Thursday, July 17, 2008

There's gold in them hills!

Firstly, I will admit that the only reason I purchased Battlefield: Bad Company for my 360 was because of the above trailer. When marketing does its job well, I don't mind getting down from my anti-consumerism high horse to congratulate a well-made advertisement.

With that confession out of the road, I have another one. I generally I don't really like war-sim FPS games. You know, the Call of Dutys, the Medal of Honors, the entire Tom Clancy franchise. I was just never a big fan. I appreciated them; some of them did amazing things and had great scenes and drama. But after I played the early Medal of Honours on my playstation and the first Call of Duty, I had basically played all of them. You are always the same silent, American soldier whose skill seems to far surpass his rank, fighting in the same campains over and over again.

Yet, the trailers of these games always look so good; the gameplay always looks so enthralling. I've always harboured a little jealousy that I can't get into these games. So I think that was my attraction to Bad Company: here was my chance to really get into a war game with the quick deaths, the aiming every shot, the stupidly loud tanks, but without the really cliche, reiterated storylines.

While I have to agree with practically all of the criticisms in Edge's review of the game, I must say I really enjoyed it and it was everything I hoped it would be. I got my typical war-FPS gameplay, the typical go-here-destroy-this objectives, but the story, the characters, while being cliches in their own right, were refreshing to the genre and made the experience more enjoyable. I think it was the simplicity. We aren't saving the world; we are trying to get some gold, and we are going AWOL to do it. I really enjoyed it.

It's nothing new, but I think there is a lot to be said for taking a tried-and-tested approach to games (or books, or movies, or anything) and twisting it, vandalising it, just enough to create a totally new experience. A good example of this would be PS3's Resistance. Again, Resistance took the stale war genre and turned it on its head by having aliens invade halfway throught the Europeans campain of World War II. Genius! Certainly, Bad Company isn't anything as extreme as Resistance, and cetainly the actual gameplay is fairly derivative war-FPS style, but the motivation behind it is different, and I think that makes all the difference to the player.... I've shot Russians to prevent a nuclear holocaust more times that I can remember; but shooting Russians for my own personal mansion built out of gold bars? Sure, hand me that AK.