Battlefield Heroes, first impressions from the beta

Having signed up to the beta just a little time ago, I had finally received my beta key and was ready to try it out. I am not what you would really call a veteran to the series. I have played 1942, Vietnam, and some of the sequel at some LANs, but that is about it.

Battlefield Heroes is the latest in the Battlefield franchise developed by Electronic Art's Digital Illusions CE (popularly known as DICE). The game is being powered by their proprietary Refractor 2 Engine (the one that powered 1942) and has a cell shaded graphic style (games like XIII, Team Fortress 2, which this game will remind you off, Bleach and Legend of Zelda are just to name a few to use the same style). The game is currently in its beta stage and has no set release date. The biggest feature is its price. It's FREE. Yup, the so called evil empire of the video game industry is making a new game for free, well sort of.

The game uses the Play 4 Free model, meaning that the game will generate using advertising (which will not be seen in game, just in the menu's and on the website) and through a series of micropayments. We are not really sure what that is yet, but we figure something along the line of character upgrades.

The game also focuses making it accessible to everyone, sort of catering to the casual gamer other then than the hardcore (otherwise known as the Nintendo model), and not just those with expensive hardware who are trying to immerse themselves within some sort of virtual world. The requirements of the game so far are as follows:

    · Windows XP/Vista
    · 1 GHz CPU
    · 512 MB RAM for XP (1 GB RAM for Vista)
    · 1 GB hard disk space
    · DirectX compatible 64 MB graphics card with Pixel Shader 2.0 or better
    · DirectX compatible sound card
    · Internet connection: 256kbit cable/DSL connection

The game play itself is also very "dumbed" down, meaning that the game emphasizes more on all out fun then deep diverse game play. The game is really just point and shoot, rather than setting up a whole plan to go out and figure out a way to capture certain points or take down certain targets. The game also has a leveling system where players are rewarded for killing and capturing flags. Oh yes, the game currently only features a mode where you and your team, try to take over certain points on the map. Each time you hit a guy with a bullet you get some experience, you kill him, you get more. You capture or help capture a point you continue to gain points.

The level cap has yet to be determined but it looks like it may be around 40 or 50. Like all battlefield games it includes a class system: Soldier, Gunner and Commando. Soldiers wield a machine gun as a primary weapon, Gunners have a rocket launcher and the Commando carry's a sniper rifle. Like I said earlier, everything about it will remind you of Team Fortress 2. The way the characters look, move and animate look straight out of Valve's popular online shooter, but that's not a bad thing. I have only played it for a short time but it's been a fun time so far. The things that separate it, and make it just like every other battlefield game are the vehicles. You can drive a Jeep like vehicles, tanks and planes. The coolest part about the planes is that two teammates can ride shotgun on the wings while one does the flying. It's actually really cool to do and to see while playing a game.

The graphics look really clean and the couple of maps that are included in the beta look really good too. There are places to cover, hide, snipe and drive a tank through. The maps are big enough were flying a plane is really fun. I ran the game on two machines. My Macbook which has a 2.0ghz Core 2 Duo, 4 gigs of RAM and an Intel GMA950 chipset and my desktop that has a 3.0ghz Core 2 Duo, 4 gigs of ram and a Nvidia XFX 8800gt. Both machines were running Windows 7 build 7068 (x86 on Macbook, x64 on Desktop). To my amazement the game ran great on both machines. New games are almost impossible to come by for my integrated graphics GPU and when it does happen it's sort of an oddity. Granted I had to put the graphics all the way down on my Macbook, but I was able to run it at 1280x800 and it looked pretty good and ran even better. On my desktop I was able to crank the graphics without issue and it ran and looks pretty good as well. And in my opinion this is how I believe the Play 4 Free model will work. Like Quake Live (well almost, when out of beta Quake Live will be out on all three major computing platforms, while this looks like a Windows only game) it gives the chance for everyone to play, and gives a chance for the ad agency to reach a broader audience, thus creating more revenue for the developers.

The game itself is browser based. Meaning that you need to visit the site from your browser (, using either Firefox or Internet Explorer. Once there, it opens up the game itself and you are signed into the service. Heroes, which are the characters you control while playing the game, are created on the site and have a nice number of customization options (clothing, facial features etc.). More can be purchased in the in game store, like a parrot or a monkey! The way you earn money is by playing the game. Currently items purchased from the store only last a certain amount of time, and when time is up, must be repurchased. The heroes can also play for either the Royal Army (good guys) or the National Army (bad guys). Once you have chosen your Hero (which is created on the site and up to four are allowed to be created), you can play the tutorial, fiddle around in the options or jump right into action. Installing the game is very quick and most content is streamed in real time, so having a fast internet connection is key. The game server you are put it is chosen by the game's built in matchmaking system. You can also join a game server that one of your friend's may be playing but that is a little buggy. Sometimes my friend was able to join the game I was in, but I was never able to join the servers he was playing in. The game will match you up against people who are of similar skill level, making the games always fun and challenging.

Like mentioned earlier, the game is currently in the beta stage, and if you haven't signed up you should visit to sign up. The game is a great time waster and has a diverse enough game play and a good leveling system that will make you want to play again.

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