Publisher: Electronic Arts
MSRP: $59.99 / $49.99
by: Jim McLaughlin
Battlefield: Bad Company 2 pretty much fixes what I didn't like about its predecessor, stuffs the whole package into a blender, and promptly explodes. The campaign is 13 missions long, and lasted me about six hours. The characters retain their richness from the first game, but now they're thrust into an cheesy plot. However, the ridiculousness of the story is lost among impressive visuals, incredible sound design, and a few gimmick levels that rival Modern Warfare 2's over-the-top action. One level in particular seems to be an excuse from which the use of several World War II weapons in multiplayer was contrived.
Gone is the a la carte credit system for unlocking weapons and abilities in multiplayer; instead, you now have a handful of weapons that are class-specific and can be added to in the form of variable scopes, different types of grenade launchers, and accuracy upgrades...and then there's a pool of weapons - each unlocked by reaching a target overall rank - that cannot be adjusted and are available to any of the classes (Assault, Engineer, Medic, Recon). Every handgun and every special ability (such as extra ammo, quicker vehicle reloads, etc.) are available to any class, . These "perks" don't add a huge jump to gameplay, but they can give you an edge. Plus, having more control over your soldier is a good incentive to jump online more often.
Despite liberal use of particles, I've seen no framerate slowdown. I've lost hours of time with this insanely fun game, and I've developed several killer headaches as a result. The only real complaints I have about Bad Company 2 are: DICE still hasn't found a way to keep players from "stealing" the most interesting vehicles (like helicopters), and connectivity with the EA servers is shaky. Once you're in a game, you're gold...but it has taken me up to six tries just to access the multiplayer menu, thanks to glitchy connectivity with my EA profile. Side note: you can make private games now, and joining your friends from the main menu is a snap (and you're automatically added to their team...imagine that!).
It's obvious DICE has future plans for Bad Company 2, as made evident by the in-game Store that already has a weapons camouflage / character skins pack and a map pack dated (March 18th and April 1st, respectively) on the Xbox 360 version. I look forward to many long evenings and many sensory-overload induced headaches from the new king of multiplayer shooters.