Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Preview
It’s All Coming Apart Nicely
If any first person shooter has what it takes to demolish the throne on which Modern Warfare 2 has sat so smugly these last three months, it’s DICE’s forthcoming Battlefield: Bad Company 2 with its so called ‘Destruction 2.0’. As fans of the original will already know, the BC franchise is predominantly defined by its emphasis on destructible environments in which players - no doubt with the wide-eyed grin of a blissful but demented pyromaniac – can obliterate the picturesque scenery with an arsenal of heavy weapons and armoured vehicles. Indeed, in terms of gaming catharsis, it really doesn’t get much better. Especially when you find yourself using a grenade launcher to hollow out some urban, three bedroom town house in which your opponent pathetically cowers until all that’s left is a thin, two story façade you could probably knock down with one tap of your finger.
But, according to so many Bad Company reviewers, therein lies the rub. Because whilst it’s all very well to tear great gashes through windows and walls and drown your enemies in clouds of smoke and debris, BC was a game which never quite let you go far enough. Buildings fell apart yes, but never fully imploded no matter how hard you huffed and puffed with every powerful ordinance at your disposal. Instead, pre-determined pieces of debris would fall from structures like jigsaw pieces whilst, in complete defiance of real-world physics, large sections would remain insolently upright and indestructible.
Taking this kind of constructive criticism onboard however, BC2 developers DICE have resolved to get the balance right this time around. According to senior producer Patrick Bach, Bad Company 2 will (in a move which effectively characterizes the company’s entire strategy for the sequel) build on the perks of its predecessor by featuring ‘a full spectrum of destruction. Not only will you be able to ‘chip away pieces from small covers’ with machine gun and rocket fire but ‘also take down buildings completely.’ Although - unlike the destruction model in Red Faction: Guerrilla – realism still takes something of a back seat. BC2 won’t allow you, for example, to instigate your own controlled demolition and topple a building one way or another (i.e. on the head of a nearby enemy or vehicle).
In fact, judging from various demonstrations of Bad Company 2’s Frostbite engine, you could be forgiven for thinking that DICE are about as clued up as Basil Fawlty when it comes to architectural concepts like headers and supporting walls. But, so far as creative director Lars Gustavsson’s concerned, who cares about realism so long as you’ve got spectacle? ‘Is it really worth having the perfect destruction model, if it means that we can have fewer vehicles and players, we can't replicate it over network, and so on?’ So long as ‘you don’t question it when you play [the game], that’s good enough’ he added - and it’s hard not to find yourself nodding in approval.
DICE’s ‘Destruction 2.0’ has therefore made a few concessions for the sake of variety (executive producer Karl-Magnus Troedsson even acknowledging that, in some respects, 2.0 was less advanced than destruction models used by a few competitors). And it’s the sheer variety of Battlefield: Bad Company 2 which DICE have been keenly peddling to the video games media alongside their pledge to heighten the longevity, dynamism and entertainment value of its online multiplayer in particular. ‘That’s what it’s all about. Multiplayer is what built the franchise from the beginning’ said Troedsson, implying that single player, which sees the player once again assuming the role of Preston with his renegade company of misfits, was less of a priority.
That said however, single player mode promises greater variation than, in the words of Bach, the ‘bland’ and ‘slightly forced’ gameplay of the original Bad Company. ‘Life is also turning a bit more serious’ for Preston and his squad, revealed Bach, which means that if like some, the relentless witty banter of BC almost pushed you over the edge and into an orgy of team killing, thankfully DICE have decided to tone things down a bit a for the sequel. ‘There will still be elements of humor within the characters, of course, but the whole story line and the settings they are put into are quite more serious’ added Bach, who didn’t deny that the game’s setting – which ranges from Alaska to South America – is going to provide plenty of exotically contrasting locations.
But given the fact it’s such a fundamental pillar to the battlefield gameplay experience, it is multiplayer which DICE are particularly keen to emphasize. And with the announcement of a Call of Duty-style perk system, team-play scoring incentives and an unprecedented array of customization options, they are clearly doing everything possible to ensure BC2 earns a dedicated (and of course highly competitive) fan base. Indeed, Troedsson wasn’t exaggerating when he talked up the sheer scope of Bad Company 2’s customization claiming ‘if there’s a weapon, we have it’. The game has an epic 15,000 kit variations which are based on some 46 weapons, 13 character specializations and 15 gadgets, all of which - as the player progresses through some 50 online ranks – are sure to make a casualty of your social life.
Overall, it’s clear that EA and DICE have been scouring every critical discourse kicked up by the original Bad Company for inspiration on how proceed with the sequel. And by the sound of it, Bad Company 2 basically conforms to a wish-list drawn directly from the gaming community – interestingly DICE even canvassed for achievement/Trophy ideas on the official website and included the winner as an in-game award. Bad Company veterans should therefore not expect some drastic departure from the core gameplay mechanics in the sequel, but something a bit subtler. A second instalment that makes all the necessary corrections to its predecessor but one which is also reluctant to take any big gambles with the format. That said however, the pieces are all coming together nicely judging from the recent demo (although, as this is Bad Company 2 we’re talking about, coming apart nicely might be a better way to put it).
This guest article was written by Marius Goubert of Dealspwn.com.