Bad Company is still very entertaining if you take it at face value. It has a huge amount going for it if you try not to think about it too hard, but you sense that the shackles still restrict it from being a true single player representation of the mighty Battlefield experience. The most obvious restriction is the way the game binds enemy behaviour to a tiny local zone, when the scale and scope of these sprawling maps suggests the potential was so much greater. For now, though, we must be content with the freedom offered by the immense destructibility, the removal of arbitrary 'corridors' funneling you through the game world, the choice of weapons and how you get to your eventual destination, rather than how convincingly the game reacts to your actions.
Needless to say, the game's multiplayer component removes many of these issues at a stroke, allowing you to get stuck into a truly rampaging 24-player Gold Rush match. As detailed at considerable length by Dan during the beta, the premise of defending or attacking crates of gold is riotously entertaining, extremely lag tolerant and a huge amount of fun - largely as a consequence of the sheer destructibility of the environment. Having dipped into a test server last week, and engaged in some 'real-world' online action today, basically everything Dan observed in the beta still holds true, so there's no need to go over old ground here. In summary, the savage fury of the experience will either be very much a Good Thing, or something to send you scurrying for something a little less chaotic. Personally, I had a lot of fun, but you can expect to die a lot in the process of learning the ropes.
As is always the case with Battlefield games, the bewildering degree of choice available to you in terms of vehicles, loadout and routes available to you presents an almost vertical learning curve to the unwary, but comes into its own once you figure out a strategy and can rely on like-minded team to figure out a strategy. Initial sessions are absolutely insane, and it's quite likely that it'll remain that way for at least the first few weeks until a community builds up and begins to figure things out. Later, remember, the Conquest will be downloadable for free, so there's plenty to extend the lifespan of the game long after you're done with the Story mode and have had your fill of the eight maps available in Gold Rush mode.
Once you've experienced the various highs and lows that Bad Company has to offer, it feels like an immensely polished, ambitious effort that will build up a strong following for all the right reasons. The single player portion, while never less than hugely entertaining, stops short of true greatness thanks to a few fundamental design shortcuts which offer easy health restoring concepts seemingly at the expense of balanced AI. Some of this is irrelevant in the online mode, and the profound implications of a massively destructible environment make it a unique proposition in online gaming right now - albeit a riotous chaotic one. Riccitiello needn't have worried.
8 / 10