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the most crippling for this game are the bad parts of its playerbase
hackers and griefers on every single map, who wants to pay for a game like that?
it seems, that they are taking steps in the right direction, though
lets see , if they keep it going
The game appears to be doing just fine.
I last played on 7-5-13. I played from around 9am to about 8pm EST on the Joker server (with a lunch break of course). My cousin came over since we were both off for the holidays and we played for hours.
We just broke into R100 and on the contact to get the grenade launcher. We typically play about once every two weeks, but this gaming session occurred after over a month break (real life got in the way lately).
The game has flaws, but it is fun. Each instance now holds 45 players of each faction. Our gaming session took place entirely in the financial district. You can now select instances that are one threat level below you. We were both gold, but the only gold server was full, so we thought we would have to take a penalty to play on a silver instance. Luckily there is no longer a penalty for this. Also, they made it so a gold can't join a bronze at all. So that is good for new players.
The match making was okay for the most part, although it did on occasion throw us against low rank players, but their status was gold so they were either good or had been playing with other good players. The game lets you call for backup, so it never was long before it was 6v6 with pretty even teams.
In past gaming sessions, we would have two or three lag spikes within an hour, each lasting for several seconds. This time, we had two or three lag spikes during the entire session with each lasting one or two seconds. The server performance has greatly improved.
As for hackers, they either had a recent ban or there just isn't that many anymore. I encountered one definite hacker in the last match of the day. The person was R9 with nearly 30 kills and 1 death. They have made it where you can chose a spawn point after death. I tested by hiding instantly after spawn, no where near the objective, and after a few seconds I was found by the hacker. He/she always knew where we were and was killing us with the starter pistol...even at sniper range. I tried to convince the other team to kick the hacker, but they wanted the rewards from winning.
I played the entire day as a free player and my cousin had a sub. When we started he was one level higher with the contact. When we finished he was three levels higher with the contact. Also, he earned probably about 20k more money than I did. So if that kind of progression is important for you, then it is worth a sub. I had enough Gamersfirst credit to buy a sub, but didn't want to pay for a month if we weren't going to play regularly for a while. All previous game sessions I had a sub.
I have made some real cash purchases for this game. To start I bought the game from Amazon for $8 which gave me a 30 day sub, a car with nos, a pistol, and a choice of gun (out of 4 choices). I took a whisper. This whisper isn't that good. I since have bought some joker boxes which usually give game time or temporary guns. I have also purchased one gun that is account wide, in case I decide I want to play criminal at some point (did I mention I am an enforcer). I also bought a better vehicle. I look at it this way, and the older crowd of this site probably will agree. Back in the day, to play an mmo, a sub was the only option. So I don't mind to spend $15 a month on this game. Also, with the sub, everything else is 20% off. Not to shabby. Now for new players with the recent shift to F2P, then I can see why you might be upset by spending money. I'd like to point out that the guns you buy with real cash aren't that much better than what you can get in game. The in game guns are rented for 10 days, and can easily be purchased after a one day gaming session. I had an old account that I lost to someone who hacked my email account. I was a criminal at about R130. That character only had real money spent on the sub. I only bought weapons with in game currency and I competed just fine.
Every gun, whether it was acquired in game or for real money, has a play style or gun type to counter it. It is all situational. The real cash guns my have some advantage, but they also have a weakness. Take for example a good whisper. These guns are great close range weapons, are silent, and have no recoil. How do you fight it? Multiple ways. One way is an automatic shotgun, enough said. Another is to use a similar weapon, like an oca that is slotted well, and you can compete. Another, would be to get a mid range gun and keep them at a distance. I like the joker carbine. It's not a fully automatic weapon. So while the spray at me from a distance, I take little damage and continue shooting them while they reload. Also, most matches aren't 1v1. Lure the whisper into an ambush or multirush them for the win. It's called strategy, and every gun type has a counter. In this sense, which is the way I approach the game, it is not P2W. The only people who can P2W are people paying for a hack.
I am sure I am leaving something out. I was interrupted by work midway through typing this, my bad. If you have any questions feel free to ask. I will try to answer them, but I am by no means an expert on the game.