Thursday, January 28, 2010

Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Xbox 360 demo (hands-on)

Let's blow up more buildings!

A month before the release of the original Battlefield: Bad Company, the game's demo was the only thing I played at that time because it felt so engaging to be part of large scale base battles in the game's "Gold Rush" mode (in both attacking and defensive sides). It did have a linear feel to it as opposed to DICE's PC predecessors where they were more open ended with the "Conquest" mode but things like sniping attacking runners or reigning down with a helicopter on an opposing base were very intense and addicting. Bad Company 2 is a similar case especially having a beta shortly before the month away demo release. Users of the PlayStation 3 were able to get their hands on it first for testing but many Xbox 360 players (including me) now have the opportunity to try out the changes applied in this upcoming sequel.

The demo features full 24 player online support on one map different from the PS3 beta. Instead of a desert like environment, the demo map is a winter-based Russia as they attack the Americans defending a oil pipeline.

Like the previous Bad Company demo, this features the assault gametype renamed as "Rush" removing any evidence of gold. Within the context of the game universe, it's not about getting a prestigious object but more of presenting the conflict against the Russians and Americans with each trying to gain ground. Besides the changes in the name and drive of the mode, there are some tweaks that can be compared to "Gold Rush." Although based on destroying two crates and moving on to another defensive base carrying more, the attacking team is then required to stay in their conquered area for a short amount of time before assaulting the next one. It seemed very awkward at first but as soon as I was on the defending team, it made more sense. Not only that time in between prevents the attackers from making an immediate and cheap victory, it helps recompose the defensive side and make a better plan in draining the opposing force's tickets. Added from the arcade hit Battlefield 1943 is an improved spawning system where you can spawn in base or with a particular squad member which can help turn the tide of battle.

As with a Battlefield game, there are vehicles featured for each side. The Americans can use helicopters to provide air support against the Russians who assault with tanks, light armor, and even four-wheeled ATVs. Another addition used by the Russians in the demo map is a small remote controlled helicopter which can provide recon support and even guide missiles to designated targets. Much different from the original Bad Company in terms of controlling but worked pretty well when I got the hang of it as the shoulder button controls most of the driving and shooting mechanics allowing the player to steer and aim with ease.

One very distinguishable difference from the previous Bad Company multiplayer is the classes provided. As opposed to the original five classes, it has been reduced to four: assault, engineer, medic, and recon (from the original Bad Company's assault, demolition, specialists, recon, and support). My first thought was that they would compromise each of the class' dynamics but the tweaks are justifiable. Removing the specialist class and providing some of its attributes to others blend in pretty well; for example, the sniper class obtains C4 charges (which are key for low profile destruction). The case of trading tools also happens in other classes too with some being placed in a new section dedicated to universal secondary weapons. If you wanted a shotgun for your sniper, its possible in this game.

To obtain it though, it's all based on leveling up from playing games. Besides getting new ranks, players can obtain bonus weapons by gaining experience points from a specific class. The demo though only provides one new weapon for each class but as it's released, similar to Modern Warfare 2, players (including me) will try to get all of them.

The playing feels much like the original Bad Company but a bit faster when engaging the enemy in a very closed-in setting. Explosions constantly appear everywhere and death happens a lot but with regenerative health it's less painful to experience. To lessen the death issue even more is the inclusion of the medic class having a defibrillator (introduced in Battlefield 2) which revives downed teammates at an instant if they don't respawn. When playing the sniper based recon class, I was surprised of how DICE treated sniper rifles. The previous game featured a realistic like delay in a sniper shot and Bad Company 2 takes it to another level with weight. Specifically a bullet shot in long range loses its consistency to where it arcs and the bullet falls downward. This avoids the issue of 100% accuracy and forces to predict where the shot may lead to.

Making use of an updated Frostbite Engine, the detail in the game is much more detailed in graphical fidelity than its predecessor. There is much more content present while moving smooth and consistent. The characteristic destruction system makes a return and is implemented to the "Rush" game type much better than before. Most of the players in the games I experienced destroyed the walls surrounding the crates as an alternative to planting explosives. The attackers can make use of the destroyed walls for tanks to fire upon while defenders might want to use it to lure attackers and shoot them when their position is compromised.

Although a multiplayer demo, I am impressed with the changes done for the Bad Comapny sequel. I hope to have a great and fun time when it releases this March.