Hello all! Last week’s article touched on subjectivity and, um, dragons.
This week’s game is a mostly by-the-numbers shooter with a critical ingredient that most of these games lack.
I don’t have a whole lot to say about Battlefield: Bad Company, EA’s spinoff of their long-running multiplayer shooter series. Bad Company switches a lot of things up by A) being a console exclusive, B) having a single-player campaign of consequence, and C) not taking itself too seriously.
It’s that last part that makes me fondly remember Bad Company. You play as a guy named Preston Marlowe, who joins up with B Company, an Army battalion primarily reserved for troublemakers and screw-ups. They’re mostly used for cannon fodder, and your four-man squad is basically the rejects of the rejects. What follows is a story that goes from traditional military shooter stuff to a quest for personal, financial gain in the form of gold bars. Like, actual gold bars.
The story is full of goofy moments, like your Seargeant constantly mentioning he’s only got three days of service left (spoiler: he doesn’t get to leave), or Haggard, your squad’s resident crazy doofus, single-handedly invading a country (he was running after the gold). At one point, the only vehicle available to evade oncoming artillery strikes is a golf cart. Because you’re on a golf course. Also the grenades have smiley face pins, like on the box.
It’s a weird juxtaposition with the usual military shooter tropes, including highly destrucable environments and whatnot, but it’s a breath of fresh air. I’m not totally sure that comedy and levity is...appropriate given the setting and gameplay, but at the very least, it’s a change of pace from the ultra-serious plots of basically any other military shooter. I mean, I guess it’s okay to tell jokes in this setting, if we’ve learned anything from M*A*S*H, right? Also, I have to mention the chemistry between your squad members, which is fantastic. They’re constantly bickering, and it’s so refreshing compared to the usual “cover me!” dialog heard in literally every shooter ever.
That’s really all that’s memorable about Bad Company, but it’s a significant portion of the game. It’s okay for the occasional game to not really have a message, or be deep and metaphorical and junk. Sometimes, you just wanna blow shit up, and Bad Company lets you do that with a laugh or two along the way. It’s a favorite of mine because it plays great and it’s funny. Two simple reasons, but it doesn’t really have to be any more than what it is. Nor is it really trying to be; Bad Company strikes me as a game that knows what it wants to be. It’s a game that sells its intentions right on the box, with that smiley-face grenade. And it was never really marketed as something else, as some games are.
Bad Company 2 was great, but it didn’t have the sense of levity and goofiness this one had. Play it if you haven’t.
Thanks for reading! Find me on Twitter, if that’s your thing.
Next week, we look at one of the most colorful, wacky games on the GameCube. Need a hint? Slow down.