Conclusion: Demanding, But Not Another Crysis
Although Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is a very demanding game, it is not nearly as horrible on hardware as Crysis. For example, at 2560x1600 using maximum visual quality settings with 2xAA/4xAF the Radeon HD 5870 Crossfire setup averaged 74fps in this new game. The exact same hardware averaged just 48fps in Crysis Warhead with AA/AF settings disabled. 2
Another example using the GeForce GTX 260 saw a 47fps average when testing with Battlefield: Bad Company 2 at 1680x1050, while playing Crysis allowed for just 33fps with AA/AF disabled.
Add to this the fact that two years have passed since Crysis was released, and the average gaming PC has got a lot faster in the process. We must agree with DICE's assessment of recommending a Radeon HD 4870 or GeForce GTX 260 graphics card as a minimum if you want to enjoy all the eye candy this game has to offer.
Battlefield: Bad Company 2 doesn't scale down very well, as we saw roughly a ~5 fps performance gain when going from the high to the medium quality preset. At the same time, there was very little difference in graphics quality or detail.
When going from the medium to the low quality settings we saw anywhere from a 10 20fps increase, which allowed graphics cards as slow as the Radeon HD 4830 or GeForce GT 240 to deliver an acceptable level of performance at 1680x1050.
We also tried running some of the slower cards at a 1280x1024 resolution at high and medium settings, but the performance boost was not very significant. Similarly than when going from high to medium, a ~5 fps average increase was noted when decreasing the resolution.
For those using mid-range or low-end graphics cards it appears that a quad-core processor is a must for playing Battlefield: Bad Company 2. That said, those with high-end graphics cards are likely to have a quad-core processor anyway, so dual-cores are out then. Those with graphics cards such as the Radeon HD 4870 or GeForce GTX 260 should look into forcing the DirectX 9 rendering mode if they are unhappy with their current level of performance, as we did see reasonable performance gains when doing so.
Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is an action-packed game with impressive graphics and real world damage, but it is currently being let down by a number of serious bugs. As we completed this performance report the first patch for the game was released, and at 300MB we hope it solves many of the problems we have been having.
Initially it didn't look like we would be able to bring you this performance article as we couldn't get the game to run correctly. We would experience random crashes to the desktop at intervals anywhere from 30 seconds to 5 minutes. This was narrowed down to an issue with the onboard sound on our LGA1156 motherboard. Once the sound was disabled the game stopped crashing to the desktop, but we still experienced random freezing every now and then.
After swapping the motherboard for an LGA1366 version, we were able to play with audio and the game stopped crashing, so there are obviously some compatibility issues that still need to be solved. The next major issue we ran into involved Crossfire, which was extremely glitchy. While we were seeing the performance benefits of dual GPUs, there were a number of evident rendering issues.
With plenty of (raving) reviews out there, there's no need for us to say anything more than this will easily be one of the best FPS game releases of the year, so make sure you don't miss it -- hopefully you will already have the necessary hardware to enjoy it at its best.
Battlefield: Bad Company 2 was previously featured on our Most Anticipated PC Games of 2010: From A to Z, check the article for more hot releases.