As a game reviewer, the question I get asked the most is "what game should I buy?". The only recommendation on my mind these days is Battlefield: Bad Company 2, and what tortures me the most is that even though I'm so damn fond of the game, I can't recommend it to others without warning them about the myriad issues it faces.__STARTQUOTE__The only recommendation on my mind these days is Battlefield: Bad Company 2, and what tortures me the most is that even though I'm so damn fond of the game, I can't recommend it to others without warning them about the myriad issues it faces.__ENDQUOTE__The first Bad Company was a console exclusive (Xbox360, PS3) and the game gave more weightage to its singleplayer campaign. It was the first time a Battlefield game's focus wasn't on multiplayer, and that didn't do quite well for the game. Despite this, the game's "rush" multiplayer mode was great fun but limited, leaving a lot of unexplored potential. This time around, developer DICE pivoted the entire game around multiplayer, really building on what was great about the first title!
That's not to say that the singleplayer campaign is a sham. While it isn't as stellar as competitor Activision's prodigal son - Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (I'm not talking about the sequel) - it's frantically paced and entertaining. The dastardly quartet of sarcastic soldiers from the first game make a reappearance. While on a routine mission they discover the existence of a doomsday weapon and go all out to take it down. What follows is a pretty tightly knit foray of action sequences, huge explosions and intense firefights. One especially unforgettable segment had you make your way down a mountain face during a blizzard. To survive, you'd have to warm yourself using fires created from explosions to keep yourself from being frostbitten. There are some great ideas here that are pretty well implemented.
Where the game really shines is the multiplayer. In fact, I'd like to point out that Battlefield: Bad Company 2's multiplayer is way better than Call of Duty: Modern Warfare's (1 or 2). That, in itself, says a lot. Developer DICE has taken all they've learnt from past experiences, and gone all out with this one.
You have four classes at your disposal - Assault, Engineer, Medic and Recon. This may seem like too few, but the beauty is that none of the classes are pigeon-holed into singular, prescribed roles. The Assault class hones assault rifles and dishes out ammunition for teammates. The Engineer is a demolitions expert, who can repair team vehicles and is also bestowed upon with a plethora of lethal sub-machine guns exclusive to the class. The Medic class heals and revives teammates, but is also the only class in the game that can yield light machine guns, making it excellent at providing suppressing fire. The Recon class is not just a back-of-the-line sniper, but a saboteur who can blow up tanks using explosives and plant motion mines to alert teammates of enemy soldiers. The fact that each class is immensely layered means that they all have quite a learning curve, leaving a lot to be mastered. Once you do master a class though, the game's infinitely better than Modern Warfare!
To add to the charm, Bad Company 2 also features the best unlock system I've seen so far. Each class has multiple unlocks that you gain by scoring points while playing those classes. Alternately, you even gain general unlocks when you rank up, that work for all classes. The first few unlocks are relatively less powerful, but at the same time, you unlock all the stuff you need in order to play out your class' primary role, early on. This balance ensures that you learn to play all classes, rather than sticking to one and growing weary of the game.
There are four game modes - Conquest, Rush, Squad Deathmatch and Squad Rush. Conquest requires you to capture and hold on to key points in order to reduce the enemies' "tickets"; the team that runs out of tickets first loses. Tickets are basically lives - each time a member of the team dies, that team loses a ticket unless the dead soldier's revived. Rush requires one team to defend and the other to attack and destroy a set of objectives. When destroyed, the attacking team gains more tickets, allowing them to sustain the assault until all objectives are destroyed. If the tickets run out, the attackers lose. Squad deathmatch allows squads of up to four members each to take on each other, while Squad Rush allows a maximum of two squads to take on each other in a match of Rush.
Squad-based combat is everything in Bad Company 2. The game rewards you for, and encourages you to perform as a squad in so many ways, that you'll almost always be part of one that's either defending, attacking or running around, blowing up stuff. You gain additional points for healing, reviving, assisting, giving ammo to, or performing any actions to help out your squad mates. In addition, you can press "Q" on the keyboard to spot an enemy and highlight him to your squad and team. If they kill him, you gain either team spot assist points, or squad spot assist points.
In spite of great multiplayer, the game's marred by terrible matchmaking that makes it incredibly painful to find a game. Many a time when you try and join one - whether through the server browser or the 'Join Now' button - you see a "Please wait" screen followed by... nothing. At other times, you'll get a whole lot of Punkbuster errors that won't let you play at all. It's been so bad, that a few people who have bought the game haven't been able to play multiplayer at all.
In conclusion, every time I boot the game up I have my fingers crossed, hoping that it won't screw up and bar me from enjoying the game for the few hours a day I get free. If you're one who gets frustrated easily, please don't buy this game - at least not for its multiplayer. One the other hand, if you're a first-person multiplayer shooter whore like I am, and have the patience to put up with all the Punkbuster bullshit the game has to throw at you, you'll be amply rewarded with what is the best multiplayer shooter I've played to date. Bar none.
Battlefield Bad Company is now available for the PS3, Xbox360 (Rs. 2499 each) and PC (Rs. 999).