The cliché 'game of two halves' normally conjures up images of classic football comebacks, but after staggering through
the glaringly uneven single-player campaign in Bad Company 2, twenty-four hours after spending a whole day solidly playing the superb multiplayer component, there's hardly a more apt description of DICE's wannabe CoD-killer. Because, despite the sterling efforts of the men from Stockholm, if you're coming to this for your lonesome combat kicks, you're going to be massively, desperately disappointed. This is all about the online game.
As with any true disappointment, though, the awful truth isn't always immediately apparent and after a (quite literal) A-Bomb of an opening, it's obvious Bad Company 2 isn't afraid to show off its new armoury of tech tricks.
An early mission sees our team of misfits, dumped by narked superiors on routine Alaskan border patrol, hounded through a winter wonderland by evil Russian troops. Armed to the teeth with rockets, grenades and a bloody great tank they pummel a sleepy village into oblivion. Even when you're dying, re-dying and dying again* it's hard not to get excited about the evolution of their Destruction 2.0 feature. There's nowhere to run, and rarely anywhere to hide... at least for more than a few scant seconds. Darting between ever-diminishing bits of rubble, we gawped as entire buildings shuddered to the ground - with us in them. Dying taught us to innovate, to create fresh cover points and sniper nests by punching holes in buildings and roofs, to chip away at enemy positions... DICE were offering us an all-new way to wage war, and - even if we occasionally got stuck in the rubble-strewn scenery - we were digging it. When we weren't digging our way out of it, of course.
Yet if the scene was set for grand adventure, what followed felt like a wet mackerel to the face. A litany of schoolboy errors and missed opportunities, Bad Company 2's campaign soon tails off alarmingly, stealing tricks from almost every rival shooter in the book while conspiring to continually bungle the execution.
FISH 'N' BLIPS
Case in point: being handed a pistol to save a superior who's been taken hostage by a retreating Russian - and capping him. It could have been ripped straight out of the original Modern Warfare's Mile High Club mission. This was preceded by a shootout that not only visually resembled but played out near identically to the original Gears of War's bloodbath on the steps of the Fenix mansion in Jacinto. The ensuing operation saw us helming a chopper's minigun in a sequence that could have been plucked straight from Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter... if it hadn't already been left on Ubisoft Paris' cutting room floor for not being up to scratch. There's also a jungle boat trip that screams Modern Warfare 2, a turgid sniper section that unfortunately recalls the masterly Ghillies In The Mist and... well, you get the idea.
Even worse, when Bad Company 2 does attempt to innovate it falls flat on its face. Chief suspect is the 'Surviving the Storm' mission, where you're stranded in the middle of a raging, poorly rendered snowstorm and have to dart between buildings to warm yourself beside roaring hearths or else your HUD ices up and you freeze to death. It's an incredibly silly idea, awfully implemented - not least because it's here where it first becomes apparent that, for whatever reason, you can't actually open doors; instead you have to conveniently shatter them into a billion splinters, thus alerting any pesky Russians lurking inside.