While I did have a lot of fun with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, one thing did get to me; the fact that the game had a tendency to scream at me. Yes, I know that shifting weapons is faster than reloading, but you don't have to yell at me for making a mistake. Yes, I know that using the sights is better than wildly firing, but just let me panic in peace! Sacred 2, while belonging to a completely different genre, did the same thing; it kept making fun at me at the worst of times, pointing out that I was worthless. Not funny (even when true? /Editor).
Perhaps the boys and girls at Digital Illusions are just more easy going than the ones at Infinity Ward. I don't know. But where Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 felt like a game built for a hardcore crowd, a tough man's game, Battlefield: Bad Company 2 seems to remember that at a basic level we are all playing games for one simple reason; to have fun.
That's not saying that Bad Company 2, in any shape or form, is a less impressive game than Modern Warfare 2. It's just that it never punishes me for being slow, for taking my time, for not being constantly efficient. If I want to hang around a certain village to search for collectibles, the rest of my squad patiently waits for me to finish up. They banter, argue about what Harrison Ford character is the coolest (it's almost as difficult as deciding which actor does the best Bond, even though we all know it's Sean Connery). They don't scream at me, or make me feel bad. They still love me.
B Company, the protagonists in the single player campaign, are some of the most likeable characters in a first person shooter ever. While their commanding officer does live up to a certain stereotype at times, they are not the kind of tiresome macho men usually found in military action games. They are all scum, they got assigned to this chickenshit outfit for a reason, but that is what makes them such a lovable team to play with. I actually care about what happens to them, compared to whatever character I get to play during whatever mission I'm doing in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. Not saying that Modern Warfare 2 was a bad game (please, don't flame me), just saying that I doubt anyone actually played it because they enjoyed the characters.
In general, the single player campaign in Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is highly enjoyable, not only because of the characters. The weapons are many and varied and pack quite a punch, the sound design is amazing and the destruction that was one of the selling points in the first game has been ramped up. Leveling villages in a tank or blowing up buildings and cover to get to the many enemies is always fun; carrying a RPG launcher with you through a level just to get that one, hilarious shot in is not uncommon. Or perhaps that's just something I do.
The script won't win any awards, nor will the storytelling - it can jump from first to third person a bit too often and the game would have gained a lot from just sticking with one. At times a sudden cut scene can break the flow of the narrative (if you count gunning down hundreds of Russians and Bolivian militia fighters a narrative), and the transition between cut scene and gameplay can at times be confusing. It's a bit hard to care about the plot, with its talk of secret weapons and CIA spooks, but at the same time I enjoy my time with the B Company enough to not really give it much thought. We're there, we have no real idea how we ended up in this shitstorm, but we're going to do our job and do it well. That's good enough for me.
Multiplayer is classic Battlefield stuff, and to be honest it took a while for me to get over the quick and dirty game style of Modern Warfare 2 and get used to the more outdrawn and slow fights that you usually find in the Battlefield series. The destruction of houses and cover really comes into play here, with tanks and other vehicles with mounted weapons available to you; it's not easy to find a good window to snipe from when the walls keep falling over.
Tactics and teamwork is as important as ever, even though some of the weaponry available can get quite annoying to face - being gunned down by a helicopter, over and over, easily gets frustrating and seeing the winning team camp your spawn point in a tank is not my idea of a good time. I guess that comes down to the average Xbox Live player's sense of honour, which is usually quite non-existing.
I was hooked on multiplayer in the first Battlefield: Bad Company, back then on the PS3, and I don't think it will be different this time around. EA's servers have had a hard time coping with the rush of people though, buckling under the pressure, and this even before the European version has been released. Hopefully it will be less of a hassle to find games over the next couple of weeks, and I plan to spend a lot of time glued to my screen and controller. Vehicles and destructible environments add so much to the mix, learning how to best take advantage of them both is key - and a lot of fun.
The discussion about which military shooter is the best, Battlefield: Bad Company 2 or Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, is bound to rage across gaming forums worldwide for a long time. For me, the choice is easy; I prefer Digital Illusions' more easy-going and at times humorous game any day of the week. It all comes down to taste, but if I had to make the choice between Roach and Haggard...I'd choose Haggard.
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