At a price point once reserved for full-featured expansions, gamers have quickly acclimated to the fifteen dollar set of multiplayer maps. As Modern Warfare 2‘s Stimulus and Resurgence (and expectedly- Black Op‘s similarly priced) packs have shown, a mountain of money can be made for a nominal effort. Which makes Battlefield Bad Company 2: Vietnam so surprising; after an industrious year where the studio collaborated on Medal of Honor and Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit, DICE could have easily phoned this one in.
Yet, the developers duplicated the exertion poured into 2009’s Battlefield 1943. Instead of merely offering a handful of new landscapes, the team meticulously created new weapons, vehicles, and player models- balancing the whole thing with as much as historical verisimilitude as a FPS could allow. With the exception of the game’s curious stats keeping, Vietnam is a reminder of how expansion packs should be handled.
Most noticeable is the removal of scoped weapons for all but the Recon class. Whereas Battlefield: Bad Company 2‘s loadouts favored conscientious medium to long-range encounters, Vietnam beings the action up close and personal by having most players gaze down the iron sights. As such, it’s less likely to be unexpectedly one-shot by a distant foe. More likely, you’ll hear the impact of incoming ballistics, which tender an opportunity to respond accordingly. While most of the Vietnam‘s rifles and machine guns evoke the firing rate and stopping power of contemporary weapons like the M4 and M249, the shining exception is the flamethrower. Capable of turning a cluster of enemies into charcoal, the weapon creates a blaze large enough to obscure an imminent headshot.
Each of the four available maps (with another unlocking once 69 million support actions have been initiated) have been tuned to distinguish Vietnam as its own game. With trenches, concentrated pockets of foliage, tunnels, and impeccably placed choke points, the title adeptly blends skillful design decisions with the visual signposts of the war. From the telltale, red tracer fire which glints above the napalm-scorched landscape in Hill 137 to the serpentine river which coils through Cao Son Temple, the game’s environments will reverberate within gamer’s minds after console’s are powered down. The sole fault of the game’s visuals are they inclines which appear traversable, but occasionally aren’t.
Despite its potency, BBC2: Vietnam isn’t without its problems. Mirroring our own contemporary skirmishes, Americans get all the cool artillery. Whereas Uncle Sam’s standard issue includes MKIIs outfitted with formidable .50 Cals and Hueys brimming with rocket pods and M60’s, Charlie gets a three wheeled rickshaw. Despite the technological disparity, Vietnam bends the rules to generate balance between the two forces. Between an ample amount of hardware for NVA soldiers to liberate and UH-1s which about as durable as radio controlled copters, the fight is consistently fair. Players concerned with maintaining their carefully honed K/D ratios might take issue with the title’s stats and rankings; most others will be too busy igniting enemies to care.
Much like last year’s Battlefield 1943, Battlefield Bad Company 2: Vietnam delivers an accessible, captivating multiplayer shooter which delivers a constant cascade of thrills. While the genre is replete with competition from both earlier Battlefield iterations and the chronologically comparable CoD: Black Ops, Vietnam manages to find its own niche among the picturesque rice paddies, forests and deltas. As aftermarket DLC, the title ranks among the best.