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NOTE: This review is based on the open beta stage available July 27th. All details may be subject to change.
So finally everyone can play one of the most awaited titles in online shooters - Battlefield Heroes, which takes the classical scheme of the Battlefield series, mixes it up with cartoonish graphics, and presents this cocktail as a free-to-play online shooter. This mix results in quite an enjoyable game that brings some cool ideas and innovation to the genre as well. Although Battlefield Heroes is currently in an open beta stage, it is more than playable, and, in my opinion, surpasses most of its competitors.
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The graphical style of Battlefield Heroes is cartoonish and contributes very much to overall feeling of unseriousness. It is somewhat similar to Team Fortress 2, and utilizes cell shading techniques to enhance the effect. Although the graphical style itself is quite simple, it is full of life, humorous and entertaining. Everything seems to be designed with care towards it, and very often one small detail or another will put a smile upon your face, like, for example, your soldier staring into the barrel of his gun.
The simple nature of the graphics is not harmful to the style and visual impression of the game; on the other hand, it requires a less powerful machine to run this game, and the online nature of the game well benefit from less lag when you get ten players and as many explosions on screen. This accessibility and overall humour, in my opinion, fit it perfectly and are themselves reasons to try out Battlefield Heroes.
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Sounds are another awesome aspect of Battlefield Heroes. From the whistle-tune of the main menu to ricochets and weapon shots, they are as humorous and entertaining as every aspect in this game. The overall care and love for detail can bee seen here as well, and it makes sounds another nice touch to the overall enjoyment of Heroes, adding goodness for your ears to the perfect cocktail of fun and playability.
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Gameplay in Battlefield Heroes essentially continues the overall scheme of the Battlefield series except that you see your soldier form the third person view. This includes useable vehicles and core gameplay - you have a large map with a certain number of control points. There are two teams - Royalists, resembling the Allied forces of WW 2, and Nationalists, inspired by the German military of the same time period - that compete over those points. Every point captured increases the impact of killing enemies, which in turn decreases the score of opposing team. The first team whose score reaches 0 loses the game.
As you can see, the gameplay formula is simple and easy to understand, yet opens up a lot of tactical possibilities and encourages a careful approach - your death decreases the score of your team. The teamplay is also enhanced by having three character classes - Gunner, the tank of the game, having the highest health and heaviest weapons like the anti-tank rocket launcher; Commando, a sniper/stealth class with the lowest health, long range rifles and limited invisibility for those nasty close-quarter knife kills, and Soldier, the most balanced class, with mid-range weaponry and ability to heal himself and other teammates in range. Every class works best in a team with others, and, as your character progresses in his level by receiving experience points, more skills are at your disposal, allowing you to customize your trooper as you see fit. The Game also features Missions, personal quests that you can accept and try to complete in battle, for example: kill 10 enemies with tanks. All of this ensures that you'll always have something to do in Battlefield Heroes - and you will do it with pleasure and a smile upon your face.
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There are other interesting decisions from the developers of this online shooter. Firstly, all gear you can buy with real money consists of cosmetic modifications helping you to make your warrior more individualistic. With the exception of experience and valor point (ingame currency) boosts, there are virtually no other ways that would help someone with more cash to gain an advantage over you - every helpful item can be rented with valor points. It is a refreshing change from most online shooters I've seen and another plus towards Battlefield Heros.
Another innovation, worthy of much praise, is the option of buying clothing permanently with real money. Most of online shooters offer only the option to rent an item for some time, forcing you to pay over and over again. This is not the case with Battlefield Heroes - if you absolutely need that hat or sunglasses, you can get it - forever!
Having praised this game so much, I must warn you of a single negative aspect. The game currently is in Open Beta stage, and servers lag and crash constantly, but this is understandable, actually expected, for a beta test. Hopefully this will be fixed at the point of release - see you on the battlefield, soldier!