Those who played Battlefield 2: Modern Combat, which was a multiplayer mode squeezed into ill-fitting single player clothing, will struggle to find any recognisable elements between these two games.
Everything from Modern Combat has been torn down and rebuilt, so rather than picking off blurry ants on the horizon before they become a threat, you're now firing at chunky enemies with chunky weaponry on chunky levels.
Everything has been made bigger; a narrative with cutscenes replaces the colourless mission briefing screen, and hidden gold bars give you the incentive to explore as well as explode.
Bad Company has also smoothed down the bumpy edges of Modern Combat, making it a far more accessible game without any noticeable difficulty spikes. Part of that is in how the destructible scenery encourages you to come up with your own solutions to any problems. If you notice a guard house in your way brimming with enemies, rather than try to find the best angle to throw in a couple of grenades before crossing your fingers and hoping for the best, just drop a mortar strike through the roof. And again. And again. And again.
Good though this is, on a crowded console packed with shooters, good doesn't cut it anymore. Bad Company will entertain you as you plough through buildings to chase your enemies, use guided missiles to pick off tanks and switch up weapons so you're juggling between C4, mortar strikes and RPGs to deal death - but it never has that essential something to keep you glued to the screen.
The bad news
It's easy to point a finger at the reason why - Bad Company suffers from a lack of set pieces. Call of Duty's war would punch you in the gut with its endless spectacle, but Bad Company feels like a through-the-motions slog with no peaks or troughs to get you emotionally involved.
The skewed tone doesn't help, as DICE has gone for a humorous undercurrent throughout, and it falls flat at every opportunity. Bad Company simply reinforces the notion that humour will forever be the Achilles heel of games - characters stumbling around via a comedy animation when a nearby bomb goes off is just not that funny. Missed gags aside, it's a struggle to recall any standout moments because... well, there aren't any.
Nothing really happens. You'll blow up the enemy tank in town, push towards the harbour, destroy the guardhouse and blow up the radio tower - but as soon as your target is reduced to smoking rubble, you'll forget about what's just happened.
If this was about righting the Battlefield ship to ensure more passengers clamber on board following Modern Combat 2, then this is a success. It's accessible, it's fun and its destruction is novel enough to keep players entertained. If this was about breaking up the Rainbow Six Vegas and G.R.A.W. stranglehold on the squad combat genre, it hasn't quite pulled it off. It's not bad company for the night; it's just not memorable company either.
Well, it's better than Modern Combat
- Solid single-player campaign
- Destruction is fun
- Strong multiplayer
- Still not essential
- Not particularly memorable