To evoke the same sensation as being in one of those scenes from the movies, a playlist of 40-odd songs is included to blast out of the new vehicles, namely the M48 Patton and the aforementioned Huey. While there's (allegedly) a raft of tiny changes to the vehicles, these must be so small they're barely noticeable - the nuts and bolts handle the same as ever before, albeit with the inspired decision to include a full Vietnam-era soundtrack to the game.
Kit tweaks and smaller maps mean the sniper generally gets the short end of the stick, and very few areas come with any ideal vantage points to set up camp. To compensate, only snipers get any access to scoped weaponry - red dot sights are gone entirely, as are 4x and spotting scopes, meaning everyone else is forced back to the prehistoric (about 2005-06) times of playing a multiplayer shooter solely with simple iron sights.
As a way to extend the life of Bad Company 2, Vietnam does a sterling job of refreshing the formula almost a year after the original game. Its lean emphasis on close-quarters action and particularly generous helping of five maps ensures there's plenty to do, though there's always the possibility that you (or your group) might have moved on to one of the many other shooters that have come out since.
The overall impressions are much the same. This isn't a dramatic reinvention of Bad Company 2, though I doubt anybody would want it to be. At the same time, none of the maps deliver the same kind of awe as the base game's highlights. Port Valdez, for instance, is still riddled with frequently incredible moments a year later and must surely be destined to become a fan favourite. Running over freshly scorched earth in Hill 137 is always amazing, but the overall sum of Vietnam's parts, while entertaining in their own right, don't ever quite match up to the pre-existing levels.
Another area where DICE lets itself down is in actually incentivising players to (re)invest, however. The 360 version often feels somewhat sparsely populated, though the PC version is teeming with life - I assume there's some sort of mix up there, though, as I'm repeatedly being told PC gaming is dead. As such a clean and tidy standalone package that burrows into its own sub-menu from Bad Company 2's main screen, there's very little collusion between this and the base game other than adding further XP to your (probably already quite high) level.
The fifth map, Operation Hastings, was supposed to be the big draw to get people playing - unlocking for each platform after its players achieved 69 million team actions, but DICE relented and made it available early in 2011 after PS3 and 360 players barely accomplished more than half. One area DICE could possibly consider looking into would be the Double XP weekends, which always seems to work wonders for Activision and Microsoft.
Ultimately, while it might not match some of the highs of its base game, it's a real shame that such a generous and competent addition to Bad Company 2 might fall by the wayside - especially with Black Ops' first chunk of DLC looming ominously on the horizon.
VideoGamer.com Score8 Score out of 10
- Great value for money.
- More Bad Company 2.
- Not as popular as it should be.
- Less emphasis on destruction.