”I’ve gotta save me some cheerleaders!”
Right off the bat, you’re reminded of Bad Company’s most well-known trait: destructible environments. Nearly every house, wall, tower, sign, and tree is able to be blown apart when sufficient force is applied. New in this iteration is the possibility that a building will collapse completely once most of its structural supports (i.e. walls) are removed. This is an awesome feature, simultaneously looking very cool and opening up a plethora of tactical options. While you can certainly destroy the enemy’s cover or even bring it crashing down on him, you should also be prepared to haul ass when they try to return the favor.
There are some downsides to this mechanic, however. For one, it is way too easy to destroy things. You could argue that it makes it more dynamic and action-oriented to have an entire side of a house be blown off by a single grenade or rocket, but on the other hand, it’s rather harrowing to realize that most cover is essentially paper-thin – even a steady stream of bullets will break through many objects. It also seems that by making destructible objects so flimsy, it resulted in a wall breaking from less damage than can be sustained without dying. In other words, you can blow a huge hole in a wall with an RPG, but the guy that was standing just on the other side will still be alive. Finally, debris from explosions disappears very quickly, which simply doesn’t look good.
The majority of the campaign is very linear, marching you down a straightforward path to battle AI that is well-suited for little else than target practice. This style of level design lends itself to intense action, so it’s no surprise that you’ll be sniping, run n’ gunning, rail shooting, driving a vehicle, killing a vehicle, and more. Some areas are deceptive in the sense that they seem very open and expansive, but you will be killed after 10 seconds if you stray outside of the level’s artificial boundaries. Though, there is one mission with the type of open-ended, “choose-your-objective” gameplay that I’ve heard is characteristic of the first Bad Company game, but it only succeeds in interrupting the flow of events with long, boring drives across the giant map. This new-found focus on linear action seems to be DICE’s attempt to dethrone Call of Duty as the king of intense, cinematic shooters that put all the focus on the player. Yet, it quickly becomes apparent that they bit off more than they could chew…
Scripted events are fine and dandy when they blend seamlessly with everything else that is going on, but enemies spawning in plain sight or a particular radio tower falling on a vehicle that I already destroyed are just cases of shoddy programming. The latter would’ve been fantastic if I had caused it by shooting the explosive barrels at the base of the tower, but they remained intact. Another contrived sequence involves a flaming truck barreling down a narrow passage straight toward you with no room to escape; I turned around and tried to run back, but I heard Sarge yell “Shoot it!” I did, and two bullets caused it to come to a screeching halt, passing through me without collision. Afterward, I noticed the small drainage ditch that would’ve made a far less asinine solution had I ducked into it.