I'll start by saying that this is a very good game and that only a few poor choice is stoping it from having the best multiplayer on Xbox Live. The Battlefield series has allowed players to fight in World War 2, Vietnam, the future, and in the present. Bad Company takes place in the present, where a fictional war is going on between the United States and Russia.
Unlike past Battlefield games, Bad Company has a Single Player story that doesn't end up feeling like a series of bot matches strung together with some text or video separating each one. The main character, Preston Marlowe, has just been assigned to Bad Company after doing something that could have gotten him thrown in jail. Bad Company is where all the misfits in the army are assigned and sent on almost suicidal missions. The game starts with a bang as the convoy that you are riding with is hit by an artillery strike, what follows is many, many more bangs. That is because in Battlefield Bad Company, if you see it, you can probably blow it up. Trees, walls, roofs, or enemies are all able to be blown up in many different ways. Can't find that flank on a group of enemies? Why not just switch to your grenade launcher and go right through a wall, or three.
The story for the game is that you and the rest of your squad find out that a group of mercenaries get paid in gold. After fighting some of them and finding a gold bar on a body, they decide to go after the gold and ignore orders.Your squad is made up of some great characters that you will probably start to really like over the course of the Single Player game. Your squad leader is Sergeant Redford, a soldier that used to be proud to serve his country, also the only person to request a transfer to Bad Company. After being in Bad Company and being used like fodder by the army all he wants to do is go fishing. The other two members of your squad are the exact opposites of each other and spend most of their time fighting. There is ** (gamespot censors his name, WHAT?!), who doesn't like fighting but joined the army to get a scholarship. The last member of your squad is Haggard, he likes to blow stuff up, enough said.
While it is nice to see that the single player games has an interesting story with good characters most of it feels like training for the multiplayer. When you die you just respawn and can continue attacking making the game very easy, and while it doesn't feel like a bot match your enemies will usually do little more than stand still and shoot at you. It doesn't help that, even though you can find silenced weapons, if you take an enemy out at long range before going into an enemy base, the entire base will likely still be alerted and any enemy with a shot at you will begin firing. Enemy AI aside the Single Player does have it's moments and the maps are huge and offer you many different ways of getting to your objective. It also helps that each mission has many objectives and that after completing each one you will get a short in game cutscene with some dialogue between the characters.
While the Single Player is alright, it is the multiplayer that will likely sell the game for you and keep you playing. The game supports 24 players, more than most games, and I almost never have any lag. There is currently only one gametype for multiplayer, Gold Rush, in this mode one team must defend two gold crates while the other tries to destroy them. Gold crates can be destroy by planting a bomb on them or by hitting them with explosive weapons or shooting them. Once two crates are destroy the map expands and the defends have to defend a new base while the attackers must continue to push them back until they win. The attackers are given a limited amount of reinforcements and will lose if they die too much, they are given more with each base they take over. The game shipped with eight maps, although I am not a fan of all of them, the maps seem to be perfectly balanced. I don't usually see one side win more often than the other on any map, most games end with both sides being pretty close to one another.
The game has five character classes to choose from in multiplayer games. The Assault class carries a rifle, grenade launcher, grenades, and an item to that heals themselves. Demolition carries a shotgun, rocket launcher, grenades, and mines. Recon is the sniper class and is also the only class to carry a pistol, they also have grenades that act as motion sensors and they have an item that allows them to call down an airstrike on a vehicle, the strike must be guided manually. The specialist class carries a machine gun, C4, grenades, and a tracer gun that will show the location of hit vehicles and allow rocket launchers to seek them. The last class is Support, they carry a heavy machine gun, medkits, a tool to repair vehicles, and a tool that allows them to call mortar strikes down on targets. All classes carry a knife that is an instant close range kill.
The classes seem to be well balanced except for the specialist class, if there are no vehicles nearby to throw C4 on or if you haven't even unlocked your C4, this class seems to be almost useless. It also is very annoying when sniping at long range to see your target heal himself as an Assault or Support character before you can get off another shot. Using the Support class' mortar tool is a lot of fun, in the other Battlefield games where people used to hide in buildings for cover, you can now just blow most of the building up, as well as its occupants, with a well placed strike.
The star of the game is the explosions. While the shooting usually works well the damage doesn't always seem to make much sense. You might put 10 shots into a guy with a rifle at mid range only to be killed by one blast from a shotgun. Also, due to the explosions the developers must have found it necessary to give characters much more resistance to explosives than in most games. If you hit an enemy soldiers with a grenade from a grenade launcher or with a light tank shot the soldier will still survive. Again, the shooting usually works well, but this is definitely a game where people will complain about a guy killing them when he probably should have been dead.
On bigger maps the best way to get around is to use vehicles and the game gives you many options. Different kinds of jeeps, light tanks, heavy tanks, boats, and helicopters are used. In addition, there are also stationary guns that shoot bullets, rockets, or grenades. Some maps even have anti-air guns or big artillery guns that allow you to get a birds eye view of the enemy team's base before you shoot, and of the resulting destruction caused by your shots. The vehicles usually control well, however, I do have some problems with the tanks. That problem is that after knocking down an entire forest by driving your tank through it you are still able to get stuck on some small obstacles on the ground.
The online mode makes use of ranks, you can be promoted up to level 25. As you are promoted you are given credits that can unlock new guns for each class, as well as the
item that needs to be unlocked for each class in order to be used. Medals can also be earned in games for accomplishing certain tasks but those just help you to rank up faster.
Although there are many guns in this game, each class has one for each of the three armies in the game, and four unlockable guns, almost every class has one or two guns that are obviously better than the rest. Some of the unlocked guns have the exact same stats as the default ones, accuracy, rate of fire, and damage, except that one of the three is increased. When aiming your guns only the sniper rifles and one of the heavy machine guns use scopes, for the assault and most heavy guns it is an iron site view, for the machine guns and shotguns your character gets no sight just slightly better accuracy.
Graphics wise the game is not the best looking, but it is also not bad looking. Textures might look a little grainy but since you usually have so little time to stop and stare at a building or tree before it is violently destroyed, you probably won't care.
The sound in this game is excellent. From the bullets slamming into the wall next you, the roar of a tank or of a snipers shot, to the sound of the roof above your head being blown away by a grenade. The sounds is great and will almost make up for the sound that you probably won't be hearing at all, voices. If Battlefield goes out to prove anything other than blowing stuff up is a lot of fun, it is that one is not the loneliest number. In Battlefield the loneliest number is, in fact, the number four.
The developers, for whatever reason, made the horrible decision to split each team of 12 up into different squads. When you join a game you will be randomly put into a squad with one to three other people, even if you stay in the same game you will be in a new squad at the start of each new round. While this sounds like a good idea it is very poorly implemented because, for whatever reason, the game will only allow you to talk to other squad members. At its best you will just have to be careful where you call those artillery strikes since you can't warn your team not to go into that building, or you will be unable to ask them if it was your team you called it on in the first place. At its worse, which is what it will usually be at, you will go game after game not hearing anybody say a word save for the occasional, "Yay, I killed someone" or the more common, "**** this stupid game, I died".
The good thing about squads is that you will be able to spawn in your base or on a squad members location whenever you are respawning. The bad side of this is that you are unable to choose who you want to respawn on, if the guy it gives you happens to be swimming around in the middle of the sea away from either teams base, you are out of luck and will have to spawn back at your base. If you have to spawn back in your base you might find that other people have taken all the nearby vehicles, and with no way to talk to other squads, you will have to walk.
While the game does allow you to invite people to a party before you join a game so that friends can be in a squad together this doesn't always work right. Not many of my friends play Battlefield, and I am unable to make new ones, for obvious reasons. The one friend I have who does play this game often was able to get into a party with me, while the game did put us in the same squad most of the time, it would occasionally put us on opposite teams. This was likely done for team balance reasons but because the server you get into is completely random, the game doesn't even put you into the map you chose, you have no way of knowing how many people are in a game until you join it.
While Battlefield is a very good game a few bad choices have stopped the game from becoming the best multiplayter game on Xbox Live. The Single Player is only decent and while the Multiplayer can be a lot of fun it makes strategy almost impossible. Even if you get into a game with three friends in your squad you are still unable to talk to the other eight members of your team. If you bought this game there is a very good chance that you don't care much for strategy and that you just want to blow things up, if that is the case, you will definitely have fun with Bad Company. Still it is odd to see a Battlefield game with so little effort put into communication.
Note: Review was written before party system was released. If you know the people you are with the party system could make the online chat easier to use.