I first saw Battlefield Bad Company 2 as it was being advertised on television a few months ago. I liked the ad a lot and searched online for more information. While it looked very entertaining, I waited for a price drop as is my common practice. The game received one in late March 2010, only a few weeks after its release on March 2. While normally retailing at $49.99, the digital version was on sale for $19.99 (excluding tax), and I bought it at a final price of $21.20 from the EA (Electronic Arts) store.
Battlefield Bad Company 2 is mainly a multiplayer FPS (first person shooter) where players are divided into teams and work together to achieve certain tasks using military weapons, much like CounterStrike Source (2004). Unlike CounterStrike though, the action in BF: BC 2 is much more chaotic and on a larger scale.
One of the first things I noticed about the game was its scope. Although the maps are not as big as those in previous incarnations of the Battlefield series (from what I have read from others), they are still big enough for 32 players to play in. A person can find themselves running across long stretches of desert or swimming through the water in a jungle environment at any given moment. There is a sense of freedom in contrast to the smaller, claustrophobic maps in CounterStrike.
In terms of gameplay, the game can be quite fun and has many aspects that are done well. The sound contributes a lot to the atmosphere. With explosions and gunfire echoing in your speakers, danger seems to approach from all around. The first time I heard a grenade go off, the result stunned me in a way far more than in previous games; the explosion not only deafened me for a short while, but it also kicked up a large amount of dust, clouding my vision. Details like that create a sense of what BF: BC 2 is attempting to achieve: a fast-paced environment under constant siege.
There are four classes to choose from: Assault, Medic, Engineer, and Recon. Each has their own specialty and their own access to unique equipment. Assault, for example, is the basic soldier that supplies his allies with ammunition, while the Engineer utilizes rockets and mines to take out enemy vehicles. Having too much or too little of one class on a team can hinder your victory; thus, the game demands teamwork and filling out appropriate roles in your squad.
Progression through ranks has been implemented, which means a player advances their characters' abilities and weapons the more they play. On the positive side, a person is rewarded for the time they spend playing the game. The subsequent drawback is that a person who does not play as much or is not as experienced will not have access to the things that a higher ranked player does. While it is still possible to play without certain items, there is a slight disadvantage when fighting against veterans who have better equipment than you if the difference between levels is large. In addition, it can be a chore to unlock everything especially if you dislike a class; I did not like playing the recon class at all and had to struggle as one in order to gain access to all of its items.
Another new concept I was introduced to was the inclusion and use of vehicles. The vehicles in Battlefield can be as necessary as the squad member you fight with. A tank can be an offensive device that drives through the enemy's frontlines, or it can be support that stays in the background of firefights, lobbing shells to soften the opposition's defenses from a distance. A helicopter can be used to transport allies into the fray quickly, or it can circle the enemy encampment and harass a base with the two gunners riding with the pilot. Like the infantry classes, there are a number of roles that the vehicles fill, and the proper use of them can decide a team's success or failure.
BF: BC 2 does have some drawbacks. Like another team-based game, Team Fortress 2 (2007), it was released with only a few maps to play from, drastically hurting replay value. It remains to be seen if new maps will be introduced soon; if the developers wait too long, interest may decrease. I stopped playing mid-May after 2 months of intense gaming due to this factor. It should be mentioned, however, that Team Fortress 2 is currently one of the more popular PC games, despite a shortage of maps with its debut.
Another major problem is the chat interface. In a game that is heavily involved in teamwork, communicating with your peers can be essential to victory. While Bad Company 2 allows voice chat, it seems to be defective; I have not heard others use it often, and I also have read that it only works sparingly for some individuals. Most people seem to prefer Ventrilo but using that program requires everyone to sign in and access the same channel, which is virtually impossible to set up with strangers in advance. The text chat has its downsides as well. One cannot use text chat while they are dead, which means a person has to stop and type out orders and commands while they are playing. Doing so leaves a player vulnerable, and it also causes them to stop intermittently and type out phrases and sentences, breaking the action. Not only that, but there have been times when accessing text chat is an annoyance unto itself. I have had countless moments where I hit the key to access the chat, and the program refuses to work, meaning I cannot talk with my teammates at all until the next map.
The autobalancing system is largely ineffective from my experience. To elaborate, an autobalancing system is meant to prevent an uneven number of players on either side. For example, if a person were to leave the game, and the teams became 8 vs 10, the autobalance feature would theoretically move a player to the other side to make the teams even at 9 vs 9. Bad Company 2's autobalance did not work correctly when I first started playing, and it performed inconsistently when I stopped in May. It was not uncommon for me to see 16 vs 12 in a game. Other times, it would allow a difference of 2 or more players for several minutes before doing anything. To be fair, the system may have improved over the past few months in my absence. The only real alternative is to play on a server that has an active policy or admin (administrator) that will encourage balancing of teams manually if necessary.
As with all FPS games, there are a few gameplay issues to be dealt with such as hit registration (the ability of bullets to hit their intended targets). Although I do not have a specific problem with the gameplay, I did experience a few technical issues during my 2 month playtime. Sometimes, my game would exit to the desktop, or it would freeze, forcing me to open up Windows Task Manager and close it manually for no apparent reason; this has happened about a half a dozen times. In other instances, I would be disconnected mid-game due to EA's servers being down for maintenance or some other reason. During this hiatus, I would be unable to access my character, and when I finally was able, my rank would revert back to the beginning; this is a known topic for the PC that has occurred several times. Thankfully, signing back in a half an hour to an hour later reset my stats and rank to their correct forms.
There is a single player campaign included with the game, and I personally do not consider it to be a positive or negative aspect. The storyline is not exceptionally creative, although there are a few humorous lines and dramatic moments. The primary purpose of single player is to allow the player to become acquainted with weapons and tactics to use in the multiplayer arena. If one were to buy the game solely to play single player, I would advise obtaining a different product.
On a side note, Battlefield Bad Company 2 has an ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board) rating of M for Mature. The game depicts deaths, explosions, and blood, and it is not a game tailored for children.
Despite the flaws in the final package, I would still recommend Battlefield Bad Company 2 with its frantic pace and team-oriented gameplay as its core strengths. Even though there are flawed parts, such as the chat interface, I would say the game deserves credit for what it does well. It may not appeal to Battlefield veterans per se since I hear a significant amount of legitimate criticism from that side on forums, but I enjoy it as a military-themed multiplayer shooter that emphasizes teamplay.