Monday, December 29, 2008

Mediocre-At-Best Company, More Like

Battlefield Bad Company
Hello chums (the seven of you that StatCounter informs me reliably visit every day). I've been a bad blogger again. I know. I had the best intentions, but work and home life still conspired against me. Whatever time I got to jot down thoughts on games I had been playing and news I had been reading, resulted in bullet point lists. I put the lists into blogger for editing into proper posts at a later date, but I never really found that editing time, and when I did, the posts were so out of date it started to feel a little pointless. So, in the New Year I'm going to try again. Honestly. But before then (and probably during then, since there are a few of them) I'm going to do a quick editing job on the handful of posts I'd already written, and publish those (unless the editing job consists of "what the hell was I thinking?" and I delete it). Just keep in mind that some of these are quite old. And now on to your scheduled content...

I had been playing Battlefield Bad Company on the Xbox, borrowed off a colleague. It was something that I'd been interested in, but had always thought might not be worth shelling out for myself (what with me not really being into playing endless hours of zero sum competative multiplayer). I was right. When your first bullet point issue with a game is "not sure if I'm enjoying it" you shouldn't be too surprised when you stop being bothered to play as soon as something else comes along (I think it may have been a Lego game that stole my interest).

The player can die in the single player, but if you do you just respawn slightly back from the combat with full ammo again. Given that I spent a lot of my time in firefights running low on ammo, it ended up with the very odd situation of dying being a blessing, since I'd get restocked in both health and weaponry, and any enemies I'd killed would stay dead. I'm sure there's a good game to be made around the high concept of killing yourself to progress, but this isn't it -  the resulting missions became a monotonous slog of taking out a few enemies, dyinging, walking back to the combat, and repeating.

The open levels are probably great for multiplayer, but were bad for single player. They are pretty but sparse, and the levels drag on for ages. Each one is a series of combat set pieces in a small area of the map, linked together by a boring journey to the next rendezvous point.

The guns and explosions are very nice. Great sound effects. Cutting down trees with explosions & gunfire is ace, especially in the rare occasions when a falling piece of foliage lands on and kills an enemy.

The USP of blowing up buildings is cool, but limited. You can't totally flatten a building, and buildings that will be needed later in the mission are impervious to damage. Buildings have pretty much no furniture in them so by midway through the second level I was getting confused and a bit lost going between identical looking shells of buildings, trying to remember which one had the heavy weapon I needed to pick up in it.

A major game crime in my opinion - No subtitle option. So late at night with the sound turned down to avoid waking up my wife, and the jet engine in my 360 blaring, I can't follow what the characters are talking about in the cutscenes.

And in a similar vein, there's also no brightness setting. Seriously, fuck off with "adjust your TVs settings for this one game", I'm very clearly not going to do that and screw up the settings for every other game I play am I?

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