As far as the DLC model goes, Battlefield: Bad Company 2 has been doing it right. 7 free map packs since launch is generous, and especially unusual for console FPSes. Vietnam marks the first real paid DLC for the game (the second if you include the underwhelming Onslaught mode), and the good news is that it's worth every penny.
A sucessor to the PC classic Battlefield Vietnam, BF:BC2: Vietnam introduces 4 new maps: Hill 137 (aka Hamburger Hill), Cao Son Temple, Phu Bai Valley, and Vantage Point (A fifth map, Battle for Hastings, will be unlocked once players have collectively reached 69,000,000 team play actions). Hill 137 is definitely Vietnam’s centerpiece, a fantastic map that hits all the bases: jungle combat, trenches, PT boats, rock outcroppings for snipers, it’s all here. 137 is also visually stunning; a massive waterfall silently rushes over rocks in the background, juxtaposed by Hill 137 itself, a smoldering crater covered in napalm, crowned with an enormous tower of smoke. Sorry about getting poetic there, but it really is a fantastic looking setpiece. The map may only have one vehicle, a PT boat in the middle of the map, but it can single-handedly turn the tide of a battle.
Vietnam also includes 6 new vehicles and 15 new weapons, most notably, the flamethrower. While it’s a situational weapon, it’s devastating at close ranges, its power amplified by the fact that anyone trying to shoot you can only see an enormous fireball melting their face off. The flamethrower is made even more useful as the new maps are, appropriately, much tighter and intense than the original BC2.
Vietnam’s biggest success is that it manages to dramatically change the feel of BF:BC 2’s multiplayer without disturbing its core. The generally smaller maps are much more nerve wracking, filled with choke points, visual cover, trenches and difficult to defend areas; enemies can and will attack from multiple angles. While Cao Son temple and Vantage Point provide some good long range shooting options, sniping is generally less effective given all the visual cover; tagging your enemies is more important than ever, and good luck with hardcore mode. The focus on close range combat doesn’t diminish the teamwork element though, squads still need to work together to capture points, blow up M-Com boxes or, more essentially in Vietnam, break through the tight chokepoints.
Vietnam is filled with little touches that add to the experience: both the American and Vietnamese soldier models look haggard and battle damaged, and Vietnamese speakers constantly blare propaganda across that battlefield. The loading screen for each map is a pitch perfect vintage news reel describing the area, similar to the loading screens from Battlefield 1943. The in-vehicle songs are a neat touch, though they tend to repeat a bit too often.
DICE has smartly made sure that Vietnam is fully connected with your regular BF:BC2 profile; experience gained playing Vietnam levels you up in both games simultaneously, so if you’ve unlocked all of a class’ weapons you’ll have all the equivalents ready to go in Vietnam. Kit options between the games are slightly different, but the weapons generally feel the same as their regular BF:BC2 counterparts. You’ll have to get used to using iron sites though, as reflex and red dot sites didn’t exist back then youngblood.
While BF:BC2:Vietnam is, at its core, a map pack, its attention to detail, period feel, and revised gameplay all combine to make it a much more exciting experience. If you have Battlefield: Bad Company 2, Vietnam is a must buy.
Battlefield: Bad Company 2: Vietnam is 1200 MS Points/$14.99 and is available on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360.
Dec 23, 2010