Monday, 15 March 2010

Settling in with Bad Company

Re-creating war in videogames is a bit of a minefield when it comes to the fun to realism factor. In a first person shooter we all expect it to be fast paced, balls nailed to the wall style action that leaves death and destruction on the scale of genocide in its wake.

Of course the reality of war is that two or more opposing sides take pot shots at each other for hours at a time until someone gets the business end of an air strike tearing up their rectum. Such engagements don’t generally make for interesting gameplay material and so a lot of artistic license is used when portraying the horrors and boredom of war.

This leads very nicely to my current flavour of the week, Battlefield Bad Company 2, EA DICE’s latest foray into the world of tanks, guns and explosions, lots of explosions.

Adrenaline pumping, edge of your seat, bowel loosening action seems to be at the top of the agenda, as the feeling of war is really brought alive all around you because everything can be blown to bits at a seconds notice. It’s this arcade sense of war that has been introduced for ages in shooters such as Modern Warfare and Ghost Recon, but with the chaotic situation-o-metre cranked up to 11.

My gentleman bits have been shuffled around so much by all of the random destruction that I have re-entered puberty at least five or six times since March 5. Trees falling down, walls turning to concrete mist and showers of brick and mortar are so commonplace that it often feels like people are actively trying to bring on the apocalypse themselves.

With nowhere being safe to hide it means you actually get a very dynamic battlefield with most camping hotspots being rather blow-up-able. Of course you’ll still get the cheeky scamps lining up on the hills with sniper rifles, but they stick out like sore thumbs at an uninjured hand convention.

DICE has completely nailed the formula here as at no point do you generally feel a sense of downtime in a fight. With the walls around what you are trying to defend exploding, gunshots cracking overhead as all of the near misses ring in your ears and the beautifully crafted sounds of war simmering in the distance, it really feels like you are up the creek without a boat, much less a paddle. It feels brilliant.

It’s a real breath of fresh air from what I feel is starting to become a bit of a stale genre. I love online shooters, but they are all starting to feel quite samey these days. I tend to expect more than just the basic run around and shoot each other in the face style gameplay that has been around for so long. It’s part of the reason why I absolutely hated the BioShock 2 multiplayer. It was really boring and offered nothing new.

The random destruction that Bad Company 2 throws at you really makes for some interesting split second gameplay decisions that I think we need to have more of in online deathmatch arenas. Let’s start abandoning the tried and tested formulas that are now becoming the same peddled bolt-ons for existing games. I want new stuff.

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