Battlefield Bad Company 2: Vietnam
8th Jan 2011 | 15:30
The very fact that Vietnam - essentially a piece of DLC - is here in the main reviews section of the magazine, along with the likes of Dead Space 2 and Mass Effect 2 speaks volumes about its quality.
It's a big deal, and although you're not actually getting a new game here, Vietnam gives the oft imitated, never bettered Battlefield online experience a fresh feel; adding hours more play.
So, what do you get for your £10? In physical terms, you get five new maps, an arsenal of 'Nam era weaponry, vehicles (now with radios inside that belt out tunes you'll instantly recognise from Vietnam-era movies), and a handful of new Trophies.
If you tally it all up, that's damn good value. However, the Vietnam DLC is much more than the sum of its parts. DICE have let the fresh setting inspire the designs of each map, creating combat zones that bustle with exactly the sort of chaos you'd expect from a good 'Nam era game or movie.
In other words, it isn't just a fresh lick of paint - in many ways this feels like a sequel, only with all the gameplay mechanics perfectly intact.
What Vietnam also does is reset the XP system (no, not for the main multi-player), allowing less hardcore players a second chance to get involved, and pros an opportunity to go through the satisfying process of levelling up each of the four classes and snagging all that extra kit again.
What's it actually like to play? Well, game modes remain the same, so you've got Rush (where
teams fight to defend or destroy M-COM stations over a large map), Conquest (where teams seek to control three to four flags on a map) Squad Deathmatch and Squad Rush.
Most maps are compatible with all four gameplay types, smartly designed to expand or contract depending on how close or sprawling the action is in each mode. Rush, for example, always calls for bigger maps than Conquest.
Each map looks and feels unique - there's no copy/paste of jungle textures here. Hill 137, for example, is a glowing wasteland of orange ash, scorched trees and raggedy huts.
Cao Son Temple, by contrast, is a mixture of thick jungle and ruined temples. Fight hard enough, by bagging over 69 million command actions (spotting, repairing, reviving, resupplying and healing) and the fifth map, Operation Hastings, opens up. And it's well worth unlocking, as it offers a little taste of everything from all the other maps.
DICE's Frostbite engine still stands up well on all the maps too, allowing you to level pretty much anything with a few shells from a tank. Frostbite is still one of the key things that separate Battlefield from all other online shooters, offering a real sense of destruction and a feeling that there's nowhere to hide if your enemy is packing enough explosives.
The flamethrower - Vietnam's shiniest new toy - isn't the only new feature that fails to impress. It's great for clearing out huts and temple areas, where opponents are clustered, but its range is limited, and the time it takes to cook an enemy before they kill you with a regular weapon often means you die first, or at the same time.
COD ONE OUT
So, is Vietnam going to convert you from Call Of Duty to Battlefield? After all the fact that both these FPS giants chose to visit 'Nam in the same year is unlikely to be coincidence. The answer? Probably not.
If you prefer squad-based play to going it alone, you're already playing Bad Company 2. This is a treat to tide you over until Battlefield 3. Battlefield BC2 Vietnam doesn't offer the same quantity of options as Black Ops.
There are no novelty modes with restricted weapons, nor are there perks that enhance your character giving them an edge over others. And no, there are no exploding RC cars. What Battlefield always offers, and continues to do so with Vietnam, is engaging team-based war.
DICE are so confident in the incredible replayability of their core modes, Rush and Conquest, they feel no need for box-ticking frills. They never tell players 'how to have fun' by introducing increasingly complex rules; they just let us get on with it.
The squad that plays the game properly; the ones who spot/mark target for allies, repair vehicles, revive fallen friends and hand out the ammo will always win and have more fun.
Satisfaction in Vietnam doesn't come from being quicker than an opponent, or having better kit, but from being smarter and using what you have to wisely.
If that appeals to you, this is the best £10 you'll ever spend... well, providing you already own Bad Company 2, that is.