GAME REVIEW: Battlefield Bad Company

badcompany

I always like to say that I’m not much of a fan of shooters, but that really isn’t true. I do find that I’m more likely to get addicted to a good shooter than any other genre of game. Maybe it’s the nature of it’s straightforward, quick, get in and get out game play. I don’t have to sit there trying to solve obtuse "puzzles," or figure out my around a maze, or care about incomprehensible stories. In a shooter there are always enemy soldiers to kill, stuff to blow up and move on. Now it used to be I didn’t expect much from a shooter but Call of Duty 4 showed us what the genre can and should be. Strong story, great game play, a multiplayer experience with RPG elements. Perfection. After Od’ing on COD I was ready for another one. I have MGS4 and GTA4 but honestly, I’ve never been a fan of those franchises, so I haven’t sat down to play the latest installment. No, the next shooter on my list was Battlefield: Bad Company. When I first saw it at E3 a few years ago I thought it showed a lot of promise. First of all EA and their developer Dice created a brand new engine (Frostbite) just for this game – so I assumed I wouldn’t be playing just another half-ass Unreal Engine based game.  This game is the definition of generic. 

Oh it tries to be a bit different by not even bothering to come up with a plot and it desperately wants to be funny, but it isn’t.  In bad company you play as Private Preston Marlowe, recently reassigned to the 222nd Battalion, B Company, 4 of the worst and baddest guys the Army has to offer. You are dropped into the middle of a War Zone and you have to battle your way out. Along the way you discover that there’s gold in them thar hills and your squad spends a lot of time going after it. After this tangent you end up dropped in another foreign country on a wet-ops mission to capture a rogue Dictator.  This is all well and good, but the mission structure is basically see a village, clear out the enemies, get into a truck and move to the next.

The game’s main draw is the Frostbite engine. You blow everything up real good. And I mean mostly everything, the quickest way between two points is to go straight through it. A house is blocking your way? Blow some holes through it, a pesky mercenary is sniping at you through a 3rd floor window? Blow a hole through it and pop him once his cover is gone. The physics in this game are surprisingly good, but it’s always annoying when you come across a wall or sandbags that you can’t blow up. And for some reason you can shoot through the bottom of a floor.  Your health is regenerated by plunging a needle into your chest. And it’s permanently there, so anytime you feel the urge you can take a plunge. The environments look really nice, but generic. It took me about 5 hours of play time before I realized, I’m playing the same level over and over again. The game even jokes "Didn’t we just shoot these guys?"  Your squad is pretty useless other than providing witty banner, they don’t do much. When you are in a vehicle and driving their shooting skills are pathetic. They don’t provide any clues to anything. They are just there.   Luckily there’s only one mission where you actually have to rescue them.  The two or three generic missions are fun because you can complete them almost anyway you want to, but forget about "stealth," this game doesn’t know the meaning of the word. Every time you think, hey, I can sneak in here, your squad mates trip something.

Adding to the sense of sameness is the fact that your primary weapon almost NEVER changes. When you kill enemy soldiers, they disappear from the map, so when you run out of bullets in the middle of a level you are pretty much screwed as there are few opportunities to pick up ammo. Unless you run across a field and knife someone. Even then when you pick up a weapon, 70 percent of the time, there are only 7 or 10 bullets left. WTF these soldiers don’t carry around full clips?  The other problem with this game is the maps (or really one map) is too big, you are basically in a generic country where all of the village are seemingly miles apart. So you spend an inordinate amount of time just walking or driving along long boring roads and farmland. The game sports an extensive multiplayer mode which adds to it’s replay value. While playing this, you can see the seeds of some really good ideas and the potential of the Frostbite engine, but I couldn’t help but feel like I wished there was more here. I’m also getting real tired of playing games that don’t let you know how much more is left to play. The game is available on both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.

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EM Review by
Michelle Alexandria (AKA Hardcore Queen)
Originally posted 7.14.08