By John Walker on July 19th, 2011 at 12:23 pm.
War Inc. Battlezone is proof that Atari don’t defend their trademarks well enough, and a free-to-play third-person shooter that has just this very day gone into beta. And the sort of beta that doesn’t even require faffing around with a registration email. You apply, then it lets you download the game. Well, download the downloader, which then downloads a more up-to-date downloader, which then downloads the game in such a way that the rest of your internet is useless for the duration, with no pause option. But then you can play it. And “it”, as its press release so sweetly describes it, is a “shooting game”.
It’s not wrong there. I skipped through about 309 pages of instructions and options that would presumably have let me understand my character an awful lot better, but my goal was to shoot men and shoot them quickly. So I promptly picked a man who looks like a zombie Wookiee and joined a game. It quite literally is a game in which men shoot other men, while trying to capture bases and the like. And it did nothing wrong, really. Nothing exceptional when on the field – this isn’t the game that’s going to make Battlefield 3 close down and hide – but there were guns and there was shooting, and I believe that’s what’s required. Look – I don’t do multiplayer shooter, I’m sorry. But maybe you do, which means you’re the right person to get involved in the open beta and tell everyone else if they should bother.
It’s a tactical clan-based game, which developers Online Warmongers say is aiming to be realistic and “community driven”. However, the leaderboards, clans, and so on are yet to be added. It’ll use Steam and Xfire should people wish to (although runs completely independently of both, at least at the moment), with up to 64 players in battles. Persistent player characters can be customised to bits, either with stuff you’ve gathered, or through spending your pennies.
It’s all free, and free forever, but boy oh boy does it ask you to spend money an awful lot. It’s not too cheap, either. For instance, to buy the Night Stalker stuff, a set of clothes and a special weapon, will cost you over $10 at its currently half price offer. And there’s some sneakiness here too. In-game “GP” is purchased in very peculiar amounts, that just happen to fall short of the prices of in-game items. So that Night Stalker set will cost you 12,450GP. But you can only buy 11,470 for $10 or 22,380 for $20. To permanently add the Beserker ability to your character will cost you 4,790GP, but the smallest amount you can buy is 4,270 for five bucks. And so on. It’s certainly nowhere near as egregious and foul as Microsoft’s similar system for Xbox purchases, but it’s rather a shame they’re doing it.