Sometimes gamers just have to go back to their roots. It's inevitable. Blazing, next-generation graphics can be a blast to check out, and all the crazy advances in storytelling and immersion have allowed games to penetrate peoples' lives more than ever before. Don't get us wrong, these are all good things for the industry and its many, many fans.
But gamers always get that urge--a tickling--to give their turbocharged video card a break and fire up some titles that have withstood the test of time. Or better yet, modern reinventions of classic gameplay motifs. Some of these titles can be a blast to play, which is exactly why we're jumping into the gaming remake scene with this week's freeware roundup. If you loved the originals that these games are based on, you'll find yourself sinking just as much time into these freeware remixes as before. Don't worry if you've never played some of the genres that these newer titles are based on. Spend a few minutes downloading these titles, fire up a game or two in your spare time, and see what you think!
In our March 2009 issue, we dressed our illustrious Editor-in-Chief up as a one of the ravenous antagonists from our Game of the Year, Valve’s Left 4 Dead.
The transformation from living human to decaying dead took almost two hours, though in the end it made for an amusing, but slightly horrifying, photo shoot. Read on to find out how we managed to turn this famed zombie slayer into one of his victims, or follow along to attempt your own zombie transformation.
Nvidia has officially released its Forceware 181.22 WHQL GeForce driver suite just under a week since making the drivers available as beta downloads. The graphics chip maker recommends upgrading to the latest release "for the best GPU PhysX experience in EA's hot PC title Mirror's Edge." Forceware 181.22 WHQL installs the new PhysX system software, now in version 9.09.0010.
Also included with the new driver release is support for Nvidia's latest GPUs, the GTX 295 and GTX 285. Nvidia also claims modest to significant performance boosts in select titles, such as up to 80 percent in Lost Planet: Colonies, up to 38 percent in Far Cry 2, and up to 25 percent in Devil May Cry 4. Several other titles are said to run anywhere from 10 to 18 percent better with the latest Forceware driver.
It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it. We’ve spent a good deal of the last 12 months hunkered down at our PCs playing every game that’s come our way. The very best of them have pulled us into their imaginary, action-packed worlds and stolen hours of our valuable time—and we love ’em for it! Others, not so much. Here forth is our frank assessment of 2008’s most noteworthy games.
Here’s the scoop: Battlefield Heroes, EA’s free-to-play, browser-based FPS, is just about ready for the big show, but needs your help in the make-up room. And get this! So does Relic’s massively anticipated RTS Dawn of War II. Who will you rescue? Now allow us to blow your mind: you can have both.
For Battlefield, you need only follow this link to the dank den of EA’s sleeping monster. Once there, simply create an EA account, fill out a sign-up form and wait. Doing these steps out of order is inadvisable.
Dawn of War II’s beta will officially brighten up PC gamers’ days on January 28th, but if you’d like early access (read: you could be playing it RIGHT NOW), you’ll need a copy of Dawn of War: Soulstorm. Luckily, Soulstorm just so happens to have been marked down to $7.50 on Steam. However, note that this sweet deal (75% off!) is temporary and will expire on January 28th.
Now go! Don’t worry about us; we only want your happiness!
“Huh?! Oh – hello there. Sorry if we seem a tad shaken; we’ve been playing the newly released F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin demo, and the default control scheme must’ve jammed our pretzeled fingers right into an alt-tab. Guess we should have seen that coming after the first F.E.A.R.’s somewhat cumbersome default controls, but then, we can’t lean around corners anymore, so forgive us for our lack of vision.
Now then, we’re just going to hop back into the game and—hey! Is that crying? Oh my, we think it’s a little girl. And she’s all alone, her tears softly landing atop the spilled jars of strawberry jam she was clearly trying to sell. Talk to you later, everyone; we’re off to become some little girl’s hero!”
Earlier this month BFG announced it would become a boutique system builder, a bold move considering the market sector has seen the departure of big name boutiques like Alienware, Voodoo, and HyperSonic as standalone entities (now owned by Dell, HP, and OCZ respectively). Even bolder was the announcement of its $8,000 flagship Elite model in the new Phobos line, which comes standard with dual BFG GeForce GTX 295 videocards, Intel's Core i7 965 Extreme processor, 6GB of RAM, and other high end treats.
Now that www.bfgsystems.com has gone live and is taking orders, we have more information on the Performance and Advanced models, which start at $3,000 and $8,000 respectively. For three grand, the Performance configuration comes standard with a water-cooled Core i7 920 (2.66GHz) processor, 6GB of DDR3-1333 RAM, GeForce GTX 285 videocard, two 640GB WD hard drives, DVD burner, and a 1KW PSU. The Advanced configuration bumps the processor up to Intel's Core i7 940 (2.93GHz), adds a second GTX 285 videocard, trades the 640GB hard drives for a pair of 300GB Velociraptors instead, and forgoes onboard sound in favor of Creative's X-Fi Titanium.
All three configurations come with free in-home setup.
"It's going to happen whether you like it or not," the virtual worlds developer said of gold farming. "People will always find the path of least resistance, if you stop them buying your gold then they'll buy that gold from somebody else who is gold farming."
"Trying to stop that happening is literally like telling the tide not to come in - you will fail."
"If you don't build that into your system then you're not going to be able to compete with the gold farmers and that will ruin your in-game economy, which will in turn ruin your game. At the very least having the recognition that virtual economics is a discipline and is a very important integral part to being a virtual world," he added.
Fraser-Robinson listed Eve Online as a game that -- rather than stomping out real money transactions only to have them return in greater force – arranged its economy with the help of an actual economist.
"I think that's absolutely essential going forward… because wherever humans are in communities and whenever they are bartering there is a market and there is going to be a market place. If you let that go with no regulation and no recognition then very, very crazy things will happen."
In a talky-torial published at The Escapist, Team Fortress 2 developer Robin Walker hinted at yet another presumably free addition to TF2’s bullet-ridden house of hilarity. And fortunately for those who’ve moved onto grayer pastures, the article touts a “very different” mode currently just out of sniping range.
"A new Payload map is in the works, more community maps are on the way and the team will soon unveil a very different new game mode," read the article.
In addition, Walker confirmed that Valve has all manner of new class designs just waiting to get their shots at the small screen, but wouldn’t give a timeframe for their deployment.
“We've got several new class designs floating around, some of which we like a lot, but right now we're focusing on the broadening of our existing classes through the addition of the unlockables," he said.
Frankly, as long as Valve tosses up a few more “Meet the ____” movies, we’ll be dandy. How about you?
GameTap, for those unfamiliar, is a self-described “games on demand service” that zaps thousands of games – some aged and impenetrable, others still warm and wrapped in soggy design document – straight to your PC. It’s pretty neat! However, if you’re just now finding out about the goose that lays golden games, please refrain from getting too excited; GameTap’s vaunted free games section won’t be quite the looker it once was come next week. Said GameTap’s official blog:
“As many of you know, over the past year or so we’ve released well over one hundred games for free, in order to entice people to sample what GameTap has to offer and, hopefully, subscribe to our service. This strategy has worked incredibly well for us, and now we’re ready to move on.”
“Starting next week, we’re going to return a large chunk of our free games back to the Gold vault. They will still be available, but only to GameTap Gold subscribers.”
97 games, including heavy-hitters like Deus Ex, Psychonauts and, well, Daikatana (there’s always a silver lining) will be yanked out of the pet shop window, bringing Gametap’s free section down to a comparatively paltry 40. Weekly trials of select games will also be available.
So then, does this turn of events have you unbolting the padlock on your credit card, or does GameTap have some ‘splainin’ to do?