DEVELOPER/PUBLISHER/PLATFORMS: DICE/Electronic Arts/Xbox 360, PS3, PC
FUN FACT: BFBC2's multiplayer demo became the fastest-downloaded demo in Xbox Live history, with more than 2 million people getting it in its first five days of release.
WHY COMPLEX IS CO-SIGNING IT:
Because we've been waiting for this one a pret-ty pret-ty pret-ty long time. And real talk, we're a little tired of playing Quarry over and over and over and over again on Modern Warfare 2. Plus, the Battlefield franchise has always been known more for its vehicle play and environmental destruction than the Call of Duty series, which in the past has made for some addictive multiplayer action. The upgraded Frostbite 2.0 physics engine lets you take down entire buildings this time around, rather than just blowing a hole in a wall. This is great, but it also means that a building can be taken down with you in it, so watch your step.
The single-player campaign isn't exactly perfunctory, but it's not what sells the game, either. And EA/DICE knows that. It's why they released a multiplayer demo more than a month before the game's release—to get people hooked on the replayability of the online component. That being said, though, the campaign is enjoyable. As a soldier in Bad Company, you and your squad's Western Hemisphere manhunt in the search for a Russian weapon takes you from Alaska to Bolivian jungles and all points in between. Your supporting cast of fellow Bad Company soliders are remarkably fleshed out—they feel like characters (and entertaining ones at that), rather than window dressing. The controls are intuitive (once you get past that whole deprogramming-your-reflexes-from-the-MW2-layout thing), and if you're used to the original Battlefield controls you can opt for those as well. The weaponry is varied and satisfying, the AI is able to deal out payback by destroying your own cover (like we said), and it's good training for the multiplayer (as I realized after being humiliated on the multiplayer demo time and time again).
Speaking of which, the multiplayer is both addictive and maddening. In keeping with the rest of the series, your loadout is dictated by the class you choose to play (Assault, Medic, Engineer, or Recon); each has its own types of primary weapon, as well as its own gadgety skills. Medics can hand out health packs and revive fallen teammates, engineers can repair (or destroy) vehicles, and recons can plant C4. And each class as its own upgrade tree—for example, only the points you get playing as an assault class contribute to unlocking the next assault weapon. So if you're the kind of person who likes jumping from class to class, it may mean slower unlocking than you're looking for (and let us just say for the record that the default assault rifle SUCKS DONKEY DICK). Also in keeping with Battlefield protocol, the ability to pilot helicopters and tanks (rather than just be a chopper gunner for a minute at a time) means that multiplayer action is often focused on getting control of those vehicles, as they provide an integral tactical advantage—an advantage that sounds like "KABOOM."
There are four game modes (the Rush mode was the one featured in the demo), and all of them require a LOT of communication. Yes, there's a Squad Deathmatch, but with the size of the maps, lone wolfing it is pretty much a nonstarter. So overall, if you're playing with friends, you'll love it. If you're playing with strangers who actually communicate, you'll love it. If you're playing in a silent game, it may be a different story; you'll feel totally lost at first, but you'll still probably come around.
The facial modeling is...well, it's better than Assassin's Creed 2, but worse than Heavy Rain. Big enough range there for you? The single-player is definitely higher quality than multiplayer, which is to be expected—and while much of the scenery isn't exactly mindblowing, the lighting easily outshines (zing!) that of Modern Warfare 2. But when it comes to a multiplayer-heavy title like this, graphics aren't the be-all end-all. As long as it doesn't look like a PS2 game, we're fine with it. Besides, if EA thought differently, would they really have put out that weird Gamestop machinima ad?
Look, like it or not, every military FPS coming out is going to be compared to COD4 and Modern Warfare 2—and if you think it's annoying with this one, wait until the Medal of Honor reboot later this year (but more on that another time). So yes, there are some fundamental differences between BFBC2 and MW2, differences that make them apples and oranges. But that won't stop people from expecting the Michael Bay-like MW2 experience (recoil-less guns, shotguns with a 50-yard range), which is something that BFBC2 simply doesn't deliver. But here's the thing: IT'S NOT SUPPOSED TO. The reality is that war sucks. Running around makes it hard to aim. Running around with gear on makes you slow. Sniper bullets may take time to travel across a map. You can't knife someone from 12 feet away while they're shooting at you. Center-mass shots are difficult. Especially with iron sights. If you don't communicate with your squad, you will die and lose. These things are real. The bionic supersoldier shit of MW2 doesn't have a place in the world of BFBC2. So no, this isn't MW2. And we couldn't be fucking happier.
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This game was reviewed on the Xbox 360.