Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Vietnam


Written by Chris Price
10 Monday 10th January 2011

Let’s just clear one thing up. I don’t like actually shooting things. Anyone who reads my scribblings on a regular basis would be forgiven for thinking I do though – it seems each week brings a new chapter in the First Person Shooter (FPS) genre. But it’s a sign of the times. Competitor Call of Duty: Black Ops has recorded over $1billion worth of sales for publishers Activision. This might be a fraction of the frankly confusing swords-and-social-ostracisation fest that is World of Warcraft – but this is the figurehead for a very successful year for the FPS genre.


The genre was completely overhauled at the beginning with fantastic Battlefield: Bad Company 2 – an equally deep and accessible wargame, with its fantastic online community (especially its ‘Rush’ mode - read more here). And publishers Electronic Arts decided to tail off the year with some Vietnam themed downloadable content. And it’s very good. And if developers out there want to learn how to make a seductive team war-sim, Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Vietnam is a solid blueprint.


Both commercial nemesis Call of Duty and Battlefield brands debuted in WW2 settings, both vying for commercial success off the back of Saving Private Ryan/Band of Brothers hysteria. Both have found commercial success with modern settings and automatic weapons and red-dot precision aiming. Going back to dungarees and iron sights seemed about as appealing as actual jungle warfare.
Vietnam strips back the game and showcases BFBC2s naked raw soul. It’s about moving in small teams, setting-up attack positions behind trees and in ditches. It’s laying down covering fire while the Medic class revives soldiers to keep battle-lines populated. It’s about seeking cover when outnumbered in enemy territory to provide a re-spawn point for new players to enter the battlefield, like a fleshy Stargate. Again, scouting returns (pressing SELECT when in eye-line puts enemy locations on your team’s mini-map). COD:BOs frantic multiplayer maps are twitchy but emotionally disengaged. BFBC2 Vietnam just about balances every strength with a weakness – empowering the solo player and the party equally. And the successful will be rewarded with followers.

Visually, it’s the bloodied cast of Full Metal Jacket vs. an identikit 80’s action film North Vietnamese Army. You getfive new multiplayer maps to ramble around - including the futile Hill 136 (aka ‘Hamburger Hill’). Each plays perfectly to one of each of the playable characters specialisations – sniper cover for bamboo bridge walkways for Cao Son Temple - constant Assault ammo drops for the war of attrition that is Phu Bai Valley – and the recently delivered temple skirmish, complete with a whole array of vehicles.

15 new guns include a flamethrower, lethal in close quarters and a whole bunch of 60’s era weaponry, beefed up from the original’s WW2 rifles, and easy to adapt to. The six new vehicles (complete incidental Wagner/Schiffrin/Hendrix score) – tanks, gunboats and helicopters are rare, valuable commodities. It takes a team to operate them properly, as does taking them down – making experienced pilots and drivers, as well as dead-eye gunners vital assets.
I’m not down on Call of Duty: Black OpsVisually it makes BFBC2 Vietnam looks a generation out of date - with awkward ragdoll physics, soldiers running like chickens, and odd depth of field rendering. It’s impeccable finish and reward system makes for a fantastic package. But if COD:BO is a precision smartbombing of faceless targets from a stealth jet, BFBC2 is twatting enemy soldiers with shovels in a mud puddle. BFBC2 hasn’t peaked, and the potential of the next Battlefield title and the anticipation on my part is greater than anything I’ve received from COD to date. Dice have nailed the intangible wargame basics with a less-is-more approach - and BFBC2 Vietnam comprehensively underlines their achievement.
Top and tailing the year with such a killer game and wonderful piece of downloadable content sets the tone for a fantastic year in video games. BFBC2 isn’t just a download that adds extra levels or weapons, it strips the original back to the essence of its replay value, and shows a development team in full control of the most intangible aspects of their product – and proves exciting for the future. But with Black Ops downloadable content First Strike imminent, and titles like Brink, Crysis 2 and Killzone 3 all slated for early 2011 release, the battle for supremacy of my TV and electricity bill looks like its going to be fierce.
Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Vietnam is available as downloadable content for PC, XBOX™360, Playstation®3 for either 1200 Microsoft Points or £9.99



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