For us, strategy games tend to be never-ending spirals of regret and woe. Don’t get us wrong—we love the genre. But our approach to tactics usually goes something like this: “OK, now you go here and... oops. Everything we love is on fire.” Put simply, mistakes happen. Frozen Synapse, however, allows us to make informed mistakes. In a nutshell, the game lets you see the outcome of your moves before you make them. It’s an absolutely brilliant tweak, and—if you’re a perfectionist—both a dream come true and your greatest nightmare.
Is Valve's dominant digital platform the future? Or does it herald the end of PC gaming as we know it?
Steam. Publishers and rival digital distributors want to be it. Gamers and developers want to be with it. And animals lacking opposable thumbs want to learn how to use computers just to use it... or so Valve would have you believe. But all isn't as rosy in the land of PC gaming as all that, and as Valve's digital gaming platform has picked up more and more, well, steam, it's garnered its fair share of backlash as well. With Valve's recent tiffs with EA over their upstart Origin distribution platform, never before has the community been so polarized by Steam. Will Steam continue to dominate the PC gaming landscape? And if so, what does this mean for gamers?
First off, let's dispel the myth that Origin is a rival to Steam. Perhaps it will be in time, but as it stands now, EA's digital marketplace is just that - a digital store front for EA published titles. For the moment EA is content in simply bypassing Steam, in order to sell their products directly without losing revenue to a rival distributor.
So, no, Origin is NOT in direct competition with Steam, but neither are any of the other PC digital distributors. And I don't mean 'no competition' in the 'we're kicking your ass in marketshare' kind of way. No, I mean they're literally not selling competing products—they simply lack the depth and breadth of what Steam has to offer. Whereas Origin, Impulse, Direct2Drive, GoG, GamersGate and others are all perfectly valid online stores and distributors, they aren't what Steam is: a unified, managed gaming platform for the PC. And therein lies the true heart of the Steam debate: is the establishment of this type of system beneficial to the PC market?
Near the beginning of Duke Nukem Forever, you make your way through a bona fide Duke Nukem museum. Statues, paintings, fourth-wall-shattering tributes to Duke’s greatest hits—the place nearly has it all. And we say “nearly” because one thing is missing from that perfume-scented love letter to Duke’s past: Duke Nukem Forever itself. Play for a bit longer, though, and it’s not hard to see why.
“Incredible.” “Horrendous.” “Wow. I can’t believe that just happened!” “Ugh, I can’t believe that just happened.” “Geralt, you cheeky bastard.” “Geralt, you worthless bastard.” These are all things we said while playing The Witcher 2. It’s an incredibly hot-and-cold game, to be sure. One moment it might wow you with brilliant writing, or a choice that makes BioWare’s fantasy behemoth Dragon Age look utterly toothless. The next it’ll have you spitting flames over frustrating, repetitive combat, and design decisions that simply boggle the mind. Ignore all that, though, because here’s what really counts: We couldn’t put it down.
Let’s get one thing straight right away: Portal 2 is not Portal 1. Don’t get us wrong: Portal 2 is still completely brilliant—just in entirely different ways. If Portal 1 was an incredibly witty one-liner, then Portal 2 is a whole night of stand-up. That is to say, it’s still smart, subversive, and riotously funny, but it does manage to drag in a couple areas—if only briefly.
Like Origins, Dragon Age II is a 50-plus-hour epic with a deep, complex combat system and a well-defined supporting cast. But it also wears its mythology proudly, confident in its goal of charting the rise of a complete and utter badass: you.
The first time you control Hawke—the hero—is in an opening flashback to your family’s escape from the Darkspawn attack on Lothering, which occurred in the first game. Dragon Age: Origins’ free battlefield camera is now gone, but at least the mouse-wheel scroll still grants the zoom you need to see the full field. Pausing, issuing a set of orders, then sitting back and watching the chaos unfold remains a joy that never gets old.
Bulletstorm is a big-armed, bigger-brained contradiction. On one hand, it’s about a band of hulking space pirates who can’t go two sentences without shouting some (admittedly hilarious) variation on a certain male organ. The game is juvenile and ridiculous, so it only makes sense that it’d have game mechanics to match, right? Wrong. Behind Bulletstorm’s barrel-chested bravado is a quiet brilliance—a reinvention of the FPS genre as we know it. It’s just a shame that—despite what its title may imply— Bulletstorm doesn’t quite manage to completely pull the trigger.
On the one hand, Adobe's platform has caused us a lot of grief--keeping it installed and updated is a pain, and even then the sheer number of security holes caused by flash is cringeworthy. It can be a system hog, too, and don't even get us started about how Flash single-handedly set UI design back 5 years.
But still, where would we be without Flash for free, addictive web games? There would be no Desktop TD, no Line Rider, and no Crush the Castle (and therefore no Angry Birds). So how can we waste our time with online games without having to deal with Flash? HTML5, that's how.
If you think there aren't any fun HTML5 games released yet, think again--we've prepared a gallery with links to 20 games you can play for free right now in any modern browser. Read on for more!
Homefront can best be summed up by its opening (which is nice, because that means you don’t have to play much of the game). You’re kidnapped and tossed aboard a bus, at which point you get to witness the ugly carnage of Korea’s invasion right in front of your face. Or maybe “in your face” is the more apt term, as the game immediately balks at the notion of subtlety. Senseless shootings. Dead bodies cluttering the streets. Parents brutally murdered as their child cries in terror. And this all happens within the first five minutes or so. It’s loud, it’s upsetting, and yet—somewhat shockingly— it’s incredibly difficult to care about.
You can take Crysis out of the jungle, but you can’t take the jungle out of Crysis. For those worried that Crysis 2’s city-slicking setting would turn it into a cramped corridor crawl, go ahead and activate strength mode, grab your fears, and ragdoll them 30 feet in the air. Crysis 2—while not quite as open as its predecessor—is subtly complex, brilliantly paced, and morbidly satisfying from start to finish. Sure, it’s far from revolutionary, but sometimes, you just want to put on a talking suit and shoot squid monsters, you know? OK, that made more sense in our heads. Allow us to explain.