Dale Dietrich
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Battlefield: Bad Company – Diary #1

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Diary: Entry #1
Reviews: Metacritic | Game Rankings
Reference: GameFAQ | wikipedia12
Developer: EA DICE, Engine: Frostbite
Status: Finished “Welcome to Bad Company” (the intro level)

Pros: Boat load of shooter fun – Immersive – Humorous – Destructible environment – Terrific death/penalty system – Save points therefore a non-issue – Very good graphics/character models – Difficulty Level is just right – Amusing squad – PC can jump

Cons: Fighting with camera while driving – No coop – No customizable controls – Daft syringe/help system – No prone position

Introduction

In Battlefield: Bad Company (“BBC”) you play Private Preston Marlowe, of “B”ad Company, a band of misfits in the 222nd army battalion of the U.S. army -currently fighting the Russian Federation.

Somehow BBC had escaped my radar until I read Paul Thurrott’s review here. Our tastes in gaming are almost identical. So on his recommendation, I decided to try it.

Other than a few hours here and there, I’ve never played a Battlefield franchise game before. So I’m new to this franchise and, so far, I’m really enjoying it! Much,  more so than MGS 4.

Battlefield - Bad Company - 360 - tank blowing up

Initial Impressions – The Good Stuff

Fun From the Start: From the amusing jazzy-organ playing opening credits/main menu this game felt like was going to be something different.

Immersive: As with other leading shooter, the ambiance, 5.1 sound, terrific graphics and, in this case, almost instant death if hit, give this game a terrific immersive (feeling like you are really there) quality that is still too rare.

Destructible Environment: The much touted destructible environment is definitely fun! But it is odd that you can’t totally destroy a building. You can knock out most of its walls but try as you might its support pillars will not blow up. So you can not, for example, topple over a two story house – even though you can knock out every one of its walls. Kinda lame.

Battlefield - Bad Company - 360 - jeep

Character Animations/Graphics: Character animations are as good as they get, and dare I say it, possibly better than those in MGS 4, (except for Solid-Snake himself). The overall graphics are also terrific

Sandbox Fun: From the get-go I was able to wander much further afield than similar games without artificial barriers or invisible walls holding me back. The map makes it clear where you can and cannot go. It doesn’t feel restricting like so many other shooters.

White Men Can Jump: As trivial as this may sound, it bothers me when the playable characters in games like Gears of War and MGS 4 can’t jump over even the smallest of barriers. I know Cliffy B wants to avoid the constant bunny-hopping witnessed in the Halo series. But being unable to jump makes the game unrealistic. I’m happy to report that Private Marlowe can jump.

The Not-So-Good

Fighting the Camera: What is it with games that insist on fighting you for the camera? One of my chief criticisms of GTA IV was that when you are driving, the camera is always pulling back towards the center. The same is true in BBC. So far this is my only real criticism of the game.  We are supposed to be looking for gold and collectable’s but the game keeps fighting me as I look around while driving.  It’s not only annoying but it makes me nauseous. The same problem inexplicably occurs on the in-game map. As I scan around the map, it keeps pulling the overhead camera back to the center. Grrr.

No Coop: Every modern 360 shooter should employ a co-op level, and ideally over Xbox Live. There is no co-op of any kind in this game – either local or online. That is a disappointment. But this is the first Battlefield game that’s ever had a single player campaign. So I can’t complain that loudly.

Daft Health System: Three is an unlimited supply of health. Simply jam a syringe in Marlowe’s gut and you are back to full health. I’d much prefer slightly less accurate enemies and a more realistic health system followed by death.

No Lying  Prone: You can stand and crouch but you can’t lie prone. This is the first military shooter (outside of Halo) that I can recall that doesn’t allow the player to lie prone. It’s a bit hard to get used to.

No Customized Controls: If given a chance, I prefer to set up a game with Halo-esque controls. There is no way to customize the controls. That said, I had few problems using EA’s default control scheme. 

A New Take on Save Points and Death

As readers of my MGS 4 Diaries will already know, I hate the tried-and-true game extending game mechanic that most every game employs – that of forcing you rto replay lengthy portions of the game that you already completed when you die. This is especially annoying when a game has either poor auto-save points or does not let you save the game where you choose.

BBC completely eliminates this problem. It makes save points irrelevant because there isn’t really any penalty to dying other than that sinking feeling of defeat you get when you are killed. I like this a lot! I’ve always railed against games that force me to replay parts of a game I already finished. EA may have the perfect solution with this approach.

Thoughts on Difficulty

Some reviewers have complained that the enemy AI’s shooting is too accurate, making the game too difficult. They have also surmised that EA chose not to penalize the player on death owing to it’s inability to properly balance the game.

I have to disagree. In a real war, enemies are accurate and do shoot to kill. If real soldiers took the tactics that the average video gamer takes, they would die pretty quickly.  I like this realism. I like the difficulty when combined with a forgiving approach to death.

I HATE being killed and do anything I can to avoid it. I don’t need the game to penalize me any further. Indeed, providing achievement points for surviving a level without being killed is even more of an  incentive for me to play tactically and stealthily than forcing me to replay long stretches of a game on death.

I am going to caveat my my next statement by noting that I only just started the game and my opinion may change. But so far, I consider this easy-to-be-killed/little-penalty-on-death approach to be superb! I wish more (heck all) games would emulate it. Kudos to EA for trying a novel death/revival construct!

Mowing Down Trees

I noticed that there was an achievement for mowing down trees. So, I spent a good deal of time shooting them for awhile. I understand why the achievement exists. It makes you realize that if trees are obstructing your view of the enemy, you can just shoot them down to get a clear shot.

Xbox 360 Version

I originally set out to rent this game but my local rental shop, Rogers, only had the PS3 version. While I own a PS3, if a game is cross-platform, I choose the 360 for achievements points and for the superior online gaming experience inherent in the 360 platform. Ultimately I purchased it.

Opening Credits

It all started with The Chronicles of Riddick – the first game I recall employing interactive opening cut scenes and Hollywood-style opening credits. Then came GRAW 1 & 2, CoD 4, GTA IV, MGS 4, and now BBC, all bearing compelling/interactive opening credits. I like this trend.

Aim Assist

WARNING: Aim assist is turned on by default – a disturbing trend over the last year or so. Any self-respecting shooter fan will need to turn that off  before starting (Options/GamePlay/Aim Assist).

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