by: Jim "Txshurricane" McLaughlin
Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is not a perfect game, but it’s very addicting and full of once-in-a-lifetime moments. You know - the stories that you tell years later in wistful reverie. DICE’s download-only Vietnam expansion promised more incredible Battlefield action with a twist of history. With the good comes a small dose of not-so-good, but ultimately Battlefield Bad Company 2: Vietnam is a righteous addition to an already top-notch game.
Upon scrolling to the new main menu option, “Vietnam”, the menu background morphs into a more period-appropriate image and the background music changes from Mikael Karlsson’s original soundtrack to “Fortunate Son” by Creedence Clearwater Revival. A new set of weapons is at your disposal also, although not near as extensive as the arsenal from Bad Company 2’s modern side. Several vehicles make their debut in DICE’s Frostbite engine, but since they are pulled straight from the history books and shooter games of the past they come as no real surprise. There’s very little to really celebrate in terms of weapons and vehicles; but to be honest, it won’t matter when the bullets start flying.
Five new maps bring the rice paddies and napalm-ravaged Vietnamese jungles to your living room. That’s no joke, either - one map is literally built around a small rice paddy, and another features a scorched field still burning from a recent napalm strike. Helicopters buzz past in the distant background. Foliage is greatly increased. All of these changes to the environment make for a slightly different feel when you’re just running around...but when it comes time to engage in combat, the gameplay is almost exactly the same. Probably the biggest changes are the much more effective choppers (which are faster, but easier to take down), and the flame thrower. I’ve seen some really inventive uses of the M2 flame thrower, such as lighting the objective on fire in order to deter anyone seeking to disarm a charge that’s been set.
If I had to name the best and worst features of Vietnam, I’d first tout its persistence with Bad Company 2. Any points or unlocks carry over to Bad Company 2 - and vice versa - with the exception of the weapons themselves. My least favorite part of Vietnam is the apparent trouble that the game is having with its matchmaking. Often times I’ve landed in a two- or three-person game. It’s possible that it’s for lack of people playing, but I doubt it. Plus, the game seems to have a hard time putting me in a squad when I request one. It’s a small quibble to most, and only slightly frustrating.
One last thing worth noting: the music. During the loading screens, you will hear Jimi Hendrix and the Rolling Stones accompany a radio-style briefing while the background graphic resembles a film reel (instead of the satellite recon style photos from before). In-game the music isn’t so prevalent unless you’re in certain vehicles. Many times you’ll hear “Ride of the Valkyries” blaring across the river, and will look up to see a Huey bearing down. If you get waxed, the killcam will give you a brief close-up of the Huey as its occupants undoubtedly cheer their twistedly musical rampage.
All in all, Battlefield Bad Company 2: Vietnam is basically more filling for the Twinkie. For one fourth the cost of the original game you get more than one fourth of the original’s multiplayer content. There’s no denying that it’s great fun and must-buy if you’re a Bad Company 2 fan.