Two days ago I played about 1.5 hours of multiplayer Battlefield: Bad Company 2 at an internet café with 2 friends. It brought back a large portion of the joy i had felt while playing the older games in the series, such as codename eagle, 1942, vietnam, and battlefield 2. It was more fun, better looking, more engrossing and more balanced than all of the previous games. The vehicles felt better, the guns felt better. The squad system was better and facilitated me and my 2 friends’ desire to play together…
I had noted some strange things such as not being able to find the repair or healing items for the engineer or medic classes, nor being able to restock on ammo anywhere. I convinced myself I had probably missed something. Ignoring my worries, I left the session with a sense of discovery. I felt like I had missed a great leap in gaming, and that next-gen games had something to offer. I wanted to go back and play again… I even found myself pondering if it would be worth getting the game myself.
The next day I went back for another 2 hours. At first it was even more fun than last time, but then, a creeping feeling of horror came bubbling through the cracks. Something was amiss, and I had felt it for a while. Teammates killed us for no apparent reason, calling us idiots – for as far as we knew – just playing the game. I remembered a button I had seen during level loading… unlock progress? At first I convinced myself I must have misunderstood, but then I saw it again and I had to resort to making myself not believe it – “maybe it was just some side-thing for people who care about useless achievements…” – It wasn’t.
Suddenly everything made sense, the “+experience” notifications for killing enemies, the unlock progress, the lack of a repair tool for the engineer, why some people ran around with homing missile launchers and the reason why your chopper did not have the flares to counter them. The reason why some player’s vehicles had more health, more weapons, higher damage than your vehicle of the same model as well as faster reload times and – heck why not? – smoke defenses!… Ok, so their vehicles were superior. Perhaps if you ran up to them and tried to blow them up with C4? Well, It also happens that some players had an unlock that detected you and your C4’s on their radar for this specific problem! So you are standing there, wondering what you can do to gain that unlock progression. Perhaps you can be supportive? Give ammo? Heal? Repair? Well… You must first unlock that, but while you are waiting for that people will scream at you for not giving them ammo, healing them or repairing their vehicles, and to top it all off, you will be labeled a noob and an idiot. This unlock nightmare was the reason why some people had sniper rifles which killed in 1 hit, why some people had armor which made your sniper rifle useless and why they could mock you by sprinting faster, having more ammo, carrying more grenades, and by having globally increased damage, less recoil spread for when they needed to own up multiple “noobs” (you) with a spray and pray (not so much in their case), better zoom with scopes, ability to detect movement, revive dead allies and why I suddenly could not care less about the game.
This game is not an FPS. I frankly don’t know what it is, but i have some suggestions:
* Linear Unlock Progress Shooter (LUPS)
* First Person Role Playing Game (FPRPG)
* First Person Grinding Game (FPGG)
* Role Playing Game Wannabe First Person Shooter (RPGWFPS)
If you have more suggestions, feel free to comment.
Distraught from the experience, we attempted to play some other next-gen games, hoping this was a one-time fluke.
* Call of Duty Black Ops
* Rainbow Six: Vegas 2
Needless to say, they all featured the same mechanic. I was depressed. I was disillusioned, in shock and in complete and utter disbelief. Depressing because the actual game is so good, while the box it sits in is so bad. Disillusioned because I had walked around for years thinking these games were simply FPS:s with great graphics and destructible terrain. In shock because I had just 1 hour earlier been thinking of getting myself a gaming rig and buying the game, and finally in disbelief because the problem with the game could be fixed with one simple little checkbox.
It was puzzling to say the least. With this insight i realized that there hadn’t been a multiplayer FPS made for many many years, and in that case, what where people who liked FPS:s playing? Looking for an answer I looked around me in the internet café… They were playing Counter-Strike 1.6, a game with over 12 years in the making and 9 years since release. Suddenly i knew why, and it was not because of nostalgia.
PS. There is no way to play without the unlock system on a private server, because, A: You cannot host your own servers. B: They would not be able to sell the ‘Kit Shortcut’ DLC (which is not a DLC at all, but simply unlocking content you already payed for) at $6.99 per class and $19.99 to unlock all guns for all four classes.
PPS. To me this game represent the unfathomable failure to include a check-box. But since they are already selling this check box to individual players who can afford them, why should they include it for free? Thus I have no hope for this to be “fixed”. Perhaps it is simply not economically viable to make a solid FPS game for the next-gen systems?