SAN FRANCISCO--It's a steep uphill climb for the developer of a first-person shooter to make its game stand out in one of the most saturated genres around, but it's far from impossible. EA DICE did it last year with Battlefield: Bad Company by infusing its shooter with an infectious sense of humor that never felt out of place in the game's warzone setting. The team from Stockholm is now hard at work on Battlefield: Bad Company 2, which it unveiled during last week's Game Developers Conference here in San Francisco.
The unveiling was a brief gameplay demo--really more of a teaser--clocking in at around 10 minutes. The first revelation was the complete return of the first game's crew. B Company is back in full force with Marlowe, Sweetwater, Haggard, and Redford all coming back for more. The team is introduced in a snowy mountain village near the Russian border, though the reasons for their visit to this locale were never disclosed.
The demo began with a bit of banter between the members of B Company. They're trying to decide how to infiltrate the village, but they quickly notice Sergeant Redford sneaking way off in the distance. Just as they're trying to figure out what he's up to, Redford plants a knife in the neck of an enemy soldier. This elicits a disgusted reaction from the group, likely because they know things are about to go pear-shaped.
And that's exactly what happens, with every enemy soldier coming after them. The team pushed forward through the Russian village using the familiar combination of assault rifles, barrel-mounted grenade launchers, and any other destructive weapon they could get their hands on. The action was similar to what made the first game so exciting--that is to say, lots of destructive elements. And the scale of the destruction has expanded on the micro and macro levels. Surface penetration means cover will chip away when you spend too much time behind a crate, and entire buildings seem like they're much quicker to come tumbling down compared to the stubbornly resilient building frames in the first game. At one point, we saw an entire radio tower come slowly toppling down to the ground.
Another change we noticed is the level of tension during firefights. The music is a lot more dramatic than the tunes accompanying you during the first game. It began as a slow, pounding rhythm with a deep bottom end. Then, the music picked up as the team moved from the on-foot section to an on-rails vehicle sequence that forced them to shoot ATVs, trucks, and helicopters trailing them on snowy mountain roads.
The demo was quick, but it left us impressed. We wish we could have heard more dialogue between the members of B Company since those absurd exchanges were one of the first game's most shining attributes. We're not sure when we'll get a taste of that, but we do know that EA is planning to unveil its multiplayer plans at E3. Stay tuned for more.