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Bad Company, good reviews for EA?

posted on June 23rd, 2008 by christian
Now Playing: Metal Gear Solid IV

Recently I played the single player demo of Battlefield: Bad Company. While opinions on the single player may be worthless for a game that everyone is anticipating for its multiplayer, such excuses don’t fly here at vl.

The fact is that Bad Company’s SP is the worst kind of worthless. It is a squad based military shooter with a four man group of cliches, and finicky aiming that comes nowhere near replicating Call of Duty 4’s smooth controls. It touts destructible environments, but my mortar rounds were never able to put a dent in any buildings, though running over a fence with a cargo truck makes it break apart in the most unrealistic, tech demo way.

Worse yet, in the demo level your squad won’t leave the truck you drive until you get to a destination marker, which places you in the middle of a town where every enemy can open fire on you. If you die the game doesn’t reset; all the enemies stay where they are, and you just drive right back into the fight so you can be pummeled again. Nothing proves your insanity like throwing yourself into the same bad situation without a chance to prepare ahead of time.

Oh, and when driving the truck you can change radio stations, just like in GTA! Bad Company is a bullet list of ideas from other games, rendered in 3d. I sincerely hope the multiplayer is worth it, because the SP was so bad it wasn’t even worth my time as a free demo.

As I write this, EA’s John Riccitiello hopes that Bad Company and this year’s other EA products get good reviews. Aside from the fact that I don’t like the boss of a company suggesting how his games should be rated, Mr. Riccitiello manages to make an interesting point. He feels EA is unable to achieve the cult of personality that other studios and game creators have achieved, which makes it impossible for EA games to get any sort of free pass in the games media.

There is some truth to this, as names like Rockstar, Kojima, and Team Ninja have a powerful impact when mentioned in a review. I would remind John however, that part of his company’s problem is that no one knows or cares much about EA’s many studios, which is why there is no attachment to them. I would also remind him that this is contrary to the original philosophy behind the EA of old.

The rest of the article shows why I have no sympathy for Riccitiello. He comments about how the internet allows anyone with a keyboard and an idea to type away some game criticism, and if they get popular enough, can screw up Metacritic ratings. Two things to take away from this:

1) Riccitiello reminds us how important Metacritic ratings are to corporate types, a situation I loathe.

2) Professional games journalists rarely prove their opinions and critiques are of greater merit than many amateurs. The reason Riccitiello wants their opinion to matter more is because they are easier to control.

I know this sounds like the hopeless rant of a nerd who hasn’t “made it big” in gaming, but it isn’t. I would love to have a group of trustworthy professional critics that I can rely on for good recommendations, but as it is, I get most of those from amateurs and from my own gut, and as long as that is the case, I will continue to slam games like Bad Company while no one listens to me.

9 Comments

  1. Tony said on June 23, 2008:

    I also played the BF:BC demo and hated it. I had actually just finished Call of Duty 4 the night before, so the transition from a game with tight controls and great presentation to the crap-fest that was Bad Company was quite jarring. I didn’t mind the clichéd NPCs or the stupid humor as much. My biggest problem was that the game just felt sloppy. I couldn’t tell what was going on most of the time (where I had to be, what I had to do to make the checkpoints activate, etc.) and it was generally the opposite of fun for 20 minutes … and it was all just so half-assed. Note to Mr. EA: start making games that suck less and people will start to like them … I promise. Try it and find out. No, seriously … please try it.

  2. wesley said on June 23, 2008:

    My hatred for this game, which I’ll admit I have not played, comes from EA’s terrible leap onto the microtransactions bandwagon. Charging extra money for content that’s already on the disc when it ships should be a felony.

  3. Christian said on June 23, 2008:

    wesley, the only hope we can have in regards to that situation is that EA learns not to try that with future games, since the threat of boycott by gamers got them to change their tune.

  4. Wesley said on June 23, 2008:

    It was nice that they backtracked, but they replaced “pay for gun” with “give us your email address and sign up for marketing for guns” which is worse in alot of ways, and will ultimately net them more cash than the prior method.

  5. bruce said on June 24, 2008:

    Funny, Mr. EA is complaining about their games failing to attract cults of personality when “personality” has, for years, been completely at odds with their “have faceless studio X push another iteration out each year” methodology. Arguably, buying Bioware was a move in the right direction to get them this “dev cred” which they so severely lack. They need to put the passionate creative people who can make great games out there and let people build an association between the people who make EA games and EA games, instead of giving us tripe like the CEO bitching about people *gasp* using the internet in the manner in which it’s intended. Letting Will Wright was poetic about Spore would be another example. So, I can see hints that they “get it”, but we’ll just have to see if the business school DNA is too entrenched in their company to let them become a company that is passionate about games instead of passionate about yearly franchises.

  6. jay said on June 24, 2008:

    Having a small games site, I am personally offended by Mr. EA being offended we have the ability to share our opinions. If people with no credentials review games won’t consumers notice and put less faith in those reviews? You know, the same stupid consumers who rebuy EAs shitty games every year? He shares the same contempt for his customers as I do.

    The issue here is that individual studios he buys may have serious followings. Bioware and Maxis are both great companies, but EA didn’t create them, they “made” them with a check book. EA is too big a company with too shitty an overall reputation to ever develop a cult following. Similarly, MS games has no real flavor. Rare and Lionhead may be very respected, but again these were fully formed companies MS bought and so they share little cultural similarities with MS.

    EA is mostly a holding company that instructs the actual developers it buy (then often guts) to work on bad games most of the time.

  7. Wesley said on June 24, 2008:

    I hear that oil companies hate it when people bitch about gas prices, too.

  8. Christian said on June 24, 2008:

    Oil companies are an interesting example. We all hate them, and they are laughing all the way to the bank because we can’t go on without them. Yet even they understand the power of marketing, and some have used it to create brand loyalty. Both Shell and BP have put on a facade (or not?) of caring about alternative fuels, and BP has also made an effort to make the “gas buying experience” nicer through clean stores and such. Exxon loves to market their On The Run convenience stores. It may all be silly to someone like me, but they still put out an effort to look like they are caring.

    EA has not done much over the years to improve its image. Their PR people and board members may pay a bit of lip service, but all in all they seem to think if they throw X number of dollars at development it will lead to quality, which we will have to acknowledge and respect. They are averse to creating goodwill, and until they do that among their employees and their customers, they are going to continue to have this “head stuck in the sand” mentality.

  9. TrueTallus said on June 24, 2008:

    I can see some reason for Riccitiello being bitter. I agree with everyone that EA doesn’t have much reason to expect anyone to like them yet, and I also raise my eyebrows at the idea that people without approved credentials shouldn’t be speaking their minds. I’m not sure, however, that the idea of a publisher being given props for supporting great developers is something to be dismissed. I’m happy that someone with big enough pockets was willing to bring the entire Half Life 2 package + portal on to my 360. It’s also worth mentioning that EA isn’t alone as a game maker that puts out average games on their own but are able and willing to support quality games from satellite studios or publishing partnerships. Sega is just one other example that fits the profile of a company that used to make great games itself but now is more respected for what it publishes. Yet its hard to imagine a world where ukresistance is pumping up this year’s Madden instead of shamelessly pining for the next Sonic game.

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