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War Inc. Battle Zone

Score: 82%
ESRB: Not Rated
Publisher: Arktos Entertainment Group
Developer: Online Warmongers
Media: Download/1
Players: 1 - 64 (Online Only)
Genre: Shooter/ Online

Graphics & Sound:

"But it's free." That's the exact thought that popped up each and every time I found something I didn't particularly like about War Inc. Battle Zone. It's a sort of poor man's Battlefield, but ultimately an admittedly bland and not terribly varied military first-person shooter. Despite all that, there's an awful lot to like about War Inc. Battle Zone. It's got some neat tricks up its sleeve, a ton of unlockable (and purchasable) content, and on top of that, the game sports a thoroughly competent shooting model. And yes, it's free.

War Inc. Battle Zone probably looks better than you'd expect a free-to-play online shooter to look. Of course, provided your expectations are reasonable, you won't be expecting it to look ultra modern. And it doesn't. It's neither technically nor artistically attractive by most standards; textures and character models are relatively low-resolution, and animation work can look a bit sketchy. Even on Ultra. However, it's not a slouch when you consider that, well, it's free to play. The menus can be a bit of a pain to navigate, because they've loaded so much information on each screen. But you'll get used to it. You're given the option to play with a first or third person perspective. Both work well.

The same goes for the sound design; guns and explosions don't sound particularly aggressive when compared to those of the genre giants. However, the impact sound effects that indicate you've hit someone still elicits a nice Pavlovian response. The menu screen music is nice and war-appropriate. There's a smattering of voice work that does no more than inform its players of what's happening on the battlefield. Other than that, there's really not much to say at all.


Gameplay:

War Inc. Battle Zone fancies itself a free-to-play Battlefield or Call of Duty. It's got a handful of modes, a handful of maps, and numerous ways to grow your own mercs. There's no story to bother with, though the load screens attempt (and fail) to establish a bit of context for the online action.

You've got your standard Deathmatch variants, and the objective-based modes vary between types like Sabotage and Conquest. The team-based stuff shouldn't surprise anyone who's played a shooter in the last seven years, but as of this writing, very few players I've run into are communicating effectively. Everyone's running around like headless chickens, doing their own things. The game is still fun to play, but it would be even better if players would talk to each other. The command/text box can only do so much, and I get the feeling most players ignore everything in it. If you can get a group into a Ventrilo server and strategize on the fly, you'll probably have the upper hand.

There's no getting around it: War Inc. Battle Zone will live or die by its community. This is something that only time will tell. However, as of this writing, games are not difficult to find. That being said, there doesn't seem to be many players online. More frustrating are the disconnection issues I've experienced. My internet connection is hardly top of the line, but I don't often lose my connection with games.


Difficulty:

If you've played one, you've played them all. Such is the case with most modern first-person shooters, and such is the case with War Inc. Battle Zone. There's only a difficulty curve if you haven't played a shooter on your computer in a while. WASD controls and mouse aiming. Doesn't get much simpler than that.

The game's difficulty level is proportionate to the skill of your online enemies, as there is no single player component to speak of. That being said, if you spend a good deal of time (and/or money) on this game, you will find yourself swimming in upgrades and superior gear. The difference on the battlefield is immediately noticeable when you snag that elite weapon.


Game Mechanics:

What makes a game like War Inc. Battle Zone isn't the action (though it's certainly competent), it's the monetized content that can also be earned through several hours of play. There's a lot of stuff in this game, and if you spend time digging through the stores, you'll see no shortage of carrots dangling on sticks. Think you're immune? See what happens when a higher-level enemy you kill drops a loot crate and you get a fancy implement of destruction -- for only a day. Then you might feel the urge. Other items range from partially-cosmetic to gameplay enhancements. Do you want an experience boost? Would you pay for a permanent one? How about a killer new weapon? Do you spend hours, days, or weeks earning the in-game currency or do you spend real money to get it now? It's completely fair, and I find myself completely intrigued by this business model. All the special content being offered is a nice incentive to play the game, but again, this probably won't matter to gamers who are already neck-deep in other (and better) shooters. Again, though, it's free.

So what are the currencies in War Inc. Battle Zone? Besides XP, you'll earn Skill Points, War Points (WP), and Gold Credits (GC). XP and WP are earned on the battlefield, and GC are earned elsewhere. SP is earned by leveling up, and can be used to unlock special perks. The other currencies can be earned and spent on special items. Lots of the unlocks can be either temporary or permanent. If you want it to be permanent, the game will naturally ask more from you. Given the amount of unlockables in the finished game, it's safe to say that those who want to collect as many as they can will be playing for a very, very long time.

Daily Rewards are an interesting way to earn more GC. Each consecutive day you log in results in a set amount of GC awarded to you. However, claiming the GC resets the timer; if you're patient and enjoy playing the game, keep logging in without claiming your reward and max it out.

If you already play Battlefield or Call of Duty, you're probably not going to give two hoots about War Inc. Battle Zone. After all, as it is, it isn't nearly as good a game. If you don't own a high-end gaming rig or a console and don't want to spend money on this kind of entertainment, by all means check the link below and give it a download. You've literally got nothing to lose by doing so.


-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos

Minimum System Requirements:



OS: Windows XP SP3 or higher, Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo 1.8GHz or similar AMD, Memory: 2GB of RAM, Hard Disk Space: 2GB of HDD space, Video Card: nVidia 9600 or similar ATI, 512MB dedicated video memory, Pixel Shader 2.0
 

Test System:



ASUS G74S Series, Intel Core I7 - 2670QM, 2.2 GHz, Windows 7 Premium, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560M, 12 GB RAM, 500 GB HDD space Windows 7

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