Team Fortress 2, Tribes Ascend, Blacklight: Retribution and more!
As successful as online MMOs have been (we covered 16 of the best here), it would be churlish not to mention the genre's equally popular cousin, the shooter. A genre that has been synonymous with video games since the dawn of time – well, since Space Invaders at any rate – the shooter has gone through many incarnations with the latest and greatest evolving into the online free-to-play market.
PC gaming is where you go for high-octane visuals, and the original Crysis was no exception when it dropped in 2007. The highly anticipated sequel in 2011, however, proved a less ambitious affair. We traded a vast, free-roam jungle for the relatively restricted avenues of a war-torn New York City. There was usually more than one route to take, but this more linear experience arrived with some seams showing: Its advanced graphical options were inaccessible, the AI did not impress, and it did not even use DirectX 11 (at first). Crysis 3 fares better in some ways, but not in others.
Eh. Technology upgrades. You don't need the latest graphic, motherboard, and CPU combinations to have a good time on your PC. Sure, having realistic raindrops fall across your warrior's face is a nice touch. And you can never go wrong with all those fun volumetric shadows and such--you know, the ones that cripple your poor videocard whenever you try and crank your display's resolution to the max.
A good game is all about the fun it brings to the table absent of technical wizardry or flashy effects. I like to call this the Nethack effect. For those recently born, Nethack is that old-school ASCII game that's still beloved by many even though its graphics could easily be replicated by a graphing calculator. The game doesn't need top-shelf scenery or character models to be awesome. It just is--by virtue of its immersion, frustrations, and countless ways to die.
As you might guess, This week's freeware roundup is another gaming-focused edition, but I'm covering a wide range of graphical treatments with the racing, hack-and-slash, and building-creation games I feature (amongst other categories). You'll see games that look pretty good given their open-source and freeware roots; You'll also see games that are a bit less, er, polished... but still worth your time for their creative features and fun action. You might even see a game that involves ponies.
We’ve relished the movies about it. We’ve daydreamed about it happening in our own lives. We’ve even drawn up detailed plans for how to survive the admittedly unlikely event of a zombie apocalypse (answer: barricade ourselves in the local Costco). There’s just something so tantalizingly thrilling about the prospect of fighting for survival in an undead-infested world.
Left 4 Dead, Valve Software’s new multiplayer first-person shooter, delivers that awesomely terrifying experience to us. Abandoned metropolises, a ragtag band of hapless strangers, and an endless horde of infected humans—all the staples of a nail-biting George A. Romero zombie epic—are present and accounted for in this ambitious cooperative adventure. But how does this game hold up to our obsessive zombie fantasies? We busted a few thousand undead skulls to find out.
Rainbow Six Vegas 2 looks and plays like a rehash of last year’s original. Put both action shooters side by side and you’d be hard-pressed to distinguish between them. This doesn’t mean Vegas 2 is terrible—the first game was a righteous shoot-’em-up that melded quick pacing with exciting firefights. The follow-up fleshes out the story and completes the plot lines left unfinished in the last go-round, but it falters from the same tiresome action sequences that are more frustrating than challenging.
With the price of oil surpassing $100 a barrel, the apocalypse imagined
in Frontlines: Fuel of War may not be so far away. In this vision of
the future, the world’s remaining superpowers—split between two
factions—clash in a winner-take-all war for Earth’s last oil reserves.
Lucky for us, this makes a great backdrop for some intense multiplayer
We've tested some crazy mice over the years, from ergonomic wonders designed to prevent RSI to dedicated gaming mice shaped like an actual handgun, but the new Zalman FPSGun is one of the oddest-looking designs we've ever tested. We approve of its neutral-grip, sensor-forward design, but the actual implementation has resulted in a mouse that's just too small for the vast majority of gamers to use.