Wednesday, 22 December 2010
Battlefield: Bad Company 2:Vietnam Review (Text)
The Vietnam war may have been one of the greatest military fuck-ups ever on the side of the Americans, and to this day still eclipses the utter cluster-fucks that are the Iraq war and the war in Afghanistan, but it sure has given us some sweet films and music. But now, we have a game dedicated to this infamous military action, and I spent most of yesterday playing it. So, since the banner of this site states that it is a Blog which contains “musings and reviews on music, games, films and life”, and I have not, as yet, reviewed a single game, I think it’s about time to dig into Battlefield: Bad Company 2: Vietnam. Enjoy!
“Vietnam” is a downloadable expansion for the game ‘Battlefield: Bad Company 2’ which was released yesterday. It does not contain a campaign mode, which was a little disappointing, as I could imagine how good they could make a campaign set in Vietnam and was just itching to play through it. However, it does contain some awesome online multiplayer games.
Although they did not introduce any new game types for “Vietnam”, the new maps they have brought in are very expansive, and great fun to play on. I started playing the game at around 3 yesterday afternoon, and by that point it was clear that most of the people I was playing against had already managed to familiarize themselves with the maps. However, after dying about 5 times without getting any kills, I caught up pretty quickly, and was soon moving through the landscape with as much ease as I have become accustomed to doing on Bad Company 2’s regular maps. Although the maps are all restricted to being Vietnam-based, and there are therefore no snowy or desert maps, the actual landscapes in them change enough that each map has its own unique feel; some are based around rivers and lakes with cliff-sides to fight on, another is based around fighting in villages and rice fields, and yet another is based in the jungle, fighting around the ruin of an ancient temple (possibly inspired by Apocalypse Now?). There is even a map where the Vietnamese side start on an already-napalmed hillside, and have to fight off the Americans taking cover amongst the smoldering remains of trees, and a destroyed landscape. Given how limited their location options were, the makers seem to have made the most of this, and given us a great range of maps (I was only able to play the 4 standard maps, and not the extra unlockable one).
Whilst the modes are pretty basic, with the standard “Deathmatch” and “Team Deathmatch” options being available, I had a lot of fun battling it out with numerous others on the “Team Rush” game mode, which was always the most enjoyable game mode in Battlefield: Bad Company. I never could be bothered with “capture the flag” in the Call of Duty Games, but I personally feel “Rush” is one of the most exciting games there is online, and should be made standard on all war-scenario games. The skill in assaulting a base and placing charges on a key console (or other such target), then having to defend it as the charge counts down provides limitless fun, as it gives you both an attacking and defending role no matter which side you are on (so ‘attackers’ will attack the console to plant charges, then defend it as they wait for it to explode, and ‘defenders’ will do the opposite). In fact, the only time I’ve ever had a problem with this game mode was when I played a team who destroyed all the cover around one of the bases we were attacking, then set themselves up on all the ridges with sniper rifles, and shot everyone who ventured into the clearing.
They were able to do this thanks to my favourite feature in the Battlefield: Bad Company series; the fact that you can destroy pretty well anything. In the ‘Call of Duty’ games, you can destroy the odd wall by shooting at it, or knock down the odd tree, but in “Battlefield: Bad Company”, you can literally destroy entire buildings. You can destroy obstacles such as walls, fences and sandbags, and can level entire forests with the right weaponary. This makes it much harder for people to just ‘camp’, and makes the game infinitely more interesting. In one round in non-Vietnam Bad Company 2, I once sat at the top of a staircase the enemy had to come up to place charges (in “Rush” mode), and just shot everyone who came up. In Call of Duty, they wouldn’t have been able to kill me, as no-one could get a line of sight on me without coming into my firing range, and everyone would have cursed me as a “camping bitch”. In Battlefield, however, all that happened was that after I had killed 6 guys or so, someone blew up the wall of the building behind me with an RPG, and then shot me in the back. And had that not worked they could have blown up every wall of the building to leave me essentially in the open. No other game does this, and this is what I love about Bad Company 2. And Vietnam is no exception, keeping this function in, and allowing complete destruction of any shacks or buildings you may come across (apart from very large or key buildings, like the temple ruins). They did, however, restrict the damage slightly, so it takes a bit more firepower to destroy a wooden building than it would have in non-Vietnam mode, and also makes it impossible to slash through bamboo with a knife, which is a little disappointing, but it is still great to see the function surviving, in spite of the fact Call of Duty does not include it yet outsells Battlefield by miles.
You still get faggots camping by spawn points, though...
The graphics on Vietnam are also spectacular, with the same basic graphics as Bad Company 2, but with the odd change. Whilst mountains on the horizon are looking a bit more pixilated in Vietnam than they were in the regular game, they have improved the close-up visuals on plants and people so that the near details are far-superior, and now don’t look like 2-dimensional objects as they sometimes did before. The water animation is still the best graphics in the game, as it was in the regular version, with some of the streams looking real, and a setting sun going down over a river in one of the maps looks phenomenal. In terms of Graphics, this blows Black Ops out the water by miles, and I suspect probably rapes Medal of Honour’s graphics too (though I haven’t actually played it yet). In fact, the graphics in Bad Company 2 have to be some of the best I have ever seen. They are just peachy.
There are a number of different or modified weapons in Vietnam to what there are in the regular version of Bad Company 2 as well, which makes things a bit more interesting. We have the standard M16 and AK47 as the main assault weapons of each side, and the number of weapons per side seems to be balanced out about perfectly, with each side having suitable assault weapons, sniper rifles, LMGs and sidearms. This, however, does not matter, as each side can pick any weapon they wish, and do not have to stick to their own team’s weapons (which makes sense, as both sides could capture each others weapons in a war). I was slightly annoyed by this, as I would have liked both sides to have different weapons, and can’t imagine it would be that hard to balance them out and make each side even, but I suppose lacking a campaign mode, that sort of thing really isn’t important, as you’re playing against people with varying degrees of weapon unlocked anyway.
The weapons can still be customized as before, with scopes, extra mags, more damaging bullets, etc. But one of the best features they have brought in for the new guns is that you can now get a classic wood-stocked M14, rather than the synthetic sniper version from the regular version of the game, and it is now fully-automatic, as it was when it was actually in service in Vietnam. Whilst I favoured the higher capacity of the M16, it was still cool to see a full-auto M14 in action, and the sound of one going off was incredible.
Whilst we’re on the subject, the sound in this game is phenomenal. Playing with surround sound on, it is possible to hear exactly where gunfire is coming from and hitting, and exactly how close it is. The “ringing in your ears” you experience and muffled sounds after explosions is also incredible, and it’s great to see how far we’ve come since we first experienced this sort of thing in “Call of Duty: Finest Hour”. Another great feature about the sound is also the music which plays sometimes during the game. When you access the Vietnam title screen on the Bad Company 2 menu, you are greeted by the sound of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Fortunate Son”, and this really helps set the tone for the game, and gives that super-cool Vietnam feeling we all know. In fact, the only better songs I could think of for a Vietnam theme are Jimi Hendrix’s version of “All Along the Watchtower”, and “Time of the Season” by The Zombies, which we all know from this epic Vietnam scene:
Throughout the actual game we also get snippets of music, coming from radios, speakers on tanks, and other such devices. The very best of these, however, came when I heard the rotor blades of a helicopter flying overhead, and through the din, heard the familiar sounds of “Ride of the Valkyries” (from Wagner’s ‘Die Walküre’). This Apocalypse Now inspired moment was one of the greatest in-game tributes I have ever heard, and brought a real smile to my face. It was great, because it was clearly an homage, unlike “World at War”, where the Stalingrad scenes where you are firstly in a fountain surrounded by dead bodies and have to snipe Germans as explosions go off, and then go into a building containing mannequins and have to have a shoot-out with an elite German sniper, just seem like a plain rip-off of Enemy at the Gate. Not to rant on about it too much, but it seems as though Treyarch just thought “no-one in America is going to have watched a British film about the war on the Eastern Front, we can steal all we want from it and no-one will mind” as opposed to actually just paying homage to it. I wouldn’t have cared if they’d actually called the characters “Vasily Zaytsev” and “Commissar what’s-his-face. You know, Joseph Fiennes’ character? … You know, the guy from Flash Forward and Shakespeare in Love?... You know, Voldemort’s Borther?” “Oh, him. Yeah!”, but they didn’t. Still, you have to admire the Call of Duty guys for one thing, they sure can pick a fucking voice cast.
Gary Oldman doesn't get a picure?
The new vehicles available are a cool addition as well, with Huey helicopters appearing in a couple of the maps. I also had the Americans use an airstrike against my team once when I was Playing as the NVA/VC, but I have no idea how they unlocked that, since I got kill streaks of 10-15 multiple times and didn't unlock anything. That said, I never was a fan of the way you unlock harriers and such on COD, so am not all that bothered I never got one. Regardless of whether or not it detracts from the gameplay, though, it looks cool as shit seeing a bomber fly in and blow the living fuck out of everything in an area - definitely a good addition from that perspective.
A slight fault in the game is that they seem to have either downgraded the power of rockets, or upgraded the armour of tanks (judging by the lessened destruction of buildings caused by RPGs, I’m guessing they downgraded the power of rockets). This is fine if you’re in a tank, but is annoying as anything if you’re outside of one. In one streak between kills, I first managed to get the enemy out of a tank, then got in myself as the driver and killed 8 enemy soldiers, then got out of the tank and deactivated a charged placed on one of my bases, shot all the enemy soldiers around that base with my M16, then got back on the tank, this time on the machine gun, and killed another 5 or 6 enemies with that before finally being taken down by two RPGs that hit at the exact same time. I think I got about 3 streak achievements for that, and God knows how many points, without ever leaving the one tiny village that “Base A” was located in.
I also found some sight difficulty with the aiming, and once shot an enemy in the centre of the torso, but did not have a hit register, in spite of the fact there’s no way the shot could have missed. I also found myself having to put entire magazines into enemies to kill them at times (3 round bursts, naturally, so the gun doesn’t rise too much) because the targeting seemed a bit off at times, but it was fairly good throughout most of the time I was playing, with only the occasional glitch.
Another thing I didn’t like was how everyone started at the rank they had achieved in Bad Company 2, so if you had unlocked all the weapons in that game, you automatically had every weapon unlocked in Vietnam. I think that if they had made it so we had to work back up through the ranks again, it would have felt more like a seperate game, rather than just a couple of map add-ons, and so would have made it feel like more of an experience, and therefore more worth the money (1200 gamer points).
Aside from this, however, it is a great add-on, with the only real flaw being that you can’t have 2 people playing multiplayer on the same console, which so many games come with as standard nowadays. However, as an online game for one person, I believe that Bad Company 2 is just about unbeatable (well, for 1st person shooters, anyway) and Vietnam is a great variation on it.
The last thing I want to say is that I also tried out the “Onslaught” mode for the non-Vietnam Battlefield Bad Company 2, and it was great to see a scenario where you could play with 3 other people against computer-controlled opponents just like a co-op story mode. Not only this, but you still got points for killing the computer controlled enemies, and I managed to rack up an amazing kill streak owing to the fact that they are easier to kill than actual people (in general, obviously not N00BZ). So, if you are thinking of getting Bad Company 2, download “onslaught” as well (400 GC) to get your level up before you hit up “Rush” or “Deathmatch” modes.
One of the best upgrades to a game I’ve seen in a while, and certainly deserving of a 5 star rating. Vietnam brings 5 new maps to the game, and also sets an interesting theme for the gamer, with weapons and characters. It’s also nice to see an upgrade which isn’t about Zombies for once. It’s just a shame there isn’t a campaign mode available on Vietnam, or the ability for 2 friends to play on the same machine. Other than that, however, this upgrade is near flawless, and definitely worth the points.