I%26rsquo;ve played plenty of Counter-Strike clones in the past nine years, and none have duplicated the original%26rsquo;s addictive gameplay style, perfected map design, and balanced ballistics. Combat Arms is no exception, even though it visually resembles the four-year-old Counter-Strike: Source. It does have one advantage, however: it%26rsquo;s free.
All you need to play this team-based multiplayer shooter is broadband Internet and the 445MB installer, which includes six maps. The four gameplay modes will be familiar to any fragging veteran - the Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, and Search %26amp; Destroy games aren%26rsquo;t anything special, but the maps are designed well enough to accommodate multiple routes, choke points, and sniper decks for different play styles. Combat leans more toward fast-paced arcade action than tactical realism, with glaring, arcade-style notifications popping up on your HUD for kill streaks and headshots, and the game does nothing to discourage obnoxious bunny-hopping.
Where Combat Arms deviates from the CS-clone formula is its persistent economy. Scoring kills and winning rounds earns you currency that can be used to acquire new weapons and equipment for use in future games. I also liked that weapons aren%26rsquo;t bought, but rented; limiting my use of a new weapon to a week (or more if I paid real money) forced me to make tough decisions. Combat Arms also makes its money through microtransactions, though they%26rsquo;re all purely cosmetic, thankfully.
Combat Arms may be a pale imitation of Counter-Strike, but it%26rsquo;s a free pale imitation. It%26rsquo;s a good place for casual shooter fans who don%26rsquo;t feel like dropping $20 to get the crap kicked out of them in CS.
PC Gamer scores games on a percentage scale, which is rounded to the closest whole number to determine the GamesRadar score.
PCG Final Verdict: 67% (above average)
Aug 27, 2008