How much do you want from free-to-play games?
It's tough to talk about free-to-play games critically as a writer, because they upend the traditional rules about what video games are "worth," for lack of a better term. A traditional console game, at $60, is a fairly serious investment these days, and so there's definitely a call for insight and dialogue about how effective or interesting a certain game is on sites like these.
Free-to-play games, however, are by definition free to start playing. There's no barrier to entry on a price front, so lots of other factors jump into it, from social pressure to free time available to just personal taste or quirks. In the end, it's very hard to determine just how good a game like, say, Bullet Run
is, or whether it will be worth playing when it's available to the public later this year.
I will say that I didn't really like it that much. Bullet Run
is fairly generic -- it's an online PC multiplayer shooter that offers just so-so controls and graphics. Its premise is that you're a contestant on a TV show trying to shoot your way to the top for fame and fortune, but even that is so tame that you usually forget about it, unless you spot a camera on the side of the map, or happen to hear the lackluster announcers chatting about the match.
Each character has four skills to use, that unlock as you play through a match, that mix up the action a little bit. you can put down a turret, for example, to guard a well-traveled hallway, or beef yourself up into a high damage monster. Skills do mix up the action, but they don't seem well-balanced: I went into an akimbo mode at one point, and was able to trounce the entire enemy team without too many problems. Fun for me, not so much for them, I'm sure.
Likewise, the rest of the game can be mean-spirited as well. Killing an enemy allows you to do a quick taunt with the keyboard, which both earns you "Heat," the game's currency, and forces them to watch you do it. That's funny maybe the first or second time you do it to someone else, but it's more frustrating the fifth or sixth time you die. The game's costumes are a little goofy, too, which is probably good for those who like wacky customization options, but not so much for knowing who's on which team.
As a straightforward shooter, there's not a lot to recommend with Bullet Run
- no matter what your preference (from the slick and smooth Call of Duty
series to the wackier Monday Night Combat
), there's probably a better option out there.
But then again, the game is free-to-play, so there's nothing to stop you from picking the game up yourself. Maybe Bullet Run
's brash game-show humor is right up your alley, or maybe your friends have already decided that this is the game (handily placed right inside SOE's growing online ecosystem) is the one they're going to play. If so, you can find out for yourself: Bullet Run
will hit beta in a month or two, with an official release later this year.