated. Perhaps they'll get it right with Bad Company 3.

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