Tag Archives: Battlefield: Bad Company

Helicopter Hunting and Universe Saving

I finished up Battlefield: Bad Company last week. When I said the game felt easy I wasn’t being entirely accurate – while it is, no doubt, easy to overcome just about anything thanks to the overly generous healing and respawning systems the difficulty definitely ramps up as the game goes on and it can be extremely frustrating respawning and quickly dying over and over again. There were a few sections towards the end of the game where I really felt like I was being put through a meat grinder.

The last boss fight involved taking down a helicopter. I had seen multiple people claim that this fight was an easy opportunity to get the achievement for shooting a helicopter with a laser designator – those people are now my enemies. πŸ˜‰

Blah. One of the only online shots of Bad Company I could find and there's an unprecedented lack of exploding going on in it.
“Blah. One of the only online shots of Bad Company I could find and there’s an unprecedented lack of exploding going on in it.”

To explain the situation a little better, the laser designator requires you to hold a view on a target for a certain amount of time in order to lock the target. Once this is done you receive a satellite view of a missile dropping towards your target which you can then clumsily guide to where you want it. It works well enough for taking down, say, a tank that hasn’t spotted you yet. Taking down a helicopter that is constantly moving and launching barrages of rockets at you? Not so much. πŸ™‚

I must have tried hitting this damn helicopter for thirty minutes or more, constantly switching between the designator and my trusty healing syringe to recover from near rocket hits, before finally getting the timing perfect enough that I could nail the chopper in one of the brief moments that it was hovering in place. Once this was done I threw down the designator and picked up a nearby rocket launcher so I could finish the job the way the game intended. Unfortunately this actually proved more difficult than I had originally imagined and I quickly used up all my ammo without taking it down. I was highly annoyed as I went back to the designator to attempt to score another one of these impossible shots to finished the deed. Luckily during the process I discovered an ammo box and was able to refill the rocket launcher and finally take down the chopper. Argh.

The ending, while setting up the potential for a sequel, was pretty enjoyable. The last shot of The Legionnaire looks freakily similar to Niko Belic. Well, Niko did say he did some bad stuff during the war, right? πŸ™‚

I hopped into multiplayer briefly just to check it out since it has such a great reputation. The action was somehow even more chaotic than the single player game with an ever-present deadly crossfire of missiles, shells, and small arms. The environments followed suit thanks to the almost nonstop sound of booming explosions and errie visuals of the smoke plume filled sky and the rubble strewn ground. I only played about four matches and they were all of the Bad Company standard “Gold Rush” attack and defense variety. The teamwork was possibly slightly less together than what you might see in a PC Battlefield game yet I was surprised to see little if any fighting over vehicle spawns or other smacktard behavior. It seemed fun – very chaotic, but fun.

All in all Bad Company seems like a solid product – far from perfect but very solid. It was good enough to make me bump the upcoming Battlefield 1943 downloadable game up to being a definite purchase when it comes out later this year.

Wake Island in the Frostbite engine? Sign me up!
“Wake Island in the Frostbite engine? Sign me up!”

Next up in my back log will be the infamous Ninja Gaiden 2. We’ve talked about this game and other related games quite a bit on the Untitled Games Podcast which has been making me really want to dive into it. At the same time I’m a little bit wary of its legendary difficulty. While beating the original Xbox Ninja Gaiden was one of my more satisfying achivements in recent gaming history I still sometimes wake in cold sweats with visions of infiltrating the imperial city looping through my brain. Seriously, I literally completely put that game down 4 or 5 times but I loved it so much up until the different points where I got stuck that I kept coming back (sometimes months later) until I eventually made a concentrated effort to beat it. I feel kind of like I’m about to go to an amusement park and I’m really looking forward to it yet at the same time I know that the rides will scare the shit of of me.

Moving on, I also finally managed to beat Marvel: Ultimate Alliance cooperatively. It wasn’t bad although, honestly, the whole time I was wondering why they haven’t released a current generation version of the Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance games and wishing I was playing that instead. That being said the ending was actually surprisingly rewarding.

Jeez, not another union mandated super hero coffee break. At least Dr. Doom gets things done!
“Jeez, not another union mandated super hero coffee break. At least Dr. Doom gets things done!”

Each mission has an optional quest. Often times these felt like normal parts of the mission and we didn’t have any difficulty casually completing them along the way though there were a few that definitely felt a bit more optional or are were harder to complete. Many of these missions felt just barely related to the mission objective enough to remove any question of their purpose though I suppose this experience could be unique to people like myself who have played way too many RPGs, particularly of the MMO variety, in which completely banal side quests are dolled out constantly with little or no consequence. Regardless I didn’t suspect that there were actually major consequences for completing or failing each of these side missions, detailed at the end.

There was one instance in which we failed a mission and didn’t think we’d be able to beat it without a ton of effort. There didn’t seem to be any consequence to failing it though so we warily let it slide. We found out at the end of the game that this ultimately resulted in the West Coast being wiped off the map. Oops! Sorry, fellas!

Additionally an answer to a subplot that you might have forgotten about by the end is revealed and there are some hilarious voice overs during the credits. That’s the least I can say about the ending.

My favorite thing about the game though has got to be how humorously absurd it is as it constantly attempts to bluntly explain the origins and powers of different Marvel Universe characters and how their stories relate to each other. Now, I’m not a huge fan but I grew up around comic books and am definitely more familiar with the characters and storylines than the average Joe yet I somehow never realized how goddamn dumb most of these back stories were, especially when connected, until I played Ultimate Alliance. Good times! πŸ˜›

Oh, and how can I forget? I’ve also been playing the XBLA version of Peggle. Yeah, it’s pretty rad…

And I Can’t Deny.

Tonight there's gonna be a jailbreak... somewhere in this town!
“Tonight there’s gonna be a jailbreak… somewhere in this town!”

I beat Grand Theft Auto 4: The Lost and Damned last weekend. I don’t have a lot to say about the ending – it wasn’t disappointing but it wasn’t as good as I felt like it could have been. Still, great game and, again, worth the 20 bucks if you’re a GTA fan. Oh, and I loved the ending credits which showed these slow motion, panoramic, birds eye views of scenes from both GTA 4 and TLAD and how some of them tied Niko and Johnny together. Very enjoyable.

The next game I’ve picked to play out of my Xbox 360 backlog is Battlefield: Bad Company. I’m a big fan of the series starting all the way back with the original Battlefield 1942 on PC but I’ve never really got into any of the attempts to bring the series to the console. I played a healthy amount of the demo of the Xbox Battlefield 2: Modern Combat and watched some friends play the Xbox 360 version when it first came out but these console version just never seemed to be as appealing to me as the PC versions. Bad Company, built from the ground up as a console game with actual effort being put into the single player mode, seemed like it could be a good opportunity to break the mold and indeed reviews of the game were pretty favorable.

The game greets you with an awesome little lounge tune on the menu screen that feels humorously out of place for a war game (obviously intentionally) and brings in some nice cinematic cut scenes as you kick off the campaign. A great first impression. Once I got into the game, however, I was immediately sapped by the odd field of view the game gives you – it seems super narrow and therefore feels unusually zoomed in compared to most first person games. This wasn’t a problem, per say, it just took a little getting used to.

Once I played around in the game a bit I was quite impressed by this new “Frostbite” engine that DICE put together. The graphics look pretty good with some interesting lighting and shadow effects. The maps are fairly large and the draw distance seems quite respectable. I didn’t really notice any crazy pop in or other issues like that either – in fact the only real immersion breaking thing I ran into was the disappearance of destroyed vehicles after a couple of minutes – it seems rather odd for destroyed vehicles and dead bodies to vanish when so much effort has been put on making the environment destructible. You can knock the side off of the building and it’s gone for good, yet the wreckage of the giant heavy tank next to it vanishes into thin air? Eh, that’s a little knit pick I suppose.

Yeah, it's kind of a fixer-upper.
“Yeah, it’s kind of a fixer-upper.”

Speaking of the environmental destruction though… Wow! It’s great. Trees, signs, fences, etc. all (finally!) fall down when your tank goes barreling into them. Some shots even seem to leave craters in the ground. The experience of walking through a forest only to have a group of trees suddenly fall all around you from a surprise cannon blast is totally unique to say the least. The world doesn’t necessarily feel too delicate though – your dune buggy won’t be knocking walls off of buildings and you’re not going to spray your assault rifle into a forest and watch dozens of trees come cascading down.

As far as buildings go I was pretty skeptical at first given that you can’t blow up everything. Indeed, only certain walls will blow out – you can’t completely knock a building down to it’s foundation or anything that drastic but it is an still extremely effective. With tanks firing cannon rounds, helicopter firing rockets, and soldiers lobbing RPGs and grenades all over the place in a lot of these fire fights it is great to actually see some tangible destruction as a result.

There was at least one occasion where a couple of enemy soldiers were holed up in a barracks and the door was on the other side of the building from where I was standing. I decided rather than go around the barracks and risk getting shot at from the windows just to lob a M203 round at the side of the wall and walk straight in. There have also been a few occasions where the illusion of safety presented to me by taking cover behind a wall in typical video game fashion suddenly went out the window as the wall I was hiding behind crumbled down and I was left completely exposed. On the other end of the spectrum during one firefight I was dashing between buildings evading enemy fire when an enemy chucked a grenade at me. It didn’t injure me notably but it did destroy the wall to a building behind me suddenly revealing another enemy who, apparently finding his morning shave to be much less of a priority, started firing on me from my other side. Neat.

Beyond the destructible environment the engine seems to have quite a lot of nice effects that help the action feel more alive. On that front the sound in this game is also great. While I wouldn’t suggest that the sounds themselves are particularly realistic they’re very satisfying. Thumbs up to the responsible parties at DICE.

Guns feel pretty good though I do wish the damage was a little higher. I just hate having to pump half a magazine into a dude to kill him. Vehicles, so far, feel decent enough though the controls took a bit of getting used to. I’ve still yet to climb into a chopper at this point though. The controls for on foot are pretty good though – you can swap between weapons with the right shoulder button and between other gear with the left. The right trigger fires while the left zooms to your iron sights. The other gear I mentioned can be anything from C4, RPGs, and laser designators to your trusty healing syringe. Melee (a knife) has it’s own button but seems to deploy a little too slowly for my tastes, especially after playing Halo 3 recently.

I've got my eyes on you, tree!
“I’ve got my eyes on you, tree!”

The healing syringe system is pretty different – you can switch to this item and heal yourself completely with the press of a button as often as you like. While there is a recharge timer to keep you from spamming your heal it is pretty short. It kind of reminds me of a manual take on the whole Halo shield recharge system that so many games have barrowed over the years. As silly and unrealistic as it is I think I actually like it. Speaking of health, when you do actually die you don’t really incur much of a penalty. You’re basically revived a short distance from where you died, with your squad, with everything you did just before dying persisting. Between those two features you can feel pretty invincible at times even during some of the more difficult sections that have you healing and respawning constantly.

Your squad mates have it easy too. They never really die, they don’t need to be healed, and they’ll even rubber band to your position when need be. In fact as soon as you hop in a vehicle, no matter where they are on the map, they’re in it with you. Pretty unrealistic but it works well enough. On the other hand it does give you the impression that your character is the focus of the game despite the story telling you otherwise – that is, your character is the new guy in your squad and you’re certainly not the leader, yet your squad mates follow you around and never seem to object to any decisions you make. To be honest this stood out as feeling a little odd to me from the very beginning – your squad leader pretty much only actually leads in cut scenes. Ah well, at least these AI squad members are actually capable of killing enemies from time to time.

One last thing to mention is the humor. I honestly thought there would be a lot more of it. Sure, there are a few funny lines here and there but what little comedy is there often fails to impress me and I’m certainly not one of those people who is exceedingly snobby when it comes to humor. Probably the opposite, even.

I’m about half way through the game and looking forward to wrapping it up relatively quickly. I haven’t even stepped foot into multiplayer which is a significant portion of the game, if not the focus. It seems to have a lot of great features and, given the rest of the game, could be great. If I started playing it when it was first released and/or had friends playing it on a regular basis I could definitely seem myself dumping a considerable amount of time into it but most likely won’t even try it during this playthrough.

Ugh, now I’ve got the song “Bad Company” stuck in my head now and I’ve had “Jailbreak” stuck in my head on and off for weeks now thanks to TLAD.

Screenshots lifted from somewhere else since I can’t easily take HD console screenshots.