A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this is a free downloadable third-person shooter for Windows PCs. The only obstacle placed before children trying to access the game is an “age gate” -- a dialogue box that simply asks players to enter their birth date (which can be easily fudged) before granting access to the software. This could be problematic, since it’s not a game for young kids. Though it has a cartoonish aesthetic and sense of humor that makes it seem less cold or brutal than many other military-themed shooters, players still spend most of their time using a wide variety of guns, explosives, and vehicles to kill enemies. There is no blood, but the violence is nearly constant. Note, too, that the game supports online text chat, which means players could be subjected to inappropriate language and messages.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's it about?
BATTLEFIELD HEROES is an online third-person shooter that has players creating a character, choosing weapons and abilities, and then venturing out into large maps filled with working vehicles and gun turrets. It has much in common with other games in the Battlefield series, right down to the core objective of capturing and holding strategic points of the map. That said, it has a sense of humor lacking from previous entries in the series. In fact, thanks to a cartoonish aesthetic -- complete with goofy character costumes and animations -- and some outlandish abilities, like being able to sit on the wing of a plane while it’s in flight, the action is sometimes downright light-hearted. This game has been released under EA’s new Play 4 Free business model, which means it is completely free; there are no registration or subscription fees. And while there is a store that sells virtual items such as equipment and clothing, players need not make any so-called “micro-transactions” to grow their characters and remain competitive in the game. Most of these items can be purchased with points earned simply by playing.
Is it any good?
Even if it weren’t free, Battlefield Heroes would still be easy to recommend. From its impressive cel-shaded graphics to its surprisingly deep character customization options, it feels more professional and polished than many boxed retail games. Plus, it sports a decidedly light-hearted atmosphere -- a rarity for a military-themed game. That’s not to say that it’s a good choice for pre-teens -- players still spend much of their time engaged in activities such as shooting and driving over enemies -- but the Loony Tunes-ish vibe makes it a good choice for older players hankering to play a shooter without the blood and gore typically associated with the genre. The only real issues we encountered while playing were technical in nature. With over a million players currently slamming EA's Battlefield Heroes servers, it can be difficult to join a game. And even if you do manage to get in, play is often bogged down by excessive lag. However, assuming EA can remedy its server problems, this is one shooter worth checking out -- all the more because it doesn’t cost so much as a penny.
Online interaction: Players play in teams and communicate with one another via a text message system designed to automatically weed out common spellings of popular obscenities. However, the system doesn’t stop words with creative spellings or clean but abusive messages.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Battlefield Heroes’ cartoonish and light-hearted artistic design makes it feel less gritty than many other shooters, despite the fact that it shares the same basic objectives, mechanics, and controls as most games in its genre. Do you think graphics alone can have an impact on the age appropriateness of a game? Do you feel that this game has been properly rated by the ESRB?
Families can also discuss the appeal of free-to-play games and the micro-transaction systems that typically go along with them. If you really enjoy a free game, are you more likely to spend money on virtual items? Do you feel like you are at a disadvantage without them? Did you feel the need to buy virtual items while playing Battlefield Heroes?
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