Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Review

EA Mobile continues its onslaught of quality iOS console conversions with Battlefield: Bad Company 2. On the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, Bad Company 2 is known for its fantastic multiplayer– rivaling even Activision’s juggernaut, Modern Warfare 2– and surprisingly humorous, yet intense single-player first-person shooting. On the iPhone, the game is a surprisingly apt rendition of the console game.

Much like its big brother versions, Bad Company 2 is divided into two segments– the 14-mission single player game and fast-paced multiplayer. The single-player game is surprisingly good. The missions are short, but well-paced and provide a fair amount of variety over the game’s four or so hours.

Relaxing in the sand.

The bad company of the title is a four-man squad of Special Forces soldiers who get by on badass killing skills and comedic banter. The story has the men chasing after intel through a variety of locations, including the jungle, desert, unfriendly towns, military installations, snowy mountains, and other places that are old hat to the genre.

The story is told through cutscenes and on-the-fly dialogue, and carries the action forward well enough. You’ll usually be on foot, but as expected for a Battlefield game, EA has carried forward the series’ penchant for vehicles. Tanks, armored Humvees, and even a gunship will become available throughout the game.

There’s a wide range of weapons as well. Various assault rifles, a shotgun, rocket launcher, and other equally familiar real-world weapons can be picked up, and each has a nicely distinct feel.

Running from a full tank.

On the multiplayer front, Bad Company 2 sports free-for-all and team deathmatches. There are only two maps, which support up to four players. Although this might be a pretty paltry offering in comparison to the console version, multiplayer is fun and supports both local and internet-based play, so you can start up or join a quick match no matter where you are. EA apparently also has plans to release new maps and other add-ons.

Whether you play alone or with friends, the game plays fairly well. Controls are equivalent to Gameloft’s Modern Combat 2, though Bad Company throws out gimmicky (and unnecessary) quick-time event screen tapping in favor of straightforward first-person shooting. On foot, the game controls about as well as you could hope for a touchscreen title. Granted, it’s much easier to play on the larger iPad screen, where your finger won’t obscure the action nearly as much.

On the other hand, vehicle controls are frequently problematic. If you can keep your ride relatively straight and the action doesn’t require you to turn your turret view too much, things are fine. But the moment you’re required to make wide turns or fire in one direction while moving in another, things get messy. It’s simply too difficult to straighten out quickly, which can lead to a lot of frustration. Thankfully, the medium difficulty level isn’t extreme and there are frequent checkpoints. So even when you do die, you won’t have to backtrack much.

Kicks like a mule, don’t it?

Another issue is simply that your ally AI characters are virtually useless. Even console games have this problem, but it is annoying to have to do almost all the work when the game is throwing a horde of bad guys at you.

Enemy AI isn’t that smart either, but all the AI can use the cover system quite well. The cover system is automatic, so if you’re crouching while near an obstacle, you’ll be covered. On the other hand, the game seems to absolutely refuse to let you shoot an enemy that it considers to be under cover– even if they are clearly visible.

The visuals in Bad Company 2 are on par with games like Modern Combat 2, but definitely not up to the level of id’s Rage. Character models and the scenery are blocky, but detailed. The animation is smooth and there are enough little touches in the way of smoke, fire, and lighting effects to make the environments feel more active.

Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is definitely a good first person shooter for your iPhone. It doesn’t push any envelopes in terms of tech or gameplay, but smoothly brings the familiar and popular console series to your handheld. For the most part, the game plays well and looks good, and the online multiplayer is a great reason to keep the game on your phone for some time to come.

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