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Battlefield: Bad Company (PS3 & X360)

Battlefield: Bad Company (PS3 & X360)

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The war-torn first person shooter  genre is a popular one, and Battlefield has been one of the most successful and popular titles on the PC. Console owners have been excited about the release of the latest on their favourite platform and thankfully it has been justified as Bad Company is an excellent game which changes many of the staid formulas of the genre.

Bad Company is powered by the Frostbite engine which offers a fully destructible environment, this certainly adds to the overall impression that you are fighting in a crazy war situation. You control private Preston Marlow, a new recruit to a division of the army known as “Bad Company” or B-Company for short. These guys are a bunch of misfit soldiers comprising Sarge, Haggard and Sweetwater each with their own personality and amusing dialogue scripting.  This is the first time Battlefield has had a story based game and while it starts off with the usual seek and destroy missions, later on it becomes clear that the team are also interested in becoming wealthy.

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I have to applaud developer DICE for keeping the political story aspects of the game light hearted and entertaining because they could have easily slipped into a deep and convoluted storyline. There are occasions however that this level of light-heartedness slips into the dialogue during the heat of battle which somewhat ruins the intensity of the action. Clearly the developer weren’t aiming for the seriousness of some other FPS titles, such as Call Of Duty 4.

Realism also suffers a little in other areas, within your inventory you have a “injector” which you can use on your arm to restore your health. You can use this every 2-3 seconds and it certainly not only lowers the difficulty level but ruins the feeling that you have limited resources at hand. I don’t remember any soldier being able to bring himself back from the dead every few seconds. This is further coupled with the respawning methodology which allows people to return to the fray of battle at any time with all previous damage and killed units, still in place. This means if you are placed in a tricky situation you can simply run in and take out the guys involved with very little respect for your own life. Any damage your foes sustain remains when you reappear in a few seconds.

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As I previously mentioned the new Frostbite engine offers huge levels of destructibility and this goes some way to separate it from the FPS masses. If you take damage and decide to run into a building for protection, just be aware than a tank shell is more than capable of destroying the wall, sending you to your death.

Destructive environments are a little bit of a worn cliché when it comes to computer games, however in Bad Company it really, really works. This feature alone makes the game worth buying and playing as it adds a huge amount of entertainment to the fragfest. Throwing a grenade or firing an RPG into a wall and seeing several enemies behind it taking damage is such a satisfying feeling. The graphics are excellent with huge amount of debris and flying brick to bring a real hard edge to the game play. Additionally there are explosive barrels, fuel tanks (amongst other things) which blow up and destroy any surrounding objects.

The graphics on both Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 are excellent with an extremely effective “grain” filter being used to add a gritty stylistic appearance to the game and the physics, while not perfect work very well. The Playstation 3 version looks slightly sharper however all in all they look almost identical to the naked eye.

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The audio is absolutely superb, with the Playstation 3 having a slight edge when cranked through a THX amplifier, the High Dynamic Range audio is wonderful and it has to rate as one of the best audio experiences yet on the next generation consoles. The explosions, engine sounds, gun fire and ambient sound effects are faithfully represented.  The audio theme music is also top notch.

This time around the single player campaign is story based which is a radical change for the Battlefield series, however while this will be a strong point for many players, this campaign can not be played cooperatively. This is a shame as this mode of play proved really popular with Gears Of War.

Multiplayer is a strong point with up to 24 players being able to join in a match online, fully ranked or unranked. There are eight maps in total and each has different vehicle placements and strategies required for a successful victory. Everyone can choose from five classes, each having their own set of weapons, tools and abilities. Some of the weapons and tools in multiplayer are not available in single player. As well as this the multiplayer features an unlock mode which progressively gets the player to tally experience points while ascending up the ranks. The health injector also needs to unlocked in multiplayer mode which adds to the excitement.

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Many will be pleased to hear that vehicles make a comeback in Bad Company, with boats, helicopters, buggies, boats and heavy tanks available in both single and multiplayer. These work great in multiplayer with human intelligence, but in single player mode I found them rather frustrating as the computer AI is sadly lacking.

The same lack of virtual intelligence applies to the computer controlled players and occasionally they won’t even notice you are nearby even when you are standing, grenade in hand right in front of them and at other times they will hunt you down through three buildings, inch perfect.

So we have discussed that the graphics are great, and the sound is class leading however how does the game play? The control system works well, the right shoulder button controls primary and secondary weapons while the left is used for tool selection such as the health injector. You can only carry four weapons at any given time which works reasonably well. I quite like the control methodology as it takes the standardised system and throws it completely on its head for something much more intuitive and appealing.

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The gold edition is a somewhat confusing affair and has received negative reactions from the gaming public. EA announced that users could pay for weapons that are exclusive to the gold edition. This met such horrific feedback that they buckled under the pressure and let owners of the standard edition unlock the weapons after they reached the level cap in multiplayer. This begs the question, “why the hell have we a gold edition?”. I wish I had an answer.

Additionally in the gold edition there are some behinds the scenes commentary which gives some great insights into how the game was made. This might appeal to the hard core fan of the series however there is really very little to offer the casual gamer considering the additional cost.

Battlefield: Bad Company is a great game that I thoroughly enjoyed playing over the last few weeks, even outside its usual home in the PC market. Certainly it isn’t perfect and there are some issues with the AI from time to time, however as an overall FPS title it is a polished and enjoyable experience. The multiplayer is a lot of fun and worth the price for the game alone, however the fact there is a fine single player game as well just sweetens the deal. It is a worthwhile purchase and highly recommended.

A great fun and enjoyable single player game, the multiplayer aspect takes it however to another level.
I love the frostbite engine and while there are some minor issues, it runs very well and offers a plethora of destructibility to enhance the title.
Class leading and slightly better on the Playstation 3 when partnered with high end audiophile equipment.
If you are a fan of this genre then the 8 multiplayer maps will last a long time. I can forsee people still playing this in 6 months time (at least).
(Not an Average)
A great game which deserves a place in your collection.

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About Author

Stuart Davidson

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