Call on 'B'...
How do you like your shooters? A medium rare fragfest, packed with peppery eye-scouring action? Or perhaps you'd prefer a well done sizzler, with deep tactical gameplay and a distinctive flavour that lingers for weeks? Whatever your tastes, Battlefield: Bad Company 2 has everything you need on its menu. The sequel to the 2008 cult hit, which marked the next generation console debut of DICE's perennial online franchise, this is a game full of meat and muscle that should satisfy any hungry gamer.
For the solo player, there's a thunderous fourteen-mission campaign which takes the rugged rogues of Bravo Company and drops them into an apocalyptic race against time to stop the Russians using a secret Japanese weapon from World War Two to trigger a US invasion.
Taking full advantage of DICE's own Frostbite physics engine to conjure up combat scenarios from the peaks of the Andes to the depths of the rainforest, every bullet, grenade and rocket impacts the scenery and chips away at it. No enemy can hide for long when you can bring down the house he's hiding in around his ears. Of course, it works both ways - you'll soon learn that unlike other shooters, ducking behind a brick wall is no defence against a tank in the world of Bad Company.
Guns to go
Weapon fetishists are well served by a veritable buffet of guns to collect, either from fallen foes or by using your mini-map to locate weapon crates. Every new firearm you discover gets added to your collection, and at special supply points you can mix and match from everything you've found, rather than being stuck with whatever the level has to offer.
There are also vehicles, though their use is rather scripted in the story. Even so, you'd have to be a real stickler for originality not to get a kick out of the terrifying truck chases, tank battles and quad bike races that punctuate the epic firefights.
School for scoundrels
Perhaps Bad Company 2's best secret weapon is its characters, however. A lovable quartet of quick-witted heroes, they make even the clumsiest story developments palatable with their laugh-out-loud banter and sarcastic quips. "Yes, I'm familiar with how crates work" comes one deadpan response, as Sarge explains how to re-arm yourself for the first time.
From the World War Two opening through to an airborne finale that wouldn't be out of place in a blockbuster action movie, Bad Company 2 isn't about to fall into the trap of stringing unrelated gunfights together with lazy cutscenes. You're always aware of where you need to go, but also why you need to get there.
Respect the rank
Of course, with any shooter the offline single player mode is only half the story, and Battlefield's ten-year PC heritage means that fans of multiplayer are getting a phenomenally well designed selection of maps and game modes to play with.
Unlocking new weapons and abilities as you level up, using a simple yet effective system that rewards excellence in each combat class - Assault, Recon, Engineer, Medic - with appropriate perks. Though initially daunting, DICE's expertise means that even complete novices can get something out of an online skirmish and come away with something to show for the experience. With two free maps already included when you buy the game new, it's clear that Bad Company 2 is an investment for the future, with months of gameplay for those willing to rise up the ranks.
What is it good for?
It's almost impossible not to think of Modern Warfare 2 when playing Bad Company, but the comparison proves extremely favourable. For anyone who has exhausted the joys of Activision's monster hit, or just grown tired of its all-or-nothing multiplayer, this is the ideal next step.
With stunning graphics, eye-popping destruction and gameplay that hides subtle depths beneath explosive mayhem, Bad Company 2 is a thoroughbred shooter.
- Funny and exciting single player.
- Superb multiplayer maps and modes.
- Playable by anyone, regardless of experience.
- Solo campaign is quite generic.
- Helicopter controls are tricky.
- Fierce multiplayer requires dedication and patience.