Battlefield Bad Company 2: Vietnam
PC | PlayStation 3 | Xbox 360
Battlefield Bad Company 2: Vietnam Review
Review By nachosjustice @ 12:05pm 24/12/10
While consolers may argue that the awesome multiplayer mayhem littered with the bodies of enemies and rubble of felled buildings was hardly novel —- after all, they did get the original Bad Company game —- for PC gamers, Bad Company 2 was an FPS game changer. Sure, we’d seen squad-based vehicular-driven online shooters before, but there was one neat feature that was a game changer: destructibility. Towers were great sniping spots but were also vulnerable to a well-placed rocket, doors and windows weren’t the only entry-point to buildings and taking a breather against a nearby wall was fraught with explosive danger.
So after countless patches and several ‘new’ map releases, DICE has finally released the first major bout of expansion material for Bad Company 2, and it’s a doozy. The clock’s been wound back to the Vietnam War, the weapons have been stripped of modern peripherals but put through a Pack-a-Punch Machine, while the vehicles feel more like Battlefield 2 and less like their blurry-visioned semi-nerfed counterparts from Bad Company 2. This expansion is to Bad Company 2 what the core title was to online FPS: a game changer.
But it’s not just the clock that’s been wound back. DICE has taken a risky move and vastly scaled back the aforementioned point of difference (destructibility) to the point where it’s almost unnoticeable. Yeah, you can still destroy fences and mow down trees, but there is an absence of multi-storey buildings that can be satisfyingly brought down on an enemy squad with a healthy dose of explosive goodness.
There are still destructible buildings, but they’re of the straw house variety that require little more than a solid gust of wind to take them down. Okay, so that might be a slight exaggeration, but considering they’re huts that are quite literally made in Vietnam, they don’t provide much cover; have gaps in them where enemies can spot you through and as a result, don’t serve as the best spots to hide out or reload.
It’s clear that DICE has wanted to make this more of an infantry combat affair. There’s an abundance of cover, even in the bigger open areas, while the mostly clever map design forces you to get up close and personal with enemies. Gone is the ability to throw scopes on any weapon (sniper rifles in the Recon class excluded), so you’ll have to rely on your iron sights. While technically this means that mid-to-long range sniping with a light machinegun is harder, any FPS veteran with a steady mouse hand will find this simple enough.
The spotting mechanic seems to be improved, with better registry and less manic thrashing of the Q key required to let your pals know there are baddies on the horizon. This is, however, offset by the haze on the fire (and smoke) filled Hill 137 level and the general abundance of smoke that follows exploding grenades, mortar strikes, TNT and other explosive objects in the game world. The inclusion of the flamethrower (more on this later) and potent combination of explosions + smoke does seem to take its toll on the frame rate, though.
There’s a mostly new arsenal with Vietnam, complemented by some familiar World War II-era weapons. On digital paper, a lot of the weapons look underpowered compared to their contemporary Bad Company 2 counterparts, but they also, paradoxically, take enemies down faster. Unless spamming, accuracy and damage seem to be generally higher across the board, although the hit registry is sometimes questionable; an unfortunate inherited trait from Bad Company 2. Some annoying respawn drawbacks from Bad Company 2—such as clicking the respawn button and it not registering—also rear their ugly heads in Vietnam.
The flamethrower is by far the coolest weapon, and works just like its real-life counterpart: a brutal up-close and morale-destroying flame spewer. It’s put to particularly good use on Rush maps, when either defending a point from attackers or protecting a charge you’ve just planted; particularly when in tight spaces.
Sensor balls and tracer darts are apparently yet to be invented, so aren’t included in the arsenal. What this translates to for the Recon class is that they are now outfitted with both a mortar strike ability and TNT, meaning they’re deadly at long range against infantry, and up close against tanks. The absence of the tracer dart and a rather slow-firing rocket launcher (Carl Gustav lovers will have to adapt or die) means that tanks and helicopters can, once again, dominate the battlefield in the hands of efficient crews.
Tank gunners are still not exposed to small-arms fire, making a tank + Engineer combination an easy cocktail that can quickly turn the tide of battle (and at range). Choppers are super deadly again and, although they seemingly cannot be repaired mid-flight, the side guns chew through infantry while a rocket barrage for the pilot means they can intimidate vehicles too. It’s a lot easier to fly too, and you can throw the chopper around the battlefield, flying erratically, without too much concern for crashing; this also means you’re pretty much guaranteed to dodge every rocket fired your way.
With only four new maps, it does feel a bit light; but each map can be played in the three standard Bad Company 2 modes —- Squad Deathmatch, Rush and Conquest —- with each map boasting a distinct difference between play modes and its respective alternatives. Forget about blowing up any cover/object made of stone, as it simply doesn’t work; but the abundance of hills, trenches and infantry chokepoints makes for some fantastically furious firefights.
Perhaps the greatest achievement of this expansion is that it forces you to play as a team. It’s not just the incentive of a promised fifth map unlock when 65 million squad actions have been completed either; it’s some clever game design that balances out the strengths and weaknesses of each class with the many squad flanking opportunities and bottlenecks of the four maps.
Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Vietnam definitely feels different to what Bad Company 2 veterans are used to. And while not everything works with the new formula, it’s a refreshing change from its parent game that is, unlike a lot of DLC, worth every penny with hours of frantic gameplay on offer.