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Battlefield: Bad Company 2: You're Back in Bad Company Now!
Company: EA Games

I'm still a little bit surprised Battlefield: Bad Company was as big a hit as it was. I expected sales, but I didn't expect it to still be a hit with my friends in multiplayer and in no way did I expect to see a sequel, especially since EA/ DICE has proven they can deliver the complete Battlefield experience in a download. It's good then, releases aren't green-lit based on my hunches and DICE is busily at work with Battlefield: Bad Company 2. Like a few other lucky players, I was able to land a spot in the Bad Company 2 multiplayer beta. The release, like its player numbers, is limited, but shows enough to get Battlefield fans excited.

For a quick rundown, Bad Company 2 offers 24-player action in the vein of other games in the Battlefield series. Nearly everything present in the last game is back, including copious levels of destruction. Bad Company 2 uses an enhanced version of DICE's Frostbite engine. Environments look great, but the real winner is the enhanced destruction. The first game was pretty explosive, but suffered from limitations. You could knock out a few walls and insert a crude sunroof in any building, but even airstrikes weren't enough to topple buildings. With the new engine, you can unleash your inner Michael Bay and flatten nearly everything you stumble across.

The class system also returns, though the number of classes has dropped from five to four. The new classes are: Recon, a sniper/ stealth character; Assault, a frontlines fighter; Engineer, an on-field handyman; and Medic. Of the four classes, the Medic sees the most changes. Health regenerates over time, replacing the syringe system used in the first game. Medics now come equipped with a defibrillator to give teammates a quick jolt of health.

To compensate for the reduction in classes, load-out kits are more flexible. Characters can hold two weapons, a sidearm and rifle, and weapons are fully customizable. The new system is much more flexible and offers loads more options for battle. As part of the load-out revamp, it seems DICE is trying to balance out vehicles by offering on-foot players a chance to take out those who were lucky enough to snag an armored toy. For instance, players can elect to bring a tracer gun into matches in lieu of a sidearm, making it much easier for missiles to find their target. The control system has seen a few changes, all for the better. Melee kills are easier to pull off and no longer require switching out weapons.

The closed beta offers a look at one of the new play modes, Rush Mode, which pits two teams in a battle over a series of crates. One team needs to destroy the crates, while the other needs to protect it. Fans of the original should be familiar with the mode, though the mode also tosses in limited spawns, offering a slight twist. The attacking team can only respawn so many times, placing a greater importance on team tactics. Single-player Commando runs are out of the question, otherwise the defenders are in for an easy victory.

Each time a set of crates is destroyed, a new part of the map opens, allowing access to the next set of crates and a completely new set of tactics. For instance, the first part of a map may include more wide-opens spaces for gunfire, while the next is ripe for sniping spots. It reduces the amount of ground area in each map, but offers loads of new options for tactics. Some classes are better in certain parts of the map than others, forcing you to learn and use every class available. Playing through sections also unlocks experience-based rewards, ensuring the landscape of battle is constantly shifting.

There's still a lot of time between now and Bad Company 2's March release, and spending time with the beta is only making the wait seem longer. DICE has something special on their hands with Battlefield: Bad Company 2 and fans have a lot to look forward to in March.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker
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