Review: Battlefield: Bad Company (~6 hours, Xbox 360 version)

Less than one year after Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare changed what a modern military shooter is, Electronic Arts countered with the release of Battlefield: Bad Company.  Unfortunately, this title was never released on PC, but the opportunity for a PC upgrade version feels as ripe now as ever.  Since Bad Company is a console exclusive, the developer is clearly not using the Full HD resolution of 1080p, but instead something smaller, perhaps 900p, to allow more action on-screen.  There’s comedy in the game. There’s great dialog between characters Sweetwater and Haggard, one brains and one brawn.  Credit to EA for the timely release. I had a lot of fun playing this one.

At the start of the game, you are told you are almost the hands-down most expendable team in the U.S. Army, hence the name, Bad Company.  It’s a four-person squad.  Sweetwater is brainy and good-natured, while Haggard is a strong-minded southerner with a thick accent.  The squad is led by Redford, who’s pretty much by the books with procedures.  Finally, you get to play as Preston Marlowe, who unfortunately lacks personality.  Later in the game, you see him impersonating Redford in a way. There has long been a debate about silent protagonists in games, but boy does this one ever stick out.

The guns are what you might expect.  There’s a pistol, an assault rifle, a bomb thrower of some sort, and a sniper.  There is more though. From time to time, you can operate a mortar, and later in the game, you can call for air-strikes.  From what I’ve noticed, you can run and gun with the assault rifle, or take down enemies from afar with the sniper. Both these styles of play are acceptable.  Unlike future first-person shooters, you must heal yourself, by stabbing yourself with some sort of stim-pack. It looks like Marlowe is taking insulin. The game isn’t hard once you’ve played for about half an hour.

Bad Company deserves credit for a range of vehicles you can drive.  You can drive a tank, but also a Jeep and a motorboat. You can even drive a golf cart on a thoroughly detailed golf course, or pilot a helicopter.  These vehicle options aren’t in the sequel. For a game from 2008, it’s an impressive list, though it’s mostly linear rides from one location to the next.

Again, EA DICE, the developer, clearly sacrificed scan-lines for better graphics.  It was a dirty trick in the early days of HD games, and it’s much less noticeable in modern games.  On your adventure, you constantly stumble upon boxes with bars of gold in them, and it’s Haggard’s idea to drop the association with the U.S. Army and come home rich men.  Haggard actually opens fire in a “neutral” country, and when the Army finds out, they are not especially happy. The reason he did so was to claim a suitcase of gold.

The game is as much a comedy about a rather dysfunctional team as it is a morality play about greed (taking as much gold as possible).  I do like the sequel more.  It proves that the “Bad Company” actually is a huge asset to the U.S. Military for preventing cyber-terrorism.  This is an enjoyable game, but the most regrettable thing is that it does not run on PC, which could have sharpened the graphics that much more.  That said, it appears the game made it on Xbox One’s backwards compatibility list, and Microsoft has been known to spruce up old games after enabling the port.  It might run at true 1080p, but I might be wrong.  There is a multiplayer component, but Bad Company 2 was much, much, much more popular with multiplayer.  I had fun with Battlefield: Bad Company.

4/5

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