Back to the Battlefield

Long time readers will know I always had a soft spot for Battlefield 2142 on the PC, being possibly my favourite online FPS game.

With some of my gaming now having shifted to the PS3 (in order to get the most out of next gen gaming despite my aging PC), the new Battlefield game, Bad Company 2 seemed like a logical purchase.

The multiplayer action is familiar for any fans of the series.  Conquest mode finds the player split into two teams, trying to capture and control various bases across the map.  The teams have a limited number of respawns, and the first to run out, loses.  So by controlling most of the bases, one team can force the other into a corner and pick them off much more quickly.

The other game type I must admit, I’ve not played as much, as I’ve been using the familiar Conquest mode to break myself back into the game, but it involves one team having to push forward, destroying a pair of terminals at each checkpoint to progress onto the next, while the other team holds them back.  Its been pretty fun when I’ve played it, but for now, the Conquest mode I find easier to get into (probably due to familiarity if nothing else).

As you’d expect the graphics are astounding, and the gameplay continues the now-traditional “accumulate points, gain levels and unlocks” style that previous Battlefield games and Call of Duty has.

New to this instalment of the franchise though, is a developed single player mode.  My previous experience with Battlefield was that single player consisted of a very restricted version of the multiplayer mode with bots.  Now though there’s a proper storyline that you play through.  They’ve obviously taken a leaf out of the Call of Duty play book here and its a welcome change.  I’ve not played through all the single player so far, but what I have played has been a lot of fun.

What the developers have done though, is tied the single player into the unlocks system, which is a nice touch.  As you play through levels in the single player, you can pick up new weapons off of recently-dispatched enemies.  As you find the new weapon types in each level, they get added to your available options in the multiplayer.  Its a nice touch, and a great added incentive to the single player.

Of course, the signature of the Battlefield games has always been the ability to use vehicles in the various maps, and that’s present and as well-implemented as usual with the expected array of jeeps, tanks and planes to keep players happy.  It also provides a welcome break in the style of play from Modern Warfare.

In Modern Warfare, I would frequently find, if the map was being dominated, that the game would descend into a cycle of “spawn-die-spawn-die”.  With Battlefield, as you can choose your spawn point at another captured base, its a welcome break when things are getting pinned down, to just choose to spawn at a further away point, or specifically, the original deployment zone.  Then its a simple matter of grabbing a tank and trundling in to do some damage.  Its nice to be able to pull back in this way and rethink your strategy when things are getting nasty.

One final feature that I’ve got to comment on, is the new destructible scenery.  Its a brilliant addition to the gameplay, that makes you think more about your cover.   There’s no more digging into a rooftop with a sniper rifle for the game, if someone can roll up in a tank and collapse the building around you.  Or hiding behind a wooden fence only buys you a minute’s breathing room as the hail of incoming fire starts picking it away.   From either side, its a fun change in the game that either forces you to think quickly and move, or allows you to clear out some prime camping spots when you’re getting pinned down.

The online stats are present in force as well.   The stats were an area I found a little disappointing in Modern Warfare, probably as I’d been spoiled by Battlefield 2142 previously.  Maybe I’m just being sad, but I find it quite amusing and fun to be able to check out all the details of my play time, right down to the number of rounds fired, and I wish more games would offer up these kinds of facts and figures, with a convenient web interface (MMOs especially).

I’ve been very pleased with the game so far, and can see myself sticking with it for a good while.  So far, my main niggles about Modern Warfare 2 (slow finding games in the lobby, and getting hammered in games) seem to be less of an issue here.


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