BATTLEFIELD: Bad Company is one of those fresh games, with a real sense of achievement that most current games wholeheartedly lack. Unlike other First-Person Shooter games, BF:BC tries as much as possible to be something totally unique, and different, trying to reach a wider demographic of gamer. Most common FPS games are targeted at the hardcore gamer; someone liable to take the game very seriously.
The core gameplay is pretty generic to most FPS games. The ideal of most missions is to get from Point A to Point B without dying while completing a certain task given to you by 'Miss July'. Each mission is split into different checkpoints, allowing you to stop for breaks frequently, and also showing that each mission isn't always linear, as it entails you backtracking, or even changing your plans completely.
You're pitted in with three other AI characters that will accompany you on all-but-one missions, giving you that much needed back-up, as well as entertainment (particularly from Haggard). I feel that these characters fill the entertainment box more than anything else, as they really add depth to the storyline, due to their very different, and strong personae in-game and in the cut-scenes. Haggard (the hick that likes to blow things up) is probably the one that brings most to the table (as he ends up altering the original plans of the company).
Graphically, the gameplay is on-par with other current Playstation 3 games. Like SOCOM, they've donned a slightly grainy effect to the surrounding cinematics, but it works quite well. Attention to detail on the weapons is extensive (but perhaps a little less than other games - hardly noticeable). The sound engine in the game also works especially well with this type of game, utilising hearing perception, allowing the user to prioritise on what they hear.
Online has great potential, with an already expansive fan-base of players (on both the PS3 and 360). It is also accompanied by a very good points-based ranking system as well as in-game 'trophies' (not to be mixed up with PS3's Trophy system) which give you that extra incentive to play in certain ways. Each rank also allows for an unlock of particular weapons and items, expanding your already quite large arsenal of weapons online. The main downside currently (04/09/2008) is that there are only two game modes. There is already a good collection of very variant maps, but the lack of more game modes (deathmatch and team deathmatch especially) somewhat muffle the hype given by EA about online. However, Gold Rush, as well as Conquest add a team-based common goal aspect to online, which allows players to really rely on each other to win. And even in a game like this, teamwork is paramount (plus those extra Avenger points don't go a miss either!).
And finally, onto what a lot of people whine about... Call Of Duty 4. I'd like to make clear that this game is in no way trying to be like CoD4. It is unique. A black comedy on the warzone FPS genre. It makes light on the usually darker and more serious overtones of games like this. People trying to compare BF:BC to CoD4 will have as much luck comparing Gran Tourismo 5 to Burnout Paradise. They were never meant to be compared! They're two separate entities, entertaining to two different gaming demographics, and I firmly believe that the team at DICE have surpassed themselves with something not only fresh, but also fun and enjoyable (especially with the coveted Frostbite engine, allowing the complete destruction of almost anything on the map).
Don't knock this game until you've tried it. It may not be for you, but comparing it to CoD4 is pointless. Don't try throwing your toys out of the pram, lighten up, and enjoy the show!