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Combat Arms

Hands on with the beta - and more keys for it.

Dark blue icons of video game controllers on a light blue background
Image credit: Eurogamer

We have 10,000 more keys for the closed beta of Nexon's online FPS Combat Arms to give away. Head to the giveaway page to claim a key, and read on for our hands-on impressions.

There's no getting around it: Call of Duty 4 raised the bar for multiplayer first-person shooter action so high that there are going to be a lot of bruises as other developers try to vault it. In fact, many won't have a chance of clearing it. Any FPS that plays out in a "modern warfare" context is inevitably going to face comparisons with Infinity Ward's masterpiece, the game that kept many of us going through the lean months of 2008. In fact, it may even keep many going indefinitely, given that there's a certain reticence among fans about Treyarch's follow-up turning back the clock to the Second World War. Fans of modern warfare may well look elsewhere. Perhaps to Combat Arms.

Published by South Korea's Nexon, and developed by Nexon's in-house studio Doobic, Combat Arms is a free-to-play PC FPS. Ah, another free online multiplayer game. Times are good for cheapskates, and Combat Arms even caters to those too cheap to update their PC, as it'll run on pretty much any rig. First impressions from the newly launched European closed beta give some indication of how it achieves this.

Combat Arms doesn't look like the very latest of games. In fact, diving into a game will feel familiar to veterans of Counter-Strike, the granddaddy of modern warfare shooters. The maps, the textures, the graphical style are all bold, basic and, frankly, a little bit old-school in the age of COD4. But is it unfair to compare a market-leading top-dollar title with a free-to-download, free-to-play game? Well, yes, no and maybe.

Combat Arms certainly offers impressive bangs for your bucks - plenty of the former and none of the latter. The fact that the first impression of Combat Arms' feel and look is one of familiarity, meanwhile, is in many ways a boon to Nexon, as FPS players will be able to just pick it up and get stuck in. What's more, familiar isn't necessarily synonymous with unsophisticated. Combat Arms has a nifty ace up its camouflaged sleeve.

Currently, Combat Arms consists of four game modes: One Man Army (your basic deathmatch), Elimination (your basic team deathmatch), Search & Destroy (for that full Counter-Strike vibe), and Capture the Flag. At time of writing, however, only Elimination and Search & Destroy are live, and reliable pleasures they provide too. The latter might involve that frustrating lack of respawns in a round, but if you've got a modicum of skill (unlike me), that won't matter. In fact, already the game seems to be populated by scarily skilled virtual warriors. Combat Arms isn't for the faint-hearted, as the pace is fast - particularly in Elimination.