In case you missed it, the bonus fifth map in the Bad Company 2′s “Vietnam” expansion, Operation Hastings, has been unlocked for PC, Xbox 360, and PS3 gamers.
Although PS3 and Xbox 360 users did not meet the challenge (only reaching 39 and 52 million acti…
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DICE brought out the big guns this year with Battlefield: Bad Company 2
They don’t teach you proper military tactics in the army. It’s all about climbing six-foot walls and cleaning guns, and useless junk like that.
Bad Company 2 shows you the way real soldiers fight: leaping full-pelt towards windows, tucking themselves into a tiny ball, then unfurling like an umbrella made of guns on the other side. War is all about standing far away from buildings and firing endless streams of grenades that appear in mystical green packets that grow just above your arse. It’s about performing little feats of individual skill so brilliant that you stop and stare at your own fingers, believing for a second that they’ve got tiny brains of their own.
In comparison with the 64-player murderfests of Battlefield 2, Bad Company 2’s slimmed-down servers and four-man squad seem reductive. But in limiting the mental scale of the conflict and making it so easy to signpost your intentions to your squad-mates, BC2 gains a constant and tangible sense of teamwork. Unless you’re lumped with ten sniping morons, anyway.
I spent most of my time in-game with three online chums. Our four-person death squad only got to be so ruthlessly efficient because we knew our assignments. One man played combat engineer, with a Saiga autofiring shotgun and a Carl Gustav rocket launcher. We’d stick him at the front of the pack, deployed to core out buildings and drill new holes into defensible positions. Supporting him, we sent our assault class, ready with a new round of ammunition and a hyper-accurate burst-fire rifle. I followed up in the line o’death, playing medic and wielding the once ludicrously good M60 machine gun. Then, right at the tail of our snake, was our recon soldier – a dead-eye shot and a human spawn point tucked into one ghillie suit.
We were monstrous. Bad Company 2 does better than any other multiplayer shooter at engendering teamwork among strangers, but there’s almost no response to four people with a plan. A good, communicative squad in BC2 is a thing of beauty. We didn’t need the insane reflexes of a 13-year-old after too much Fanta – with liberal application of tactics and battleawareness, we surgically sliced through objectives like a hot knife through war-butter.
Behind enemy lines
Of course, we all developed severe cases of post-traumatic stress disorder along the way. Bad Company’s best vignettes are flashes of doom, sections where time slows down and you’re all too aware of the fragility of pretend life. Both main modes – Rush and Conquest – depend on players forcibly inserting themselves into enemy territory and staying there a bit too long to complete a job. These positions are fixed, so your defending opponent generally knows where you are – cue for them to drop the sky on you. Mortar strikes and rifle grenades are accompanied by more standard bullets – and thanks to DICE’s superlative sound engineering, you can hear every last bit of superheated metal as it whistles past your face.
Other shooters decorate their experience with nice audio; BC2’s sound is woven into the fabric of the game. Early on in its life, I remember standing on the second floor of a two-storey house. I’d taken up a defensive position with my squad: I had my M60 trained on the stairs, and my friend poked his shotgun over a banister at any oncoming foes, while the other two busied themselves with an M-COM station. We were inside an unbroken, impenetrable fortress, waiting for assailants. We were thinking wrong.
There was a dull thunk as the wall I had my back to disintegrated. I spun to see the white of the level’s snowcovered ground, and sprinted to a new position. Another thunk, and my friend’s body went sailing past my face and out of the gap the first explosion created. A third, and a fourth, and we were running out of solid things to put our bodies behind. Coming out of a crouch, I poked my head through a window just in time to see a rifle grenade come sailing out of a nearby bush. I shouted the location to my sniper buddy, and as another wall vanished, he lanced a shot straight through the grenadier’s skull. It went quiet for a second, the staccato explosions halted. “Yay!”, said we over Teamspeak.
Then a horrible lurching sound, a creaking that came from no gun. Myself and my surviving squadmates looked at each other – actually spun our character models and looked at each other in turn – before simultaneously deciding to launch out of the nearest hole, pulling our parachute ripcords and floating the few feet down to snowy earth. Turning around in unison, we looked back to see the house a pile of rubble. There was only one thing to do.
“Oh man, that was so awesome. Let’s do it again!”
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The wait is finally over. After six months of impatiently anticipating a full dose of new Battlefield: Bad Company 2 maps, DICE and EA return to Vietnam with 5 new maps, 15 new weapons, and 6 new vehicles.
The Vietnam expansion operates differently than most traditional map packs. Though it requires the original disc, adds ten new achievements/trophies, and carries over your ranking from Bad Company 2, the maps don’t integrate with the base game. Instead, the expansion has its own submenu when you boot the game and the maps rotate amongst themselves. Only four of the five maps are available at launch, with the classic Battle For Hastings map unlocking once the community performs 69 million team actions. All four of the currently available maps are playable in the Rush, Conquest, Squad Deathmatch, and Squad Rush modes.
With the power of the Frostbite engine, DICE’s latest trip to Vietnam better captures the atmosphere of the region than the first game did in 2004. Thick jungles give soldiers low visibility, the muddy water barely casts reflections, and the freshly napalmed countrysides smolder in ruins. DICE also did an admirable job of differentiating the experience from the base game. Maps are populated with far fewer destructible buildings, dense patches of foliage litter the environments, and the varied elevations of hills, tunnels, and trenches keep the battles from devolving into sniper-heavy firefights across razed settlements. Each map also caters to a different play style. The rice paddies of Pho Bai Valley feature intense chopper and tank showdowns. The Cao Son Temple includes a long shoreline for PT boat drive-by attacks. Hill 137 focuses on a hillside infantry battle, with half of the forest destroyed by napalm. The Vantage Point map is a vertical battle that pits defenders on the top of a plateau.
With no machine gun scopes on the ’60s-era weapons, long-range battles are less frequent than in Bad Company 2. Though the game disappointingly lacks new weapons to unlock as you level up, you can collect bronze, silver, and gold starts for each of the 15 weapons. Shooter vets should be familiar with most of the arsenal, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t standouts. The most fearsome new weapon is the flamethrower, which is devastating at close range and makes quick work of squads trying to protect an M-Com crate in a building. Even if you kill the person wielding the flamethrower, if you’re hit with a momentary blast the flame will stay alive, slowly draining your health and eventually claiming your life.
The class kits have also been adjusted for the historical setting. Assault soldiers have M79 thumpers instead of an M203 grenade launcher attachment, engineers use blow torches to repair vehicles, medics us syringes rather than defibrillators to revive fallen comrades, and snipers have TNT instead of motion sensors or claymores. These changes play perfectly into the vibe, as do the new radio stations featuring Vietnam-era songs players can listen to while riding in vehicles.
The most important change Vietnam makes to the Battlefield formula is the taming of the choppers, which often dominated the matches in Bad Company 2. Small-arms fire now damages the helicopters, so great pilots can’t hold an army hostage as easily as they could before. The Hueys also can’t strafe as aggressively as the Hinds, which makes it easier to concentrate fire on the birds even without access to an anti-aircraft battery.
Outside of occasional bouts of lag, the lack of new unlockables, and a strange skill level glitch that oscillates my ranking between 0 and 99 repeatedly, the Vietnam expansion pack delivers where it counts. If you’re an AWOL soldier who found something else to do over the last six months or a diehard Battlefield fan, this expansion is definitely worth the $15. This is one draft you don’t want to dodge.
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This Vietnam-set expansion stands to reinvigorate Bad Company 2′s multiplayer with flamethrowers, tuk-tuks, and Ride of the Valkyries.
For those who’ve neglected Battlefield: Bad Company 2′s multiplayer for too long, Vietnam is a sweet welcome back: a Vietnam War-era, multiplayer-only digital expansion, comprising five new maps (one to be unlocked further down the line), new weapons, and new vehicles, bolstered by evocative licensed music and voiceovers. Among the period treats in store are flamethrowers, tuk-tuks, and the Ride of the Valkyries; when we played, the latter was wafting through the jungle more often than not, adding a cinematic touch to even our most ignoble deaths. The M2 flamethrower, meanwhile, was the most notable of the expansion’s 15 contemporary weapons–in close combat, its short-range jets of flame induce panic, obscuring the opposition’s view while draining their health. And the nippy, rickety tuk-tuks, the least intimidating of the expansions’ six vehicles, are also the most irresistible, begging to be loaded with TNT and sent sailing into enemy lines.
That TNT replaces Bad Company 2′s C4 as the recon class’ explosive of choice, but the difference is cosmetic only, as with the syringe that replaces the medic’s defibrillator, and the blowtorch that replaces the engineer’s repair tool. The cosmetic nods to authenticity mount up nicely, though; the weapon models are tarnished and, in some cases, etched with slogans (“make war, not love”), and matches begin and end with grainy, newsreel-style US war reports. The team character models reflect the new sides, American GIs and the North Vietnamese Army, but beneath the Vietnam veneer, along with suitably lower-tech new weapons and new vehicle handling, the essential squad-based play is unchanged–and all the same modes are available. All the weapons are unlocked from the get-go, but experience accrued in the Vietnam expansion counts towards progress in the original Bad Company 2 multiplayer.
There’s a decent mix of environments in the maps, though jungle, long grass, bamboo stalks, and shallow water do feature heavily, with an ambience of frog croaks and cricket chirps. The muddied water and tropical skies look good, and should be a welcome change to those who’ve long since memorised the older Bad Company 2 maps. The lay of the land mostly pushes players into fighting up close, but a few map features–bridges overlooking large areas, for instance–provide choice spots for long-range sniping.
Phu Bai Valley is nearly all flat, spread across flooded rice fields. The napalm-blasted Hill 137 map, as described in our earlier preview, has the expansion’s most striking vista: a blackened, smouldering hillside crisscrossed with foxholes and trenches. Here, in the tightly closed-in areas, flamethrowers and cooked grenades are especially effective. But the Cao Son Temple map is nearly as memorable: a jungle sloping up to a scenic old temple and its walled grounds, backed by mountains and edged with a river– on which US patrol boats with mounted guns await, ideal for controlling action on the shore. (In the US vehicles, which include the boats and the shark-faced Huey helicopter, play Vietnam-era rock as well as the near-ubiquitous Valkyries number, with the option to change stations by pressing left on the D-pad.) Away from the water, the central temple building is defensible by a well-coordinated team, but only just, with multiple entrances to cover.
Operation Hastings, the to-be-unlocked bonus map, is an updated version of the Battlefield: Vietnam map. Here, a small temple-like structure houses one of the target M-COM stations, as does a small village of wooden shacks downriver, with boats on hand for transport between sites. A long bridge commands a view of much of the open space and water, making it an inviting position for snipers. Operation Hastings will become available once players collectively perform 69 million team actions–heals, repairs, and so on.
Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Vietnam releases on December 18 for the PC, then on December 21 for PS3 and Xbox 360 (£9.99, €12.99, or $14.99, and 1200 points, respectively).
EA have released a brand new trailer for Battlefield Bad Company 2: Vietnam, a multiplayer expansion for the brilliant Battlefield: Bad Company 2. It’s got helicopters laying waste to massive stretches of land to the sound of 60’s guitar music, which is exactly what films have taught me Vietnam was like.
The expansion will only be available for digital download, and is due out this winter for $15. The pack will include 15 new weapons and four new multiplayer maps set in the midst of the Vietnam War. The new items will all slot into Battlefield: Bad Company 2’s experience system so you’ll be able to unlock them using points for kills and point captures. The pack will also include 49 music tracks from the 60’s, which players will be able to listen to on in-game radio channels, as we can only assume that real soldiers did.
You can get a taste of the expansion’s mix of cool grooves and hot, hot explosions in the trailer below.
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New trailer for the Multiplayer Expansion Pack – Battlefield Bad Company 2 Vietnam.
We soar high and sneak through the jungle with our first look at Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Vietnam.
EA hasn’t been shy about releasing regular post-launch content updates for its Battlefield Bad Company 2 game since the title went on sale earlier this year. Six free map packs have been released in total, tacking on additional maps at no cost and giving the already brimming online community of shooters something new to play with. Teased briefly at this year’s E3, Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Vietnam marks a turning point in the DLC strategy, reskinning and aging the existing multiplayer game to provide players with the same shooter experience they’ve come to know and love, and moved it into a different time period. EA was showing off the expansion at its TGS 2010 press conference, and we got our hands on it.
Set up across four consoles as part of a larger online game, we played Conquest, a mode Battlefield fans will already be familiar with. For those uninitiated in the ways of war, Conquest requires teams to capture and defend flag points scattered across the playfield. Locations are only held as long as they can be defended, and it’s not uncommon to scrap for possession as teams fight it out at different spots and force players to make snap decisions on whether to stay and secure, or move to cut off the enemy and claim more ground. EA reps on hand at the event confirmed that B:BC2 Vietnam will not include any single-player component, and will be entirely focused on expanding online competitive and cooperative play.
Likewise, player rank and persistency will play a larger role, revealing that there will not be an unlocking process to get your hands on the biggest and baddest weapons. Rather than stagger upgrades, all items will be available from the word go to avoid offering only a small handful of guns to choose from. The development team believe it will be “the best way to play Vietnam” and as a result, future DLC will most likely follow the same design mantra to avoid the grind. Just because it’s all ready and waiting to be shot doesn’t mean that long-term play has fallen by the wayside. You’ll continue to earn experience points for every bit of turf captured and kill made, with courage determining your badge and ribbon rewards in the line of duty.
Chatting numbers with the development team we were told that the game will ship with around 15 new weapons, including Viet Cong mainstay the AK-47 assault rifle; six new vehicles, of which we saw a jeep, tank, and the Bell UH-1 Iroquois “Huey” helicopter; and four new maps, including the Phu Bai Valley, a mountainous piece of terrain with a smattering of marshy areas, thick jungle undergrowth, and well-worn dirt paths primed for roaring vehicles to negotiate. Hopping into the hot seat of a missle-ladden chopper is further amped up by the inclusion of era-appropriate music, giving your explosive mayhem its own soundtrack as you perform village straffing runs and dodge gunfire from ground troops.
The lineage of this game is evident in its look and feel, but this new expansion brings with it a distinctive, and recognizable setting. No pricing information has been made public yet, but keep your eyes peeled for Charlie hiding in the grass when it ships on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC late in 2010.
We get a hands-on demo of Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Vietnam.
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