As you'd expect from a Battlefield
game, there are plenty of vehicles available to help you wreak havoc, including armoured cars, tanks, artillery and even boats and helicopters. The developers, DICE, drew the line at planes though because of control and gameplay balancing issues. Shame, really.
Each map is a set of bottlenecks with clusters of buildings around the gold crates, and wide open spaces in between each crate point. This means that if you're an attacker, you'll either need to get to the crates by vehicle, or you'll need to sneak around the back. As a defender, you can sit tight until you need to rush to the next set of crates. Unless, of course, the attackers start shelling the buildings.
I mention this, because all of the structures in Bad Company
are destructible. Having problem finding a way into a building? No problem. Just use the tank to shoot a hole in the wall. Trees in the way? No problem. Shoot them down.
Destruction adds an extra dimension of play, since even when you're in a building, you're never really safe. It’s how we always hoped physics would be used in a game.
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There's a huge range of weapons to wreak your destruction with too, only a few of which are available at the start of the game. Others will become available as you progress through the ranks, which means that your arsenal will become more serious as you become more proficient at the game. Since most of the games are ranked, you should always be playing with others of a suitable rank and weapon set though, which stops the game getting unfair.
There are five professions available in the game, each with their own special set of weapons and abilities. If you find your team is lacking in one area of expertise once you've started, you can choose a new class each time you respawn.
When you do respawn, you can either choose to do so back at your nearest base, or with another member of your squad. While the former choice is the safest, it can often result in a long trek to get to the action; conversely, respawning with the rest of the squad means you get to the action instantly, but run the risk of dying rather more rapidly, depleting your reinforcements if you’re attacking.
The matchmaking system is fairly good – it results in a fairly evenly matched group of players, although invariably there's one player whose score is miles ahead of anyone else's. This is just sour grapes, though, as invariably I'm at the bottom of the rankings.
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Bearing in mind that Battlefield: Bad Company
is just a beta, and we're probably another three months away from release, the game is surprisingly polished. There were a few framerate drops, but only when the action gets really frantic – which it often does thanks to the destructible environments. Likewise, there were a few network dropouts, but EA are still tweaking the servers, so this is to be expected.
At first, the game seems overwhelming. When you first play, there's a lot going on – the game plays at a much more frenetic pace than previous Battlefield
games – and it's quite confusing at first. After a few respawns though (quite a few, in my case), you get the hang of things and Bad Company
becomes very enjoyable. The multiple base scenario means that single games can easily last up to half an hour.
There are still a few balancing issues to sort out – for example, it takes what seems like an inordinate amount of bullets to kill another player – but I'm sure they'll be sorted out as development progresses.
Gold Rush is an interesting twist to the usual multiplayer games too, but I think the big story with Battlefield: Bad Company
is going to be the single player storyline. Can a game that has been resolutely multiplayer only since day one really come up with a compelling single player game? You'll have to wait another couple of months to find out.
In the meantime, there's a gold bar waiting with my name on it. (I guess you didn’t mention how addictive the game was then! – Ed