Although you might well be suspicious of so-called "free-to-play" gaming, there are some aspects of it you just can't argue with. Visit a website. Get a sense of what it's offering you. Download the client. Install it. Jump into the game. Enjoy, or if you don't - uninstall. No loss. Nothing spent.
Then, of course, there are the aspects of free-to-play games that cause that suspicion. Most notably the fact that, inevitably, the games will encourage you to get out your wallet and pay through "micro-transactions". They manage this with varying degrees of subtlety. Combat Arms - a Counter-Strike-style multiplayer FPS from the Korean pioneers of the freebie MMO, Nexon - gives the impression that it's going to be reasonably tolerable, more Windsor Davis than R Lee Ermey. At the time of writing, though, much remains to be seen: micro-transactions for real-world currency have yet to be implemented in the European Combat Arms, which went from open beta to official launch in mid-January, six months after the American launch.
Combat Arms joins other free-to-play titles set in a comparable modern warfare context, such as War Rock and the controversial US army "recruitment" tool, America's Army. Indeed, 2009 looks set to be a good year for F2P multiplayer shooters: EA's Battlefield Heroes should be with us fairly soon and looks set be hugely entertaining, and then there's id's Quake Live.
Nexon has opened servers for the European closed beta of its free-to-play PC online FPS, Combat Arms.
If you claimed a key from our giveaway over the weekend and downloaded the game, you can now head online to try out Combat Arms' mix of fast-paced, competitive FPS gameplay and MMO character customisation and levelling.
If you didn't, you still can; we have a few keys remaining. Just head over to the giveaway page and claim your spot on the Combat Arms beta. You can download the game and sign up for an account at the European Combat Arms site.
Korean online gaming specialists Nexon have torn the wrapper off the official website for its free-to-play MMO FPS for PC, Combat Arms, which launches in Europe later this year.
The website plays host to the teaser trailer for the game, and a handful of setting and gameplay details: it's set in a near future, where a new Cold War between coalitions of rich and poor countries follows the collapse of an interntaional federal government.
Promising realism, fast gameplay, accessibility and a deep system of weapon customisation and tuning, Combat Arms will run on relatively low-spec machines: 2.4GHz Pentium 4, 512MB RAM, and a GeForce FX5600 or similar graphics card are the recommended specs, with minimum specs being 1GHz Pentium 3, 256MB RAM and a GeForce 2 MX.