We first heard about Battlefield Heroes and its mixture of Team Fortress 2-style graphics and casual gameplay almost a year and a half ago. Today, as Shacknews reports, members of the public can now play the game free of charge—at least to begin with.
To try the casual shooter, simply head over to the Battlefield Heroes website with either Firefox or Internet Explorer, and hit the big, round "play now!" button. After installing the required Firefox add-on or IE ActiveX control, the game installer will open, download the game, and set everything up for you.
You'll need to pop back into your browser to create a character, but the game itself runs as a full-blooded Windows application with its own Program Files directory. DICE's approach is therefore a bit different from the one id took with Quake Live, which runs within the browser through a custom plug-in. That said, Battlefield Heroes look and feels considerably more cartoony and dumbed-down. (Quake Live, by contrast, is pretty much a direct port of the original Quake 3: Arena.)
Battlefield Heroes' handful of maps are freely playable through the game's built-in match-making system. As Shacknews points out, however, you'll have to shell out real money if you want bonuses, new weapons, special items, and other "premium" content—that's how DICE plans to cash in.