The Battlefield series has been around for quite a while, and in recent years it seemed to have taken a turn for the worse.
It was with some scepticism that I received Battlefield: Bad Company. I wasn’t expecting much, but after having played through the game I feel I could have been expecting a whole lot and it still would have blown me away. This game breaks new ground for the FPS genre, but also for the warfare genre, and has learnt a lot from its predecessors as well as from other games in the genre.
Battlefield: Bad Company puts you in the shoes of Preston Marlowe, a young guy with a chequered past. You’ve been dropped into the middle of a war zone with B-Company, which is filled with the misfits of the U.S. Army and nicknamed Bad Company.
Your squad is made up of Sarge, a big black guy with a cool head and a smooth voice; Haggard, who carries a rocket launcher and is essentially the brawn of the outfit, always getting himself into trouble; and Sweetwater, who is the brains, but lacks the bravado that Haggard seems to have in spades.
Bad Company is set in the near future and the weapons and vehicles reflect this nicely. The U.S. is in the middle of a war with Russia and you have been stationed in the middle of it. Moments after arriving bets are being made as to how long you’ll live, and you sink into the role of being the newbie in a hardened unit. The jokes and one liners are to large extent quite funny, and the dialogue is entertaining. One of the fun parts of the game is the interaction between Haggard and Sweetwater, who at any chance (in cut scenes) will break into a game of rock-paper-scissors or hassle each other. All of this brings the characters to life and gives a level of personality which doesn’t happen often enough in games like this.
On one of the earlier missions, you and your squad encounter some mercenaries carrying a bunch of gold bars. Sweetwater recites a rumour about where the gold comes from, and that there might well be a lot more of it. The squad, already receiving tough treatment from the rest of the U.S. military, with the whiff of riches in the air, decide to chase the gold - despite not having clearance to do so. From this point on the squad is acting mostly illegally, and receives little support from the rest of the Army. The story, clearly inspired by the 1999 movie Three Kings (starring George Clooney), is really golden. It is fun, and amusing, and involves a small scale invasion of a country you’ve never heard of (by small scale, I mean four guys - but they sure pack a lot of heat).
For what has traditionally been a multiplayer franchise, this foray into single-player territory has gone very well indeed. The squad-based combat is there, you can crouch and run, and the missions are exciting. The open world also works very well to give the feeling of freedom.
The environments provide a wide variety of settings, from mountains to lakes and rivers, forests to golf courses (yes, golf courses - along with golf carts to drive, or blow up with your tank). The maps are big, reminiscent of Operation Flashpoint. They’re certainly not endless, but your view distance is superb and you can drive all over the place. You are constrained to remaining within your mission area however, the worst part of which is barrelling down the road in a jeep when you stray outside the specified zone and have only five seconds to return to the mission area, which is near on impossible to achieve. But if this occurs you are merely reset at your spawn point (which moves as you hit certain checkpoints).
All in all you are given eight distinct missions which are divided up into a load of objectives. Each mission takes at least one to two hours giving the game quite a solid single-player experience. The shooting and manoeuvring feels good, however the option to go prone is missing. You have a range of weapons and war-machines at your disposal - or rather, as you commandeer them.