Ever since it was announced that Battlefield Bad Company 2 would be coming to iOS, our forums have run rampant with speculation and anticipation. While the Halos and Call of Dutys of the world get most of the spotlight, the Battlefield franchise has had its own dedicated following of hardcore players for years. This same group of players is very keen on not having their beloved franchise butchered in the transition to iOS. At a recent EA Mobile event, I finally got the chance to actually play Battlefield Bad Company 2. While my overall impression of the game is positive, the good news also comes with some bad.
Let's start with the good. Bad Company 2 will feature a single player campaign comprised of 14 missions spread across the typical environments, such as snow, desert, jungle, etc. The missions can be quite lengthy and are full of a variety of different goals. You'll be able to drive several different vehicles during certain missions, including a tank, a turret-mounted armored truck, and a helicopter. The controls are spot-on, both on foot and while driving vehicles. They utilize the familiar "touch anywhere" virtual analog setup, with icons for throwing grenades, crouching, and aiming down your sights. It's all very minimalist and unobtrusive, letting you get a good view of the action taking place.
The graphics in Bad Company 2 have been largely criticized in our forums ever since EA released screenshots of the game. After seeing the game in person though, the criticism is unwarranted. Bad Company 2 looks great and runs smoothly, and while it doesn't quite approach the visuals of something like Modern Combat 2 [$6.99], it's certainly far from a bad looking game. It runs in high resolution with detailed weapon models and environments. It won't blow your mind, but it exceeded my expectations.
So, are you ready for the bad news? First of all, the trademark destructible environments that Battlefield is known for will not be making it to this portable outing. That's not entirely surprising given that this is game running on a mobile device and the technology to offer something like that would be quite taxing. Still, I did have my fingers crossed that they would find a way to pull it off, but it just wasn't meant to be. At least not in this release. You'll come across vehicles that can be blown up and explosive barrels and the like, but the majority of structures and objects will not be affected by the carnage.
The other somewhat disappointing aspect to Bad Company 2 is the multiplayer. It's online over WiFi or 3G, or local over Bluetooth, but will only support 2-4 players in regular deathmatch and team deathmatch game types. Again, this is a far cry from the competition, but that doesn't mean it won't end up being fun. Also, as of this writing vehicles will not be a part of the multiplayer, which is another trademark of the Battlefield franchise. I'm told that it's something that is under consideration and could change in the future, but the game will most likely ship without this feature. Another thing that was unclear during the preview was whether there is any sort of class structure to choose from, but my gut feeling is that there isn't.
A rep from EA was kind enough to let me film her as she demonstrated a bit of the single player campaign in Battlefield. While a noisy, dimly lit bar isn't the ideal recording location this video should give you and idea of some of the game mechanics:
Even with these negative points there is a saving grace with Battlefield Bad Company 2, and that is that the game is a blast to play. It's easy to get wrapped up in bullet points and feature sets when talking about a game, and it would be hard for anything to measure up to the current high-water mark in iOS FPS games that is Modern Combat 2. But the bottom line is that even in the short amount of time I spent with Bad Company 2 it was a lot of fun. The multiplayer seems a bit basic, but I'm really looking forward to the single player campaign. Plus this is EA's first attempt at an FPS for the iPhone, so there's the possibility that the experience will be improved over time with updates or in future releases.
Bad Company 2 is slated for release sometime this month, so it won't be long before we can put the final version through the wringer. Until then you can join in on the active discussion in our forums, and we'll bring you more of Battlefield Bad Company 2 when it hits in the coming weeks.