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Bad Company 2 Beta Impressions [PS3]

Despite some success with Battlefield 2: Modern Combat, it wasn’t until Bad Company that EA and DICE proved there was a place for the Battlefield series on consoles. Not only did it feature a strong, story-driven single player campaign, it also had an entertaining multiplayer game which has maintained a thriving community. Bad Company 2 promises to build on that, with DICE aiming to capture the classic Battlefield gameplay while at the same time evolving it too.The beta currently features only one map, Arica Harbour, but the good news is that it’s a thoughtfully-arranged map which sports a range of scenery, from desert sands to the industrial bridge/port area. DICE’s Frostbite engine looks better than ever and with dust and debris floating along in the wind, it’s hard not be impressed by the atmosphere the developer has created. And, on a technical note, it’s even more impressive that despite the improved visuals, the engine copes admirably throughout with no noticeable framerate drops in sight.Those expecting the multiplayer in Bad Company 2 to be a simple rehash of what was offered in the first game are in for a bit of surprise. DICE is clearly not content to rest on its laurels and has tinkered with the framework of the multiplayer game to try and make the tightest online experience of a Battlefield game to date. It has clearly taken note of the how the series has evolved on consoles – from Modern Combat, to Bad Company to Battlefield 1943 – and picked out the highlights. As such, Bad Company fans will notice that the class list has been tweaked in the sequel. Bad Company 2 offers only four classes, the most important change being the inclusion of a Medic class. Whereas in the last game the Support class could dish out med packs, the dedicated Medic makes a significant difference to the game. Not only can he heal teammates with med packs, DICE has taken a leaf out of the BF2 book and supplied him with a defibrillator allowing you to revive downed colleagues for a short period after they fall.Like in Battlefield 1943, DICE has presumably cut the number of classes for the sake of accessibility, combining classes together. So the Medic is an amalgam of Medic and Support, the Assault class can now supply his team (and himself) with ammo while the Engineer carries a Spec Ops-style silenced submachine gun and an RPG. Currently, the balance feels about right and, as a huge fan of the Medic Class in BF2, it’s great to be able revive colleagues in BC2. However, a few dissenting voices in the official forums have raised concerns about the Recon class (the sniper). With huge open maps, you’re bound to attract some snipers but some have complained that most games feature too many and that a limit should be introduced.However, while initially you will frustratingly be sniped a lot, you’ll soon learn that smart movement is the key and DICE has also limited the power of the Recon class. For one, there’s no prone button so snipers have to be more thoughtful about where they position themselves. Also, DICE has cleverly balanced the different types of sniper rifle so that the most powerful tend to be bolt action, requiring a long reload time while the semi-auto variety pack a lot less power. The kill cam also means that snipers will be unable to camp in the same spot for too long without someone exacting violent retribution. It can be infuriating when you’re attempting to set/defuse explosives on a crate only to be sniped repeatedly but that’s part and parcel of the Rush mode and its benefits outweigh its limitations.The beauty of Rush is that, in large open maps, it focuses the fighting intelligently. With two crates needing to be destroyed (or defended) in each area, the game creates dynamic chokepoints on the map while still allowing players the freedom to sneak around the back or flank the enemy. The way Rush works also means that you’ll see a variety of terrain which has profound gameplay implications. For instance, at one point in a Rush match on Arica Harbour, you’ll find yourself moving from comparatively open terrain to a town area with buildings galore forcing you to adapt your strategy. Well, that or you could just get in a tank and blow up all the buildings.Destruction is another selling point of the Bad Company series and fans will be happy to know, the environments are more destructible than ever. Stone, bricks and mortar won’t offer too much protection in Bad Company and the chaotic destruction mechanic is very impressive, with debris flying in all directions as entire walls are removed. It really adds to the atmosphere of Bad Company 2’s multiplayer game and, even from our brief time with the game, it’s clear that this is important to DICE. Bad Company’s Arica Harbour map feels like a battlefield (or at least what I imagine a battlefield to look like. I’m too pretty for war) through a clever combination of impressive visuals, believable destruction and good sound design. Not only do the weapons sound realistic (especially in the way that they echo around the battlefield, the battle chatter is excellent and you’ll hear some amusing trash-talking.Our time with Bad Company 2 beta has definitely ramped up our anticipation levels for the game and it feels like DICE has put a lot of work into the multiplayer. It’s nice to see ideas from other Battlefield games (eg the squad system from 1943) and other games in the genre – for instance, the advancement and unlock system is more involved than we’ve seen in the Battlefield series before. The best news, however, is that the beta definitely has that classic Battlefield feel about it, with a major emphasis on teamplay that we expect will help it stand apart from the competition.


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