I almost skipped Battlefield: Bad Company because it doesn't have co-op play. Thankfully I bought it anyway.
This game hits everything it aims for.
Gameplay: Fantastic. Immersive. Fun, even for those who are just watching. Interesting health system - one of your outfitted items is an adrenaline self-injector. You select it, pull the trigger, and watch your character stab himself in the heart. After grunting, your health is replenished to 100%. There's a 5 or 10 second recharge on this injector, more than enough time to give the enemy a chance to finish killing you, especially on the hard difficulty.
When this system was introduced, I thought it would get tiring after a while, or make the game too "arcade-y," but that wasn't the case. You'll still die, and the choice the designers made about the health system keeps the combat interactions as realistic as possible without being excruciating. (let's face it: no one buys a game where they lie in the mud getting eaten by bugs for a week before scrapping the mission and going home...even though I'd wager that's a more common and "realistic" combat experience than this game offers. If you want realistic combat, join the marines.).
Level Design and Missions: varied and fun. I tend to hate timed missions, and there's only a single ONE to be found here. A good assortment of shoot 'em up, protect your friends, escape, destroy hardware, and defense. There's even a night mission that requires solo play (without your AI team), and it's one of the most memorable in the game.
There was ONE mission that nearly had me stuck. That was due to my own lack of skill in playing - I got stuck (without ammo) on the wrong end of a bridge covered by snipers and .50cal nests. Even so, I eventually got through. You know those annoying games where you get lost during a level? Where you can't figure out where to go or what you should really be doing? Not here. A helpful (if a bit restrictive) red "artillery range" area is displayed around the path to your objective. If you go into the red area, you have 5 seconds or you're dead. A bit cheesy, but it keeps the game flowing. Even so, the game's environments are huge and beautifully detailed.
AI: I played this game on the "normal" and "hard" difficulties - the AI was intelligent and had a few different strategies. "Hard" is comparable to the Legendary difficulty in Halo. It's something fun to do while having a few beers with friends, seeing who can last the longest, and over a few hours advancing through a level.
Your AI teammates don't die and never run out of Ammo. It helps.
Weapons: Fun to use, realistic looking and sounding (except for the Steyr AUG...not sure what happened there). The only game I've played so far where shooting a rifle actually kind of feels like...shooting a rifle!
Sound: Without a doubt, the highlight of Battlefield: bad company. This game has incredible sound. Interesting fact: humans are genetically programmed to fear only one thing at birth: violent noises. Well, this game delivers them. Several times during the game, I found myself crouching behind cover longer than I needed to, and just enjoying the sounds of the battle raging around me. From NCO's shouting orders over the gunfire, to the screams of soldiers getting hit, to the thundering sounds of artillery and heavy armor in the background, to the fantastic sounds of the small-arms fire echoing down a street...it's amazing.
The sound is a huge part of why this game is so cool. Good speakers highly recommended.
Storyline: Enough to keep it going. I can appreciate a good story, but it really isn't needed (and wouldn't be all that productive) here. The developers clearly spent their time on what mattered for this game. The storyline is there for those who want some direction/context, but it's lighthearted and doesn't take itself too seriously. Perfect for the world you're playing in, since this game needs a fun story to balance out the "serious" combat. Believe it or not, this actually ADDS replay value to the game. I don't think I would have gone back for a replay on "hard" if I knew there was a dark, brooding story (a la Rainbow) looming there waiting for me.
Overall: This is a fun way to waste 15 hours of your life. There's plenty of replay value to be had, and you never have the feeling that you're running out of things to do. So many games give you all they've got in the first 5 hours, and then make you repeat it over and over for another 5 to get to the end. When you're playing Bad Company, it always feels like there's more than one way to get where you're going, depending on your style of gameplay and the weapons you're currently holding. It's never tiring, and thanks to a first rate save system, you can usually finish up within 3 or 4 minutes without losing any progress, if Real Life calls.
10/10. A must-have for anyone who's ever enjoyed shooters.