Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Hands On Preview

25 Jan 2010  by   Paul Younger
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The Battlefield franchise has long been a staple of PC FPS gaming and, with Bad Company, developer DICE attempted its most complete console crossover to date. The first Battlefield game to include a conventional single player game, Bad Company added some faces and names to the series for the first time and proved to be a surprisingly engaging tale, depsite a few bad jokes here and there. As I walk into Dice’s studio in Sweden, I’m keen to get some much anticipated hands on time with the new single player campaign, as well as dive into some of the new modes and maps for multiplayer.The recent multiplayer beta on the PS3 was well-received, with a wealth of positive feedback for the developer. Not only does the game look cleaner and sharper, but the significant work on the weapon weight, mechanics and vehicular modelling is clear to see, or feel if you prefer. The game looks complete and, in turn, the environments are varied, engaging and beautifully rendered; you always feel like something new is happening. And this is probably because the game is now set across South America, allowing the developer to explore everything from snow-capped mountains to arid deserts and everything in-between.And your squad is back too, stronger and more intelligent than before. One of the main criticisms of the first game was the AI, or rather the lack thereof. The newest iteration takes care of that and, although the enemies aren’t the most intelligent, they’re clever enough, and you’ll see them flanking and regrouping in a constant effort to foil your plans. Because of this, you feel the pressure of completing objectives and pushing forward, and when you’re surrounded by enemies who are tanked up, or infantry pouring out of transporters, you start to feel the panic and confusion which I can only imagine is a fraction of what real troops feel on the ground. It’s disorientating and you will find that you’ll be regrouping your thoughts and strategies when you’re huddled behind cover in a bid to regenerate your health.Yes, the health is regenerative, but this is no Modern Warfare 2. Bullets are a lot more damaging, so one shot could very well kill you. Equally, if you’re the one doing the killing, make sure you take physics into account too, and by that I mean specifically gravity and bullet penetration. Bullets will drop in flight because of gravity, and some weapons might be worth using against buildings in order to flush out the enemy troops hiding in there. And it’s this feature that makes the game so engaging, and more intense while trying to hide, than anything else out there. It’s the destruction of cover, and the damage of buildings which keeps the game fun and fresh at the same time. And it’s not only cover you can chip away or blow to smithereens, it’s vehicles (of course) and buildings too. Dice has really honed the Frostbite engine to deliver the most impressive destruction mechanic I’ve seen to date, and it’s always a pleasure to destroy buildings and scenery with whatever I can.There are loads of vehicles to take control of, ranging from choppers to tanks, sea vehicles to land buggies. Each vehicle is supposed to feel different, but I found that the different classes of vehicles felt pretty much the same to me. Of course, that could be for ease of use across the game, so if you’re playing the Russians, the Hind helicopter feels no different to the Apache, but this is a minor niggle, and is probably only applicable to me…because I’m a freak.{PAGE TITLE=Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Hands On Preview page 2} It’s also worth addressing the notion that Bad Company 2 is a “sandbox shooter”. While you do get a lot more freedom to attack your objectives than you might in a game like Modern Warfare, you can still feel the hand of the developer on your back. Because you’re in a squad, and the squad’s actions are scripted and trigger different events, you don’t have a completely free run. An example: I was sitting pretty overlooking a village below me; my objective to get a vehicle. Instead of running around and down the side of the mountain on the path (which I knew would be heavily guarded), I opted to slide down the mountainside. The incline was fine, but as soon as I’d come off the path a warning message on the screen came up telling me I had to return to the battlefield. Other than that, I was impressed with the single player preview and I was told by lead producer, Patrick Bach, that a lot more effort has gone into making the single player campaign more involving and entertaining.The single player campaign will be approximately 10 hours long, and with the return of B Company it’ll be an interesting ride. It’s a pretty hectic environment and I’m certainly looking forward to sinking more hours into the single player campaign when it gets to us, so keep your eyes peeled for our full review which will hopefully be with you sometime next month. But now I want to talk about the new multiplayer mode, Squad Rush…Squad Rush sees two four-man teams fighting over M-COM stations. One team is tasked with setting the M-COM stations on fire, while the other team’s job is to defend the stations. In this timing is everything, and luring the enemy out to the partly open battle areas is your best plan of action. There are two stations on the tight-quarters map, and it’s the only game mode that sees infantry on infantry combat only, which is great because most vehicles would struggle to move in these maps. Because the focus is on these M-COM stations, you find that you’re in constant communication with your squad, some pushing the attack, while others defend the stations you’ve already taken, making sure it goes up in flames. These levels are extremely intense and there’s a real sense of achievement when you’ve destroyed or successfully defended a station. This is one of four game modes, the others being Conquest, Deathmatch and the everpopular Rush mode form the first game.But if you’re still finding it a little too easy taking on the other team in multiplayer modes, then you can employ the newest difficulty setting, “hardcore”, which turns off the killcam, makes one-shot-one-kill a reality and turns on friendly fire for a more intense experience. Be warned, only do this if you really are up for a challenge, because it is punishingly hard.Battlefield: Bad Company 2 looks and feels great so far. We can’t wait to get our hands on the full game, but if you want to see what the developers have to say, then you can check out our interview/video right here. And if you want to know more about the game, then click here, where you can find all the news, previews and content for BFBC2. For now though, you’ll just have to watch our video for the latest in-game footage.

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