If team-based FPS games are your thing, then the free-to-play Dirty Bomb from Splash Damage might just be what you’re looking for. What it lacks in terms of innovation and story is made up in its fast-paced action, which is plentiful in the streets of post-apocalyptic London.
While Splash Damage may have dropped the ball with Brink a few years ago, their goodwill has been built back up in my eyes thanks to their work on the multiplayer for Batman: Arkham Origins. Though grappling hooks aren’t part and parcel in Dirty Bomb, there’s more than enough action in the current open beta to keep players entertained for hours on end.
Not varying too far from the formulas found in classic FPS games like Team Fortress 2, Dirty Bomb offers players a range of characters (referred to as mercs in-game) with varying loadouts that strangely can’t be changed. You’ve got your middle-of-the-road infantry class, a medic, and an explosives specialist among others, but you’ll need to work as a team if you want to achieve the objectives laid out before you.
Currently only two modes are available in the Dirty Bomb beta, the aptly named Objective where you must complete said objectives against the clock, and Stopwatch, where you must complete objectives faster than the opposing team. A third multiplayer mode, Execute, wasn’t available during the beta, but the description mentions wiping out the other team over multiple rounds. Sounds like a run-of-the-mill death match mode to me. With only five maps, it shouldn’t take too long for even novice FPS players to get a lay of the land and up their K/D ratio per match.
Dirty Bomb proudly touts its lack of aim assist, but the controls are still crisp and responsive. Even on my moderately-powered 2012 PC, the game still makes the rundown ruins of London look pretty good. The surround sound was also up to par, which helps when trying to detect enemies on the field. Don’t spend too much time listening for gunfire in the distance, though, or you’ll be caught blindsided when an airstrike lands firmly on your head. It happened to me. Twice.
As a free-to-play title, Dirty Bomb’s options are initially limited. You don’t necessarily NEED to buy all the cool new characters with deployable turrets and miniguns to have hours of fun playing this title, but they do open up new strategies that do not present themselves with the game’s bare bones features. You should be used to the popular concept of free-to-play games with substantial amounts of in-game purchases and DLC by now, so there should be no big surprises there.
Free and genuinely fun releases are few and far between in the current gaming landscape, but Dirty Bomb definitely fits that bill. Even if you only play a few rounds with some good buddies without spending upwards of $60+ dollars on available DLC, the quality of the work itself is enough to keep you coming back.
Dirty Bomb is now available on Steam.
Dirty Bomb Trailer