Daily Grind: Battlefield - Bad Company 2 Demo
There have been so many different flavours of Battlefield in the last few years that it is always difficult to know what to expect when a new addition to the franchise is released. Aiding the process significantly for the forthcoming Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is a multiplayer demo, now available on both XBox Live! and PlayStation Network, that grants players a chance to taste EA Digital Illusions CE's particular brand of team based modern warfare. Confronted with a recreation of Port Valdez, a southern Alaskan coastal settlement, players can take part in 'Rush Mode' with the aim to either destroy or defend a number of strategically positioned crates.
Sporting the imaginatively named Destruction 2.0 engine, DICE have been hoping to provide players with a more authentic experience than BF: BC2's peers currently offer, exchanging inert scenery for buildings that collapse, trees that topple and debris that rains from the sky. Whether this feature and the objective focused gameplay are enough to unite players from both Modern Warfare 2 and MAG under a single banner will become clear after a few hours of carnage under the light blue sky of Port Valdez.
: Shock And Awe
The first thing that anyone playing the demo is bound to notice is how DICE have clearly made an effort to relay the feeling of being on a battlefield rather than a perfectly constructed Disney World play park. Nearby mortars rain dirt and debris on you, neighbouring explosions distort the sound, shake the screen and vibrate the controller while smoke from destroyed vehicles obscures your vision and causes snipers to whine over voice chat. The potency of the ambience is both shocking and awesome at times and I came away from several games feeling like I'd just saved Private Ryan.
: Dancing On Ice
If there's one thing that you need to get absolutely right for a twitch based first-person multiplayer shooter, it's accurate movement. Navigating a map should be something that your brain can cope with automatically, leaving your thoughts to what weapon you should be using or how likely it is that an enemy is going to come barrelling around the corner of that house screaming "Tactical Header!". Sadly, there are a few moments in BF:BC2 where your character just doesn't do what you want him to, opting instead to slide off the side of stairs, skid past cover right into the sights of a sniper or gracefully fall to his death from the third floor of a blown out house.
Everyone loves a great explosion and whether it involves pin-wheeling helicopters, fuel storage tanks or abandoned houses is neither here nor there. Thankfully, BF:BC2 offers all of the above and more in a screen shaking, ear splitting, hand vibrating orgasm of fire, smoke and debris. I'll never grow tired of winning a match by watching three stories of Granny's chintz collapsing on top of an objective and I don't see why anyone else would either. The largely destroyable world allows players to be imaginative in pursuing goals, meaning two games are rarely alike and tedium can be kept at arms length for that little bit longer.
: Steady Aim
Now I know some people might see this particular point as a positive, but being brought up by Team Fortress Classic to hate snipers and to pursue them relentlessly, the fact that there is no significant scope wobble or recoil means camping is rife. I know similar problems plague other games and even the holy Infinity Ward have nerfed the accuracy of several types of shotguns in MW2, but surely using a handgun to shoot the verruca off an enemy solider standing a mile away isn't going to promote the type of skirmish gameplay DICE have featured in pre-release media.
: Move To Plan B
At first glance, you could be forgiven for thinking that the majority of features found in BF:BC2 are just part of an attempt to bring the whole Battlefield franchise in line with Modern Warfare. However, aside from the experience and perks system being nearly identical, playing a round of Port Valdez is a very different affair from the deathmatch centric modes of similar games. The finite health system, healing class, reinforcement ticker and vehicles don't appear that significant alone, but the cumulative effect of these features promotes team play to such a level that you find yourself cooperating without really realising it. The battles are tense, frantic affairs that feel different to anything I've played in the past few months and yes, that includes MAG.
: Dithering About
Given the amount of particle effects going on at any given time due to the awesome explosions mentioned above, it would be a miracle if the game could sustain a solid 60 FPS. Sadly, it appears that the messiah reserves benediction for Infinity Ward and so BF:BC2 does suffer from graphics slowdown in the heat of the battle. Aside from this issue, the visuals in general are respectable but by no means up there with the best graphics seen on this generation of consoles and there is also an odd effect when viewing textures up close that Josh says is 'dithering' but looks to me more like Jackson Pollock has been dabbling in pixel art.
: Shock And Awe
- Move To Plan B
: Dancing On Ice
- Steady Aim
- Dithering About
There are any number of idioms I could use to describe my feelings toward BF:BC2 but without any mention of deceiving looks or book covers, I'll suffice to say I was pleasantly surprised by the depth of the multiplayer experience. Without even having a whiff of the single player campaign, I've been convinced this is a game to buy on the day it is released. What shocks me even further though is that when I delve into the maps and modes available in the full game, it won't be in pursuit of experience or weapon upgrades, but rather for the thrill of playing on a living, breathing battlefield.