Battlefield Heroes Free For The Taking
Andrew Seroff | Monday, September 7, 2009
In the beginning, there was “Battlefield 1942.” Since then, gamers have fought in Italy, World War II, and even in the year 2142. Now, the well-established, ten-year reign of Electronic Arts’ “Battlefield” series of video games has a new king – “Battlefield Heroes.”
Not too long ago, gamers were a clique culture. Strategy and RPG games were at their prime, requiring devotion to master, and leaving the casual gamer with their head in the hands. With the arrival of the Wii, video games have found a much broader fan base. Simple, pick-up and play games are vastly outselling their predecessors, and this latest installation of the first-person shooter series caters to this new trend.
Your character can be one of three classes: commando, soldier and gunner, each with a variety of unique abilities. The soldier is your run-of-the-mill class, the gunner specializes on heavy weaponry, and the commando is the sniper and assassin. The game makes an effort to balance the classes, for example, commandos’ range and stealth are countered by their low survivability, however each class plays better or worse depending on the battlefield.
At the moment, the game has four maps – Coastal Clash, Seaside Skirmish, Victory Village and Buccaneer Bay. The cute alliterative names each have an equally cute battlefield to match. Victory Village is set in a quaint Germanic town, complete with narrow alleys and rooftops to engage in urban combat in. Seaside Skirmish is a little bigger, with houses and a windmill surrounding a small river. Buccaneer Bay and Coastal Clash are huge, sprawling maps. Unlike Victory Village and Seaside Skirmish, which only have jeeps to drive around, the open-air settings of Buccaneer Bay and Coastal Clash facilitate the use of tanks and airplanes.
In “Battlefield Heroes,” you fight in a cartooney world. Instead of attempting the create realistic people, places and warfare, the game instead invites you into a world where soldiers have speed boosts, magically appearing shields, and a massive bazooka that can be stuffed into a pocket when not in use. Your character is a soldier of either the Royals (the “good guys”) or Nationals (“bad guys”). When capturing checkpoints, your team’s fight song plays, as you dramatically raise your flag up the flagpole – light blue and a gold crown for the Royals, dark red and a big black skull for the Nationals. Explosions from sticky dynamite, tank shells, or grenades send you comically flying into the air. Characters casually sit on the wings of planes, and if it turns out their pilot hasn’t exactly gotten his wings at Online FPS Air Flight School, you can just jump right off and you’re covered, thanks to an always-ready parachute.
And the best part is it’s free. All you have to do is go to their website (www.battlefieldheroes.com) and download the small, web-based program. In-game currency is earned by completing achievements and missions in battle, which can be spent on different weapons, bandages, and outfits. The outfits purchasable with these Valor Points are different color combinations of the standard garb, but cool or silly additions are available for micropayments of real money. Fortunately for the gameplay, all performance-enhancing items are for Valor Points and not US currency, preventing people from paying money for a leg-up on the competition. Also for purchase are emotes – one second animations your character can do. Simple emotes like “Yes” and “No” are for Valor Points, but you can get silly ones for real money as well.
The game isn’t perfect, but since the game is free, you get much more than you’re paying for. It has some glitches, and the friend-finding system can be touchy, but all in all it’s a fun time. Watch out for the sniper in the full knight armor, clucking like a chicken.