Mid December has seen the much anticipated release for Battlefield Bad Company 2: Vietnam expansion pack, available via Xbox Live, Playstation Network and direct download for PC gamers (1200 Microsoft Points, €12.99, $14.99, £9.99 ). Previously we have received a remake of the classic Battlefield 1942, given a small makeover using the new Frostbite engine and adding in the now famous destructible environment that has become a staple of the series. However this time things have been done a little differently, as opposed to just reworking the original BF:Vietnam the team at Dice have started from the ground up to incorporate the new game types found in the multiplayer incarnation of Bad Company.
So what do we get for our money, I hear you cry? Well, not a lot really, five all new maps as well as a handful of new weapons to suit the era is all you get at first glance. Don’t let this put you off with its price tag, because once you get stuck into it you’ll find a wealth of goodness and happy times abound. Purely a multiplayer experience and as far as I can tell online only, as yet, it doesn’t stray far from the already well established gameplay we’ve come to expect from Dice. Visually the levels are beautiful, especially when the foliage and straw huts are erupting around your head in a hale of incoming mortars or tank rounds.
I Love the Smell of Napalm in the Morning.
The game types are varied and all work really well, Rush is a personal favourite of mine, setting up the US forces against the VC (Vietcong) on large maps that become more open as the attacking side pushes forward to objective points. Rush has you placing explosives and destroying two targets at each stage resulting in the battlefield pushing back to the next objective until the attacking force has conquered all or have run out of re spawns communally. Also worth noting is a smaller variation on Rush, in which two teams of four soldiers rush to secure each others objectives in a similar fashion, this can make for some serious communication between team mates or failure is abound!
Conquest has a set of three flags spread out over the full maps that need to be occupied by a team until it raises and is then defended while the rest of the team try to take and hold the other two points. It can be a frantic affair with some of the cleverly constructed maps causing choke points and close quarters engagements as well as large open areas that take mass rushes of men across to ensure survival under the heavy fire of a defending team.
There is no real standard team deathmatch mode, instead we’re presented with squad death match. Which creates four small teams of four and drops you into a slightly smaller variation of one of the maps with a point goal to be achieved cumulatively. It is a nice twist on the team death game type, giving you a lot more targets to shoot at but encouraging you to utilise the squad support actions like the medic or the resupply from the assault class.
VC in the Wire!
Visually the Frostbite Engine is still holding fast, environments with the primary focus being forest and jungle can often look a little bit sketchy but the Dice boys and girls have created some beautiful and believable worlds. Ruined temples and bamboo thickets giving way to small fishing villages and open stretches of water, stunning background vistas with pillows of smoke off in the distance holding it all together and giving a real sense of scale to the maps. Now the linchpin of the most recent incarnation of Frostbite has been the destructible environments and Vietnam has it by the bucket load. From straw huts exploding from a well places tank shell to bamboo fields being reduced to stumps from a mortar barrage, there isn’t much you can’t put a hole in here. The weapons look beautiful, dirty and patched together to fit the era and overall bedraggled feel the conflict itself had.
For those of you familiar with the Battlefield franchise you will no doubt be aware of the incredible lengths they have gone to in capturing the sounds of the world. Vietnam pushes the envelope here with each weapon sounding believable and distinct, bullets whipping past your ears and the dying whine from your ear drum as you’re deafened by a grenade you couldn’t quite get clear of. The sound really does make the package special, call outs from characters as they take fire or put down an enemy, the drone of the jungle being injected with distant machine gun fire echoing off the cliffs or temple walls.
For those of you with a penchant for the music from the sixties you will be happy to know most of the larger vehicles have a PA system which allows you to blast out songs from the decade as you lay waste to the enemy. From Creedance Clearwater Revival too The Ride of the Valkyries, it feels like every Vietnam movie ever made rolled into one explosive and audibly arousing expansion.
Me Love You Long Time.
So Battlefield Bad Company: Vietnam does exactly what you expect to with a little extra thrown in for good measure, I honestly would like to point out the flawed graphics engine and terrible spawn logic but so far I’m not seeing any. The only criticisms that can be leveled at this expansion are that sometimes the maps can seem a little biased, especially if one team gets a hold on the majority of the vehicles. In my eyes that’s not really a justifiable critique as all it takes is some team work and the flow of battle can be back in your favour in no time at all.
Worthy of note is that experience and rank carry over, so if you have been a solid fan of Bad Company 2 online then fear not, as you play Vietnam all your ranks carry between the two games, so if you play Vietnam and rank up, boom, unlocks in Bad Company become available. The Vietnam expansion itself has all the weapons unlocked from the go which means you wont be walking into games against people with ‘better guns’ than you, although don’t be surprised if you die in this game, a lot. It’s a frantic experience for the most part, ducking and dodging incoming fire before running to a freshly made crater before reloading and then pushing on the enemy one more time. You will invariably be getting shot, blown up, stabbed, set fire to a lot in this game, its one of the few online shooters where dying is just par for the course, there wont be any fifty kill streak rewards in here, you have to die sometimes to push forward and it makes the whole experience rather visceral and rewarding.