On the back of the Bad Company box it claims to be run by the â€śbleeding edge Frostbite engineâ€ť. Being a pedantic English student (what other sort is there?) I decided to look up the phrase â€śbleeding edgeâ€ť, suspecting it had more negative connotations than the marketing people might have thought. Hereâ€™s what I found:
Bleeding edge is a term that refers to technology that is so new (and thus, presumably, not perfected) that the user is required to risk reductions in stability and productivity in order to use it. It also refers to the tendency of the latest technology to be extremely expensive.
With that in mind, I popped in the Bad Company disc, and luckily found that while it was indeed not perfect, itâ€™s not actually that bad â€“ and it grows on you the more you play it.
For those not up to speed with the generally PC-oriented Battlefield series, they are all about fast first person shooter multiplayer action. The titles are a huge hit on the PC, where thousands and thousands of players hop on to servers to blast each other apart, run each other over in vehicles, and capture strategic supply points. Theyâ€™re well honed games, and have certainly earned their place.
However, the only Battlefield game to make it to the consoles didnâ€™t fare so well, ending up as a bit of a mediocre mess. Undeterred, the developers are at it again with Bad Company, which adds a single player campaign to the traditional multiplayer madness. And impressively, while the game might start out fairly mediocre, it soon becomes quite engaging and fun.
You play a fairly hollow soldier called Preston Marlow, a private in the titular Bad Company. Youâ€™re joined by three other testosterone-fuelled military stereotypes, which sets the tone for the whole game â€“ while serviceable, the plot isnâ€™t going to be winning awards any time soon. Still, it gets players from point A to B, and you could always just mute the terribly cheesy cutscenes whenever they pop up.
The real star of the game is the action, which becomes an explosion-filled thrill ride by the end that never gets old â€“ thanks in part, no doubt, to its relatively short running time. However, if you only play the first section of the game, you could be forgiven for not sticking with it any further â€“ it feels strongly clichĂ©d and tired, and if youâ€™re a fan of shooters at all, youâ€™ve played these scenes many times before.
But if you stick with it, youâ€™ll be treated to some of the more entertaining level designs and set pieces of recent months. This is combined with a couple of elements that are done really well, like the vehicles (a staple of Battlefield games) and the destructible terrain. While you might have heard of the latter before, itâ€™s actually done quite well here. Need to fish an enemy soldier out from a building? Just blow a great big hole in it with a rocket launcher and heâ€™ll be nicely exposed. Of course, the same applies to you, so never forget that invincible cover doesnâ€™t really exist in Bad Company.
While the single player is entertaining enough, despite the slow start, it still feels somewhat limited, hampered by occasionally patchy AI and a lack of cooperative multiplayer. Competitive multiplayer, on the other hand, is very well done, as youâ€™d expect from a game carrying the Battlefield name. While thereâ€™s currently only one mode (a more traditional Battlefield mode is expected to follow soon), itâ€™s a blast playing 24-player deathmatches through maps filled with fun vehicles and buildings you can destroy. If youâ€™re into your online gaming, Bad Company is worth checking out just for that.
If youâ€™re more of a single player person â€“ or if your New Zealand broadband just canâ€™t handle the multiplayer â€“ then you might want to try renting this one first. Itâ€™s a much better effort from the developers than their first console Battlefield, and manages to differentiate itself from the superior Call of Duty 4 with a couple of great gameplay additions. So if youâ€™re not tired of war-based shooters, give this one a whirl â€“ itâ€™s far from the worst thing you could ever spend your money on.