A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Dirty Bomb is a free-to-play downloadable team-based first-person shooter where players achieve objectives and kill enemies on the opposing team in a variety of ways. Currently in open beta, the game allows players to purchase load-out cards with real money to enhance the game experience with better weapons and augments. Dirty Bomb also enables voice chat, which can expose some players to inappropriate content, much worse than the language included in the game's tutorial.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's it about?
DIRTY BOMB is a team-based, arena-style first-person shooter that takes place in futuristic (and thoroughly decimated) London. The game pits two teams of players against one another in three modes of play (only two are currently available): Objective, Stopwatch, and Execution. Objectives can include things such as retrieving datacores or planting and destroying key targets while the other team defends them. Each player takes a group of mercenaries into the war zone, and each mercenary has different abilities. Players accrue experience and credits for participation in battles, which allow players to level up and unlock more items; load-out cards also can be purchased with real money that may give new weapons or skill bonuses.
Is it any good?
In some ways, Dirty Bomb doesn't drift far from the arena shooters of the past (Team Fortress 2, or even as far back as Unreal Tournament), but don't take that as a negative. Though there hasn't been a lot of new games in the genre recently, arena shooters may be on the way back. Dirty Bomb has a lot of technical merits, such as good graphics and reduced lag to keep the in-game action flowing smoothly. There are other positives, but perhaps the biggest one is that it doesn't take long to get into a game. Jumping into Quick Match gets you on a team within minutes. Plus, having mercs with different special abilities for your team enriches play, and even the support classes, such as medics, can do a fair amount of damage on the battlefield.
The downside, though, is that unless you're a hard-core shooter fan, the game starts to become a wash-rinse-and-repeat formula. The action isn't predictable (after all, you're playing against other humans, and they can do a lot of unexpected things), but the gameplay doesn't vary much. It quickly becomes about the challenge of facing other players and succeeding (and there are some very good players online). Also, the microtransactions (real cash for in-game articles) may be a way to pay for the development and running the servers, but it can be a bit off-putting, especially if you don't want to pay for items but would rather earn them. Dirty Bomb is fun, make no mistake, but its formulaic arena combat may not keep the attention of players for very long.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the impact of violence in media. When playing a game like this, do you have a strong reaction to the intense violence carried out between teams?
How did you manage to coordinate your tactics with others? Did you find it easy? What were the main challenges of working with a team of online players?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.