There was a time when Battlefield games weren’t so serious, weren’t centered around downloadable content, and weren’t filled to the brim with pointless quick time events. Battlefield: Bad Company 2 was one of those games. Whilst its successors, Battlefield 3 & 4 are without doubt great games in their own right, Bad Company 2 reached another level of greatness. Revisiting it on PC has been a joyous experience that has reminded me of why I loved this game so much in the first place.
Let’s start with the single player campaign. The story was engaging and brought to life by brilliant characters such as the deranged Texan pyromaniac Haggard. The writing was sharp and witty and the voice acting was top-notch. You play as Private Preston Marlowe, a member of the ragtag battalion known as ‘Bad Company’, which is sent out to find the elusive Aurora scalar weapon. The story mode has you quite literally tearing up eastern Russia, dense Bolivian jungle and the Andes before touching down in Texas.
In recent years game developer Dice has put a lot of work into making the Battlefield series feel more cinematic, but often this has backfired. BF3 & BF4 were weighed down by constant drama – a nuclear explosion in Paris, a chase scene through the streets of New York, a typhoon in Singapore – it was easy to become jaded by this over the top approach. BC2 was great because it didn’t take itself seriously, and was funny through and through. Instead of relying on jaw-dropping moments of drama, the game made the most of dialogue, with characters babbling to each other throughout the game, even during the heat of a firefight.
There was never a dull moment with the multiplayer side of BC2 either. As well as laying the groundwork for its successors, multiplayer was fast and exciting, with great map design and massively destructible environments (all thanks to the Frostbite 1.5 engine). Each map was different, taking the player through every kind of environment, and helping to channel the flow of combat. There was a wide variety of weapons and devices available to unlock with clear and meaningful distinctions between the different playable classes. There were fewer options when it came to customising weapons, but at the time the number of weapons and devices available was impressive. It was clear that Dice put a lot of time into getting multiplayer right.
Many have complained about the emphasis placed on downloadable content in BF3 & BF4, with Battlefield Premium being loathed by many. Remarkably, the DLC available in BC2 was actually worth purchasing. Although not available on the PC version, Onslaught mode enabled squads to battle their way across a map in as quick a time as possible. The Vietnam expansion, which was available on PC, changed the game completely, transporting player way back to the late sixties with music from the likes of Creedence Clearwater Revival and Jefferson Airplane. Again, it felt like Dice had put a lot of effort into creating meaningful DLC, helping to keep the game fresh and exciting.
Dice CEO Karl-Magnus Troedsson recently admitted that he couldn’t understand the success of Bad Company, asking Eurogamer “what is it that the people really liked about Bad Company?” Ultimately, Bad Company 2 was a great game because it was clear that a lot of time and effort hAd been put in to make it an all-round good game. It built on what it had achieved with the first Bad Company, and struck a nice balance between single player and multiplayer. Single player had a great story with loveable characters, whilst multiplayer had lots of destruction and fast paced action. It’s obvious that a lot of tender love and care went into this game, which in my mind will always be my favourite Battlefield game.