The best FREE shooters

Great games that deliver full-price fun for no money down

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Battlefield Heroes represents Electronic Arts’ answer to Team Fortress 2. This third-person shooter features the general control point concept that’s been made famous by the Battlefield series. Each match takes place on a map filled with control points and each team starts with 50 flags at the beginning of a round. The goal is to reduce the opposing team’s flags to zero. This can be done by killing enemies or by capturing more control points.

Register for the site, and you’ll be able to create a custom character by choosing a faction and a class. The Royal Army and National Army stand as placeholders for the Allies and Axis forces usually found in WWII shooters. As you continue playing, earn XP, unlocking new skills and weapons that can be equipped to your character.

But it’s the cheerful music and cartoony art style that makes Battlefield Heroes great. This is a game that celebrates silliness, so it’s no surprise that regular players are some of the friendliest we’ve ever crossed paths with. You’ll rarely find yourself teamed up with an angry alpha gamer who likes to bark commands and throw fits of nerd rage (you know the type). Seriously. Whether your team wins or loses is almost beside the point when you can hop on the wing of an airplane and pepper enemies with machine gun fire before parachuting to the ground to capture a hostile control point.

With micro-transactions and advertisements that frame the scoreboard at the end of each match. Like many other free-to-play titles, items can be purchased with points earned just by playing the game. But premium equipment and extra fancy cosmetic items will cost you real cash. A lot of items only last for a few certain number of days, limiting the advantage that can be gained by investing real money in your Battlefield Heroes character.

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In 1999, id Software released Quake III Arena and there was much rejoicing. This was the game that introduced us to the elegant art of rocket jumping and taught us how to snipe a moving target while flying across the map at an extremely dangerous speed. Even though ten years have passed since it first released, playing Quake Live with our browser feels just as good as it did when we scored our first kill streak in Quake III Arena on our family PC.

Above: Quake Live features lots of Quake III Arena maps and popular fan-made maps

That’s because what makes shooters fun hasn’t changed all that much since the halcyon days of LAN parties and cyber cafes. Always stay on the move, never camp in one spot for too long, keep grabbing new gear, spawn kill whenever possible, don’t forget to check your corners, aim with pixel perfect precision, and be prepared to die a lot. Quake Live may not look as good as some of its other free-to-play brethren, but when it comes to fast-paced free-for-all fragging, Quake is still king.

Above: Never forget the rocket launcher

The game can be played in windowed mode in your browser through a plug-in, be we recommend you switch it to full screen mode as soon as possible. The matchmaking system does a relatively good job of pitting you against equally skilled players. Still, it’s not uncommon for a high ranking player who’s been playing nothing but Quake for ten years to pop in and destroy everyone on your server. You’d be surprised at how many players there are who are way too good. Use these humiliating defeats as an incentive to get better, follow players with a high kill/death ratio in spectator mode, and learn.

Above: Your profile page keeps tabs on your stats and achievements

With in-game advertising. Billboards for hardware line the walls of Quake Live’s maps, but with so much constant chaos going on, you probably won’t even notice that they’re there.

Have you ever wanted to play a videogame that lets you experience what John Kerry went through when he earned his Silver Star in Vietnam? Can you find the Republic of Sierra Leone on a map without using Google? If you answered yes to any of the questions above, you should consider downloading KumaWar. It’s a tactical first-person shooter that prides itself on accurately recreating real-world military conflicts.

Above: A lot of research went into this building

Want to know what’s not fun? A game managed by the U.S. Army’s Office of Economic and Manpower Analysis. If you want to play an interactive army recruitment tool that’s laced with propaganda, then download America’s Army 3and find out what the U.S. Army’s Office of Economic and Manpower Analysis wants you to think being in the army is really like. We miss the good old days when showing us a commercial of a marine doing some live action role-playing on a giant chessboard was all the education we needed.

Above: The best recruitment tool of all time

Nov 12, 2009

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