EA DICE producer Gordon Van Dyke is talking about first-person shooters. "Nobody wants to be Charlie Brown," he says. "Everybody wants to be Snoopy."
Thankfully, he's not revealing the fruits of any alarming spitballing sessions by the backroom boys at DICE (Peanuts is clearly a BioWare MMO with a particularly over-developed morality system rather than a blaster anyway). Rather, he's explaining some of the problems players had with the original Bad Company's solo campaign: namely, that the studio spent a lot of time and effort portraying your character as an idiot in the opening scenes, before pitting you against a series of massive armies, and expecting you to pull off headshots and brilliant pincer movements like any other super-soldier.
"We definitely learnt that you feel that if there's a real sense of disconnection between what you're told the story is, and then how the game actually plays, everything suffers," laughs Van Dyke. "It's not a mistake we'll be making again."
So while Bad Company 2 features more of the same destructible terrain and fiercely-pitched gun battles, some subtle changes to the overall approach are easily spotted. The knockabout tone of the original is still intact and you can still expect charming, frat-buddy chatter from familiar team-mates - if anything, the cut-scenes are a little wittier than before - but the story's better at treating you with the respect you deserve.
In fact, the whole thing's rather intense: Russia's been building up its forces in South America and the US has waded in with guns blazing. Rumours are starting to emerge that canny old Ivan has a game-changing super weapon in development, and you're sent in to get it.
It's a bold shift in scope, in other words, and it looks like a lot of fun. The trailer shows plenty of explosions, A-Team-grade stunts and one-liners - and that soundtrack by Queens of the Stone Age doesn't hurt either. But, thankfully, the narrative isn't the only thing that's getting a once-over. After all, playing the fool wasn't the only problem the first Bad Company had.
There are your team-mates, for starters. In the first game, Bad Company lived up to its name a little too often. They were good at trading quips, but the rest of your squad entered battles as if they'd spent the last few years training for the roller-derby rather than armed conflict: most of the time, they couldn't even hit the enemy, and on the spectacular occasions when they did make contact, the bullets didn't really do anything.
The enemy, on the other hand, could hit you with frightening accuracy half-way across the map when you were hiding in a tree. It certainly wasn't fair, and it often wasn't fun, either.
Playing through a decent chunk of the sequel's single-player game reveals that much of this has now changed. Your squad strikes a nice balance in gunfights: they take out enough enemies to earn their keep but they always need you to drive the battle home. Enemies still attempt to flank you with a pleasant display of intelligence but they no longer seem to be receiving information regarding your exact position from The Amazing Criswell.
On top of that the original game's health system has been rethought, with a more straightforward recharging shield replacing the charmingly gruesome cure-all syringe in the chest, which was fiddly and a bit annoying, and meant that less co-ordinated players (hello!) often burst out from cover wielding a nice round of Benelyn rather than an SMG.
The section we're let loose on seems to be pulled from fairly early on in the campaign. We're in the Andes, or thereabouts, raiding a village to liberate a CIA contact who has information on that pesky super-weapon. Kicking off with some close-quarters scrapping through a cluster of jungle shacks, the battle quickly rattles from one gunfight to the next.
Sure, the setting's not astonishing by any means, and the Frostbite engine is handsome rather than genuinely staggering - particularly when it comes to depicting lush terrain. But no one beats DICE at in-game audio and the separate encounters slot together nicely.
Actually, make that really nicely. If one of the biggest issues shooters have to deal with at the moment is how to balance the overall staging of missions - allowing for sandbox approaches at the price of direction, or burying you in cinematics and corridors until you feel like you're a supporting member of the cast rather than the star - DICE seems to have got very close to the sweet spot.
Inevitably, moving up into the village involves triggering one set of enemies after the next, and the odd shock move - a tank busting through a wall, a gun-truck turning up in a courtyard - is handled rather creakily. But the destructible environments together with smart placement of the clusters of enemies always seems to offer enough options to keep you busy.
Choosing whether to hide and flank or shuffle back and draw the baddies forwards makes moving between one fight and the next extremely satisfying. For all its brilliance, Modern Warfare 2 could often be so married to its headlong momentum that, if you weren't on your game, you could almost feel the design yanking you gracelessly into the next set-piece before you'd understood the last. DICE has managed to create a real sense that it's you pushing things forward - mainly by pitting you against dug-in enemies and forcing you to use every trick you can think of to get past them.
As the level progresses taking the fight through a graveyard gives the developers a nice opportunity to delight in the way gunfire busts ageing headstones apart, while a quick chat with that CIA operative sends you off up the mountain to reach a remote radar outpost.
The justification for this is that you're going to have to bring down a foreign satellite that has super-weapon intel on it, but in reality it's a chance to change the pace - first by slotting you into a support role for a few minutes, as you're asked to man the machine gun in a helicopter and clear a landing zone, and then as you fight through a wintry military installation to the radar base itself.
The helicopter action is pleasant enough but back on the ground, the skill with which DICE wrings minute-to-minute drama from the landscape is very much in evidence. Few developers can make a machine-gun bunker feel like a puzzle section as you work out how to get past a solid wall of bullets, and few would have the nouse to turn a standard corridor shoot-out on its head. By staging the whole thing on a staircase running up the side of a mountain you're instantly a little on edge, firing at enemies who are always either above or below you.
After that, all that's left is to capture the downed satellite before the Russians get to it. Time to go back to vehicles again - this time a jeep - and a crazy race along an icy mountain road. It's another change in pace that DICE handles with ease: tucked into the driving seat, your squad makes short work of enemy vehicles, providing some lovely fireballs to distract you as you try to cling to the frozen tarmac.
All the while crazy drops beckon on either side of the road, and the wind constantly blows snow across your path, all but obscuring your vision for frantic moments. Quips fly through the air along with the bullets. For a while, DICE genuinely has Van Dyke's bizarre proposition in balance: you're Charlie Brown and you're Snoopy - you're in over your head, but you might just be able to scrape through.
The comparisons DICE's sequel will be subjected to upon release are far more frightening than classic comic strips, however. A military shooter thick with radio chatter and techno babble, focusing on a war between the US and Russia fought in part on American soil (the action kicks off in Alaska before moving south, apparently), and with a major emphasis on multiplayer content, you can almost feel Infinity Ward's presence looming over the project.
While Bad Company 2 can never hope to match the Modern Warfare series for big budget spectacle, DICE's game arguably has something distinct in its favour all the same: beneath the fatigues and the assault rifles, this is a shooter with real personality.