Wednesday, August 27, 2008

[MINI REVIEW] Battlefield: Bad Company

Something I would like to use this blog for is posting my thoughts on some of the games that I have had the opportunity to play through. So with that, welcome to something I like to call [MINI REVIEW]. In this the first of many reviews, I take a look at Battlefield: Bad Company from developer DICE.

Battlefield: Bad Company, or BFBD, puts you in the roll of one Private Preston Marlowe of B-Company, affectionately known as Bad Company because the Army has decided to fill it's ranks with insubordinate troublemakers whose only roll is to be on the front lines as cannon fodder, thus making them expendable.

If you are at all interested in knowing the story, then I suggest that you watch Kelly's Heroes or the more recent We Three Kings. The story itself is highly unoriginal and your squad mates are typical stereotypes, but that really is secondary to the interactions between your squad mates and the various other peoples that you will meet in the game. The voice acting is top notch, and is easily one of the funniest games you will play ever.

BFBD runs on the new Frostbite DX Engine created by DICE. The Frostbite Engine allows for some highly detailed environments, character models, even weapons and vehicles. The most talked about feature of the new engine is the destructible environments. According to DICE, environments are 90 percent destructible, meaning any structure can be demolished down to its foundation. Got an enemy taking pot shots at you from the second floor of a building, blow a hole in it and flush him out. Need to get to an objective, but want to avoid running out in the open in town, blow some holes in the walls and create an alternate path. Blowing stuff up in BFBD never gets old, but be warned, your enemy can take advantage of the destructible environments just as you can.

There are seven chapters in the game to complete, and each chapter is fairly lengthy depending on the difficulty you choose. Unfortunately each chapter follows the same formula more or less. You begin each level heading to your objective, run into combat, defeat the enemies, and the game auto saves. Now just continue that same process multiple times till you complete the chapter. The nice thing is that each chapter takes place in a different area with different goals and challenges so you don't get that 'been there done that' feeling.

I was fortunate enough to participate in a marketing survey for BFBD towards the end of last year, and it's nice to see that two of the features that were brought up in the survey made their way into the game, sprinting and melee attacks. Sprinting seems to make the screen shake and your footsteps louder with marginal increase in speed, and you'll find that you will be using melee to knock down fences. Again, nice to see both in the game, just seems that they are poorly implemented.

Another bad implementation is the games A.I, both for enemies and your squad, it's poor at best. Half the time your squad mates will stand around during a firefight, the other half they will shoot at nothing during a firefight. Sure, they can kill stuff, but that is the exception and not the norm. The enemy has an uncanny knack for finding you and shooting you and only you. It's as though I am the only one wearing camo with florescent green in them.

And this leads me to my next frustration, having to do EVERYTHING! You will find that you will have to lead your group by the hand from one objective to another, if you don't go, they don't either. You will also need to pilot the helicopter, drive the vehicles, man the turrets, call in the air strikes, get the tanker truck, you name it. Why have squad mates if all they can do is tell jokes and call out enemies. The short comings of the A.I. become almost too much to bear in the last chapter during the last battle. I not only had to take out a helicopter that only shot at me, but the endless waves of foot soldiers as well that also seem to only see me.

I unfortunately did not play enough of the multiplayer to get an good opinion on. In my little play time online, I felt that the game had some balancing issues. But again, I only played for a few hours, but it was enough to learn that I wasn't going to care for it much.

All in all, BFBD is a fun, light hearted run and gun adventure. The graphics are beautiful and full of detail, the destructible environments are alot of fun, and really add to the gameplay. The games A.I. needs a new engine, and the multiplayer was a bit unbalanced, but it is definitely worth checking out.

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