There are a few games in most people’s gaming history that can be pointed at as turning points, or at least as significant in some way. For instance, for myself it was a game called Combat on the Atari 2600 – a title that got me into gaming in a big way, followed by Street Fighter 2 in the arcades, then Goldeneye. The biggest, most significant game of my own Xbox 360 era though is without doubt Battlefield: Bad Company 2. So come with me on a trip back in time while I attempt to explain why it meant so much then, and still continues to be important even today.
First off, I think an illustration may show how much this game took over my life:
Now, bear in mind that these stats haven’t been updated in around seven years, and I have continued to play this game, not only on the Xbox family of consoles but also when I briefly owned a PS3. 981 hours and 52 mins: that’s pretty much 41 days of solid gaming. And this figure is only relevant to the multiplayer side, not including the fact I also fully completed the campaign mode, getting all the achievements along the way. In fact, until the Vietnam expansion was released and ruined my score, this was my proudest 100% completion on the Xbox 360, eclipsing even the one I got on the base game of Skyrim. So, after finishing the story, I embarked on a trip into multiplayer. Now, bear in mind that my sum total of gaming so far had been only single player, my Xbox 360 still had that new console smell, and although there were online opportunities available in the likes of Forza 3 and Gears 2, I hadn’t tried out this newfangled “Xbox Live” yet. In hindsight, starting off with a Battlefield game may not have been the best choice…
I started trying to play Rush, as I had no idea what any of this multiplayer stuff was. Now, in case you’ve never played it, Rush was a game mode where there were two teams, one defending a set of M-COMs, while the other has to attack and try to arm explosives to destroy the same set of M-COMs. This basically involved everyone charging into the first base, and a meat grinder being created around the building that housed the M-COMs. Finding a tank usually meant that you could stay alive a little longer, and it soon became second nature to send shells from the tank cannons through the buildings in the way, flattening them when there was enough damage done. This system was known as D2.0, with the D standing for Destruction.
On a map like Arica Harbour, which was set in a small town near the sea, it was perfectly possible to raze the entire map into a pile of rubble, making progress easier towards the targets but creating a veritable smorgasbord of new hiding places in the wreckage of the buildings. Once the first set of M-COMs were destroyed, there was another set that would then have to be defended, and so on and so forth. If the defenders managed to drain the attacker’s tickets so they can’t respawn, they win. If the attacker destroys all the M-COMs, they win. Now, playing against a team of lone wolves pretty much meant you’d win, as communication has always been key in this game. What used to happen a lot is that you’d be playing against a clan who had figured out that the defender’s tickets were unlimited, and they would push the defenders back into their spawn, killing them as soon as they appeared, getting insane K/D (Kill/Death) ratios and breaking the fun from the game. Of course, if you happened to find yourself on the same team as an organised clan, you could ride their coat tails to a great score.
I then started playing Conquest, and this is where Bad Company 2 came alive for me. Conquest is basically a game mode which sees you playing on a map with various different capture points, and your team has to stay in the vicinity of the flag to capture the point. When a team holds the majority of the flags, the other team’s respawn tickets start to drain, and the first to run out of respawns loses. What made this such a great game mode is the use of vehicles, the amount of routes through a map, and even the use of out-of-bounds areas to get behind the front line and allow you to start capturing the flags behind the enemy forces. Whether the vehicles would be helicopters, tanks, even jeeps and quad bikes that can be used for flanking, these are what made a good game great. Running over a sniper in a ghillie suit with C4 as he attempted to blow up your tank was a great feeling. Seeing an engineer with a rocket launcher duck behind a wall, then sending a tank round through to blow him up soon became second nature, and learning never to keep your tank still was a good tactic, as even slight movement can cause a sneaky rocket to miss. Shooting helicopters out the air was amazing fun, and with practice, and team mates who were happy to communicate, the game started to flow.
For these reasons it is Battlefield: Bad Company 2 where I met my best Xbox friends, and we soon became a regular squad of 8, all Level 50s, and from all sorts of different places. We had guys who would set up camp as a sniper in the snow of the White Pass map, a Norwegian who sounded almost exactly like the Swedish Chef, players from Germany, America, Austria and even the odd Brit – it was a truly multicultural group of guys that this game brought together, and who still play together to this day. We learned the maps, knew which flags needed reinforcing, and where the enemy were, and were more than happy to take down snipers, and drop tea bags on every enemy. We would find great fun by killing enemies with unusual weapons, like the Medic’s defibrillators, the Engineer’s repair gun, even the Assault classes’ smoke grenades. And then with the knowledge of the game and the maps came mastery: we thought nothing of steamrollering an entire opposing team.
There were other game modes included as well, including Squad Rush, which was a 4-on-4 version of the main Rush mode, and also Team Deathmatch, which did what it said on the tin. Onslaught was another thing that came later, with four player co-op gameplay tasking us with capturing points that were held by AI forces. Here when the difficulty was ramped up, it was extremely difficult to survive; again, communication and cooperation was the route to success.
Onslaught mode was a lot of fun, but again nothing could touch the enjoyment of Conquest, and going back to play the game again for research for this article, it has still been an amazing amount of fun. Then, with the release of the Vietnam expansion later in the lifecycle of the game, the joy expanded even more. The weapons, instead of being all hi-tech and razor sharp become older, slower, more difficult to handle; the tanks were slower and weaker, the Huey didn’t compare to the Apache and so on. But the setting was absolutely spot on. Even the soundtrack was great… I think it is still a law that if a game is set in the Vietnam War, then Fortunate Son has to be on the soundtrack, and this expansion was no different. The strains of the tunes blasting out as you swooped low in a Huey, blowing the hell out a Viet Cong village made it feel like we were playing Apocalypse Now, and while it wasn’t quite as balanced as the base game, it was still very good fun.
Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is available on Xbox One through EA Access, and is backward compatible. And that means there is a new generation of players that are still coming into the game, allowing me to pass on my love of Bad Company 2 to a whole new generation.
So these are my memories of Bad Company 2. There is much, much more that I could talk about, including the official EA BFBC2 forums that were a wretched hive of scum and villainy, the likes of which I’ve never seen since. However, did you play BC2 back in the day? Do you have EA Access, and if so have you tried the game in recent times? Do you feel the need to play it now you’ve read my witterings about the title? If you do, hit me up and I’ll happily show you the ropes. Sound off in the comments if you have anything to say about the whole Bad Company 2 thing!