Get Ready, Set, PLAY!

Get Ready, Set, PLAY!

There I was, taking off down the basketball court on a fast break calling for the pass. With an open path to the hoop and running at full speed, I turned to catch the ball, twisting my knee in the process and hearing that sound that every athlete dreads; a torn ACL. It's a very distinct sound, like crushing egg shells, and while you hold out hope it's only a major sprain, you know in the back of your mind the test results will reveal otherwise. And they did, not only revealing a torn ACL, but a torn meniscus too.

So here I sit, post knee surgery and finally able to walk without crutches, patiently waiting six months until I'm cleared to play sports again. In the meantime, I've found a pair of off court alternatives to help keep me distracted without any risk of re-injury.

Sierra Online Freestyle Street Basketball

I owe this little gem to the September issue of PC Gamer (Maximum PC's sister mag and home to Will Smith's arch Editor-in-Chief nemesis, Greg Vederman). You start off by creating a simple character based on one of three positions (guard, forward, or center), and then adjust your height and weight accordingly, along with some vital stats (blocking, three point shooting, power, etc). When you're finished, you hop into the lobby where you can join or create a team, and then wait to be matched up against opponents of similar strength.

Action consists of three on three half court hoops in bite-sized five minute chunks. Rudimentary controls include arrow keys for somewhat clunky movement, and WASD for action sequences. After every match, you'll gain experience points and eventually level up (free version gets capped at 15), giving this sports oriented MMO a slight RPG twist. You also gain points, which you can use to increase your stats, or purchase specialized skills, such as the ability to set picks or shoot one handed three-point shots. And if you're so inclined, you can use real money to purchase alternate outfits, tattoos, and other accessories.

The real fun comes in playing with teammates that understand the game. Just as in real life, open jumpers have a much better chance of falling than trying to shoot with a defender in your face, so ball movement becomes paramount to winning. Simple strategies can vary from working to get the open three, or trying to pound the ball to your forward or center in the lane for an easy layup/dunk. Unfortunately, one bad teammate can bring you out of contention with a series of ill-advised shots.

Freestyle Street doesn't have the depth or polish as a real sports sim, like EA's NBA Live series, but as far as time distracters go, any basketball fan will quickly find themselves opting to play 'just one more game'.

Peggle

While Freestyle Street Basketball will appeal to a limited audience, I'm confident that anyone who gives Peggle a test drive will find themselves instantly hooked. After seeing it mentioned in the forum and again in Nathan Edwards' blog, I headed over to PopCap for the quick download, and have been killing time with it ever since.

The concept is simple; shoot a ball at a series of pegs and get rid of all the orange colored ones to advance to the next stage. And that's it. But don't let the simplicity fool you, there's enough eye and ear candy to keep you craving more. Just as slot machines use vibrant visuals and sound effects to keep gamblers interested, so too does Peggle. Each peg lights up as you hit it, making whimsical noises along the way.

Strategy doesn't stop at angling your shots, either. Once you've advanced past the beginning stages, you'll choose from one of 10 characters to start a level, with each one possessing special talents that are unlocked by hitting one of two green pegs per stage. Tula the sunflower, for example, lights up 20% of the remaining orange pegs, whereas choosing Claude the lobster gives you access to claw shaped flippers, like in pinball.

The free download will get you started, but be prepared to pay the $20 asking price for the full game once you get addicted. Tossing an Andrew Jackson greenback gets you access to a ton more levels, and a boat load of special challenges that go beyond simply lighting up orange pegs. It's easily worth the cost of admission, just be prepared for a time suck on your productivity!

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stupidongpinoy

Freestyle is one of the free online games that sweeps the Filipinos extra time. for the lan games, DOTA is the best

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zhamm

i have magazines march 2004, winter 2004, february 2004, july 2003, august 2002, i lost the cd's that it brought, and im looking for a game of a boy in space delivering letter or packages too! i want the name of that game. And how can i find o have again the content of those cd's?
pleas email me at zhamm_wolftein@hotmail.com
urgent

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