Battlefield Play4Free ReviewPublisher: Electronic Arts
Platform: PC Exclusive
It wouldn't be unfair to say that fans of DICE’s Battlefield franchise can’t generally be classified as 'casual gamers.' You would assume that Battlefield fans aren’t a part of the slightly less casual crowd either: the guys who just pick up the new Pro Evo and Call of Duty or whatever big, well established franchise is getting another release. Sure, there might be some crossover – especially with Bad Company’s growing popularity and the building hype for Battlefield 3 - but generally they want a pretty high level of graphical quality and to be playing the new Flavour of the Month. Battlefield Play4Free isn't a casual or less casual game, though.
You would assume, then, that Battlefield Play4Free is for the more dedicated gamers; those who know a fair bit about games and probably stay on the curve. They’ll still play old games, sure, but they get new releases when they’re good and they appreciate innovation. Us, basically; bit-gamer
readers. We’re looking forward to Battlefield 3 and we all liked Battlefield 2, right? So, the chance to play what should essentially be Battlefield 2.5 should tide us over nicely. Sadly, that isn’t Battlefield Play4Free either.
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Instead, Play4Free is a reheated version of Battlefield 2 that never gets more than lukewarm. It’s a free game that supports a micro-transaction model so cynical and omnipresent it’s like you looked a gift horse in the mouth and it bit your face off. It’s a game that's less than the sum of its parts, despite all the parts being stolen from something great. It’s a game that's simultaneously worse-looking and less fun than a game that's six years old. It's a pointless waste of time.
We know that sounds harsh, and it’s a free game so; ‘where’s the harm?
’, right? Well, yes, fair point, but Play4Free practically exudes the idea that it hates
being for free.
You launch Battlefield Play4Free from your web browser by going to the official website. When you first register you’re asked to pick the class you’d like to play: Recon, Medic, Engineer or Assault. This alone is odd for most FPS games – you haven’t ever played the game and you’re being asked how you want to play it.
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The reason you pick your class before even seeing an actual match is because doing so creates a new 'soldier' for you. Essentially this means that each person, if they want to experience all that BP4F has to offer, has to create four separate soldiers - one for each class. It doesn’t seem like a big deal at first, but it is because it means you can't adapt to suit the match – if your team doesn’t have an Engineer then you’ll need to drop out of the game just to change class. Then, when you try to rejoin, you realise you can’t because there’s no server browser. The best you can do is join a friend who’s already in the match, but even then you might end up on the wrong team.
The reason why the classes are so segregated and distinct? Money. Micro transactions. If you buy a new pistol for your Assault soldier, for example, then you can’t use it with your Engineer soldier – you have to re-buy the same content just to make it compatible with your existing content. Likewise, experience points accrued in one class can’t be spent on improving another.
That doesn’t sound odd at first either, but let me to fill you in.