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Review: Battlefield: Bad Company - Xbox 360, PS3

by Nick Haywood on 5 July 2008, 08:00

Tags: Battlefield: Bad Company, Electronic Arts (NASDAQ:EA), Xbox 360, PS3, FPS

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It’s like Kelly’s Heroes but without barking tank commanders

As far as the Battlefield franchise goes, it’s been a bit of a rollercoaster ride for EA. I think it’d be fair to say that anyone developing an MMO shooter had better be pretty thick skinned as any fan base seems to want to tear developers apart as soon as a new version comes out. Battlefield 2 was pretty good, but then everyone went bat-shit crazy over Battlefield 2142 being released before all the bugs had been worked out of Battlefield 2…

So Battlefield: Bad Company marks a departure from the usual Battlefield scenario of MMO in that there’s a strong single player campaign partnered with the MMO side of Battlefield that we all know and complain about. So is Battlefield: Bad Company an MMO or a single player game with an MMO side? Well it’s a bit of both… and for someone like me who’s about as inept with a joypad as a fish on a bicycle I decided to kick off my gaming with the single player campaign.

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And boy, was that a decision I was patting myself on the back over. Having played the online beta and had a preview session of Battlefield: Bad Company at EA’s games day, I thought I knew what to expect but this fully polished version of Battlefield: Bad Company, with all the cutscenes and extras thrown in really is something far better than I’ve previously seen or played.

You play the part of Marlowe, a private sent to B-Company as punishment for his crimes. B-Company is where the dregs of the US Army get sent to act as cannon fodder for the troops the commanders actually care about… Think along the lines of The Dirty Dozen, except there’s just four of you, and you get the idea. The in-game dialogue and a few cutscenes will help set the tone as often you’ll hear your squad mates bitching about the ops you get on… “Isn’t this a job for Special Forces?” and the laconic reply “Yeah, but they cost too much that’s why we’re going in first”…

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Your squad is made up of Sergeant Redford who reminds me most of Danny Glover in Lethal Weapon, always banging on about his retirement coming up in a few weeks time. Then there’s Sweetwater, the slightly disturbing, perpetually distracted techie type. And finally there’s Haggard who has an obsession with blowing up anything he can, as often as he can. And all of this is very nicely portrayed through the cutscenes and in the missions themselves… which can at times leave you feeling a little like a spectator as the three of them grumble, argue, throw insults and generally bounce conversation off one another.

The first few missions see you taking part in an offensive, well, leading the offensive actually, against the Russian Army in Serkozache but it could easily be one of the ‘stans… Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan or the near unpronounceable Kyrgyzstan. These missions are your training session, teaching you how to control the weapons and vehicles you’ll be using in the real meat of the game… and letting you get to know your squad. However, this honeymoon period doesn’t last long as you’ll be plunged into the story proper.

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Now I’ve told you that Sergeant Redford is up for retirement soon and B-Company is essentially a bunch of criminals lumped together as punishment. So dropping the chance to steal a load of loot in the form of gold bars sprinkled around the levels, it’s pretty clear that there’s no moral dilemma in what the team choose to do. And so you embark on a thoroughly entertaining and often challenging romp behind enemy lines in what has to be the biggest homage to Kelly’s Heroes since Three Kings was released in the cinemas.

And here’s where Battlefield: Bad Company really comes through with the cutscenes and superb dialogue and voice acting that combine to lend a real drive and purpose to the story. It doesn’t feel like ‘just another level’ to progress through to get to the next level, Battlefield: Bad Company feels more like a cinematic experience in which you have a vital role. It’s fun, packed with humour and engaging, which is what every good storyline needs to be.

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