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Battlefield: Bad Company: In Bad Company

Company: EA Games

Although attempts have been made, the Battlefield series hasn't managed to grab console players the way it has the PC crowd. The game has been running in a closed beta for the last few weeks offering a chance to see if the series' first console-exclusive entry, Battlefield: Bad Company, could be the one that breaks into the console market.

The main multiplayer mode showcased is Gold Rush, a goal oriented mode that with heavy team-based, tactical lean. The concept takes a cue from the game's single-player campaign, which focuses on a group of soldiers in search of a hidden cache of gold. Basically, there are a number of gold chests scattered throughout the level while teams must either defend or destroy. At the start of the match, two crates are placed in the area; if the attackers are able to destroy both crates, a new area is unlocked with more creates to destroy. The mode is simple enough to play, though it took a while before games became anything other than a Team Deathmatch. The fault, however, is not DICE's, but instead the lack of players who actively communicate via the Live headset - which is something that still blows my mind.

The multiplayer beta features two maps, Oasis and Ascension, with the layout of each offering a drastically different way to approach Gold Rush. As the name suggests, Oasis takes place in a desert with open spaces that leave a lot of room for vehicle-based combat. The map is a long, narrow stretch of desert with easy access to a standard vehicle assortment, such as tanks, a Humvee and a dune buggy. For those with more exotic tastes, there's also a helicopter and a patrol boat.

Ascension takes place on a tree-filled village nestled on the side of a mountain and offers an on-foot approach through tight spaces. The densely-populated area, which is filled with houses and a massive church, is a playground for one of Bad Company's showcase features, the ability to destroy just about anything in the environment. The gameplay dynamics presented by the destructible environments is immediately obvious; since you can blow up just about anything in your way, such as the sides of buildings or vehicles, there aren't that many places to hide. This forces players to stay on their toes, taking away the somewhat common tactic of sitting in an area and picking opponents off from the comfort of your own little hidden cubbyhole.

The destruction goes beyond taking out walls to limit cover. Since most crates are hidden inside houses, attackers will usually try making the defender's job as difficult as possible by blowing holes in every wall they can. Defenders can also make things rough for attackers by altering the terrain and making their approach a rocky one.

Again, teamwork is of paramount importance, regardless of map, and the only major obstacle standing in Bad Company's way. While there's no way to force players to communicate, the final build should include ways to make sure you get a good group together. There are a few in-game attempts to encourage teamwork by offering five different classes, such as Assault and Sniper. Each comes with a particular skill set and unique, unlockable weapons.

Generally speaking, the multiplayer beta does a good job of showcasing what Battlefield: Bad Company is all about. Although there are a few bumps, most are issues that would be hard to "fix", and the core gameplay is something to get excited over.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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