Microtransactions are one of those things that recently began to flourish in games over the last couple of years, particularly with the newer generation of consoles and digital distribution platforms. Skins, sound cues and general content updates are generally paid for nowadays, and things such as PlayStation Home are good examples of how it all works. The issue behind Microtransactions though is that the content needs to be incredibly well justified to actually purchase - an issue that a lot of games have. Unfortunately for the browser game Battlefield Play4Free, it's still a bit of an issue, as fun as the game can be.
To give you a basic rundown of what BFP4F is apart from a really odd abbreviation, it's essentially Battlefield 2 with minor visual tweaks, simplified gameplay mechanics (with a smaller scale) and the biggest difference is that it appears in browser format - at the low price of zero dollars. Quake Live is the title that shares the most similiarities with it in that it has a system that allows you to play the game free of charge (albeit littered with ads) - but has the option of being subscribed to for premium content such as user made maps, extra modes, hosting abilities and clan management. The difference here however is that BFP4F does not have a subscription model; it bases itself purely on microtransactions.
Now the game itself can be played for free otherwise the name would be kind of misleading, but it's fairly limited in its gameplay if it were to be a free run. Microtransactions pretty much make up the depth of the game by allowing you to purchase weapons, gadgets and random apparel from the store before you play. You can buy them for indefinite use, but if you want to try before you completely buy though you can purchase the weapon with a time limit - kind of like how you would purchase game time for an MMO. This is all through the Battlefunds system which is a conversion of the money you really did spend on the game.
The major issue behind this microtransaction bonanza is the mere fact that you have to actually buy weapons to get more meat out of the game. While the core gameplay of conquest mode, vehicle command and shooting mechanics are still there, it's ridiculous to expect players to purchase their favourite weapons for rental or permanent use just to be able to play the style they normally would. While gameplay wise the game is pretty decent, the entire idea behind microtransactions ruin the experience, and considering most modern FPS games (particularly Bad Company 2) can be bought for pretty cheap on the PC nowadays without any restrictions to your weapon load outs, the concept behind playing BFP4F becomes highly unappealing.
It's a shame too, because the gameplay is very much like Battlefield 2 only smaller in scale. It plays well, the server structure is efficient - in the sense that it'll kick high ping players from the server immediately - and it's very quick and easy to get into the game, have a quickie then get out. It's like a one night stand only she's always waiting for your return. It's just a bitter disappointment then that to get the extra nice bits, you need to throw some cash down to what should come with the package.
On the presentation side of things, BFP4F is about as good as a game can look when it comes to running it through a browser. It's pretty much Battlefield 2 with a bit of spit and shine thrown in for good measure, with average texture and model work and old school animation systems in place. It definitely feels smaller in its scale with a streamlined look and feel to it, but overall one can't really complain about its visuals when it's a game that's running through your browser and is easy to run as well. We were also pretty surprised to see it supporting AMD's Eyefinity technology, so users of extreme resolutions, be prepared for surround gaming of the low res kind! Audio wise DICE show off their skills, with authentic sounding gun shots and effects but little to no music whatsoever (except for the ear grinding metal riff when loading a game). While it's not exactly super high-end in sound quality, you get what you pay for and you're paying for absolutely nothing (unless you want weapons, in which case give us your wallet).
Battlefield Play4Free is average. It plays well, looks unsurprisingly dated, and is super easy to get into. The issue behind it though is that the microtransaction system in place makes it an extremely hard game to justify getting into on a long term note. Quake Live bases itself on a subscription model and works very well with it at that, giving the player a plethora of features for a yearly payment, but nothing that would've significantly altered their gameplay experience. BFP4F however asks you to pay for weapons and other such things that do affect the gameplay and your play style, and that to us is something only die hard fans can justify in the long run. Otherwise most people would be better off looking for something else that will not only be a one time payment, but will have a large amount of content to boot too - not to mention that some potentially justified DLC is being released on many FPS games these days. In our opinion, Battlefield Play4Free is for die-hard fans only.