The open PC beta for Battlefield: Bad Company 2 kicked off yesterday, and, of course, being the avid FPS gamer I am, I delved into it. I have played a little bit of the first Bad Company, but not substantially, making me a bit of a noob to the franchise spinoff. I’ve had time to play quite a bit of Bad Company 2’s beta, and I can safely say I am impressed. Read on for my full impressions of it.
I launched the beta and configured my settings, controls, etc. With that out of the way, I went to the server browser, which, after stalling for a moment, kicked me to my desktop, crashing the game. It doesn’t work – at all – but DICE is aware of the issue, and thankfully, there’s a way around it.
After getting into my first game, I was dropped smack dab in the middle of the action; after all, the game runs dedicated servers. As I attempted to orientate myself, my first impression was “wow, this game looks incredible!” The game runs on a modified version of the Frostbite Engine – textures are extremely detailed, environments look fantastic, and the HDR lighting is quite impressive. I haven’t had a chance to check out the Xbox 360 demo that released yesterday as well, but rest assured, its PC counterpart looks and runs great.
Of course, Bad Company is known for its destructible environments, and its sequel ramps that up. Almost everything can be destroyed – buildings, trees, hell, even the ground. My first “woah” moment took place when I was posting up in the top floor of a house. Shooting out the window, I saw a tank round the corner. Completely outgunned, I ducked back into another room right as the tank fired. After an ear-shattering explosion, I returned to find the entire wall gone. It’s amazing how many different ways the destructible environments can be used to your advantage, or disadvantage. Much to my teammates’ dismay, I often found myself blowing crap up just to see what would happen.
Equally impressive as the visuals is the audio. Explosions, gunfire, and voiceovers all sound spot on, combining to create an experience so immersive it’s almost frightening. You really feel like you’re in a war.
The only map available in the beta is the snowy Port Valdez, supporting 32 players and the Rush game mode. Rush consists of an attacking team and a defending team. The attackers attempt to plant explosives on pairs of crates. After one pair is destroyed, another section of the map is unlocked. The attackers win when all crates are destroyed, and the defenders win when the attackers run out of reinforcements. It creates a very hectic, but fun, style of play. The battlefield is constantly changing both literally and figuratively.
Vehicles are well-balanced, as is the gameplay in general. Hop in a tank and you’ll rip apart buildings, but narrow streets and close-quarters combat will quickly be your demise. DICE has added a few new devices and weapons that help balance out the vehicle combat.
As you progressively rank up in Bad Company 2, you’ll also unlock new gear. What’s great about Bad Company 2’s system is that unlocked gear can actually be swapped into your kit mid-game, which leads to my next point. There are four kits available in the game: Assault, Engineer, Medic and Recon. Assault is your usual assault rifle-wielding soldier. The Engineer has the ability to repair vehicles. They also carry an RPG or bazooka and a heavy machine gun. Medics are tasked with reviving fallen teammates, and Recon soldiers are the equivalent of snipers, equipped with a long-range rifle and anti-tank explosives. As I mentioned, kits can be customized with different weapons and gear as it’s unlocked.
Battlefield: Bad Company 2 supports 32-player multiplayer, and, as with a number of other Battlefield title, it does feature squad play. However, from my experience, squads are entirely disorganized and usually lack direction. There seems to be very little communication amongst them and amongst the entire team in general. It’s not really a big problem, and it obviously depends on who you’re playing with.
During my first play session last night, I didn’t experience any lag issues, but today I did have some slowdown. It’s something that DICE is aware of, and they are apparently working on fixing it. I’m sure it will be addressed by the time the full game releases March 2, as with the server browser problem.
Overall, I have found Bad Company 2 to be a very enjoyable game. Combat is engaging and the destructible environments really do keep things fresh. Of course, it’s hard to judge the game when the beta only features one map, one game mode, and lacks any sort of single player. That said, I’m excited to see what DICE brings for the single player campaign as well as other multiplayer maps. If the developer manages to fix what little issues there are and adds some great maps, then Battlefield: Bad Company 2 will shape up to be an excellent FPS.