July 10, 2008

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Battlefield: Bad Company (PS3/360)
EA Digital Illusions CE, June 23, rated T
By Glenn "No, YOU jump on the grenade" Given production@hippopress.com

Hrmm, a video game where you at shoot other people? I don’t know about that…

The stalwart PC multiplayer shooter series Battlefield amends its greatest fault with a new single-player campaign as it makes its way onto the next-gen consoles. Sadly it only had to cut down the player limit of the online component by 40.

I’ve long been a fan of the Battlefield series. Back when slope-browed frat bros were slapping each other’s behinds in digital glee over HALO’s “totally awesome” deathmatch, I was storming across the land in tanks, jets, helicopters and humvees enjoying more customizability per character than you could shake a stick at, all while working with a massive team to annihilate online foes that numbered four times as many as in the next comparable console title. I’m sorry, console shooter fan, you are simply playing on an inferior platform. The scope and crafty design the D.I.C.E. put into the Battlefield series has always impressed, and their console translation does as well, though it is bittersweet. Bad Company’s single-player follows a squad of AWOL soliders in a fictional future war between the U.S. and Russia. Motivated by chutzpah and greed, you tromp across expansive levels with destructable environments and make mayhem in the direction of a plot concerning gold, betrayal, respect and A-Team-like antics with golf carts and attack copters. The story is funny and passably interesting as FPS narratives go. It’s certainly a refreshing step up from the grim “lone-wolf soldier fights alien horde” that the latest shooters try and sell you.

Multiplayer here is varied and interesting. As with the PC version, player kits are selectable for weapon load out and each conforms to specific battlefield roles like support, recon and the like. Players are free to hop in and out of various military vehicles and drill away at the enemy with glee. Disappointingly, the release version of Bad Company only includes the Gold Rush mode where one team must defend a pair of crates and whittle down the assaulting team’s numbers. A more traditional point-capturing Conquest mode is promised to be patched in soon. Bad Comapny is a well done FPS with excellent level design, control and and interesting plot, but fans of the multiplayer perfection of the PC titles will find it sad and unimpressive. B+Glenn Given