The $40 or $50 one time fee for a videogame is becoming passé. Today, publishers are trying to find ways to keep dipping into your wallet for months after the initial purchase. War Rock, which can be downloaded for free, is an experiment in alternate payment methods for games. While innovation is good, this game isn’t, particularly.
War Rock is effectively a blend of Counter-Strike-style tactical shooting with some Battlefield -style vehicular combat. The game’s 21 maps include the small, where quick eight player matches are the norm, up to expansive 32 player maps littered with vehicles ranging from olive-drab dirt bikes to F-15 strike aircraft.
Above: An MP-5 is not effective against an APC
Gameplay modes include the standard flavors of deathmatch along with a bomb mode (in which one side lays them out and the other defuses them) and a checkpoint control mode. You’re also given a choice of character types: engineer, medic, sniper, assault (normal soldier), and heavy trooper, each having slightly different weapons options and abilities. It’s all standard stuff often seen elsewhere.
What is atypical about this game is how you earn weapons. As mentioned earlier, this game is downloadable for free and it’s completely playable for free as long as you like. However, if you want to get your hands on the good guns you’ll need some in-game currency, called Dinar, earned in one of two ways: success on the battlefield or success in entering your credit card number.
Above: Drab textures and simple models are a signature in War Rock
The problem in this scheme is you can’t purchase weapons. 30-day leases are the max and those tend to be expensive. A serious player wanting to lease three or four weapons for a month would likely need to spend somewhere on the order of 50,000 Dinar. When you only earn a couple-hundred per game, keeping your arsenal stocked is hard work. And, at $20 for 72,000 Dinar or $14.95 a month for a stipend of 55,500, this game can get expensive quick.
The biggest problem here is the dated feel of it all. It starts with a graphics engine that, while a solid performer on dated hardware, delivers underwhelming visuals. Sound effects are equally ugly, but the big problem is online reliability. The local servers work well enough most of the time. It’s the international servers, where the majority of the players are, that constantly suffer from lag, turning sniping into a crap shoot.
War Rock certainly delivers some fun moments, as most shooters do. And, as a free game for those with older hardware it’s a good choice so long as you don’t mind getting beat up on by the guys who can afford the good toys. However, for anyone actually thinking of spending money, there are better options.