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Critical Reception: EA DICE's  Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Vietnam
Critical Reception: EA DICE's Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Vietnam
December 22, 2010 | By Danny Cowan

December 22, 2010 | By Danny Cowan
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[This week's edition of Critical Reception examines online reaction to EA's Battlefield: Bad Company 2 expansion Vietnam, which reviews describe as "among the best multiplayer experiences this year."]

IGN's Arthur Gies scores Vietnam at 9.5 out of 10. "Earlier this year, DICE released what I consider the best multiplayer shooter of 2010 with Battlefield: Bad Company 2," he praises.

"Somehow, while pumping out a steady stream of free content updates to Bad Company 2 proper, developing a co-operative add-on for the game, and creating the multiplayer component for Medal of Honor from scratch for EA studio mates Danger Close, DICE has found the time to deliver Battlefield: Bad Company 2 - Vietnam, and with it, what might be their best multiplayer experience this year."

"Bad Company 2 - Vietnam is less downloadable content than it is a full fledged expansion to Bad Company 2," Gies continues. "Rather than adding a few new maps and shoving it out the door, DICE has created a complementary but separate experience to Bad Company 2."

Vietnam features a selection of new maps and weapons. "Every one of the five included maps (four available immediately, and one that unlocks once the community completes 69 million support actions per platform) are new to Bad Company 2," Gies notes. "Almost every weapon is new, including a devastatingly effective flamethrower. What's more, weapons, and therefore classes, have been subtly rebalanced by virtue of said new weapons and the absence of sights and scopes for all but recon players."

The result adds a significant new layer of content to the core Bad Company 2 experience. "Whether you're new to Bad Company 2 or have been repairing, healing, and blowing up other players since March of this year, Bad Company 2 - Vietnam is among the best multiplayer experiences this year," Gies writes. "The re-balancing of character classes and level variety might actually trump Bad Company 2 proper."

At GameSpot, Kevin VanOrd rates Vietnam at 8.5 out of 10. "Calling Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Vietnam a simple map pack would be doing this add-on an injustice," he begins. "While the destructible environments and silky-smooth game engine are clearly those of Battlefield: Bad Company 2, this content changes the way you approach battle, stressing long-range combat less and forcing players forward into exciting ground combat scenarios that are among Bad Company 2's best."

VanOrd is surprised at how much new content is found in Vietnam. "Some of the differences between vanilla Battlefield: Bad Company 2 and the Vietnam add-on are striking," he says. "Most obviously, there's less emphasis on long-range combat. The recon class retains scopes, but other classes must rely on their old-fashioned iron sights to get a more accurate shot.

"As a result, you are far less likely to get sniped by a medic or assault soldier using a conventional -- but scoped -- weapon. A lucky player can still land an annoying headshot across the map with an AK-47, but by and large, BC2 Vietnam is a more up-close-and-personal experience, and consequently, it's a more explosive one."

Longtime players may be disappointed by the lack of progression via unlockables, however. "On the downside, you have access to every Vietnam weapon from the get-go, aside from the M1A1, so there's less sense of forward progress in the metagame than in the core game," VanOrd notes. "Of course, if you've already reached maximum rank, you're here not for the unlockables but for the enjoyment."

"Nevertheless," VanOrd adds, "if you strayed from Battlefield: Bad Company 2 once you reached maximum level or are new to the game and want a good reason to show off your elite shooting skills, the Vietnam add-on is your ticket to big explosions, big shoot-outs, and big thrills. And you get it all for $15."

Eurogamer's Al Bickham gives Vietnam an 8 out of 10. "Some games have tackled jungle warfare, and with a measure of success," he recalls. "Take DICE's original Battlefield Vietnam. And Far Cry although to a lesser degree, as the AI would shoot with deadly accuracy through greenery which blocked human line-of-sight. So how does Battlefield: Bad Company 2's Vietnam DLC deal with the problem?"

"Perfectly," Bickham answers. "Its maps are not so dense with foliage as you might imagine given the location, and what exists is easily blown away, just like the scenery of Bad Company 2. While each of the four maps differs considerably in design and pace, most line-of-sight blockage comes courtesy of other terrain features.

"Between hillocks, rice-paddy embankments and low, one-storey shacks, there's enough verticality in the terrain of each map to block lines of sight and encourage short-range conflicts. In short, on-foot players generally need to get pretty intimate to start taking names, and the result is some close and bloody engagements."

Bickham is pleased with the addition of new period-specific weapons. "The 15 new weapons offered also play a key part in making it feel very different to Bad Company 2," he notes. "This is Vietnam, so sniper rifles are the only weapons to sport scopes, and automatic weapons are of middling accuracy. The shifting nature of hotspots, particularly in Rush and Conquest matches, means that there's rarely a sniper vantage point that's useful for long."

Technical issues may harm the experience for some, though. "A cautionary note to PC users, however: you may have some difficulty getting the game to work at all," Bickham warns. "Initially the client wouldn't even connect to EA Online to let me browse servers, and after some trial and error I had to disable some on-by-default Windows 7 settings, set up a static IP address and monkey around with port-forwarding. Not what you really want when you buy a new game, particularly one that relies solely on internet play."

"Like its forbear, Battlefield: Bad Company 2 - Vietnam offers yet more reasons to look beyond Call of Duty multiplayer and give something else a crack," Bickham concludes. "There's a slickness to the combat, an intelligence to the map design, and a sense of atmosphere worth exploring, all wrapped up in a fast, fun, progressive experience that drip-feeds you goodies as you go."


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