One of the things that frequently bugs me is how most ‘mainstream’ video games made by big time publishers almost always get “high scores” and lots of praises from the ‘majority media’ nowadays. All those nines and tens sprinkled in the scores columns of video game reviews, games are being pushed too close for comfort to the ‘perfect’ point to consumers, despite having flaws that should’ve dragged down the rating. This is where our occasional PC game reviews at HP Fansite come in – we get raw and messy into various PC titles to uncover the REAL truth: whether a game is worth spending your hard earned cash on… what’s good… what’s not… how the experience on YOUR PC will be (especially given the increasing number of people gaming on their notebooks)… how’s replayability like… singleplayer and/or multiplayer… and the works. All from the perspective of a true PC gamer (not some news editor who happens to work for a gaming magazine), plus collective opinions from my circle of PC gamer acquaintances.
Today, we’re taking an exclusive look at Battlefield: Bad Company 2. For the benefit of those who may not have heard of the game (how could you? It’s been the watercooler topic of most FPS/PC gamers since it was announced, gaining even more publicity during the time Infinity Ward announced “No dedicated servers” for Modern Warfare 2), Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is a first-person shooter game set in modern times. Overall, it’s a sequel to console-only first person shooter Bad Company 1, though you won’t be missing out too much if you’ve never played the first game before. The spotlight features of Battlefield: Bad Company 2 are a vast number of destructible elements (you can shoot through, blowup, cut and/or slash just about anything in the game, including making whole buildings collapse!) and ‘traditional’ Battlefield multiplayer with four classes to choose from, multiple vehicles you can drive and teamwork that you need.
That got your attention yet? Hit that link for more about Battlefield: Bad Company 2 for PC!
Unlike your average publication which regurgitates what the game publisher mentions for ‘minimum system requirements’, I actually put the game to the test on various systems to determine ‘practical’ system requirements. My testing shows that Battlefield Bad Company 2 is a game which is relies heavily on both the processor (CPU) and graphics card (GPU). For a thrilling experience running the game at high settings, you’ll need both a good processor and middle to high end graphics card. Without one or the other, you can’t run the game at its full potential.
In terms of disk space, the Battlefield: Bad Company 2 installation overall took a little under 6 GB, which is fairly efficient/compact considering vast number of in-game elements. The game files are all set in Window’s Program Files folder and saved games/profiles kept in a folder called BFBC2 under your Windows user account Documents/My Documents folder. Not bad, considering the Bad Company 2 has so many more elements, larger maps, more detailed graphics and all, and a singleplayer campaign that lasts more than twice versus its ‘nearest’ blockbuster competitor, Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2, and yet Bad Company 2 has almost HALF the disk space requirement of Modern Warfare 2 (11 GB).
In order to run the game at full HD (1080p) and above, along with the ‘high’ or maxed out settings, you’ll need at LEAST a quad-core processor of sorts (even the 1.73 GHz Mobile Core i7 Quad processor of the Envy 15 can work wonders), high-end graphics (Nvidia x50 series and above or ATI x6xx series and above) and preferably 3-4 GB of RAM. It may seem puzzling at first when running around, sniping enemies and gunning them down why you would need such high-end components, but try make a few things or two explode, or go on a high-speed vehicle chase, and you’ll realize the exact reason why! I managed to play Bad Company 2 at a minimum 25-35 FPS on a HP Envy 15 (1.73 Ghz quad core, 1 GB ATI Mobility Radeon 5830 graphics, 8 GB RAM) at full HD, all ‘high’ settings, 2X AA and 2X AF.
For those with less capable systems or using laptops, don’t fret! Early reports of Bad Company 2 BETA mentioned the game requires high end systems to run smoothly, but I guess Dice has done some tweaking to the final version of the game and it now works fine as long as you have a fairly modern, “decent” rig. Bad Company 2 will run smoothly on 720p standard HD with low-medium settings on an average dual core system (2 GHz) with entry-level to almost mid-range graphics. If you decide to push things to 1080p full HD -OR- medium-high settings (not both at the same time, unless you have a high-end PC), then I would recommend at least a 2.4 GHz dual core processor with mid-range graphics.
One of the most touted features of Bad Company 2 for PC is that it supports almost all the latest technologies made by graphics card vendors. You name it, Bad Company 2 supports it. Does it support DirectX 11? Yes (also has backward compatibility with DirectX 10, not sure about DirectX 9). Do you want to play it on 6 displays combined into one massive ‘surround screen’ using ATI Eyfinity? Can do. Hook up your pair of Nvidia 3D Vision glasses to play the game there? Done. The only thing that seems to be missing is Nvidia PhysX support – the destruction and explosions in the game seem to be either scripted or handled by the CPU+GPU.
Skills and controls
You’ll need quite a bit of experience with first-person shooters and teamwork in order to play Battlefield Bad Company 2. The game has its fair share of influence from traditional first-person shooter heads-up displays: ammo count, weapons/gadgets listing, mini-map and all. Bad Company 2 focuses less on splattering blood and gore, and more on realism. You don’t get your screen splashed excessively with tomato sauce… oops, I mean blood splatter… when you die or kill stuff, like you would in Modern Warfare 2 or Left4Dead 2 (although Left4Dead 2 is a game of different sub-genre). You don’t get mad hatters running around with noob tubes (aka grenade launchers) and half a dozen frags as you would in… certain other FPS games. You don’t get vehicles just for the sake of insane, adrenaline pumping yet meaningless chase sequences.
Instead, you’ll get some fairly realistic recoil instead in Bad Company 2 – perhaps a little too much for beginners or even some casual gamers to handle, like my dear Trisha who plays Left4Dead but rarely does “soldier FPS’s” where you actually have to aim down the iron sights. One-two style bursts with careful aiming work well in Bad Company 2 – going full auto, running and gunning, spraying and praying and random fragging all do NOT pay off, due to the nature and physics of the game. Heck, even sniper bullets can ‘drop’ over distance due to gravity, and stray off their typically-straight paths due to wind in Bad Company 2.
Teamwork is also something you need to have, or pick up, when playing Bad Company 2. Unlike typical first person shooters, you can’t be your own ‘one man army’ in Bad Company 2 – in this game, teamwork is rewarded in many ways besides getting more total kills/points for your team (ie you can even ‘share intel’ and inform your teammates about locations of enemies if you’re both looking the same way).
Bad Company 2 starts off with just ONE scene set during the 1940s World War 2 era, presumably for nostalgia reasons, and perhaps a hint of a Bad Company 2 style (graphics) “Call of Duty World at War” competitor coming from EA in the future – this scene sets the stage for the events that follow during present day, where a squad of four about-to-retire soldiers have to recover some top secret ‘weapon’ that’s been around since WW II. You soon find yourself in the shoes of a modern day soldier engaging in urban warfare to retrieve intel and hunt for the mentioned weapon, which also happens to take you around the world to the tropic jungles of South America, snowy regions of the Andes and more (sound familiar eh?).
It’s no secret that Bad Company 2 acknowledges itself to be a fierce competitor versus Infinity Ward’s ‘hit’ FPS game of 2009, and wants to take that crown away from them this year. There are various subtle/indirect criticisms about Modern Warfare 2 and its campaign incorporated into the scenes and character dialog in Bad Company 2. For example, the ‘snow’ maps are likely a hint from Dice/EA, that they can do it bigger, better, more realistic… and one dialog line implying ‘snowmobiles’ (seen in Modern Warfare 2) in war are for soldiers who are wimps.
The plot here is fairly shallow: it’s basically about a squad of (misfit) soldiers who are about to retire but are forced to go on ‘one last mission’ to capture a mystery weapon that’s very dangerous from a group of Russians (sounds familiar?). The 7 to 10 hour campaign, depending on difficulty, (which is almost twice as long as Modern Warfare 2’s singleplayer) takes you on a journey to various parts of the world as you follow the breadcrumbs and track down the bad guys. What’s fantastic about singleplayer is the lovely taste of the mind-blowing graphics of the game it leaves you with and to familiarize you with some aspects of gameplay (such as the various vehicles you can drive, things you can do, guns available to you, and of course, destructible environment); so you know what to expect in multiplayer!
On the multiplayer side, Bad Company 2 has a full-fledge multiplayer feature set, including dedicated server support and a familiar looking (if you’ve played other ‘Battlefield’ games before) ‘fixed’ class system with teamwork required. There are several maps, set in different locations with some buildings and landmarks looking similar to their singleplayer counterparts.
The class system of Bad Company 2 gives you four fixed classes to choose from (Assault, engineer, recon and medic). You get a primary weapon (gun) and sidearm, and two gadgets that are unique and exclusive to certain classes. There are just four gametypes to choose from so far: Deathmatch (self-explanatory: squad versus squad), rush (something like search-and-destroy where you have to either protect or demolish stations, depending on your team), rush – squad edition (same as above, except played with just two ‘squads’) and conquest (capture a few flags and prevent enemies from getting to them. Oh, speaking of squads, a squad is supposed to consist of four members, one from each class listed above.
Bad Company 2 uses an experience points system that allows you to unlock various guns, attachments and whatnot. You may be thinking by now, besides the squad and class system, how’s Bad Company 2 different from Modern Warfare 2? Well, I’ve already mentioned the first difference above: teamwork – unlike Modern Warfare 2 where you could be a solo cowboy-commando running and gunning, and knifing people from a mile away, Bad Company 2 requires teamwork in order for your team to win. You need to communicate with team members, carefully plan with them, share intel with them… and there are several things in-game to help you with that, most notably a feature that allows you to ‘share’ the location of enemies, if you and your teammate(s) are looking at the same enemy, at the same time.
Bad Company 2 for PC also has the numerous multiplayer features you’d expect from a PC game (heck yeah!). Chatting to your whole party, dedicated server support (albeit on “Dice certified” servers… but still, there are plenty of them. And word is, it’s pretty easy to get your server “Dice certified” as long as your server is fast and established)… which also allows for DIY server administration… like you know, kicking out annoying players or suspected hackers (something Modern Warfare 2 doesn’t allow game hosts to do, among a big list of other things). Oh, you also get to pick your own games to join and host (D-server recommended), so you and your friends can form a ‘squad’ and all play together in the same gameroom, instead of being thrown randomly into different games! I did notice an apparent lack of LAN support, however, which I suggest Dice should add via a patch or something.
With a decent singleplayer campaign and very good multiplayer implementation, I would say Battlefield Bad Company 2 deserves a collective, whole-hearted recommendation from me and people I know who’ve played the retail version, if you want a solid first-person shooter game that will keep you busy and entertained for quite a while. Bad Company 2 will keep you hooked long after you finish singleplayer, thanks to the PC ‘standard’ multiplayer features. The game isn’t for everyone, however – while seasoned gamers will fit right in and love Bad Company 2 from the start, newbies and casual gamers may find it initially frustrating due to the level of realism (especially recoil), long ‘replays’ if they die often in singleplayer and having to pick up a certain level of teamwork and cooperation with other players in multiplayer.
I’d say, overall, while it’s not the perfect game (see flaws below), Battlefield: Bad Company 2 deserves an 7 out of 10 for good multiplayer and -decent- singleplayer campaign. I’m not a big believer in numbers as they don’t really do as much justice as words and descriptions; so check out the pros and cons of the game below:
- Fantastic graphics and detail; especially with all those destructible elements
- Excellent support for modern graphics vendor technologies (Eyefinity, 3D Vision, DX11)
- Decent length singleplayer campaign (but not quite long enough versus other game genres)
- Good balance/transition between cutscenes and regular gameplay in singleplayer
- Emphasis on realism (less “arcade” like); elegantly simple heads-up display
- Very good multiplayer (encourages teamwork, dedicated server support, lots of unlocks and things to keep you busy with the game!)
- Extremely customizable controls (three separately customizable control sets for first-person ‘soldier’ mode, and two vehicle modes)
- Game looks awesome when all settings are cranked up till the max
- Slight pre-plot hole/gap for PC gamers who have never played Bad Company 1 (which was a console-only release)
- Rather shallow singleplayer plot: chasing bad guys around and following their trail
- Singleplayer: Each section is long and too few ‘autosaves’ in between; so dying is a pain
- Multiplayer: ‘Customizing’ a class isn’t as flexible as some games, some items are restricted only to a certain class
- Realistic gun recoil may make aiming an initial challenge to beginners