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Battlefield: Bad Company Beta – Preview

01 May 2008

The beta release of the new game in the Battlefield franchise is all about gold… acquiring it, holding it and killing for it. Sounds fun? Well, if the server demand is anything to go by, quite a lot of people are enjoying being greedy little so-and-so’s and killing for gold doesn’t seem to be a problem.

Once I had connected, a quick glance at the controls for the game was all I needed and I was off. There were only two maps available in the beta test. This was communicated right from the beginning but it didn’t seem to matter. The fast and furious gameplay was more than enough to stay interested and entertained.

I found some of the controls in the game similar to others; running using the left thumb stick, and zooming in on targets with the left trigger but some controls were also a little different. Throwing grenades was one that took some time to get used to (after playing too much of one game, you tend to get certain buttons and controls fixed in your head). This can be somewhat of a steep learning curve if you’re throwing grenades on your own teammates! But you get that.

Once I had the basic control system memorised, I tried to run around the maps a little to get a feel for what the environments were like, all the while dodging bullets! One of the maps that I played seemed very dark but this only added to the atmosphere and made the game a lot more engaging. As far as graphics go, I didn’t notice too many bugs (apart from floating metal bits) and the frame rate didn’t seem to be too much of an issue either. As I was connecting to US servers, the only drawback was the initial server load at connection (which was openly announced to all gamers involved in the beta). As well as this, the only other thing I noticed was that after a game had ended, my Xbox seemed to freeze up occasionally and I would be required to turn my Xbox off and back on again. I do hope they fix this in time for the release in June.

The main idea behind the game is that you have two teams; one attacking and one defending crates full of gold. The objective is obvious; if you’re attacking, your goal is to get to the gold crates and destroy them. If you’re defending, your goal is to kill everyone that is after the gold. I tried my hand at both (as the team rotates positions after each round) and found that regardless of whether you’re attacking or defending, being a good shot and accurate with your weapon is paramount.

The main point of difference between this game and Call of Duty 4 has to be the vehicles and that’s where the maps become important. There are two maps available for the beta (as mentioned earlier). One is set in and around a monastery and the other is called ‘Oasis’ which is set in a desert environment. The Oasis mapped proved a lot more popular because it allowed vehicles to be driven all over the place. Once the vehicles come into play, on a strategic level, everything can change. I found it much harder to attack teams who used the vehicles a lot in the game.The weapons in the game seemed standard like any other but drop in ‘bundles’ on the ground when someone dies. You can quickly pick up these bundles by pressing ‘X’ on your controller.

You can also drive tanks, Hum-V’s and fly helicopters in the game which can be a lot of fun (once you get the hang of driving them around). It will be interesting to see if DICE continue to have the team killing/friendly fire option turned on in the game when it releases.

Scores are tallied at the end of each game. If you’re defending, you score points by killing attackers. If you’re attacking, you can score points by killing enemies and capturing crates. You are also given statistics at the end which tell you what your kill/death ratio is and what rank you’ve achieved in the game.

Most of the buildings and vehicles in the game were destructible which might really appeal to some. For me, surviving with a good kill/death ratio was more important and of course, being able to help your team achieve the win.

I can definitely see Battlefield: Bad Company becoming a good game for competitive clans online as well as the casual gamer that likes fast run and gun type gameplay with a few tactical strategies thrown in. If they manage to fix some of the minor bugs I noticed in the beta on release, Battlefield: Bad Company might just be the next big thing on XBL.

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