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Battlefield: Bad Company on Game and Player

Battlefield: Bad Company

Zach Hines  //  July 3, 2008

Sandbags, beware.


f there is a mainstay of military FPS games, it's the indestructible sand bag. These spit-in-the-face-of-physics, defiant inanimate objects have always been the salvation of those in need of a place to hide and heal, and the bane of those in vehicles. I think you know what I'm getting at. Well, look who's laughing now, sandbags! Battlefield: Bad Company has arrived, you're no longer roadblocks to progress.

Battlefield: Bad Company, published by Electronic Arts, places you in the shoes of a recent assignee to B-Company, the outfit for the military's pariahs. If you're in B-Company, chances are you'll remain there. Why? Because, chances are, you'll die there. B-Company members are fodder. They're sent on missions that are likely to end in death or capture. This right here is one of Battlefield: Bad Company's strengths — it has a story. Campaigns of most Battlefield games to date have been so lackluster that they essentially served as prolonged tutorials to equip you for online play. So it's nice to see an attempt at a more fleshed out storyline.

Characters come alive
through their personalities.
It's not perfect mind, you. You're at war with Russians. Why? Hell if I know. All of a sudden there are mercenaries involved, and they have gold. You want their gold, so you go AWOL. There are issues of military abandonment and PMCs thrown in, but they're not taken too seriously. For the most part, the storyline is pretty lighthearted. Your band of misfits spends its time cracking jokes and making bets about the likelihood of survival. It's war, but for these guys, it's more of a game.

Gameplay-wise, Battlefield: Bad Company is fairly standard, but with some additions that help it stand out. The most noteworthy, the main selling point of the game, is the level of destruction you can inflict on your surroundings. You can basically destroy anything you see. If there's a forest, blow up in with a rocket launcher, or plow through it in a truck. If there's no door, make a door with a grenade launcher. Your enemies have nowhere to hide, and neither do you. Gone are the days of scrambling behind a wall to heal yourself, because your enemies won't wait forever. Soon after you've ducked around a corner, or into a building, you'll be shelled with grenades or tank rounds in an attempt to bring you back out into the open. This "nowhere-to-hide" element makes for fast-paced combat that can easily cause you to feel disoriented if you're not focused. I found this less predictable method of play to be much more enjoyable.

Another aspect of the game I enjoy — which many people may go either way on — is the healing method. In most current-day FPS games, you simply need to find a quiet spot for a few seconds, and you'll automatically heal yourself back to full. How you do this, no one knows. In Battlefield, however, you have what appears to be a little adrenaline injector that you can plunge into your chest to bring your health back to full. The reason I like this method better is that it requires active healing again. You won't heal yourself automatically, ever; you have to monitor it yourself. It requires an extra level of attention to play.

There are a great many weapons to be had, whether supplied or taken from fallen enemies. Some secondary weapons are quite fun, too. There is something magical about acquiring an artillery indicator to be used against enemy troops.

Gameplay isn't perfect, though. Enemy AI runs the gamut between ruthlessly cunning and comatose. Vehicles control rather well but are mapped in a very uncomfortable way — accelerate with the left trigger, reverse with the left bumper. My biggest gripe is with some of the design elements. I know the game is meant to have a sandbox feel to it. However, I find it contrived when I'll be walking along, and there just happens to be an empty tank sitting on the side of the road, with no one around, waiting for me to take it. I can understand if I went into an outpost and liberated an enemy tank for my use, but Bad Company has a habit of conveniently placing vehicles for my use in the most unlikely and unrealistic places.

The other gripe is enemy chatter. The most memorable instance was from when I was laying siege to a building. only to hear the Russian mercenaries inside yell, "You cover me while I flank." Not only did they yell out their tactics clear as day, but they did so in English! Why in the world would enemy combatants give away their position and their plans in the enemy's language? That's just stupid design. Things like that kill the immersion factor.

The online component, the meat and potatoes of the franchise, has returned with a new mode — Gold Rush. In this scenario, one team acts as Defenders, protecting caches of gold at strategic points on the map. The other team acts as Attackers, whose job it is to advance and destroy the caches of gold. The Defenders win by holding out long enough to exhaust the Attackers' reinforcements (read: respawns), and the Attackers win by taking control of all the gold locations. It's a pretty fun addition, and makes for some great back-and-forth combat that is equal parts deathmatch and strategy.

Immersion makes this a strong entry
for the current console cycle.
Visually, Bad Company is a very strong entry for the current console cycle. Cutscenes are rendered in-game, B-Company soldiers have a great deal of detail in their individual uniforms, and body language adds to the game's humor. Tanks are a mix of gleaming metal and caked grime. Artillery shells and rockets are followed by vapor trails as they close in on their targets, and buildings satisfyingly explode into individual bits of brick and wood. Explosions are the cream of the crop visually in this game, and this is obviously by design. Seeing a building façade crumble to the ground is enjoyable to behold each and every time. The game has a proper color palette for a military-based game, and the light bloom isn't overdone (thank you). The only real improvement I could see being made would be a bit more contrast to help separate friend from foe.

Another area that Battlefield really excels is its sound design. This game really shines audibly when you are in the middle of an intense firefight. Bullets whiz by your head as bits of mortar crumble beside you, while explosions and yelling comes at you from all sides. Tanks firing on you at a distance sound muffled, until all of a sudden you're rocked by an exploding shell. It's a very immersive experience. Your squadmates' chatter is comical and well done. Characters really come alive through their personalities.

This is a very solid and fun game. It has a more robust story, great features in both on and offline play, strong visuals, and ample sound. It has its flaws, but nothing to prevent your enjoyment. In the time I spent with it online, I found multiplayer to be very stable, with no problems getting in a match. If you're a fan of sandbox games, a fan of the series, or are just looking for a new FPS title, Battlefield: Bad Company delivers on all fronts. It is said that war is hell, but that doesn't mean you can't have a good laugh at it.

Battlefield: Bad Company



EA Digital Illusions CE


Electronic Arts

NA Release

June 23, 2008


Play Mode

ESRB Rating

In Favor

  • Destructible environments
  • Strong online component


  • Strange vehicle control mapping
  • Absurd enemy chatter

G&P Rating

Articles by Zach Hines


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