As with Battlefield, vehicles are very much part of the gameplay - we've already seen humvees, tanks and trucks, but boats and helicopters have been promised for later on - and these provide you both with a means of quickly getting from A to B, as well as a tool with which you can kick off surprise assaults. You'll also get a chance to use some heavy artillery, not to mention select targets for mortar or missile attacks. From what we've seen, it's clear that DICE is trying to bring some of the flexibility and space for improvisation that has always made Battlefield such an unpredictable - and frequently hilarious - online experience, and bring it to a single-player game.
All of this is very cool, but the thing that I think will sell Bad Company is the sheer amount of boom, rumble and kaboom going on in the game. DICE's game shows more zeal for things that go bang than any I've played since Criterion's under-rated Black. Ammo dumps, oil tanks and exploding barrels are everywhere and underslung grenade launchers are part of the standard kit. Apparently, about 90 per cent of the game world is destructible, and we've already seen trees toppled by explosions, whole chunks of buildings blown away and stalwart defences reduced to so much rubble. Again, the effect is to open up the gameplay.
Can't find the door? Just make your own. Fire a grenade from the launcher and - when the smoke clears - Bob's your uncle. Sick of taking hits from that cowardly sniper in the window? Just take away the window. Hell! Take away the whole wall while you're at it. Other games have promised this in the past, but here it works. Sure, the destructible areas seem preset rather than dynamic, but the overall effect is very convincing. On entering an enemy camp, it's tempting just to fire grenades off just to see what will still be standing when the dust settles.
As a series, Battlefield has always had a slightly hardcore reputation, but while FPS veterans will find an awful lot to love about Bad Company, it doesn't look like it will alienate the more casual console crowd. The pace is fast, there's no fussing around with things like squad control or tactics, and while each level promises a selection of collectible bonus weapons and caches of gold to be discovered, you won't be penalised if you fail to find them. The same generous attitude goes for health and dying. The player is equipped with a handy health syringe which gives you an instant health injector and slowly recharges after a period. Dying, meanwhile, merely means that you'll respawn Battlefield-style at the nearest checkpoint, without any penalties and with everything just as it was before your demise. It's a nice alternative to the currently fashionably CoD-style health recharge systems, and while it means that you'll do better if you make use of cover, aim before shooting and don't do anything stupid, you won't have a miserable time if you take the less sensible approach. The emphasis is on fun and cinematic action, not military realism, which is arguably just where it should be.