If you watched the video above, answer this. With games like these, who needs movies?

I know… All you non-gamers may still not buy my train of thought, or the game… but it’s only a matter of time before you will be unable to ignore computer games as a compelling new medium for storytelling. The gaming industry is already bigger than Hollywood – probably why we see so many movies based on games coming out. What a reversal!

But I digress. We are here to listen to me gush about my new love. Apart from leaving me with little time to talk to Niki or update the site last week, it also made clear what the term “two-timing” really means to me – I wish I had double the time, not double the women. Yeah. That’s probably why a lot of gamers convince their girls to get hooked on to games too – so there are no conflicts about the Company you choose to spend your time with. *cough* Keeps everyone happy – you, and the game… and oh yeah the girl too, sometimes.

What you see in the trailer embedded above, from EA’s YouTube channel, are snippets from in-game cut-scenes that the gameplay seamlessly merges in and out of. That’s right – the graphics, voices, faces, vehicles, sounds, explosions and effects, and even the way those people move in the video are all what the game actually looks like.

So what does a gamer (other than the ones lost to Counter-Strike and Warcraft III) expect from a good game? Great visuals, great sound, and great story. Hmm… kind of like what you’d expect from a good movie too eh? If the Bad Company 2 single player campaign were a movie listed on IMDb, I’d give it a solid 9.5/10. I don’t want to risk revealing more than what the trailer does about the story, so let’s get on with what I really want to talk about.

Bad Company 2 uses DICE’s Frostbite engine that looks great even in DirectX 9. I wonder what it’ll be like in DirectX 10, which supports some newer visual effects allowing for more realism. To be fair, Crysis may have looked better, but Crysis would bring even some of the highest-end gaming hardware to its knees. That’s where Bad Company 2 shines – the Frostbite engine seems surprisingly light. I’m running what is now a 4 year old machine – and I could still max out the game (whatever it supports with a DX 9 card that is) with no real hiccups, even at the ridiculous resolution of 1920x1080, better known as full HD! And it loads about 40 times faster than its predecessor on the PC – Battlefield 2, that used DICE’s old Refractor 2 engine.

As you can see in the trailer, the engine takes care of all the expected stuff, and more. Awesome lighting and shadows, swaying trees, rain, snow and dust. Blood, spent casings, and muzzle flash. Smoke and explosions. They look almost real – almost cinematic. Look at how the dust rises around a tank when it fires, or how a helicopter’s blades raise a mini snowstorm, or the any of the explosions!

Sure you may say all the other games of today feature most of this stuff. But look a little closer – did you just see a building collapse just before the Bad Company 2 logo appears in the trailer? That’s not scripted – you can do that in the game. Serious. It’s what they call Destruction 2.0 – you can blast the walls out of any building, and if you keep hitting it with big stuff, the entire building will come down, killing everyone camping inside. Hell you can even drive a tank through one if just shooting at it doesn’t satisfy your craving for awesome destruction.

That’s where Bad Company 2 is different from other games in its genre - almost fully destructible environments. As Yoda would say, “Do or do not. There is no try.” Well Bad Company 2 does not have to try when it comes to making firefights hectic. Most games, most notably the Call of Duty series, force you to move ahead and fight rather than camp by sending infinite waves of enemies at you – you either move on or run out of ammo and die eventually if you sit safe behind cover. Bad Company 2 makes your cover destroyable, so you are not safe anywhere, making you haul ass and fight anyway. Apart from being far more realistic, crumbling buildings, splintering trees, shattering glass and concrete blocks exploding into bits all around you make the firefight seem a lot more intense, not to mention the dust and smoke that comes with it.

But even this did not impress me (I am admittedly a hard man to please) as much as something as simple as the faces of the models in the game. At least one game company has understood that it pays to make a human look human, not like some perfect Greek god with chiseled features and that whole tough-guy-who-can-singlehandedly-exterminate-entire-bloodthirsty-alien-species-armed-with-just-post-its-while-blindfolded-and-with-his-left-hand-while-his-right-hand-does-unmentionable-things-if-he-wanted-to look. The characters in Bad Company 2 are less than perfect in many ways – which makes them actually likeable.

What most computer game characters look like, usually minus the beard and plus some clothing.

Coming to the sound, apart from the various ambient, vehicle and weapon sounds that are top-notch, the voice acting for this band of 4 is also brilliant. It sounds natural and unrehearsed – with silly wisecracks, misunderstandings and fumbles with words, people interrupting each other mid-sentence and laughter that doesn’t sound theatrical. These two things, as well as the very normal (as opposed to the tough guy thing explained earlier) sort of characters the 4 members of B-Company have been given makes you feel they are rather real. They’re a funny bunch to listen to, often launching into strange conversations ranging from how most people tend to claim all exotic meats taste like chicken, to religion (Jesus Christ and Easter Bunnies), to their favorite scene in the Predator, moisturizer, Woody Allen, Gandhi’s flip-flops, WWF and Hulk Hogan. All you have to do is wait for a (highly realistic in my opinion) lull in the fighting and you will be treated to another reason why it is ok to like a fictitious person instead of a real one. Don’t you movie-buff girls pfaw and roll your eyes at me like that - I hear you are guilty of exactly the same thing when it comes to a certain vampire in Twilight.

And even if the voice acting and character creation alone would not have impressed you, you have got to appreciate the way models move in the game! What perfect motion capture! Fluid and real. Watch the part in the trailer where a guy tries to slash what is supposed to be your character with a knife, or when this alter ego of yours in the game dives out of a helicopter to grab onto a falling item. Sure these instances may be a tad scripted, but the actual game looks pretty much like that. Bad guys drop dead believably and in varied ways based on where and with what they got shot. The way they move looks real – something that few games have mastered – whether it is moving between cover, jumping over obstacles, rappelling down ropes, or generally loitering around. If DICE wanted, they could’ve easily made their character waltz believably too…. and on that happy yet rather odd to visualize note, I shall leave you to enjoy Johann Strauss’ famous work, The Blue Danube, and enough reason to buy the game.

The image of the Statue of Heracles and Cacus (1530-1534) by Baccio Bandinelli used in this article is a modifed version of the original picture published by user "Cyberuly" on Wikimedia. The two videos in this article are embedded from EA’s YouTube Channel where you can find lots of other interesting videos of Bad Company 2 and other games. If you like the ridiculous conversations between the Bad Company guys, just search for "Bad Company Jokes" on YouTube and you’ll find a couple of thousand videos.