Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Vietnam hands-on

As we've spent a couple of hours playing BFBC2 Vietnam on some of EA’s portable gaming stations in the back of a bar in central London. We thought it only fair to share that gaming experience with you.

There’s no denying it, so we may as well deal with the biggest issue up front, it is essentially the same as Battlefield 1943; the multiplayer download that hit in 2009. That’s no bad thing really, as BF1943 was an awesome multiplayer. Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Vietnam serves up the same frenetic action, pitching up to 14 players at a time on the same map. 

The maps aren’t overly large, but like BF1943 there is plenty to play for. We saw several maps - there will be four when the game becomes available for public consumption, a further map available when players hit a particular target. They did the same thing for BF1943 and needless to say, it doesn’t take long to hit that target. 

The real contest for BF1943 was whether the PS3 or Xbox 360 fraternity got their first. We’re guessing the same rivalry will be in place again.

There are four character types to pick from, each with a different load out. Choose from Assault, Engineer, Medic or Recon and you’ll get a selection of different weapons. The weapons are all Vietnam era, so pick the Medic and you’ll get an M60. As you’d expect, it sounds fantastic, rattling through belts of ammo trying to pin one on Victor Charlie. 

New to the game is the flame-thrower, although players of Call of Duty: World at War will know all about that. Devastating in confined spaces, but in the time we spent rushing through the maps, we didn’t really see it to be that effective. We think the rifle is probably the best option, combining accuracy and rate of fire. 

That said, the maps have been designed to give you a variety of terrain. There are some sneaky tunnels through hills, napalmed villes, hills and bamboo forests to make your way through. One map where the flame-thrower does seem effective is the Cao Son Temple, where the flames can really help you clear people out of built-up areas.

There are plenty of spots for snipers to do their thing, there are excellent narrow passes where a well-placed charge will wipe out an enemy assault team, and defensive positions to seek out cover in before laying down fire for your advancing comrades.

There is also a smattering of vehicles around including tanks, Jeeps, helicopters and boats. Given the abundance of water, we found the boat to be a real benefit, as it is heavily armed, and sitting on the twin .30 cal Brownings is a great way to rack up the kills. The smaller vehicles will let you get from A to B fast whereas the tank really rips things up. Of course, if you are a Recon guy, you'll be able to call in mortars or drop charges, whilst the Engineer packs an RPG.

One of the nice features of Vietnam that came into play during our hands-on time was the way you can support your team. You can revive friendlies, which is a real bonus when it comes to assaulting dug-in enemy, and you can also drop medical packs and ammo. You can also pick up weapons from fallen troops, so if you've started the game with a machine gun, you can find yourself a sniper rifle, adding variety and letting you adapt as the game unfolds.

The usual game variants are here, offering conquest, rush, squad deathmatch, and squad rush. 

Playing in the back of a bar we didn’t get the full effect of the 60s soundtrack, but step into a helicopter and Ride of the Valkyries starts up, made famous by Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now, which is really the icing on the cake.

Sure, there doesn’t seem to be that much different on the surface, but it is only 1200 Microsoft points and integrates with your existing copy of Battlefield: Bad Company 2.

Launching on 21 December, if you’re a fan of Battlefield, you’ve probably already decided to buy it, and it's certainly a good deal of fun.