It is an irony that Battlefield: Bad Company 2 being the best online shooter of its generation, has so disappointing paid DLC: first the infamous Onslaught mode and now Vietnam.
If you’re not a BFBC2 afficionado but more like a casual player, you will be surprised to read this since theoretically Vietnam has everything it takes to make a successful expansion:
- new settings that look gorgeous,
- new weapons,
- new vehicles,
- new achievements/trophies,
- gameplay tweaks:
- weapons except sniper rifles aren’t scoped so the action is supposed to be closer and more intense,
- snipers don’t have motion sensors anymore but instead they are equipped with both explosives (TNT instead of C4) and mortar attacks,
- there are no UAV’s,
- helicopters can be brought down by regular bullets,
- tanks are also more fragile and take significant damage from grenade launchers.
- last but not least, an excellent soundtrack from the period including the Rolling Stones and Richard Wagner’s hyper-bombastic “The Ride of the Valkyries” (which was also featured in “Apocalypse Now””s sountrack).
What’s wrong then? Well, quite a few things that make it less fun than the original game, pushing most BFBC2 veterans to play it just enough in order to unlock the extra achievements/trophies.
On first sight the maps look good, even impressive. Hill 137 climaxes to a napalm-scorched earth hill that is possibly the closest we’ve been to inferno in an online shooter. Sniping barricaded in the rice paddies on Vantage Point is definitely cool. And so on…
What you quickly realize, is that as good as the maps might look, they offer the ground for less intense satisfying combat than the regular game. You have less ways to approach the objectives and there’s a few chokepoints (such as the Vantage Point’s first two Rush objectives) who are good for grenade spamming, which very disappointing since this is the kind of Call Of Duty features that we BFBC2 players loathe.
Straight from the beginning of my Vietnam experience I had clearly the impression that the expansion felt quite a lot like Medal Of Honor. Visually, another hint in the Medal Of Honor similarities are the flashes that accompany the explosions, a typical M.O.H. effect not present in BFBC2…
In the regular game all weapons are good, you just have to find out when you have to use the right one. In Vietnam at least half of the guns are useless and you have to stick to the few that are good.
- Assault rifles.
You have the choice between the AK47, and automatic versions of the M16 and the M14. It took me 5′ to realize that I had to stick with the AK47. It simply is more powerful and efficient.
You have the choice between WWII’s PPSH (familiar to COD:WaW players), the MAC10 and the UZI. They are fun for a while but they don’t pack enough power, so I have switched back rather quickly to the powerful and reliable good old Thompson.
Things are better here. The M60 is the beast you know it is. Since I was familiar with it and it is quite a “noobish” weapon, I played initially with the XM22 which feels like the M249 SAW. But it lacks power: you spray the opponent with bullets from a close distance and the motherfucker just won’t die, so I switched back to the M60. The RPK is not reliable: you often hit the ennemy but he doesn’t take any damage.
- Sniper rifles
M40, the only bolt action snipe rifle offered here, is very powerful, actually many players complain it is TOO powerful. I find it very fun. The M21 and the SVD are semi-automatic and are not bad, but rather useless unless you are a) a noob sniper and want to spray through a scope, or b) playing hardcore.
- All kits
handgun-wise you have the good old M1911 and the TT33, which sucks. The M2 flamethrower is badass in close quarters, and it is only recommended in some specific spots. The M1 garand is not really recommended unless you play hardcore, because it is not automatic, and the M1 Thompson is excellent as always.
To put it simply, in Vietnam you kill more easily and you get killed easier. A couple of bullets with an AK47 and you’re done… I cannot comprehend why the balance from BFBC2 has been altered instead of preserved.
The helicopters are very easy to take down, the tanks too. Driving a vehicle is not fun anymore, and you will take them just for a short while if the situation demands it. Actually, it would have been better if there were no vehicles at all!
What is the final nail in Vietnam’s coffin is that in 99% of the matches you score less, make less kills and have a lower K/D ratio than in the regular game. But it’s not just the numbers, you have less fun in general. You have less freedom to apply your tactics and improvise. The maps advantage more basic/dumb gameplay versus more intelligent/tactical one.
Vietnam feels more like Medal Of Honor than BFBC2. Actually, they are supposed to have been developped by the same team @ DICE, which makes perfect sense.
Vietnam doesn’t live to the high standards that BFBC2 has set with less polish and inferior craftmanship. Playing it feels less like fun and more like work. Most BFBC2 veterans will stick to it for a couple of weeks then switch back to the original or wait for another quality FPS to be released (Homefront for example).
UPDATE: I gave Vietnam a try in Conquest mode, and it’s a lot more fun than in Rush mode. Most of my evaluation still applies though. It’s an interesting expansion giving players a break , but it’s not as good as the main game.