If you're a PS3 owner with an inkling of an interest in first-person shooters, you've probably tried the Battlefield: Bad Company 2beta, featuring a revamped Rush game mode. Everyone else, well, you're missing out on some great fun -- but March and the release of the retail game isn't that far off.
I've wanted to play more of the game's multiplayer component ever since getting into the beta, and I recently got that chance at EA's Redwood Shores, California headquarters. The occasion: the unveiling of a new game mode, squad deathmatch. Four squads of four members each (4-vs-4-vs-4-vs-4) square off to see which team can reach the kill limit first, which sounds straightforward enough until you consider the dense foliage of the new jungle map on which we played.
As expected, the mode (and map) requires each squad to actually keep together (a novel concept, I know) since enemies can pop out of the dense vegetation without warning. Staying aware of any sound or movement in all directions -- not to mention tossing out ammo and health packs to the rest of the squad -- is crucial. Sticking together is made easier with the ability to spawn at the location of any living squad-mates, even if they're in a moving vehicle.
Also key: Commandeering the sole vehicle -- in this case a tank -- in the center of the map before any of the other squads, or, if you strike out, making use of a well-balanced team to blow it into smithereens.
The map itself is well designed, offering plenty of opportunities to quietly knife-kill opponents or take the high ground as a sniper. Also, since multiplayer uses the same Frostbite game engine as the single-player campaign, nearly everything can be blown apart or ripped to shreds. Think you see an enemy squad camping behind some trees? Shoot the trees down.
After a few rounds of squad deathmatch on the jungle map, the group switched over to a domination mode on a fully open Panama Canal map. As in other "domination" game types, the goal is to hold flagged positions on the map for as long as possible. Standard multiplayer fare, yes, but with the current build already finely tuned and stunningly good looking -- not to mention the multitude of new character loadout options -- even the familiar continues to be entertaining.
We won't get a chance to check out Bad Company 2's single-player mode for another month, but if it's anything like the multiplayer matches we've experienced so far, we're in for a bullet-riddled treat. Yum.