And now to review the other game that has been taking a lot of my time. I've been having a love-hate relationship with this game as it is a blast to play, when it's working flawlessly (and that's currently once in a blue moon). Bad Company 2, unlike its predecessor, is available on the PC and it is a bit like a sequel of Battlefield 2, which is what attracted myself and my guild to give it a go. Here's how it turned out.
Sound in Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is the best I've heard in a First-Person Shooter yet. From a technical standpoint they use a similar system to Source-engine games where background gunfire is actual gunfire yet muffled due to the distance. From an artistic standpoint, the various voices, commands and shouts that are in-built into the game sound authentic to make the experience extremely immersive - as if you were actually on the battlefield. DICE have done an excellent job in the sound department.
Main Menu and Medic Gameplay Video
There's hardly any music in this game - at least not in multiplayer where it's just music during loading screens and cutscenes, so most of the music that I'm judging is in the single player. Overall, even though the music is used sparingly, it's of high quality and the type you'd expect from a Hollywood blockbuster, so it's pretty good - only complaint from me is that you don't hear the original Battlefield theme enough (although you hear small tidbits every so often).
The graphics for Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is pretty good, although quite frankly I was expecting better for the amount it taxes my graphics card, so much so I had to upgrade my 8800GT to a Radeon HD 5770. While the upgrade helped a little bit, the game actually lags at particular points which isn't due to the video card (at least so I hear).
Anyway, the game also happens to have a similar problem that occurred in Battlefield 2 where shadows appear jagged on some machines (including mine). Oh and did I mention some people are experiencing black screens as soon as they enter a game that prohibits them from seeing anything, or that some players get a flickering black screen while they're playing? These issues didn't occur in Battlefield 2, so why is Bad Company 2 so special?
Assault Gameplay Video
The multiplayer doesn't have much of a plot besides the fact the single player explains why the Russians and the USA are attacking each other (the two sides you get to pick when you fight).
The single player plot has you as a member of "Bad Company" a squad of four US special operatives that are transported around the world to do perilous missions. There is a twist later on in the game and there are even a couple of digs at Modern Warfare 2, and these are good entertainment value, however the story itself isn't very memorable and none of the characters are that likeable either.
If rating Bad Company 2's gameplay on singleplayer alone, the game would be a mediocre FPS at best. Multiplayer is where it's at.
The game takes the addictive gameplay elements of Battlefield 2 and builds upon them making this the best Battlefield experience yet. For those of you who don't know what Bad Company 2 is about, it's a team-based war game, where you fight ideally in a squad. The aim is to either capture objectives (typical capture-the-flag gameplay) or play as attacker/defender on a Rush map (there are also Deathmatch modes but I don't really play them). You are able to pick from four classes or "kits", the Assault, Medic, Engineer and Recon. Each class carries different default weapons (e.g. Assault Rifle for assault, sub-machine guns for Engineers, etc.) and different items that are beneficial for their team (e.g. medpacks for the medics, motion mines for Recon, etc.). You also get an assortment of vehicles to use ranging from quad-bikes and jet skis, to tanks and attack choppers. For those Battlefield 2 veterans who never liked "jet whores" you'll be happy to know there are no jets in Bad Company 2 (at least not yet) which I think is an improvement on BF2's gameplay already.
Unfortunately there's no Commander mode like BF2 but I won't mark the game down for this since even though it was nice to introduce RTS elements to the game (ala Natural Selection) it could also be frequently abused.
Recon Gameplay Video
The gameplay in Battlefield Bad Company 2 is addictive and is like Team Fortress 2 in this regard - i.e. the game has distinct classes which you can choose to specialise in. Playing with a squad of four friends can be fun since each player can feel like they have a role to play.
There are also lots of unlocks to gather before you hit level 20 or so (you'd usually unlock all of them by then) and lots of pins and badges to collect for completing certain feats. Probably not as many to collect as Modern Warfare 2 (and not as difficult) but they do have them.
This game is really unpolished - in fact it still isn't polished to an adequate level (and it's already been more than a month since release)! When the game first came out, I couldn't even connect to a server thanks to issues with Punkbuster. Once I finally managed to update it manually (and not the "manual update" that Punkbuster claims since they referenced the wrong file) I could at least connect to servers.
However, the server browser was broken for ranging from minor things like not being able to search for "3FL" (since it inserted an "03" in the search field when you hit the "3" key) to major ones where you wouldn't be able to find a server or add favourites. Fortunately recent patches have fixed some of the server browser issues but it's still by no means perfect.
Also, the worst issue I've been having is the game crashing. If I don't have an application like Steam open it actually ends up as a freeze and I need to restart the computer. Now I know it's not an actual freeze (e.g. one caused by insufficient power from the power supply) since Windows and TeamSpeak are still running in the background (i.e. I can still talk to my friends via VoIP). Then there are the frequent Crashes-to-Desktop which I don't only experience but some of my friends too (and sometimes even at the same time, which would suggest a server issue). On average, I probably get one crash-to-desktop for every 1 hour of play.
I didn't even mention the graphical bugs/issues, but I think I covered those well enough in the Graphics section.
Engineer Gameplay Video
Overall - 80%
A fun and entertaining online FPS, if you can put up with crashes-to-desktop a few times a day and the myriad of other bugs/issues...