Man, that's a good looking jungle

WHAT IT IS:  Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is an army-based FPS. That's the quick version, it's a shooter. You're in the army. Kill the bad guys. But in the bigger picture, the game hopes to position itself as a viable option to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, the blockbuster title released last November and currently spinning in Xbox's and PS3's all around the world. You know, the game that moved $550 million worth of copies in FIVE days? Not an easy task to take on a monster IP like that.

But EA and DICE have put together a rightful challenger. Basically, it's your traditional squad-based campaign mode, complete with wide-open multiplayer maps that offer vehicular combat on the ground and in the air. There's lots of guns with some customization thrown in. Sound familiar yet?

The comparisons are inevitable. Aiming down your sights instantly feels like MW2, and the only differences in control are the melee and crouch button, which have been reversed. That was smart, since most people will go back and forth between the games, and since the control scheme is so similar, most people won't have too much trouble playing them both at the same time. There's even a few hidden references to MW2 within the squad dialogue you'll overhear as you play through the game. See if you can pick up on any of the inside jokes.

WHY YOU'D WANT IT: If you're tired of the twelve-year old kids online live taunting you for being such a n00b. You n00b. If you like FPS games. If you're into anything having to do with the armed forces. Or, if you just like blowing stuff up. If you like driving. And, if you're tired of MW2.

THE GOOD STUFF: After poking through the first few checkpoints of the single-player campaign, the biggest thing that jumps out is the environment destructibility. You can blast through cover, and as you're crouching behind something that's slowly chipping away, you'll find yourself panicking a bit. I threw a grenade in an early level, and it exploded near the base of the tree, which fell over with realistic physical properties. All that was missing was my squadmates shouting, "TIMBER!" That was a cool moment, and the promise of building destructibility - though, not on the level of Red Faction: Guerilla - is a nice touch.

The audio is top-notch, from the soundtrack kicking in before big moments in the campaign, to the way your character's ears get muffled as bullets blast around you, to the awesome comic chatter that you'll hear from the other characters in the campaign. The sound effects are almost perfect. Very realistic clanking of metal and kabooms when something goes kaboom.

And the game just looks great. The environments are very detailed and meticulously crafted, although there's a bit more cut scenes than I'd like.  The game sort of feels like a 1st-person Gears of War - lots of personality in the characters, big, over the top skirmishes, and, obviously, the destroyed cover mechanic. All good things.

There are less moments when it feels less like a scripted series of five enemies jumping out at you, and more like an actual war, in which you play a part. Part of that is the larger maps, which allow for more vehicles to be used. It just feels like there's a lot going on around you. And with a dedicated in-game store, the folks at DICE seem ready to provide content updates  on a regular basis. Buy the game new, you'll get a bunch of multiplayer maps for free.

Out now on XBox 360, PS3, and PC

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