After fighting battles in World War II, Vietnam, the present day, and 2142, DICE's Battlefield series takes a new turn in Battlefield: Bad Company. The scenario is familiar to fans of Battlefield 2 or Activision's Call of Duty 4: placing gamers in a present-day scenario. This time around, however, you won't be a gung-ho, brain-dead, order-obeying grunt.
You've been thrown into B Company (or Bad Company). B Company is a mishmash of less-than-stellar soldiers who get sent to the front line as cannon fodder and usually have a short life expectancy as a result. In a style reminiscent of the motion picture Three Kings, you'll discover that being a soldier isn't just about fighting for the greater good, and throughout the single-player campaign, you'll look out for your own interests and possibly grab some booty along the way.
Bad Company has seven single-player missions, which will generally take around 45 minutes each to complete. In addition, there's a strong multiplayer mode that supports up to 24 simultaneous players. Rather than including a conquest mode, which has traditionally been Battlefield's bread and butter, DICE has introduced a new mode called Gold Rush. As the name implies, you'll take turns defending, or attacking, a number of gold stockpiles. It's a plant-the-bomb-style mode with both teams scrambling to take over the control points, and from what we've experienced, it's frantic, fun, and addictive.
GameSpot previously took a look at the Ascension map, and the closed beta--which is now coming to an end--featured the Oasis and Middle East maps. This time around we were treated to a new map, titled Harvest Day in the Xbox 360 version. The map takes place in an open field, with several small villages scattered around the countryside. In between the villages is a shallow river with a few bridges of strategic importance. Much of Bad Company's environment is destructible, including the bridges, which can be destroyed with heavy firepower to make it tricky--if not impossible--for tanks to cross.
Bad Company has five character classes: assault, recon, support, demolition, and specialist. All have four main weapons to choose from, with secondary fire options. For example, the recon class is equipped with a sniper rifle and a set of binoculars and can call in airstrikes by "painting" a target for several seconds. Once the airstrike has been deployed, you then have to assume control of the missile to guide it to the target. Although it leaves you exposed at the time, the result is immensely satisfying if you're accurate.
Another impressive heavy weapon is artillery. To operate it, you'll assume a top-down satellite view, which you can use to acquire targets on the ground. Once it's fired, you'll unleash a barrage of shells, decimating any troops, vehicles, or objects in the blast radius. It will even move earth, leaving craters behind.
You'll also have access to mounted laser-guided missile launchers. You can guide a missile to its target using the right analogue stick. Tanks, jeeps, armoured personnel carriers, and helicopters can also be manned in the game.
After collecting feedback from players, DICE has announced that it will include the classic conquest mode after launch as a downloadable pack. A spokesperson for DICE told GameSpot that the development team is currently wrapping up work on the game and will move on to the conquest pack when the game is finished.
Battlefield is bringing some seriously bad company to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on June 13 in Europe and on June 23 in North America. Stay tuned for a preview of DICE's other upcoming Battlefield game, Battlefield Heroes, in the coming days.