With a solid single-player campaign, great multiplayer action, and the new destructible sandbox, Battlefield: Bad Company does well in distinguishing itself from other titles in the vast sea of first-person shooters.
Using the Frostbite engine, Dice has created a war zone that is almost completely destructible. Places that are safe havens in other games can now be demolished with a well-placed mortar strike or artillery shell. Don't fell like using the door? Blow a hole in the wall and use it instead! There are some walls and items that don't react as you would expect (wooden crates resisting withstanding missile strikes, etc), but for the most part, if you want to blow something up, you can.
Battlefield: Bad Company has a full-fledged single-player campaign as well, to help you get used to the weapons, destructive environment, etc. You play as Private Preston Marlowe, who was recently assigned to the 222nd Battalion, B Company, which is a collection of misfits and castoffs that the Army likes to send into battle first. B Company, in short, is expendable.
You are part of a four-man squad composed of Sergeant Redford, a grizzled veteran who volunteered for B Company so he could retire early; Sweetwater signed on to take advantage of a college scholarship without realizing he may actually have to fight; country bumpkin and demolitions expert named Haggard who loves to blow stuff up. You'll fight your way into Russian territory and take out a number of well-guarded installations. When the Army leaves you stranded behind enemy lines you and your squad goes AWOL in search of mercenary gold.
The story probably isn't something that will win awards, or demand that a novel be created for the game, but the numerous unlockables and humor make the campaign worth playing. There are times when the enemy apparently missed basic training, and forget about taking cover when the bullets start flying.
As with previous Battlefield titles, the multiplayer is really the meat and gravy of the game. Initially we were concerned that there was only one mode of online play: Gold Rush. We found it odd that the conquest mode in which teams vie for points on the map and drain enemy tickets, a mainstay of the Battlefield franchise, was absent. The mode will purportedly be made available as a free download at some point, but it should have been in the game right out of the box. That said, you won't get bored of Gold Rush anytime soon. In Gold Rush you're part of a team that's either trying to destroy gold crates or defend the crates from the attackers. As each base gets destroyed, the defenders fall back to the next base in line and attempt to defend the crates contained within, while the attackers get to move their base of operations forward to continue the advance.
The various game elements are very well balanced, as the sniper can nullify tanks using the laser designator, the specialist can drop med kits to regenerate health, repair vehicles, etc. The maps are well balanced as well, with bases having various defensive and offensive elements (turrets, artillery cannons, etc).
There are five character classes available in multiplayer, maps support up to 24 players, and there are quite a few vehicles to choose from, including tanks, jeeps, choppers, boats, and humvees.
One thing that is different, especially compared to other shooters, is that you don't regenerate health. To get your health level back up you need to find a med kit from a specialist, or use the health injector.
Battlefield: Bad Company has some of the best in-game sound design around. Shots echo through the hills and mountains, and indoor firefights are loud enough that you may have the neighbors knocking on your door. When connected to a home theater with surround sound, it can be absolutely amazing at times.
One area that the game could use some work is the graphics. The game is far from ugly, but when looked at closely, it falls a little short. The graphics don't really detract from the game, but it is noticeable at times, especially when compared to Call of Duty 4, and some of the other shooters out there.
Battlefield: Bad Company is the most addictive game released so far this year. While not perfect, the single-player campaign, tongue-in-cheek-humor, destructible environments, numerous unlockables and achievements are enough to keep you playing, and laughing, for the forseeable future.
Final verdic: 8/10