Bullet Run is one of the latest in the line of "Free to Play" games that are emerging on these here interwebs. Developed by Acony Games and published by Sony Online Entertainment, the game sets you in the near future where killing each other has become the main spectator sport in the history of sports entertainment.
Having developed "Synth" technology which essentially saves your DNA and dumps it into a body to become "you" once you've been shot in the face, the whole organisation behind Bullet Run is televising all these brutal games of killing each other, while providing crappy commentary on the action as it happens. In theory it sounds like it could be a decent game however the reality of it is that it falls in the realms of the average and mundane.
Starting out you get to select what your character will look like in-game and immediately we see the complete lack of choices available which can mean only one thing, all customisation has been taken away and locked within the vault of micro-transactions. So aside from selecting gender, one of a handful of haircuts and one of three skin tones you're buggered if you wanted something more unique. Additionally if you want more character slots then tough titties as most of these are locked out too, requiring you to purchase them.
Once you've settled on your clone of pretty much everyone else we move to the weapons. To begin you're given a humble MP5, Beretta 92F, Grenade and Knife as starting equipment; while these are adequate to defend yourself, don't expect to go on rampaging kill streaks or headshotting someone across the map with your guns as they simply don't cut it compared to what else is on offer.
That being said, there isn't a great deal of weaponry available in the game as browsing the store you see four or five weapons in each category and they all require a certain rank before you may unlock them which can take a long time if you're looking towards some of the heavier rifles and automatics in the game.
We gathered a distinct air of 'pay to win' in the game, by this we mean you gain a distinct advantage if you throw some of your own hard earned cash at the store. Example, the game actually has a subscription method which gives you automatic clearance to all weapons and customisation in the game without needing the required rank, alongside gaining 25% more credits from matches than the F2P players will gain. Furthermore you can purchase starter kits giving you a pretty substantial weapon to play around with straight away.
F2P users will have to grind a hell of a lot of games and rank to get even anywhere near the kind of weaponry you can buy for around $10/£8/10€. This deems the game, in our eyes, totally against what the free to play model should be; yes have micro transactions in the game but when those transactions start dipping into the realms of granting players distinct physical advantages in game then you're on a path of alienating your playerbase.
If we alter our view slightly to another game in the free to play market, Blacklight Retribution then we see a similar model, players can pay to get the gear they want without having to work for it; however the way Zombie combat the pay to win scenario is allowing all players to rent the better weaponry using the in game currency players earn from matches. You can literally play two matches in BLR and have enough GP to rent an extremely potent weapon for 24 hours.
Moving back to Bullet Run, F2P players get shafted, they can't even rent the better weapons at all, it's either pony up the cash or bend over and take it until you're at the rank needed for the gear. Oh and what's even worse is that your weaponry has a durability level so you'll be hemorrhaging credits while playing in order to keep your gear repaired. Seriously, durability on weapons? Who the f**k thought that would be a great idea, F2P players get a raw deal as it is, never mind having to worry about durability on gear too. It seems that the game is tailored at every opportunity to make you open your wallet in order to get the best from this game, let me show you what you get for the subscription fee of $14.99 a month.
Increase your Fame and Heat with exclusive Taunts.
25% credit boost
Your in-game currency is Credits. When you're a Platinum Member, you will earn credits 25% faster than non-members.
10% Group Wide credit boost
When you're grouped with other players, everyone in the group will receive a 10% credit boost. Since you already get a 25% credit boost as a member, this means you get a 35% boost when grouped.
10% discount on all marketplace items
You'll want them, and now you get'em cheaper.
Reduced loss on weapons condition
Throughout the game your weapons will be damaged/deteriorate and require repair. As a Member your weapons will need repairing less often.
Reduced Style loss
Style gives you a boost to your rewards at the end of each match. If you are not a member, Style will go down over time. But as a Platinum Member your Style will never be reduced.
Everyone can see that you are a Premium Member because you will have an indicator on your avatar. Because of the group credit boost, your games will be more popular with other players.
No level requirements for marketplace offers
Some items in the marketplace require you to have a certain Fame Rank in-game. As a Platinum Member, you can purchase anything regardless of Fame Rank.
Anyway enough ranting about the transaction system and how you get shafted if you go free to play, I really should get onto the actual game.
So we have two game modes in this title, Team Deathmatch and Dominion. TDM is pretty self explanatory, two teams battle it out over 20 minutes in one of the five or so maps available, highest score at the end of the timer wins. This will take place in a number of varied maps, from a disused dusty trailer park with open wide spaces and an underground sewer tunnel system to a more enclosed corridor system of an oil-rig. While the variety is nice, the lack of maps to play on can quickly become tiresome.
What also becomes tiresome is the supposed match commentary which really does nothing but irritate you due to the commentary being sporadic and next to useless. Nothing that comes from the mouths of the commentators can be deemed as useful information, coupled with the lack of script for them to read you quickly have repeats of the same line over and over again, especially if you die lots. "Do you think he saw that one coming?" YES, YES I DID NOW F**k OFF!
Next up we have Dominion, why it's called Dominion I have no idea as it's more like a capture and control game mode than something that indicates domination. In this mode one team has to defend areas that spawn a capture point while the other team attempts to attack and take control. Once they're successful they can't recapture that point for a minute. Once ten minutes has elapsed, the teams swap roles. In reality the majority of players just continue to play as if it were TDM.
Overall the gameplay is pretty mundane and run of the mill, nothing really helps it stand out in the crowd of FPS titles. Visually it's not really that impressive either, barely making use of what the Unreal Engine can push out, it seems they've gone for the route of making sure as many PC's can play this game as possible which is admirable, at least you don't need a bleeding edge gaming rig to play this game.
At the end of the day, there are a lot worse free to play games on the market than Bullet Run but then there are a lot better too. While the majority of this review is disagreeing with their MTX model the actual game itself can provide some fun so give it a try, it's free so you really have nothing to lose bar your time while it downloads. Personally I feel if they had provided a store more similar to Blacklight Retribution where the F2P players could rent items then it would have been a more enjoyable game.