Battlefield Heroes: Too free for consoles?

A quick click selects a mission for an upcoming match - be it to complete an unbroken killing spree, destroy an enemy tank or take a base - and success boosts your character's XP, unlocking new gestures, weapons, clothes and so on. Or, if you fancy some natty new threads without the effort, you could just buy some. DICE has been keen, though, to make sure it's not offering certain items for sale.

"We very early on identified that we didn't want to sell anything that could affect the balance of the gameplay," Cousins says. "We saw the reaction to the Bad Company charges, and always had a bad feeling about selling weapons. When you're fighting and someone kills you, you need to know they killed you through skill, not because they bought a better weapon. That was our philosophy - we want to sell items that the community will accept. The bottom line isn't about money, it's about entertainment."

Even free games have to be playable, though. So is Battlefield Heroes any good? The answer... is tricky. Yes, it's a great example of the next generation of free gaming, gorgeous looking, community-focused, hugely addictive. And it uses the same engine as other Battlefield games, so it's just as wild andfull of action - and there's still the potential for outrageous stunts or hilarious-looking accidents.

As an actual game, though, it's a little less impressive. DICE is running a Beta test, so the game isn't really at a finished stage at all. But at the moment the gunplay feels hollow, strangely ineffectual. Our experience was less of a manic, fun-filled battle and more of an unsatisfying point-and-spray series of encounters, with a hail of bullets from a Thompson machine-gun (that favourite tool of WWII shooters) seeming less dangerous than a swarm of slightly befuddled bees.

Ben Richardson is a former Staff Writer for Official PlayStation 2 magazine and a former Content Editor of GamesRadar+. In the years since Ben left GR, he has worked as a columnist, communications officer, charity coach, and podcast host – but we still look back to his news stories from time to time, they are a window into a different era of video games.