Preview: Battlefield Bad Company 2 (Xbox 360)

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Last Thursday, EA DICE has released a multiplayer demo for the Xbox 360 and a beta for PC players for their new shooter, the sequel to Battlefield: Bad Company, and I got a chance to play around with it on the weekend. The PS3′s own public demo will be coming out later this week.

So do I like it? You bet. I kind of find myself wanting to play the demo over my full copy of MW2.

The game is set up with a class system and players can pick from Assault, Medic, Engineer, and Recon. For those who have enjoyed playing as the Specialist from the first game, they’ll have to make do with the remaining four but with as fun as the game is already, it’s not going to be missed.

An experience system is in place for unlocks per each class, opening up new guns, gadgets, and enhancements to what they want to customize each one with in terms of equipment. You can even unlock modifications to your weapons to make them even deadlier. Although you can’t carry over the XP you earn in the demo to the full game, it’s a great sample of what everyone can expect when it hits stores on March 2nd.

If you’re new to the whole class thing, just know that each one has its own special way of fighting and handling problems for the team. Engineers can fix whatever is broken, such as vehicles, and come armed with an RPG as a secondary weapon to help take out enemy armor. If you can get close enough, the ghillie-suited snipers of Recon can use plastic explosive to wreck the same machines and if they go down in battle, a Medic can use their paddles to zap them back to life without having to respawn. The teamwork mechanic is what makes this game tick making it easy for anyone to find their niche.

It looks a lot better than the first game and destructible buildings continue to make hiding behind walls not much of an option as it should be. The demo came with one Rush mode map, Port Valdez located in snowy Alaska, and casts players either as the defending US troopers or attacking Russians who apparently want it back as they fight to destroy one objective after another to push back the other side. This probably plays into the single player part of the game that DICE have been keeping close to their chests, though, but reveals little on just why they’re pounding about Palin’s backyard with heavy arms.

There are also mountable machine guns in the field, rocket launchers for defense, APCs, and tanks such as the American Abrams or the Russian T -90. There’s also a UAV station that allows one to control a tiny remote drone. People are already spamming the UAV in the game and getting to the station to use it is more about luck than anything else. It reminds me of when people would spam the B-17 or any other plane in Battlefield 1942, but they do that anyway with the other vehicles in the game. Or try and shoot the teammate that has gotten to the UAV station first in a futile act of displeasure.

The UAV might also just be a tad overpowered. I’ve seen it take down Apaches, keep helicopters from flying, and take several shots from a machine gun and continue on its merry way. With an engineer on hand to help fix it and keep it going, it can be a pretty devastating distraction. Take a look at this:

I’ve been having a lot of fun with the game, though, and it’s great especially when you’re part of a team that knows what they doing when they hit each objective. The map supports up to 24 players turning it into a decently sized firefight, although EA and Dice have hinted that the game may actually support up to 40 players total, perhaps on other maps or modes.

Bad Company 2 looks like it’s turning out to be an exciting reply to the MW2 juggernaut with enough included incentives to give players a reason to dive into its large, open maps. That, and you have to give props to a series that allows a Medic to kill someone with their paddles in a pinch.