BFBC2 PS3 Demo Review - ejronin Blog - www.GameInformer.com
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BFBC2 PS3 Demo Review

Demos are an odd beast and sometimes interchangeable with the term ‘beta’. With Battlefield Bad Company 2 (BFBC2) EA / Dice gives you just enough of the picture to make a judgment, but not enough to make a sound one.  Based on the demo the full retail release which EA claims to be a competitor to Activision’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 may find itself short (coming from a guy who abhors MW2… that’s kind of saying something).

BFBC2 take place right after the events of BFBC1 with the same characters, the demo however doesn’t give away any of that detail, presumably to keep people awaiting the 10 hour or less single player campaign on edge. That said, here’s the break down of the soldier classes in the game.

Classes:

Assault: The  “Assault” class is your standard infantryman. He has your run of the mill semi-automatic rifle (AK, upgrades to XM8 Prototype), and a grenade launcher attachment. Mostly the ‘meat’ of a team, good for swarming and since they have no real special ability, they’re a well-rounded choice for people that like to get into the thick of things.

Medic: The “Medic” is a strange class. He carries the heavy machine gun and a defibrillator. The problem with this is if the enemy is smart and organized, you lose your suppression and your healer at the same time. He upgrades to the M249 SAW.

Engineer: The “Engineer” is the standard anti-armor, sub-machine gun wielding fellow except that the sub-machine gun is silenced and has a reduced range and crappy accuracy ‘out of the box’. He’s good for clearing buildings, and popping up behind armor, but it takes a couple of AT rounds which load very slowly to take them out. A quick spin of a tank turret or a tanker who throws it in reverse can take him out without much worry. His unlockable ability is the ‘dart gun’ which paints a target for rockets to lock on to, allowing ‘teams’ of engineers to become highly effective at stopping encroaching armor. Still, he’s defensively useless in open areas and easy prey for “Recon”. The Engineer upgrades to a SCAR-L (it fires 5.56 NATO rounds with a smaller magazine as opposed to the "H" model which uses a 7.62 NATO round - it's lighter duty, but more effective in real world scenarios than the HK416 and M4 Carbine) - In any event, it's probably the best weapon upgrade in the demo, if not game (if EA / Dice uses relatively accurate models and data).

Recon: The “Recon” class is a specialized sniper. He carries the Semtex and proximity sensors (in lieu of the standard claymores) which are thrown like grenades and more or less act like a motion detector allowing him to see movement on the map without exposing himself to gunfire or to lie in wait (read: camp). One of the unlockables in the demo is a mortar strike, which have little use in a building but can be hell for rooftop snipers and TOW missile campers. The upgraded sniper rifle is the T88 S.

All classes carry a standard pistol sidearm and a single grenade.

 

Overall the game has as many pluses and it does minuses.

The Good

+ “Destruction 2.0″:  Tired of people hiding in buildings? Blow it up. Problem solved.  Feeling sadistic and want to take out people swarming the ‘flag’ to protect it? Grab the T-90 or the AH-64 and… blow it up. Just want to see how it works? Great! Blow. It. The ***. Up.  Destruction 2.0 is what makes the world destructible. Careful though, while it leave no cover for the enemy, you too can find yourself over exposed.

+ Vehicle roles: vehicles play an integral role into the success of a mission, and they’re not overly complicated to use and maneuver. The Quad is a nice addition, and while some may question the effectiveness of riding on it backwards while someone else drives it, it’s a great ‘two man’ flanking transport that covers a lot of area quickly.

+Layout: the map layout is a decent size. It takes a bit of time to run from one end to another, providing people with time to sneak in and fortify a previously abandoned area of the map. Players can shoot through cracks in the fence or building or between treads of a parked tank. The map shapes and elevations are conducive to various methods of attacking or defending and there’s enough to crawl through that an ample dose of surprise can be administered. It was also nice to be able to run along tight spots like a chain link fence and a storage container or an oil pipeline on the edge of a map and it not be ‘glitching’.

The “Depends on what you like”

+/- Recon actions: The sniper scope is completely clean. A clear view can be had, but it feels really generic. There’s not a blur around the edges to retain focus on your shot, but then again, there’s no blur to obstruct the view of people headed your way.

+/- Weapon feel: The weapons jerk a bit, but they don’t feel realistic and certain weapons that should jump don’t or jump too much. The heavy machine gun doesn’t really go all over the place, but the SMG does. The pistol might hit 4 of 12 times when a rapid burst which is plausible, but the sniper rifle has little to no kick. The sniper scope has no sway, and for some that may feel like a removal of the challenge to be a sniper and encourage people to all camp on hills.

+/- Class Roles: Class roles are set up to give players the opportunity to create a different way to complete objectives. It’s the method that EA / Dice took to set themselves apart from ‘other’ FPS games. It’s nice in that you’re forced to rethink existing strategies, but bad in that no class as one good application and killing them creates a greater loss. It will force people to work together, but it’s a pretty contrived way of doing it. From what I experienced in the demo – people are just storming the map instead of keeping an eye out for one another.

+/- Movement and Position: There is no prone position. This makes it harder to camp in most cases, but it also means that snipers are much more exposed. My personal preference is a prone position because I generally play a sniper for a majority of a round. The inability to conceal myself makes my job unnecessarily harder and creates a situation where team mates have to pay cover me more than usual and it’s harder for me to cover them. On the other hand, prone position is harder to get up and move from and there have been many times I’ve seen people get killed due to how fast or slow they recover from that position. There’s an unlimited sprint and jump – staple complaints of many FPS gamers. In Halo and Unreal people can jump around and ‘dodge’ fire, and while this can keep you alive, it’s utterly ridiculous as is an unlimited sprint. Sprinting is important for move and cover, but to bolt down a hill and make 5 successive jumps up a pipeline is pretty cheap to see and makes you feel cheap to do.

The Bad

- Graphics: I know that games aren’t about graphics… and they’re not ‘bad’ but they’re not close to what one might expect. Clear? Yes. Clean? Yes. Detailed? Not really. Most of that isn’t in the textures, but in the model. Hills with corners? Check. N64 quality shrubs? Check. Lack of volumetrics? Check. These things were noticeable to a level of near distraction. The player models were great, not overly complex but well above the map quality. The lighting was near perfect – no overused bloom and funky ambient crap that people used to drool over like morons and the player textures were very nicely done – it was just the world maps and textures that kind of sucked when you got within 5 virtual feet from them and there was a degree of texture loading as I approached things. It felt like the difference between Blu-Ray and VHS. This may not bother some people as they’ll be caught up in the "action" but it’s just an indicator of sloppy work that reduces the overall production value. It's also purely my opinion.

- Gameplay: While EA claims this is supposed to contend with MW2, it feels more like it should contend with MAG – not that MAG was bad, but MAG was slow paced compared to the full on action intensity of MW2. In MAG, the action built up quickly but remained low intensity given the squad breakdowns and various objectives, which in some ways is what what made it enjoyable, but not overly memorable. The BFBC2 demo has similar objectives – storm and take or fortify and defend two control points and a third main base, falling back or advancing depending on if the opposing team is successful in their pursuits. Things seem to happen fast due to a mixture of being able to eradicate buildings thus reducing places to hide, but also happen slowly in that a total lack of team work means spawning in various places and having to at times run or drive ‘all the way’ back to the rest of the group (or spawning directly behind another team mate and making it harder to defend).  The fights can seem to drag on endlessly as players continue to spawn and respawn into a redundant setting. In the end, there’s no real meat to the gameplay of the demo and if the demo is an indication of the full product then color me ‘completely unimpressed’.

I was also sort of disappointed by the total lack of team killing. I'm not a team killer, but I'm an advocate of making people pay attention. Don't want someone on your team to nail you? Don't walk in front of them while firing - it's common sense. Don't want to accidentally shoot a team mate? Check your fire - it's the kind of stuff they go over in basic training. That said, it's a bit strange that people will call themselves "hardcore" gamers and then complain that they have to check their fire and watch to not cross in a fire lane.

The lack of such features gives the game a dated or at least immature feel. I get that some people feel it takes from the fun, but it has been the progression of the genre for a while... to lose it is sort like taking a step back and giving 'fun' at a price.

- Variety: As I said earlier, the demo had no variety to it and that added to an overall uninspired, ‘more of the same’ feel to it. I didn’t have anything in my mind that I could use to set this game apart from the other. While the map was a acceptable size, and had a lot of things to run through, it just never felt inspired by anything I can imagine actually existing. It actually reminded me of the MAG Valor Maps to a degree and the allies and enemies looked pretty much the same with a few exceptions. Perhaps because it is the demo there were too many things locked out to really have fun with it...

Conclusion:

FBC2 will cater mostly to people accustomed to a ‘generic action FPS’, the run and gunners and Halo clan-core gamers. Nothing in the game tended to promote stylistic team work or presented anything overly challenging in the landscape.  It’s far from being able to compete with MW2 in terms of intensity, visual inspiration, and general natural feel and falls jut shy of containing MAGs building layouts in an open environment to give players a sense of urban combat when they want it. I feel as though EA / Dice took a step back to BF2 / 2042 and attempted to emulate MAG in certain areas to try and appeal to older fans of the BF series and convert the MAG crowd (who they may assume converted from MW2). The biggest drawback to the demo was that when I had played it for a few hours I still had the question in my head “what makes this game worth buying?". The answer was 'nothing', albeit it took a few hour to come to that conclusion and my time with the game I'll admit I did somewhat enjoy, but it got stale fast.

BFBC2 tended to borrow the defunct properties of past EA FPS  titles in an effort to revitalize interest in the brand over the frenzied attachment to MW2 without really improving upon them. There was a sense of 'improv' and 'well... why NOT add this?' instead of 'let's leave this off so that the experience remains top notch'. The demo also indicated that in the moments EA / Dice went outside of their pre-established features from old, the new things weren't any different than what players are used to in other titles like MAG, MW1, Halo or Counter Strike. What EA had hoped to be a monument to smacking that Cheshire smile off of Bobby Kotticks face is reduced to a generic catch all by trying to be a little bit of everything instead of something on its own. There were a few new things to the series, but nothing new to the genre and if people only played the BF series this might have worked, but people are drawn to other FPS titles where if they stay - they're not going to miss anything other than hype and gamers looking to expand their "pro-gamer" FPS portfolio.

If you've played the demo and liked it - good for you. That's great - I'm not saying you're wrong for liking it. I'm just saying I can't see a reason for myself to.

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