Shoot-Out – Battlefield: Bad Company 2 vs Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

A while ago, I picked up both Battlefield: Bad Company 2 and Modern Warfare 2 (to be abbreviated as BC2 and MW2 respectively). Sadly, most of the big commercial blogs were riding the crotch of MW2 but the one fundamental fact they didn’t understand is that both games are quite different from each other. I want to take a more critically personal evaluation of the games as I want to be fair to both games. I’ll say this right now… I rather like both games, but for different reasons.

Battlefield: Bad Company 2
I love how the game is depicted… It’s like a gritty war movie. Think along the lines of a film like “Saving Private Ryan” and that’s the dynamism the game play is depicted like for the story mode. One of the flaws I will admit the game has is when you transition from a infantry patrol portion of a mission to a vehicle… the transitions are awkward and don’t flow with the pace of the game. The matter that sometimes guerrilla tactics can win a battle is a wonderful concept. Snipers in a guard tower and the only thing you have is a block of C4 explosive and a AEK-971 assault rifle? Blow out the legs of the tower and bring cover for your computer-controlled comrades. That brings me to another flaw, the computer controlled comrades from Bad Company in BC2 are sadly dumb as stones some occasions… The satisfying part of the story is being under complete standstill and having to quickly devise a battle plan before your cover is blown to pieces. The challenge is very good and pushes critical thinking, which for me is very important to a computer game.

The meat and potatoes of BC2 comes from the multiplayer mode. You level-up from battle experience to earn new guns and kits to be used. Also, vehicles are available for use, a hallmark of games of the Battlefield series. The maps are HUGE! These are battlefields and anything/everything can be destroyed! If you like assisting via UAV, you can send off Predator missiles to rain Hell on your opponents. Want to crumble enemy bases by the air? Hop on an Apache gunship. Need to get your buddies deep into enemy territory and quick? Get a transport vehicle and push quickly! As far as the player kits go, the classes are as follows: Assault, Recon, Medic, Engineer. Each has guns and tools custom tailored to their abilities. The best part is that each class can has the potential to kill. At the same time, you have to work with your team and squad to really be able to push victory. Squads are a kick ass concept as when you join a server, you have an option of joining a squad. Doing so is a highly advised decision. The main reason being that you can choose to spawn on the same area as your squad versus entering the game at the base of operations and then running to the hot zone. The ability to report enemy units with the socialize function is a wonderful thing as they will be flagged on the radar map to boot. This is an especially valuable thing that Recon units can assist with as it can help the other units a heads up as to where the enemy is coming from. (The radar and flagging does not work on Hardcore servers.) The multiplayer games are actually all hosted on servers; that includes the console folks too. The huge benefit with that is the matter that all the players are balanced out and no one gets a zero-ping host advantage (which will be explained in MW2’s portion). What this means for players is… zero-ping handicaps are no longer a viable excuse to why a player got killed. The one glaring flaw that is in no part EA’s fault but more on Even Balance’s fault is that servers with Punkbuster detect the Steam overlay for folks who bought the digital off of Steam as a cheat program. Steam has offered to work with Even Balance with resolving the matter and Even Balance just makes claim to something along the lines of “Punkbuster is perfect, Steam is broken. Fix Steam, we can’t code an exception. Sucks for your users if they can’t get on servers protected by our software.” Thankfully, there are servers that do not use Punkbuster so it’s almost a moot point. The thing about games in multiplayer are pretty long and intensive on occasion… if you have to exit out of a game, you don’t lose the XP you gained and it does not flag you as losing a game (if win/loss ratio is important to you). Final point, I love the maturity of the Battlefield community as it makes every game, be they winning or losing games still feel good.

If you have previously owned any of the Battlefield games, go to the Battlefield Veterans site and register your games to unlock the M1 Garand in BC2. A bonus perk to anyone who has bought BC2 is that EA is giving you 700 Battle-Funds for Battlefield Heroes if you log-in using your BC2 log-in information.

BC2 Summary
[+] Gritty war movie experience
[+] Destroyable environments
[+] Critical thinking is reward, Rambo tactics be damned!
[+] Intense multiplayer experience
[+] Huge multiplayer maps with destroyable elements
[+] Vehicles usable to change the dynamics of battle
[+] Spawning on teammates is a time saver
[+] Dedicated servers are awesome!
[+] Offending players may be kicked out by the server administrators (spawn camping, racial slurs, needless spamming)
[+] Exiting games is not punished, accounting for the fact that some people have lives outside of games.
[+] Rewards for playing previous games in the franchise
[+] Each class loadout is highly capable of killing the other classes
[+] Unlockable guns are well balanced out and do not disadvantage lower level players
[+] Limited time offer of 700 Battlefunds for trying out Battlefield Heroes

[-] Dumb as shit AI squad-mates in the Story mode
[-] Sometimes multiplayer games can get into long stalemates running a game for almost 20+ minutes
[-] (Minor, Steam version) Punkbuster detecting Steam overlay is a nuisance, forcing users to disable the overlay or be kicked from servers

Call of Duty (6): Modern Warfare 2
Released back in November, this game has been the apple in the eyes of many bigger journalistic publications… Be they print or digital, the acclaims are all over the place… Only one issue: Most of those accolades are for the CONSOLE and NOT PC. Kotaku has an excellent article about how it almost feels wrong for a company to entice reviewers to an event and only have 1 platform (xbox 360 version) to be on the evaluation block. Sites like Ars Technica had to purchase their own copy for their review of the game and sadly rated it “Skip” due to some rather glaring flaws. To be honest… The game feels like a console port from the 360 version and it doesn’t help their case that using certified 360 controllers with MW2 is NOT supported. [Disclaimer: I play with my G19 keyboard, G13 game board, and a G500 mouse for precision sake.] Not that I care for controller support… but I know some folks would like the convenience of playing from their couch with a wireless xbox 360 controller for PC with their 40+ inch TV’s instead of being 2 feet away with a keyboard. Anyhow… Let’s get technical.

The story mode continues where Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare leaves off… The intro summing up the story from the previous game. Visually, the game is nice. The mission debriefings look futuristic and the voice overs make you feel right on the combat field. The transitions from being on foot patrol to vehicles, to using laptops to command UAV’s, etc are quite wonderful and feel appropriate to the pace of the game. The problem with all the pretty stuff is one issue… The story has become so far fetched that “It’s kind of like the Michael Bay of videogames.” says Sion Lenton as quoted from this article here. The amount of explosions, insane and far-fetched video game physics (akimbo g18, 1887, or Ranger sawed-off shotguns), and a few other details make it like a mindless action movie. It took me about 6 hours to beat the campaign mode on regular difficulty and BC2 I have clocked almost 7+ hours while still not finished with it.

Multiplayer is the part where the console port details shine… There are NO dedicated servers. So if the person hosting has the worst connection is hosting the game, you are at the mercy of their internet connection. The host also has a connection advantage of zero-ping. I have personally witnessed headshots of mine somehow count as misses and the opponent somehow knifes me in the face. All because the person hosting the game perceives it as me being slow and the game going “The host is right and you just suck”. That is a huge backward step compared to the dedicated server method of things. The matchmaking is terrible… I have had many occasions where instead of being paired with someone around 5-10 levels from me, I get paired with folks almost 40 – 50 levels from me. To top it off, the PC version community is pretty bad for the most part. Screaming kids that are no older than 13-16 yelling  “<censored African American racial slur>”, “FAG!”, “FUCKING CHEATER!!!”, “YOUR A HACKER!” (misspelling actually witnessed in the text chat) either by voice or text. There’s no way to ban/kick that sort of filth from games and it’s disappointing. I guess I have been spoiled from CoD4 and World at War’s dedicated servers that if you’re spamming generally idiotic stuff, then expect to be warned once and kicked out immediately after the second infraction. I play online games to get away from the scummy reality of societal filth, not to go and bathe in it again. If you want a summary of the experience, it’s like the 13-16 year olds from xbox Live peed in your Kool Aid.

Example encounter

I scored a game winning kill from hip-firing a UMP45 SMG into a kid and on the replay it shows my kill from my point of view.

Kid begins screaming at the top of his lungs: “Zero’s a motherfucking cheater! NOBODY CAN TURN THAT FAST, IT’S NOT POSSIBLE!!!”

His older teammates tell him to chill out and go “He may be using a really good gaming mouse”

Kid gets back on the mic and continues screaming “I KNOW Zero is cheating cause he was locked on to me and it was barely even a second that he began shooting!”

All the while, people on my team are laughing and telling the poor child “learn2buyagoodmousen00b” and other similar friendly chatter.

Kid spews his final attack of “Zero’s a FAG and a CHEATER and you all are FUCKING STUPID not to see it!!!”

Kid then exits the lobby.

That’s the sort of behavior that kills my nights. I could do without it. The other thing is the cheaters… I will run into them occasionally. It’s somewhat funny to see them on your team… like racking up 25 kills to deploy a tactical nuke in 2 minutes. But when they are on the other team and do the same to you, it’s a bit frustrating.

To be fair… The gameplay style of MW2 is more arcade like. Think Quake but with some realism. The games when they are good last 7-10 minutes. Short and sweet sometimes. The crummy part is should you have to quit mid-game, it docks it as a loss. The level system is a bit nutty, 70 levels and 10 prestige levels. A prestige is starting over from L1 and re-earning everything but with even more challenges and a perk of earning an extra class slot. The benefit is marginal at best. The extra class slot may mean tons if you like using the One-Man Army perk (class switching in game). Essentially, if a player hits L70, then does all 10 prestige levels… It’s like completing the game 11 times. Some of the lucky kills you may earn may make you laugh to the point of tears. I will say to take multiplayer lightly… it’s not something worth working up your blood pressure over. The prohibitive price of $60 makes it a tough sell, unless you can get a brand new retail copy from an Amazon reseller for a discounted price.

MW2 Summary
[+] Nice visuals with explosions aplenty
[+] Action packed experience
[+] Quick thrills multiplayer
[+] Hilarious potential for multiplayer
[+] Plenty of guns to play with
[+] Perks system remixes battle

[-] Plot a little too far-fetched
[-] Perks system advancement gives access to stronger guns
[-] Lower level players more at disadvantage against higher level players
[-] Some weapons bend the laws of physics (i.e. Akimbo Ranger short barrel shotguns simultaneous fire)
[-] Non-dynamic maps encourage some players to camp certain spots
[-] No dedicated servers
[-] Minimal players required for a private game is 4, due to lack of dedicated servers
[-] Player community can sometimes lack maturity
[-] Inability to ban/remove players from games (i.e. If a racist bigot enters a game, you cannot remove him.)
[-] Peer-to-Peer games came sometimes link you to players either with poor internet connections or in other continents
[-] Zero-ping host advantage can skew a game in favor of the host rather than balance all players
[-] Cheaters may ruin your game with aim-botting, wall-hacks, texture hacks (i.e. Getting 25 kills in 2 minutes for a Tactical Nuke Killstreak)
[-] Some elements of of multiplayer fundamentally broken and still not yet addressed (weapon balance, better cheat detection, etc)
[-] Prohibitive, non-standard PC price of $60 may turn off potential buyers

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