The first Bad Company game seemed to come out of nowhere. The Battlefield series had already established itself as essential PC gaming with its team based, first-person shooting, most notably seen in 2002's Battlefield 1942 and 2005's Battlefield 2. A foray into Xbox and PlayStation territory was perceived as a potentially risky move.

Bad Company, then, was the first console-only game in what had previously been a PC-exclusive collection, and there was some apprehension about whether the game's developers could pull it off. As it turned out, the team at the Swedish studio DICE were more than up to it.

The tone of the single player campaign was tongue in cheek, with characters and dialogue reminiscent of the quirky film Three Kings or the improbable adventures of The A-Team.

Such a sassy approach to the genre was refreshing at a time when other war-based shooters such as Medal of Honor and Call of Duty had attempted (often successfully) to emulate the gravitas of big screen epics such as  Saving Private Ryan.

Bad Company also featured heavily destructible environments, with buildings ready to collapse following a bombardment of grenades, rockets, or aerial ordinance. The simultaneous terror and thrill of seeing a once-sturdy outhouse or bunker crumble all around was one of the things that made the game so enthralling for players.

Online multiplayer was fun and fast-paced, with a selection of maps to explore together and though there were just two gameplay modes available, the maps' design, possible weapon / character class combinations, and tangible rewards for clever tactics and team play gave it substantial longevity.

Bad Company 2 promises more of the same, with an improved single-player for offline jaunts, and a solid online component. Luckily for both fans and recent converts, Electronic Arts saw fit to release a fully functional multiplayer demo for Xbox 360, PC and PlayStation 3, open until February 24.

That demo went live at the end of January and threw new players into the deep end with seasoned veterans, being met with widespread acclaim along the way. Looking every bit as good as prior previews had indicated, what's needed now are solid reviews for the overall package.

However, with EA recently announcing that Bad Company 2's demo is on course to become its most downloaded ever, the odds are that many gamers have been sold on the multiplayer aspect alone. Pre-orders across Amazon's territories have kept the game high in the company's charts, just as is the case with online digital distributors such as the Steam store and Direct2Drive.

Though Bad Company 2 faces stiff competition from established best-seller Modern Warfare 2, its witty single-player, unstable edifices, and frantic online element give it a fighting chance of maintaining a place among the best of modern combat games.

There is also a Limited Edition which, for the same price as the standard version, grants players immediate access to in-game bonuses which should sweeten the cherry even further for those on the fence.

Battlefield: Bad Company 2 (360 PC PS3)
Release: North America, March 2. Europe, March 5.
Price: $59.95/€69.95 (360 PS3), $49.95/€49.99 (PC)
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