It's no secret that EA wants its own Modern Warfare, but in recent years the mega publisher has struggled to put together a game that can shift units in numbers even approaching what Activision's series has. In DICE, the Swedish studio behind the Battlefield series, EA has a development team more than up to the job, and its latest effort, Battlefield: Bad Company 2, is without a doubt the best modern combat FPS the publisher has ever produced. If you've been wondering what game could possibly take players away from online MW2, look no further.
2008's Bad Company did a lot right. It featured some great open environments, impressive production values and a tight, if somewhat limited multiplayer mode. It didn't quite feel like the complete package, though, with the campaign at times feeling like an afterthought and the multiplayer severely lacking game modes. This sequel, which once again follows the four-man Bad Company unit, builds on its predecessor all across the board, delivering an excellent single-player campaign, incredible audio and visual work, and a multiplayer component that is top of its class.
Bad Company 2 casts you as soldier Preston Marlowe, and you're joined by the other three members of Bad Company that fought alongside you in the first game. The story, which follows you as you try to recover a deadly WMD before the Russians get their hands on it, takes you from tropical jungles and baking hot deserts, to frozen villages and wide open countryside. The guys in the team are likable enough, and there's an attempt to build up some kind of camaraderie, but it's hard to see them as real people. The frequent one-liners are occasionally amusing, but often jar against the non-stop violence.
So what's changed here to make the campaign a more essential experience than that in the original game? Levels remain largely quite open, but there's definitely been some attention paid to tunnelling you through to make sure you don't wander about aimlessly. Gone is the re-spawn and health pack system of the first game (which made the campaign feel too similar to a multiplayer match), replaced with more standard checkpoints and recharging health. In comes mid-mission weapons load-out changing (via supply crates), less twitchy aiming (which made targeting enemies quite awkward in the original game) and an onslaught of memorable battles.
While the original game featured plenty of action, it didn't come close to the frequent chaos that this sequel bombards you with. Time and time again you'll be facing off against enemy troops, heavily outnumbered, with buildings blowing up all around you, attack gunships in the air and RPGs narrowly missing your face. In terms of set pieces, Bad Company 2 doesn't reach Modern Warfare levels, but it feels less scripted as a result - not that there aren't some stunning moments scattered throughout the campaign.