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Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Single-Player Hands-On

Clearly, I am the best person to tell you all about Bad Company 2 on the PC, because – and I say this in the interests of full disclosure – I’ve never played Bad Company. Which is fine, because it never came out on the PC, so if you’re a PC gamer, we’re on the same page.What I was expecting from Bad Company 2’s single player campaign is not, necessarily, what I got. Battlefield conjures up images of sprawling maps, nigh-instantaneous deaths, and morons waiting for the planes to respawn so that they can crash them into an open field while trying to do 1080 degree barrel rolls. Battlefield: Bad Company 2 instead offers a relatively sedate and relatively linear experience.I say “relatively” sedate, and that’s true compared to the rage Battlefield 2 causes when another three jets attempt Olympic-level synchronised crashing, but perhaps painless would be a better word. Honestly, you’ll be anything but sedate when the Frostbite engine comes into full effect; while you might have noticed crumbling buildings and ledges when lobbing grenades at hostile forces, one early section has you surviving against a tank until air support can arrive to destroy it.In just about anything else, this would either be a heavily scripted sequence involving dashes between crumbling bits of cover, or it would involve you hiding behind a wall, moving around it to the other side whenever the tank passed it, and shooting at any troops that got near. Here, once you get over the initial shock that, yes, the tank did just blow up the wall you were lurking behind and you are now totally exposed, it becomes a hectic race to stay alive. It’s not just walls, either: entire buildings can be destroyed, and if you fancy deforesting a large part of Bolivia with grenades, you can pretty much go for that too.None of this would have much impact if the presentation wasn’t as spotless as it appears to be, even in this pre-final build. Graphically, I actually want to compare it Crysis. While it’s unlikely that it’s doing anything as technically ludicrous, in terms of the end results, Bad Company 2’s environments feel and look a tad similar, as you can probably see for yourself in a few of the Bolivia screenshots. It’s the audio that’s really caught my attention so far, though, as it sounds more realistic than pretty much anything I’ve heard before. Gunshots in the distance ring off as I’d expect them to and everything echoes perfectly. Firing indoors produces different sounds to those of firing in an open area, and these little bits of attention to detail add a surprisingly large amount to the feel of the weapons, particularly with the game dynamically altering the levels of other audio aspects (music, background noise, and so on) to emphasise important ones.It is, however, a linear game. Based on the first few missions, you’re pretty much constrained to one route throughout a level. You can choose your equipment from crates scattered around the map that give you access to any weapon you’ve previously picked up, but whether you’d rather sit at the very end of a camp and snipe, or circle around the outside with an assault rifle, or charge right through it with a shotgun, you have to go through that camp. It still feels far more open than Modern Warfare 2, though.And Modern Warfare 2’s a good comparison to end on, because right now it’s pretty much the undisputed king of shooters. Bad Company 2 has clearly been designed to compete – it treads a similar path, but with missions offering a little more choice, some wonderful setpieces, extremely likeable companions, and bits of familiar Battlefield goodness like operable vehicles. Whether or not it’ll dethrone Modern Warfare 2 remains to be seen, but from what I’ve played so far, there’s certainly a contender for the crown.

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