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Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Vietnam
Score: 96%
Publisher: EA Games
Developer: Digitial Illusions (DICE)
Media: Download/1
Players: 2 - 24 (Online)
Genre: First Person Shooter/Action/Online

Sometimes I wonder if "Fortunate Son" got as much play time in the real Vietnam as it does in the movies and games about the conflict. Think about it, has there been anything Vietnam related that hasn't at least featured the first few guitar chords? FenixDown swears there was no other music during the Vietnam War but CCR's protest anthem, but I refuse to believe the entire music industry tanked alongside Lyndon Johnson's approval numbers.

As sick as I am of hearing the song, at least it's usually attached to really good games. The latest entry is EA's Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Vietnam, a multiplayer-only DLC add-on for last year's Battlefield: Bad Company 2. Though not the Battlefield franchise's first foray into the conflict, the DLC collection of maps (along with era-appropriate weapons and vehicles) is an easy "Must Purchase."

Once installed, Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Vietnam adds a new tab to the main menu, offering access to the new content. From here, you're taken to a completely new multiplayer menu, where you can ping friends to join in games, join games in progress (or just starting) or access your unlocked weapons/ gadgets, badges and Leaderboards. Basically, it's everything you can do in the base game, but within its own area.

Although the content is a completely separate entity from Bad Company 2's multiplayer, some stats carry over between the two games. Chief among the shared content are player stats. If you unlocked weapons in Bad Company 2, you won't need to unlock the new weapons available in the expansion. I'm still not sure how I feel about the decision. On one hand, it doesn't make players feel like they have to climb up the hill again, though it does remove a few progression goals, so gameplay can seem pointless if you're the type of player that constantly needs a carrot dangling in front of you.

Players may have immediate access to new weapons, though there's still a learning curve involved with learning how to best use the new weapons. Compared to their Bad Company 2 counterparts, weapons are a little less accurate and don't do quite as much damage. There's also a noticeable lack of tech on the battlefield, which may leave some players feeling out of their element. It's just you, your gun and the battlefield. It's sure to throw some players off their game, mostly those who've built their entire play-style around motion sensors and laser sights, but I loved it. Every kill felt just a little more earned and special.

Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Vietnam ships with five Vietnam-themed maps. The number may not sound impressive, especially considering you're limited to these maps while playing through the new content, though each supports all of the play modes from Bad Company 2, such as Squad Rush, Conquest and Deathmath. That turns out to a lot of different combinations. Besides, maps are absolutely huge and packed with little play touches.

The minute you set foot into a game, you're transported to an incredibly experience. Jets fly overhead, fires rage all over the place - it's crazy. If it wasn't for other players gunning for your head, I'd suggest you stop and smell the napalm. The real cool aspect of each map is the number of trenches lining each field. Considering the size of each map, trenches add a much-needed sense of claustrophobia. Every map has that one special aspect to it. There may be fewer maps than other multiplayer shooters, but each game will have a memorable, distinct feel to it.

The two big additions to your arsenal are the AK-47, my personal favorite, and the flamethrower. The former is a fun toy, but the latter is damn imposing in matches. It's balanced enough to not be something that everyone is packing (it's a tad tricky to use), but in the right hands, it can do quiet a bit of damage.

Vehicles are just as important as previous games, though not as prominent in matches. All six vehicles are Vietnam icons - you've got helicopters, jeeps and a set of tanks. They're great, though I've noticed most players have opted to stick with on-foot tactics for the most part. The only exception is helicopters. There's no mad dash, though they're a deadly addition to any tactic. However, helicopters can be taken down with normal gunfire, ensuring they're not an "end all" weapon.

It's incredibly hard to find a reason to not pick up Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Vietnam -- at least if you like multiplayer shooters. Between the new maps, weapons and the impact each has on the overall gameplay, it's incredibly clear DICE put a lot into the DLC. Players fearing more of the same will be pleasantly surprised at how different an experience Bad Company 2: Vietnam is compared to previous titles. It's a chaotic blast.

My only real question is why this was released as add-on DLC as opposed to a stand-alone product like Battlefield 1943. Still, at $15, it's completely worth the purchase.

NOTE: A retail copy of Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is required to play Battlefield: Bad Company 2: Vietnam.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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