Battlefield: Bad Company Review (Xbox360)

Let me just start by saying this: Battlefield: Bad Company is the best military FPS I've played. And I mean that sincerely. You really do feel as though you are, well, in a Battlefield. The sounds and sight and above all the tension created around the player is an experience every first person shooter fan should experience. If you're a Call of Duty 4 fan - and that too is an excellent game, make no mistake - then this might just top it in terms of its attention to detail and the 'sheer fun of it.'

However, it seems EA were intent on tarnishing the experience for you. What could have been 'the perfect' game has been hindered on achieving that status not due to the gameplay itself. No, that would make scoring the game too easy. The challenge EA has presented to me is the question of should I score the game for the 'overall experience' or simply cast aside the fact the servers are so unreliable and patchy that it seriously gets in the way of pretty much the largest draw for many of us.

Weapons upgrades are found in crates lying around in building. Watch out for them.
Sometimes, pulling out your knife can prove more effective than your machine-gun. Choose your weapons wisely.

Getting thrown out of a game is never fun but when the game is so laggy to begin with it feels like a relief to finally get out of it. Then you find you actually have trouble logging in to the EA servers so even thinking about an online lag-fest becomes a thing of the past. Then one day you wake up to find that all your stats and weapon unlocks have disappeared and literally panic when you can't even access the EA website to find out what's gone wrong.

When things do run smoothly though these mountains soon don the guise of molehills and you engage in a 32 player multiplayer frenzy. Turn up the surround sound and enjoy the most realistic sound effect I've ever heard in my live. The popping of machine guns, the chinking of bricks as the wall comes off the side of a house and the pattering of dust on the tarmac as a grenade goes off nearby. If you don't own 5.1 digital surround sound amp and speaker then unfortunately you really are missing out here. Hearing is believing.

One of the many 'wow' moments in the game.
The walls come tumbling down. Brilliant.

Multiplayer is not all you get from DICE this time round. For once a Battlefield title offers up an enthralling single-player campaign. You are stationed out to a group of misfits whose quirky ways and quippy one-liners win you over instantly. Their artificial intelligence is adequate enough for you never to feel like they get in your way as can be the case on so many occasions. Nothing is more frustrating than having to battle with your team and the enemy at the same time. A game such as Jericho was a worst case scenario but Battlefield: Bad Company handles things very well with your squad always playing to their strengths, whether it be ranged attacks or close-quarters combat.

The highlight of the game for me however is the destructible environments. Go up to a tree and shoot it and it collapses to the ground. Fire enough mortar at the wall of a building and it will eventually crumble away and expose the enemy using it as cover. Entering a built up battle zone only to leave these shells of buildings that once were behind you only adds to the realism and moreover is extremely fun. The tactical element it adds to the multiplayer experience is not to be underestimated either. Are you ever safe in a building? What's better, inside or outside? Choose your moves wisely.

The detail on the facial animations are very impressive.
An airstrike. Sit back and watch the landscape become decimated by your mortar fire.

Graphically we're in the 'adequate' territory. Nothing really stands out as jaw-dropping but then nothing really off-putting either. Some of the foliage can look like placeholders at times, especially during aerial attacks when you've got a bird's eye view of the landscape. This is only a minor flaw but something worth pointing out anyway. The colours aren't so washed out compared with the PS3 version of the game but this is true of many multi-platform titles. But let me just say this: having played the versions the game is identical, warts and all. That is, 360 owners are also suffering from network issues due to EA making everyone play on their dedicated servers so let the 'who's best?' arguments stop here.

In all Battlefield: Bad Company is a game rich on realism and incredibly satisfying. The surprisingly good single-player campaign only adds more value to a game that already promises hours upon hours of multiplayer action. If you're a fan of shooters, you'd be a fool to look beyond this one.

Top Gaming moment: Destroying buildings thus creating the most realistic battle-zone environment on a console

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