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Battlefield: Bad Company 2

With a more serious tone, and epic action Bad Company 2's war is no laughing matter

War is serious business. When last we saw the soldiers of B Company, they were headed off into early retirement; four men with a truckful of gold. One year on and they're back in the fight. They've had their fun, DICE explain. The honeymoon is over and the AWOL team are drawn back into the new fight to combat a more personal threat. This time they're taking things seriously.

The Russians are just weeks away from invading mainland United States through Alaska. In the Ushba region, near the Russian border, Sweetwater, Marlowe, and Haggard survey the Abkhaz village before entering on foot. The team take cover and watch through binoculars as Sergeant Redford knifes a Russian lookout. Then the order comes down to pursue a Russian-controlled truck at the end of the village. Moving from cover to cover, the four-man squad demolish buildings and dodge enemy fire.

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They follow a linear path, fighting their way from waypoint to waypoint until they reach the hilltop only to see the Russian truck escape. They give chase. Firing from the rear of the vehicle, it's a rail-ride - fighting soldiers on quad bikes, in armoured personnel carriers, and finally a gunship which chases the team inside a tunnel, catching its rotors and tumbling over inches from the truck's wheels.

This is what Executive Producer Karl-Magnus Troedsson calls "controlled action". "We want the single-player experience to be visceral and more dramatic" says Karl. "We want to combine the open areas Battlefield is known for with more controlled areas with set-pieces."

"I'll tip my hat to Infinity Ward and Call of Duty 4 for what they've done to the single-player campaign. They've refined the recipe for a thrill ride in single-player. When we have controlled action; if we can be as good as them, then I'll be really happy." Normally tight-lipped regarding competitors' games, Troedsson's brief mention of Call of Duty 4 can't be taken lightly.

The brief demo DICE played through is pure CoD - enemies dashing out from doorways and taking cover behind concrete barriers, a seemingly endless stream of cannon fodder throwing hundreds of bullets your way, and lots of opportunities to make incremental pushes forward.

"Of course, we want to combine that with the strength we have which is the open-ended gameplay, just giving control over to the player and letting them tackle objectives how they please. You'll have open battlefields where you'll be encouraged to look around and maybe deal with vague objectives. Then there'll be places where it's more controlled."

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Two's company
Bad Company 2 will be on shelves less than twelve months after the original's release - if you're looking for dramatic changes you're in the wrong place; BC2 is a game of incremental upgrades and fixes - perfecting the better bits and fixing those parts the community decided were broken.

"The health system was something we took quite a bit of flak for. It was something we tried out which was different to how other people had done it" explains Troedsson. The original game had a health system based on finding breathing room, selecting the auto-injector, and shooting yourself full of happy juice every time your health ran low, but no longer will the soldiers of Bad Company hit the needle every time a bullet scrapes their shins.

"It had its beauties and its flaws" explains Creative Director Lars Gustavsson. "You ask what the standards are within the genre and you ask if we'd benefit from adopting those standards." As a result, Bad Company 2's health system is now identical to the one in CoD.

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