After a rather extended beta and much delay, the free cartoon FPS from Electronic Arts/DICE has finally arrived. You can play it here, for no pennies. Impressions below.
Move! Move faster! Oh god.
Within seconds of logging into BFH I thought: gosh, this is slow. Man, I laughed to myself, it must be easy for snipers! And so it is. Fucking snipers. Not that they do a huge amount of damage, admittedly, but the wide open maps with excellent vantage points, populated by slow-paced people, mean that snipers are immediately annoying. Which kind of surprises me: sure, it's super fun to go find them and kill them, but if you're aiming for a lowest-common denominator shooter, why not go for all medium to short range combat? Concentrate on what is best: arsing about with machineguns and tanks. Why include sniping at all? Oh, because there are multiple character classes, and they have to all be able to do something different. Right, I get it: Battlefield Heroes is an attempt to be all things, to all casual beginners.
Clearly Battlefield Heroes is rather more like World Of Free MMO With Guns than it is like any of the Battlefield games. Nor is it much like the classically paced and splendidly polished partner-in-cartoonishness, Team Fortress 2. This is very much a silly, accessible, my-first-shooter. And that's okay: the vehicles are loads of fun to play with, everything is solid, and makes sense. There's no need to play the tutorial if you've even raised an eyebrow in the direction of multiplayer shooters in the past ten years. The planes and tanks make the painfully slow infantry movement a bit less excruciating, especially after you've spent some time riding on the wing of a plane, strafing enemies capturing flags, before jumping off for shotgun mayhem at close range. It's a fun time. I can imagine the comedy sound cues getting a bit tired after a few days of play, mind.
I only spotted a couple of people who'd bothered to spend money upgrading the ultra-bland insta-soldier that you spawn with. I'm not quite sure how looking ridiculous helps you have more fun on the field of battle, but it's never hurt the hobo clown denizens of a hundred MMOs, so I guess it's going to work out here too. I can't knock it too hard: if it pays to keep the landscape of gaming a little broader, that's fine. But there's not a chance in the multiverse that my sad, crumpled cashmoney is heading anywhere near those particular micropayments, and I doubt I'll sink much more than an afternoon into this.
Anyway, I suspect this is a game that will suit plenty of people just fine, and they're probably, in part, going to be the people who aren't ever going to download the ArmA II demo. Speaking of which... I've got complex, multi-tiered orders to be issued, insurgents to bomb, etc.