Be known by the company you keep
Ever since I played Battlefield 1943 and later Battlefield 2142, I wasn’t a huge fan. Sure, the multiplayer action was good – vehicular combat is always nice, but overlarge maps meant you needed to have at least 16 players to make things fun. Bad Company 2 therefore, had more than big boots to fill. It had to convert me to the series. Which meant a robust single player campaign, great gameplay (which was also lacking in its predecessors) and an involving multiplayer component. After playing offline for around 12 hours and two bursts of four hours each online, I’m happy to report that DICE did a good job – Bad Company 2 is just the opposite of its name and will keep you good company over a leisurely weekend and then some. The control system boggled me at first, as it’s not set up for mouse-based play, but once you set your X and Y axis to the mouse movement by simply panning your mouse in the respective axis, you’re set.
|Bloom can get excessive||Hurtin bad|
Lets start off with some visual goodies – the engine is beautiful with a lot of physics and particle effects. Although the environs aren’t as large scale and open-ended as any of the S.T.A.L.K.E.R games or Crysis, there is definitely a feeling of space, but not unnecessarily extra space, except where you need to travel by vehicle to reach waypoints scattered across a large map. Sunlight, HDR and bloom are a little overblown at times, though dappled shadows and reflections have been done well. Talking about physics, environments meaning mostly buildings are destructible and this makes for a lot of eye-candy – grenade a house only to have the door splinter open, rocket a house and watch the targeted wall caving in. Even firefights leave a lot of debris, at times, too much smoke and dust evidently in the hope of capturing more of the gritty realism of a real battle. Not only does this make for a beautiful viewing experience and make the game more interactive, it’s also more realistic and has makes tactical sense. A sniper in a watchtower can be taken out by shooting through the wooden planks, grenade the tower, thereby destroying it or waiting for him to pop up and sniping him with a headshot of your own. Or you may find a group of attackers holed up in a house are easier to take out with a couple of judiciously placed grenades or a rocket. Water is done exceptionally well – as well as or even better than Crysis in my opinion. The environments are also well sculpted and you’ll move between snow-clad peaks, dusty deserts and verdant jungles – everything has good attention to detail. The sound component is really good – aural clues are a great help in combat and the sound component is spot on. Spotting a sniper can be done on the basis of the direction of the sound of his weapon even if you miss the muzzle flash and you’ll know exactly which room to grenade based on footsteps inside.
|Riding heavy||Speaking of scenic vistas|
You’ll play Marlowe and the deadly quartet of Sarge, Sweetwater, Haggard and yourself are back. The team is a verbose as ever and keeps things in a lighter vein at times. The action is frenetic though, and enemies come in droves of anywhere between three and twenty – you’ll need to put your most tactical foot forward. Advancing on an enemy position can be imposing, AI accuracy is eerily unerring and enemies have pretty much the same weaponry, meaning a couple of well-placed shots bring about your demise easily. You’ll have an arsenal to choose from – assault rifles, machine guns, shotguns, sniper rifles, rocket launches – the number of collectable weapons is mind-boggling. And it’s fun to choose from different weapons as their statistics differ. Different weapons also make varying levels of tactical sense depending on the mission. A shotgun would be useless when advancing across a river with enemies holed up the other side. On the other hand, it’s a godsend to clear a large structure from hostiles. Blood and gore levels are a little weak, why be biased I say? You can destroy walls but your M60 cannot shoot off arms and legs – killjoy, literally. Vehicular combat is quite a treat, you’ll bounce around in a Hummer, roll about in an M1 Abrams and fire hellcat missiles from a chopper. Vehicles are integrated into the gameplay well. Overall the action can be described as realistic and fast paced, although one of the irritants is your team simply refuses to finish some opponents off – it’s annoying to find your team mate emptying six rounds into an opponent only to have him stagger and recover when one shot from you puts him down. Your squad is also pretty much indestructible; so you pretty much need to cover your own posterior.
|Up close and personal||Water effects are really well done, look at the ripples and the environment reflections|
Multiplayer comprises of up to 24 players in a variety of scenarios like Rush, Conquest and Squad Deathmatch. In Rush, you need to assault an enemy position and destroy two targets of opportunity, succeeding which two more targets are presented and a new section of the map opens up. Conquest involves holding control points while Squad Deathmatch sees up to four squads of four people against each other in a fight to the death. Earning points allows you to unlock additional gear, some of which is class specific. Classes are soldier, engineer, medics and snipers.
|Another example of the excellent water and displacement mapping||Winter!|
Bad Company 2 isn’t the system hog I expected it to be, but it requires a powerful machine to run it at high detail with goodies like AA enabled. It’ll run on a GeForce 9600GT too, but you’ll be missing out on a lot of the fun, as running it on minimal settings means a lot of eye-candy and essential elements (like destructible environs) will be minimised. If you have a GTX 260 or equivalent ATi card and a Core 2 Duo in the range of 2.6 GHz, you’re covered. If you have a Core i7 with a dual GPU setup or a very high-end card – you’ll be able to play the game in all it’s visual glory, and having tried this, I can tell you the investment is worth it.
Publisher: Platform: Price:
|PC, X-Box 360