X360A Review: Bad Company 2: Vietnam

Dan Webb

There are a few things in my life that I’m not especially proud of. Actions that I look back on, and question why I even bothered and ponder what my motives were to do something so stupid. Trying to drive a tuk-tuk past an M48 Patton tank on Bad Company 2: Vietnam’s Operation Hastings map was one of those times. It’s a little less embarrassing than my usual, unrepeatable stories, but just as stupid nonetheless.

Vietnam, of course, is the first real Bad Company 2 multiplayer expansion pack, giving you 5 brand new maps for your 1,200 Microsoft Points. It’s not just a bunch of maps you’re getting though, oh no. For your investment, you get a much more authentic Vietnam experience, including newly skinned weapons and vehicles, newly skinned gadgets, authentic dialogue and even a whole host of 60s anthems to fight along to.

It’s worth noting that the fundamentals of Bad Company 2’s successful multiplayer arena are all present and correct in the Vietnam expansion, with all the old modes brought across to compliment the new levels, as well as the classic 4 class gameplay at its core. In order to make it the most authentic Vietnam experience though, DICE has stripped  away some of the more moden luxuries like red dot scopes, tracer darts, 4 x zoom scopes and even UAVs. Your standard fare of gadgets have also been tweaked ever so slightly to make them fit in with the era too, although they’re only really a visual upgrade and won't affect the state of play: with C4 becoming dynamite, the defibrillator becoming a syringe and so on.

As it is in Bad Company 2, Rush mode is where it’s at with Vietnam and like the recent release of Onslaught, Vietnam has its own place in the menu, its own leaderboards and its own ranks. While you can delve into the usual Conquest and other Bad Company 2 modes easy enough, Rush seems to still reign supreme. Incidentally, it definitely seems like it takes a lot longer to rank up in Vietnam than it does in the main game, so don’t say you’ve not been warned, although there is less of an emphasis on unlockables this time around.

The general gameplay hasn’t really been affected by the new weapons, new vehicles and such, as the new M48 Patton and T-54 tanks hardly feel any different to those in the main game. The same goes for the boats, light vehicles and even the choppers. Oh, the tuk-tuk is now in there too, but it’s more of a novelty vehicle than anything else. It’ll be the music, fitting level intros and grimy menus that make the experience feel different instead, especially the 49 licensed tracks that can not only spice up the vehicle combat, but thanks to radios found in various huts throughout a few of the maps, even the mundane tasks like sitting back and guarding a post can be enhanced tenfold.

The lack of red dot scopes and such does shape the gameplay, but only slighty, making things a lot more close quarters in terms of combat when your packing the standard assault rifles and such. It ultimately means that only snipers will get the benefit of proper scopes while every other weapon will have to make do with the traditional iron-sights, but in truth, it doesn’t really change it up that much. A lot of the new weapons actually feel like variations of the arsenal found in the main game, so don’t expect much of an overhaul there. That being said, the completely new flamethrower can make defending tight passages and cleaning out buildings that much easier, and it's ultimately more fun to turn your foes into charred corpses rather than riddle them with bullet holes.

Out of the gate, Vietnam offers players four absolutely huge and incredibly diverse maps to jump into, which each having their own specific strengths. The 'Cao Son Temple' map is, as it sounds, set in and around a collection of temples and its surrounding luscious jungle overgrowth, making it stacked more towards the close combat action. In fact, other than a few patrol boats, it’s the only map in the expansion that doesn’t rely on vehicles.

'Vantage Point' on the other hand is a map that consists of many hills and valleys, with combat usually a combination of very long distance or multi-levelled combat with usually the attackers having to battle their way up many an incline. There is more of a focus on vehicle combat here, although the lack of pathways for you to navigate with the tanks means that you’re more than likely going to be forced into a suicidal chokepoint... which is... well, pretty damn deadly.

The 'Phu Bai Valley' map is of the flattest in the pack and it’s a map best suited for all-out vehicle combat, especially in a mode like Conquest. With its rice fields, vast pockets of water and extremely long thin bridges, the Phu Bai Valley map is fantastic for all involved and can provide many an intense battle as forces fight for control of specific regions in either Conquest or Rush.

'Hill 137' though is quite easily the standout map in the expansion, and with its narrow tunnels, arrangement of bunkers and napalm-scorched exterior, it can provide both frantic gameplay both in vehicles and on-foot. On-foot , you’re often embroiled in close combat, so the shotgun and the flamethrower can really come in handy here, but in order to succeed as a team, making use of the vehicles and having adequate sniper cover is just as essential. Visually though, it’s a very iconic map and stands out head and shoulders above anything that we’ve seen from DICE in Bad Company 2 to date. It’s definitely a far cry from the crystallised white plains that crop up all too frequently in the main retail game.

The fifth of the five maps is in fact a reworked version of the classic Operation Hastings map from DICE’s 2004 hit, Battlefield: Vietnam. Unlike the other maps though, Operation Hastings won’t be unlocked at launch and will only unlock when the userbase nets 69,000,000 points from squad actions; however, judging on how long it took to unlock Coral Sea in Battlefield 1943, I wouldn’t expect this to take too long. It is a map worth sticking around for as well, especially for Conquest, allowing for plenty of diverse vehicular combat which takes place around the map’s huge bridge which acts as a centrepiece for the level.

For all the Gamerscore fanatics out there, you’ll be pleased to know that there are 10 new achievements on offer in Vietnam, worth 250 Gamerscore. The achievements themselves range from the simple – like win on every map – to the time consuming – getting gold stars on every primary weapon in the expansion. It’s a fairly by-the-numbers offering and in truth, it doesn’t really promote much in the way of teamwork. With the amount of vehicle achievements on offer too, you can pretty much expect everyone to bum rush them for at least the first few weeks/months.

In a day and age where the value of map packs and expansions are closely scrutinised, BC2: Vietnam is the epitome of value for money, offering the same exhilarating gameplay as its boxed counterpart, but with a fresh twist in an entirely new era and stunning environment. It’s a little disappointing that none of the maps are really built to showcase the Frostbite engine’s destructible environment aspect, but other than that, you can’t grumble at what Bad Company 2: Vietnam offers you... which is 5 new maps, more of the addictive Rush gameplay and the potential of more enjoyable hours spent in one of 2010’s finest multiplayer games.
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