Peace, Love and Napalm
©2010 Nicholas Laborde
An attribution to the decline of the expansion pack is our advances in broadband; at this point in time, most people can connect to the internet and download what they need, compared to five years ago.
But that was no obstacle for DICE, because they’ve set out to conquer the shooter world yet again with a $15 downloadable title that’s sure to keep you busy for an unnecessarily long time.
Welcome to Nam
If you haven’t figured it out yet, this expansion to Battlefield: Bad Company 2 takes place in Vietnam during the infamous Vietnam War. Very few games have dared to venture into this dark period of history, partly due to the fact that it simply is very difficult to do a game based on the conflict.
Call of Duty: Black Ops had a brief foray into the war, but the result was a mediocre cluster of respawning enemies and generic gameplay. That, of course, is not the case in Bad Company 2: Vietnam.
• Battlefield Bad Company: Vietnam Trailer
Incl Operation Hastings, Hill 137, Pack 4 & 6
We’re given all of the innovations of Bad Company 2, but improved upon, along with four new maps, over a dozen new weapons and a handful of vehicles in a multiplayer rendition of one of the most intense wars in history.
A recipe for success, or a concoction destined for disaster? You’ll be pleased to know that Bad Company 2: Vietnam not only ameliorates Bad Company 2, but it makes the base game look slightly disappointing. That is saying quite a lot, considering that I view Bad Company 2 as one of the best shooters of this past decade.
Everybody Look What’s Goin’ Down
Vietnam plays the same way as Battlefield: Bad Company 2, with the same underlying objective. You are thrust into the heat of battle with up to three other squadmates, and with the four classes still available (Medic, Assault, Recon and Engineer) to play as, each respectively with a twist based on the time period. The two armies at war are the United States and the North Vietnamese Army.
The same game modes (Conquest, Rush, Squad Rush and Squad Deathmatch) are still the only modes of play, but they transition well to the new areas and timeframe.
In terms of content, it’s difficult to explain where Vietnam stands. It contains a boatload more than its downloadable predecessor, Battlefield 1943, but it is lacking compared to the main game (not necessarily in a bad way, of course).
We are presented with five maps, some from the original game, Battlefield Vietnam; Hill 137, Phu Bai Valley, Vantage Point, and Cao Son Temple (the fifth map, Operation Hastings, is remade from the original title and will be unlocked after each platform completes 69,000,000 support actions).
Hill 137 is as the name implies: a hill that the defenders are going to defend until their deaths.
• Battlefield Bad Company 2 Vietnam Slideshow
It’s an interesting map with many choke holds, and only the best of teamwork will reign victorious. It’s also represents the best of the Battlefield series to date. You essentially start in a lush, beautiful jungle (that shows off the absolute gorgeousness of the engine) that slowly gets thinner and thinner.
As you advance to the end of the map, you walk into hell’s front gate: a large, napalmed area that is nothing but craters, fire, and enemy machine gun nests.
Phu Bai Valley is not the biggest map, but it is the only locale that employs vehicular warfare on a large scale. Disappointingly, it is the only map that features helicopters (a trademark of the Vietnam War). It’s a large, open map that centers on a village surrounded by rice fields.
Cao Son Temple provides one of the most aesthetic feels I’ve ever experienced in a game. To me, it somehow represents a more personal take on a warzone. It is essentially a village area on top of a slight incline.
Water surrounds the area, and those caught outside of the temple will be greeted to a nice machine gun volley from the new PBR boats.
Finally, Vantage Point is probably the farthest from what you would expect a location in Vietnam to be. The jungle is essentially a backdrop, not being featured in the main locations at all.
It’s also very interestingly designed; multi-layered combat is what you’ll be expecting. Yet again, it is featuring several small villages surrounded by mountainous terrain.
I Ain’t No Fortunate One
DICE learned from Bad Company 2 that allowing players to fix scopes and other related items on to nearly every single weapon in the game was not the best of decisions ever made. As a result, Vietnam restricts optics to the Recon (sniper) class only.
The removal of that commonplace series of items drastically changes the game, allowing for balance to kick in. This is Vietnam, after all: we’re in the 1960s, and only snipers had the privilege of long-range scopes.
Everything has been redone or adjusted to fit the time period: medic defibrillators are replaced with syringes, their med packs are replaced with cloth bags with the medic symbol on them, and so on and so forth. Every little bit counts here.
If there is one aspect of Battlefield: Bad Company 2: Vietnam that is perfectly executed, it would be the atmosphere. Bad Company 2 had an interesting way of creating a sort of backstory between multiplayer rounds, via radio transmissions between fighting/invading units.
DICE chose to expand upon this, by playing actual radio commentary from the Vietnam war (in the form of news reports) between rounds when players are loading. It really draws you in and makes you understand what it was like for the brave souls who fought there.
Not only do these radio snippets help to paint a picture, but complimenting that is a score containing hours of licensed music from that time period, entertaining all who engage in vehicular combat. Nothing else quite compares to raining death from above in a Huey helicopter with Fortunate Son by Credence Clearwater Revival blaring in all directions.
I Said WAR!
As I stated previously, DICE hit the nail on the head with the atmosphere in Vietnam. The visuals alone let you know that you’re knee-deep in the jungle: lush, dense forests, hilly and slightly mountainous terrain, and fire.
Yes sir, I said WAR! Everything about the war you could possibly think of is here (albeit in little amounts), including napalm, and it’s after-effect, fire.
Fire plays a unique role here; buildings burn, trees catch on fire, and of course, players can be toasted to their graves with the fancy new flamethrower (which surprisingly feels just right). It’s just one of over a dozen new weapons included in Vietnam.
• Battlefield Bad COmpany 2: Ultimate Edition Trailer
You’ll need this to play Vietnam Pack
Even the weapons themselves showcase DICE’s attention to detail: they’re scratched, rusted, beaten, and are literally held together by cloth.
A nice little touch is a playing card in a certain character’s helmet. It all adds together to create a unique experience like none other… and this is all from multiplayer alone.
It’s a shame that no single-player campaign was included, because if we get this much atmosphere from the multiplayer, who knows what the story would have been like?
What Is It Good For?
Overall, Battlefield: Bad Company 2: Vietnam is one of the best expansions since Call of Duty: United Offensive (2004). My only disappointment is the lack of a single player campaign, and the design of some parts of the maps.
While it may not have quite as much content as other contending expansions, it provides a unique experience that can’t be replicated. To put it simply, it’s the only game that does Vietnam justice. If only there were a Forrest Gump player model, the game would be perfect.
©2010 Nicholas Laborde
• Bad Company 2: Vietnam Screenshot Gallery
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