League of Legends ARAM: Surrender to Sona Victory


In this League of Legends ARAM match, I stated out with a quick yolo death trying to help out with an early push but after that we got things rolling and pretty much dominated the rest of the match until they surrendered a little before we reached their core.

Badass Inc. Gameplay

 

We love retro inspired games and Badass Inc. is right up our alley so when we got a look at this game we had to try out the demo. If you played any of the old school action/adventure side-scrolling games especially with a sci-fi or cyber-punk feel to it then you will really like this game. It’s fun and funny and looks great in the style and atmosphere created for you in this beautifully pixelated world. Our only gripe is that it was too short!

About Badass Inc.:

Building on 2nd place in the 32nd Ludum Dare and made with nostalgic 30 somethings in mind, Badass Inc. is a point and click action game that will take you back. You’re a contract killer; a sleek, stylish, feline predator that trades in scalps and briefcases full of cash. Your mission: eliminate a target for Ludum-Tek in an “unconventional way”.

Check out Badass Inc. for yourself and play the demo here.

Falling Sand Game

sand-flash game

Falling Sand Game

Everyone needs a “break” at work and there are a ton of different games online worth checking out that will play on any system regardless of specs. This is one of my favorites from back in the day. It kind of reminds me of Zen garden, but here you can play around with different types of “sand”. You can build walls and pour in water, oil, set it on fire and just waste the day away. Just don’t let your boss catch you.

You can check out one version of the game here.

This requires Java.

More Excellent Freeware Games

Ah, yes, freeware games. How we all love them, don’t we? Even more so when they are of the indie persuasion, brimming with quality, polish and innovation. You know, just like the following seven offerings that have been hand-picked for you quality gaming entertainment. There’s something for everyone mind; enjoy!

Warthogs

Warthogs: People that not necessarily hate but, well, dislike Harry Potter and love adventure games should probably love this little gem. It’s a short, sweet, beautifully pixelated, impressively crafted and occasionally sarcastic AGS offering. Interestingly, Warthogs is a also a very good adventure game too, and one discovered by the ever brilliant Indie Games Blog.

Reprisal

Reprisal: Only a demo one has to admit, but such a promising one (one has to also admit). Oh, and everybody will have to further admit that Reprisal is an incredibly intriguing take on Populous, which itself hasn’t been properly remade for ages. Not that I’m talking about a remake; what we have here is more of something inspired by Populous. Obviously something that let’s you raise mountains and destroy virtual lives too.

Ultima IV

Ultima IV: A gog.com freebie that will let you enjoy (relatively speaking that is) the Quest of the Avatar on modern PCs complete with a PDF assortment of manuals, maps and spellbooks. Just don’t expect to be overly thrilled. This is an archaic and badly aged roleplaying offering with an infuriating morals mechanic and a demented parser; still, it’s somehow considered a classic so there.

Forget Me Not

Forget Me Not: You could of course pay and grab this psychedelic Pac-Man-esque thing for youriDevice (should you own one), but the free PC version is just so much better. And rather unique too, as you get to blast an impressive menagerie of vaguely recognizable baddies. Excellent fun for the extended family this one! Besides, grandpa would never get to manage them touch-screen controls.

Cryptozookeeper

Cryptozookeeper: A huge, polished, well-written and lavishly illustrated piece of interactive fiction I have yet to finish. Should you enjoy its weird animals, tons of characters, lovely soundtrack, odd visuals and splatterpunk-iness, you’d be better off grabbing the boxed version available. You’d also be helping the rise of a new era of text adventures, which would be really nice.

Maldita Castilla

Maldita CastillaLocomalito, that amazing indie developer, plays with the Ghosts ‘n’ Goblinsformula. Why? For love, culture and glory of course, and in order to create a pretty brilliant action platformer with a distinct retro feel. The game is short, looks spectacular and sounds like a proper arcade machine. It’s not too hard either.

Hero's Adventure

Hero’s Adventure: Disturbing and over in 30 seconds, that’s what it is, yet I love it. It reminds me of certain teen experiences I might have had. What’s more, Hero’s Adventure is a truly smart and cynical take on top-down CRPGs. And Terry Cavanagh created it. And I love it, but I already said so, didn’t I?

A Thousand Free Games

Okay, one thousand free games would be a tad excessive, but half a dozen ones would be more than appropriate for this most interesting of springs. Besides, I hadn’t done one of those freeware lists for quite some time now and the voices were rather angry; they also insisted on being as eclectic as possible…

 

Vidiot

Vidiot

Vidiot: Described by its creator as Halo meets Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing, this is a truly demented offering and a delightfully weird collection of mini-games. Oh, and it can easily be used do emotionally scar your kids and/or pets.

 

Poacher
Poacher

Poacher: Metroidvania done by wise game critic and accomplished adventure designer Yahtzee and done right. Also, with a healthy does of humour. Also, also, one of the very few games pitting you against rabbits. Fluffy ones too.

 

Unga needs Mumba
UNGA needs MUMBA

UNGA needs MUMBA: Hunt a mammoth! Be a successful stone age hunter! Feel like Unga! Meet Mumba! Love Nonga! Enjoy the excellent graphics and voices! Solve puzzles! Explore caves! Point! Click!

Orbiter 2010

Orbiter 2010

Orbiter 2010: Still haven’t managed to buy Mass Effect 3? Well, I wouldn’t worry. Orbiter is here and it will let you explore space in a much more realistic and cost-effective way. Should probably last longer too, as this is a proper simulation.

Masters of Constantinople

Masters of Constantinople

Masters of Constantinople: Text away in a tale of intrigue, mystery and Byzantine betrayals while the Empire crumbles and knowledge has to be preserved. It’s a very interesting choose-your-own-adventure affair with more than a few meaningful choices.

 

[vimeo width=”560″ height=”420″]http://vimeo.com/36934912[/vimeo]
Epic Sax Game

Epic Sax Game

Epic Sax Game: Because it almost sounds rude and is the most brutally hard rhythm game I’ve ever encountered. Still, persevere and you’ll be rewarded.

Ristar: Free on Dotemu

ristar-pc-windows-screenshots

Fans of the classic Sega Genesis platformer can get their hands on Ristar for free thanks to DotEmu. The evil tyrant Greedy holds the galaxy of Valdi under a reign of terror, spreading misery and darkness, but from the depths of space comes Ristar, a shining shooting star who is destined for greatness. Only his special powers can restore happiness to the solar system once again.

Here are the key features from the game:

> A game with original and zany situations

> A difficulty that increases progressively

> An inspired and original level design

> Action, puzzle and strategy are combined in Ristar

ristar-pc-windows-screenshots

Now I played this back in the day and loved the style. The game really excels in its soundtrack that features catchy tunes and themes and the boss music is pretty awesome as well. Most of the game involves jumping, swinging and bashing enemies’ against your head as you make your way towards the boss. However, Ristar features a lot of cool puzzles and secret areas to discovery and there is real strategy involved in the gameplay.

ristar-pc-windows-screenshots

With the DotEmu package you can choose to play in windowed mode or full screen with several resolution options so it will play on pretty much any system. Like emulators, you can save the game at any point which is a pretty awesome feature. The game plays just like the original and you can use keyboard controls or connect a joystick. I use the Xbox 360 controller which was automatically detected by the program.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X3BtSkrNQ9k[/youtube]

Normally for $2.99 you can get Ristar free (as well as DRM free) for a limited time so get it now and tell them Obsolete Gamer sent you.

Atari’s Greatest Hits: Free Games for Mobile Devices

To celebrate Atari’s 40th anniversary you can now get all 100 of their greatest hit games from their mobile app.

atari

Relive the Golden Age of Gaming with a collection of the most popular retro games from the 70s and 80s. This extensive catalog pays homage to each of the originals, with controls designed to mimic what Atari fans remember from 30 years ago! For those who love the classic gaming experience, this handheld breakthrough is sure to guarantee hours of fun.

You can download the app on tunes or from here – http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ataris-greatest-hits/id422966028?mt=8

Oil’s Well

oil's well - sierra - gameplay screenshot
I thought I’d let you know just what a visually stunning, additively fun and mostly forgotten little gem this 1990 Sierra production is.
oil's well - sierra - gameplay screenshot
Well, it is, and its VGA version for our ageing DOS boxes is most probably the best arcade/puzzler this developer ever came up with, though admittedly they did have to remake its earlier 1983 version.
oil's well - sierra - gameplay screenshot
Oh, and it would be fair to call this one abandonware. Have a play/look.
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-JQS3iWjVA[/youtube]

Ten Questions: Vince Twelve of xii games

x_games

Vince Twelve, the evil mastermind behind xii games, the creators of such innovative, excellent, very freeware and quite indy adventure games as Anna, What Linus Bruckman Sees When His Eyes Are Closed and Spooks, gets interviewed. Right here. By a gnome. Read on, read on…

1. So, is it Vince Twelve or Vince xii? Oh, and do please add a bit of further personal info to spice things up… The tabloids will love you.

I am not Vince the Twelfth. I do not come from a long line of Vinces. I am Vince Twelve. However, if you want to save a few keystrokes, roman numerals will do.

Quick personal run-down: I’m 24, married, have a one-year-old daughter, and I live in Japan where I teach English in a Junior High School. And for the benefit of the tabloids: I’m dating Jennifer Aniston, have an eating disorder, a drug problem, an illegitimate love-child, and I’m gay. How’s that for spicy?

2. Are you more of a game designer, a programmer or even (don’t deny it) an evolving visual artist?

I’d like to someday be able to say, “Hi, I’m Vince Twelve. I’m a game designer.” But I don’t know if I’m allowed to do that yet. I have a piece of paper in the form of a college degree that proves that I can program. There’s very little subjectivity there. But proving that you can design is a very different thing.

As long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to design games. The only way I can prove to myself that I’m capable in that regard, however, is to release games and get feedback from the players. That’s why I’m always starving for any kind of feedback I can get.

As far as being an artist… while I’m quite pleased with the final looks of both Anna and Linus, I don’t have the artistic skill that I need to realize some of the games that I’d like to make. Plus I take way too long to draw anything. I’m learning as I go, but it’s a slow process.

3. Xii games. Quite a few people have been credited in your three (brilliant) games. Is it indeed a group or are people just coming and going?

Well, Anna was completely a solo outing, but I made the game entirely in a week, so I wasn’t lonely for long.

Spooks was definitely an amazing team effort, but it was still Erin’s baby. She designed, wrote, and drew everything. I joined the project after her previous programmer vanished and took all the game’s code along with him. Erin and I were in constant communication for the next few months as she finished up art and animation and I put the whole thing together. Chris Moorson was also there the whole time working on music and sound.

For Linus, I was back in the designer’s chair. After I worked up a working prototype of the game, I got Nikolas Sideris on board to do the music. But he ended up being much more than just a musician. I sent him updates throughout the development for suggestions and motivation. He was really awesome. The third major member of the Linus team was my wife, who wrote all the Japanese translations as well as providing a lot of support (and if you finished the game and saw the super-secret ending: that was her playing the sexy nurse!). It was really great to be able to share my love for making games with my wife. I definitely plan on involving her in more of my projects.

linus1

 

4.From Anna to What Linus Bruckman Sees When His Eyes Are Closed… What’s next? A paragraph long name?

What’s in a name? As the bard wrote: “A game by any other name would still not emit any odor, because it’s really just a collection of ones and zeros and not a tangible object.” Or something like that…

Yeah, I was totally pleased with the long name. I thought it up really early in development and it just seemed appropriately strange… and it makes more sense if you see the super-secret ending!

5.Right. Names aside, what’s more impressive is your tendency to constantly innovate. Anna is quite possibly the only 3D, keyboard controlled AGS adventure, and Linus really did something never attempted before. So, how important is innovation? Do you believe gamers are actually interested in it?

I do think that innovation is important, but I don’t think it’s necessary in every game. A lot of people are making games with more consideration for nostalgia than innovation, and that’s perfectly fine. Afterall, refining and perfecting old ideas can be just as important as coming up with new ones. If you’re making a game, especially a freeware game, you only have to answer to yourself, so you can make the kind of game that you want to make.

That being said, freeware game makers are in a unique position to innovate. Since they don’t have significant money invested in the game, it isn’t such a big deal if their clever, innovative idea doesn’t work so well in a game as it did in their head. Compared to a big developer with millions of dollars invested in a title’s success, or even a small developer who scraped together every last penny they could find to fund their game, this is a big opportunity to take some risks and try something new.

As for the gamers’ interest in innovation, I suppose that depends on how successful the innovation turns out to be. Afterall, “innovation” implies “new” not necessarily “fun”. I do think that most gamers are always on the lookout for something unique and exciting, and when that new idea turns out to be genuinely fun, you have a real gem of a game. I think Linus was moderately successful in this regard.

anna

6.Linus, well WLBSWHEAC, lets the player simultaneously play two games and experience two stories and two totally different visual styles with only one mouse. You’ve already mentioned the DS (and your shower) was an inspiration. Care to elaborate?

I remember reading a book about game design several years ago that had a lot of advice from big names in the industry. One of the designers, I can’t remember who, said that a good game designer is always thinking about games and should be able to come up with ten game ideas before breakfast. That quote just stuck with me, and since then, I’ve always been challenging myself to come up with different types of game design ideas.

When the Nintendo DS was first announced, I began thinking of the new types of games that could be made for the system. I figured that if I thought of myself as a game designer, I should easily be able to think up some unique new types of gameplay for such an innovative system. One of the ideas that I really liked was having two completely different worlds, one in each screen, and playing them simultaneously. I carried that idea around in the back of my head for a while until I decided to start fleshing it out for a PC game. The idea eventually grew into Linus.

One very rewarding thing is seeing professional designers coming up with ideas very similar to yours and turning them into real commercial games. I was almost finished with Linus when I heard about a DS game called Contact which displays two different worlds on the two screens using two completely different art styles for each. Even though the gameplay is very different – it’s an RPG in which you control only one of the characters – I had to immediately buy the game because of the similarities. Also, Square Enix just announced a new DS game in which you control two characters simultaneously, one on the top screen, one on the bottom. But rather than your commands being mirrored in both screens like in Linus, you control the characters separately – one with the d-pad and one with the stylus.

It’s very interesting to me to see how professional designers play with these similar ideas. It’s also quite gratifying. It makes me feel like I was on the right track with my design.

spooks2

7.Why is it such a hard and complex game?

Here’s another tidbit for my bio: I also have a degree in mathematics and love brain-bending logic puzzles. Linus, from the start, was going to be a fairly complex puzzle game with a shiny adventure exterior. I know that everyone doesn’t adore a good brain-twister like I do, so I thought I was toning down the difficulty here, I really did!

At the time of me writing this, out of the thousands of downloads from my site and from the other places that it’s been picked up and hosted, only fourteen are listed in the online Hall of Completion. (Though I’m guessing it’s just that most people don’t care enough to go online and type in their completion code…)

That being said, I knew from the get go that this kind of game wouldn’t appeal to everyone. I’m sure that a lot of people download the game because of the promise of something unique and then start to play it only to find out that the gameplay and logic puzzles don’t really appeal to them. But that’s the benefit of making a freeware game. My only real customer is myself! Sorry if anyone found it too hard.

8.What should we expect next of xii games? More innovative thinking? A sequel to the almost traditional but excellent Spooks? An action game? Erotic interactive fiction?

Right now, I’m programming a small game for someone else that I’m not sure I’m allowed to talk about. It’s just a small project that should only take a couple of weeks. After it’s done, I’ll start preliminary work on my next game.

I’ve got several ideas which I’ve trimmed down to two to decide between. I want to do something longer than Anna or Linus and tell a full story. One of the two ideas relies on me finding an artist or two who are willing to help me realize the game, so we’ll see about that. (Any artists out there want to help me out?) But you can be sure that there will be some innovative thinking included in the design. I wouldn’t make a game that didn’t have something unique to offer.

As for the sequel to Spooks, Erin is still working on the story, design, and art. It’s coming but it’s a ways off. And whether or not I’ll be coding it or xii games releasing it is still up in the air.

And I think I’ll leave the erotic fiction up to the fans. I don’t know if you’ve read the recently released “Linus Bruckman Tosses Mortia a Bone,” but it’s quite tittilating.

skyward

9.Any thoughts of releasing a commercial game?

Definitely. I would love to release something commercially. Again, however, I would need to find some artists to work with because I don’t feel that my art is of commercial quality. If I could assemble an adequate team right now, my next release would be commercial.

10.Now for the final/double-feature question. Enjoyed any of the recently released adventure games? How’s your Wii doing?

Commercially, I really enjoyed the Blackwell Legacy. Other than that, I haven’t really played many commercial adventure games lately. In 2006, my favorite game was easily Phoenix Wright for the DS. I picked up the sequel here in Japan recently. I don’t think it’s out in the West yet. I haven’t had a chance to start it yet, but I’m really looking forward to cracking it open.

Totally loving my Wii. WarioWare: Smooth Moves has to be the most fun I’ve had (and the dumbest I’ve looked) in quite a while. The one downside of the Wii is that my wife consistently beats me in tennis, and so of course that’s the only game she ever wants to play!

Cheers!

Thanks for taking the time to interview me!

Thanks for taking the time to answer, thanks for the games and good luck!


RISK, Strategies Explained

risk

Risk (BGG entry), according to sources that prefer to call themselves voices and are not to be taken seriously, is one of the most successful, imitated and thus influential board games ever devised. It also is a particularly enjoyable game, that comes in a variety of flavours ranging from Star Wars to Lord Of The Rings to Classic, with the added bonus of being less prone to shatter friendships than Diplomacy. Also, also, Risk has the dubious honour of being the first truly mainstream wargame.

With wargaming, though, come tactics and strategies. Strategy guides too. Some of the best can apparently be found over at the rather specialized RISK, Strategies Explained… website. It even has a basic beginners guide. An advanced one too, obviously. Try them out in battle (for free), over at netRisk or by downloading the very Risk-esque Dominate Game.

League of Legends: The Unsung Hero of the Online Competitive Gaming Scene

League of Legends Logo

If the title didn’t give it away, I have a very high appreciation for Riot Games because of what they have managed to do in creating League of Legends (LoL).  That isn’t to say they don’t have a few hiccups here and there but overall, LoL is a great game.  I will not delve into the HoN vs. LoL debate in this article but maybe I will tackle it at a later date.

What is League of Legends?

League of Legends falls into a genre that has more descriptors than I care to write out but a few of the more popular ones are “AoS,” “Dota,” “ARTS,” and “MOBA.”  AoS refers to Aeon of Strife, a Starcraft mod that has similar game play.  Dota refers to the wildly popular Warcraft 3 mod Defense of the Ancients which is still played today although its popularity has only held in Asia.  ARTS is short for Action Real Time Strategy and this term is used because the game action is based on real time, in-game decisions.  Also, Arena is sometimes added onto the end of this term since the game is played on a fixed map.  Lastly, MOBA refers to a Multiplayer Online Battle Arena and this is probably the most widely accepted term of this genre of game.  The game is multiplayer (team-based, 3v3 or 5v5) and the objective is to defeat (battle) your enemy on a fixed map (arena).  I hope that wasn’t as painful to read as it was to write but it has to be said before I dive into the game itself!

To summarize the game quickly, you play on a team against another team and your goal is to destroy the other teams base.  You choose to play one of the over seventy champions currently in game.  While in game, you level by killing creeps (attacking AI units that each team automatically spawn which head to the enemy base down three in-game lanes) and enemy champions (players).  You get to choose your skills (which vary depending on the champion you choose) and you use the gold you earn (from killing creeps, towers and enemy  champions) to buy items that enhance your hero.  While there are hundreds of more details I can and probably should give about LoL, the above description is enough for the basic gamer to understand what the game is all about!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IzMnCv_lPxI[/youtube]

How does Riot do it well?

First and foremost, LoL is free to play.  That’s right, you can go download and play it for free right now.  Not only is it free to play, you can earn all the champions and runes for free over time.  So unlike other free to play games, you can actually enjoy all aspects of the game (from a competitive standpoint) without being tricked into spending money.  However, if you like the game, you probably will shell out some cash so that you can grab a champion pack or some skins to make your champions look more mighty or goofy.  Skins only change the aesthetics of your current champion so they are by no means required.

If you are a new player, Riot is looking out for you.  They have in game tutorials and you can practice against bots so you can learn without having to worry about other people.  Of course, if you are like me, you just tell your friends, “I’m playing LoL now and you are going to have to deal with me until I get better so stfu and tell me what to do so I learn faster.”  This approach is less subtle but has worked for me in the past.  Riot understands that they need to cater to all their players  if they want continued success and have done as such.

Riot’s interaction with its player base is one of the reasons the game is going strong.  Riot releases new champions at a rate of about one per every two weeks.  This is smart on multiple levels.  First, the new champions keep players interested in the game and it causes a constant change to the dynamic of the game.  Second, new champions mean new skins and this results in Riot earning more money from its players who actually do spend money on the game.  Riot developers are on their official forums posting information and giving player feedback where needed.  Obviously, they cannot respond to everything but the fact that they give the effort is important.  Riot also addresses champion and item issues in a speedy manner trying to keep the game as balanced as humanly possible.

Riot also keeps the game simple by having a basic yet well-designed engine that will not kill your PC and will not have you screaming at the terrible graphics.  Some people think LoL’s graphics are a bit too cartoon-like but I have no problem with it.  Riot has also been redesigning certain champions and aspects of the game to make it a little more visually appealing.

League of legends gameplay

Diving Deeper Into League of Legends

Now that I have covered the preliminary topics, let us take a deeper look into the game itself because this is the real reason people play.  If the game was bad, people wouldn’t play!

Riot decided to add features into its game that increase the amount of action (the battles) that happen between champions throughout the game.  Even at the onset of the game, before the creeps spawn, teams are either protecting or roaming (well, they should be!) the map in an attempt to avoid getting killed or scoring an early kill.  Certain champions are specifically designed to have the highest impact by roaming and ganking.  This increases the intensity of the game.  The more action that is happening around the map, the more fun the game is.  Riot introduced “brush” which was sheer genius because it allowed for players to hide their champions strategically around the map to optimize ganks or use as getaway paths.  Moreover, summoner spells and runes add a level of customization to your champion that will help you in many situations by increasing everything from your damage, move speed, gold/experience earned, survivability and your overall ability to engage or escape a situation.  Riot has found a way to increase the action and intensity of the game without taking away any of the aspects that makes the genre great.

After you have played a couple hundred games and you start to get a feel for the game by having a moderate understanding of the champions, items, runes, spells, etc you will hit start to see more of the subtle aspects to the game.  Of course, Riot knows that not everyone is amazing and that if new players are constantly rolled because they are playing top players, they will quit.  So, Riot has a hidden rating for each account that controls the games you play.  Basically, if you are new, you will play against other new people until you get better.  This extrapolates all the way to the top where if you queue, you will play against some of the pros on a daily basis.

League of legends gameplay

League of Legends as an E-Sport?

LoL has tons of potential to be a very strong e-sport.  LoL has tournaments in some of the largest venues in the world: WCG, ESL, Dreamhack, etc.  Riot is not skimping on the prize money either.  However, my primary concern about the growth of LoL as an e-sport is that most players (even those good enough to be on a pro team) are focusing on the Solo Ranked Ladder because that is seen as the “place to be” so to speak.  Basically, I would like to see Riot “push” the online 5v5 scene because it seems lackluster.  HotShotGG of CLG, the best LoL 5v5 team in world has even said on his stream that their team has no real reason to practice because they don’t need to due to lack of competition.  However, as of late his team has been showing signs of rust and losing to some teams that they normally would not have lost to.  Maybe other teams are starting to practice more in anticipation of more 5v5 play.  Of course, I think Riot is doing a great job all around and this is one of the few areas I think “could” use improvement.  They may not agree with me.  Either way, LoL tournaments will continue to happen at major venues but I would really like the 5v5 online scene to grow so we can see some great games at these events.

Maybe they could do an online tournament that would force teams to be formed and force those teams to practice to get better so they can go for a prize at the end of the season.  The end result being that more teams get formed and the push for 5v5 competitive play grows to the point where Solo Ranked is not the “place to be.”  Of course, this tournament or season would need to be something done over time so that the change could slowly happen.  As I said above, there is a good chance Riot likes the current design they have because it has more focus on the individual player and the individual player is where they earn their money from.  Even though it would most likely never get to the point where 5v5 Queues reduce Solo Queues down to very low levels, it is still a potential risk that Riot doesn’t need to take due to the games popularity and success.

League of legends gameplay

Last Words

League of Legends is amazingly fun.  When you get bored of playing Portal 2 and are looking for something with a competitive edge, go try LoL.  You can play solo or with friends and it won’t cost you a dime to try out.  However, I cannot guarantee that you won’t get hooked quickly and may be spending more time and possibly money than you thought.   The sheer number of champions and items you will need to slowly learn about will keep your interest in game piqued for a long time.  Long enough so that when you finally “think” you have a good understanding of the game, you can try the Ranked Queue where you will figure out that what you knew was “LoL for Beginners” not “LoL for Advanced Players.”  If you are as competitive as me, this will make only want to make you play more.  😀

Overall Game Grade: A-

Germ Attack

Germ Attack

I’m not the type to say no to a free game, even if it means reviewing it, and Germ Attack, was indeed given to me as a free review copy. Further good news is, it is actually a smart, nice little game. Bad news is, it’s another color-matching casual game, in the style of Sweety Puzzle (by the same developer).

Germ Attack, though, introduces an interesting and rather successful twist to the color-matching mechanics, that makes for quite a refreshing gameplay experience. Instead of placing colored candy on a grid a la Sweety Puzzle, arranging falling colored objects a la Columns or utilizing a Baku Baku mechanic, Germ Attack lets you rotate (apparently colored) germs, as they are placed on the playing area. Not easily described, but simple and intuitive, and you’ll get the whole idea by playing the demo for 15 seconds. Here’s a screenshot:

Germ Attack Gameplay Screenshot

Got it now? No? Doesn’t matter. Trust me, it’s really addictive, and for the price of 6.95$ you get 60 well designed and quite varied levels, presented with great hand-drawn graphics. Have a look by clicking here. Or here. No, here!

That’s a (seven) out of (ten).

Desktop Dungeons

 

desktop dungeons

Okay, I haven’t got a hamster and it would have probably microwaved the poor thing anyway, but what really matters is that  QCF Design‘s Desktop Dungeons is a sinister time sink. I mean, really. Tsk, tsk, too. Hadn’t I decided to finally give the thing a try, I would have finished my review of the absolutely deranged and most brilliant Snakes of Avalon, started working on presenting you the equally excellent Games of Empire book and even done some work on a variety of other gaming/blog related projects. But no. I just sat there and explored dungeons for hours non-stop. Even failed to finish my rather important post-doctoral research proposal.

So, let’s talk a bit about Desktop Dungeons then, shall we? Well, at first glance it looks like a simplified rogue-like that can be won or lost in less than ten minutes. It sports some simple yet effective sounds, oldschool graphics (complete with a variety of different tilesets), and some extremely elegant game mechanics. Click to move, click on an enemy to attack, click on a spell to cast it or a potion to consume. The unique bit comes from the fact that enemies neither move nor attack the player on their own free will, and unexplored space is the most important resource available. Exploring it regenerates your health and mana, and impressively turns Desktop Dungeons into some sort of RPG-ish puzzle game with rogue elements and absolutely no random bits.

An incredibly addictive puzzle game as you should have noticed and one you really have to try for yourselves. Or not, provided you care for your job/school/spouse/friends. Then again, this is perfect for the latest unemployed victims of modern corporate capitalism; it’s absolutely free and will last you forever. All those unlockable -vastly differentiated- classes, monsters, magic items and game modes will take ages to master.

Spooks

Spooks Gameplay Screenshot 1
Well, in a nutshell: Spooks is the first creation of a person named “The Ivy”” along with a very small team, it’’s a freeware adventure, it looks good, sounds ok, is size-wise a very modest download and anyone who is smart enough to have reached this review, shouldn’’t have any trouble downloading it from the xii games website. And to wet your appetite, here is a nice screenshot:Nice, isn’’t it?
Spooks Gameplay Screenshot 2
Of course it is, and it should be enough to convince you to have a look and to stop me from writing this review. Problem is, Spooks is a very good game, and one worth having a (slightly) more detailed look at. First of all the graphics are unique, mostly in grayscale and with a rather innovative use of color. Then, the three very important pillars of a comedy adventure game are there: the story is good (albeit a bit short), the dark humor is sarcastic and actually funny, the puzzles are varied, interesting and decently implemented.
Spooks Gameplay Screenshot 3

Naturally, as Spooks is the Ivy’’s first foray in adventure game design, not all is rosy (what a weird and subtle pun -–eh?). Puzzles are a tad on the too easy side, which isn’’t necessarily a bad thing, as is for example the lack of obvious hotspots, which eventually leads to some annoying pixel-hunting. Other minor problems include a few quite obvious time-triggers, lack of a full soundtrack, the inclusion of one (easy yet uninspired) Myst-style puzzle and a lack of polish here-and-there.

On the plus side, the dialogs, handled with a typical multiple-choice interface, are very well written, the finale is unexpectedly unexpected, the Sierra styled interface works in an okay way, and as I’’ve already said everything is fine and dandy. Even the lead character is like Diamanda Galas in joke-mode. I guess that in order to find out more you should rather download and play the game. Here are more screenshots, and a hint on the plot: It’’s about ghouls. The female kind. That should do it. I’’m sure I’’ve convinced you to have a look.

Spooks can be downloaded from the AGS website.

That’’s an (eight) out of (ten).

Brikwars

The Download Munkey had always been a most excellent of blogs, but its recent move to spanking new servers has really made it shine. Brilliant! Visit it @ downloadmunkey.net preferably by following this gamey link, thank Roys for taking the time to please you Internet people and -who knows?- you might also bump into a certain Brikwars post.

brickwarsarmy

Brikwars, should you fail clicking any of the above links, is in its simplest form a freeware wargaming rules system, that let’s use your Lego bricks and figures to ..uh.. play war with your mates. It is thus what some would call a tabletop strategy miniature wargame. Further inspection though, reveals a truly fantastic game that has been evolving for over a decade and is both simple (make that elegant) and deep enough to actually challenge Warhammer. As for the quality of the core rulebook and supplements, the top-notch humor and utterly jaw-dropping artwork, well, you’ll have to visit the Brikwars site and impress yourselves. You wouldn’t believe me otherwise.

Free Stuff: Ultima V: Revisited

Ultima V - Gameplay Screenshot
Richard Garriott‘s Ultima V (this is indeed a 5) is an ultra classic, albeit dated, RPG. One of the rare gems of the late 80s and one of the first PC games I (or anyone else for that matter) ever enjoyed, in the long forgotten era of CGA graphic cards and 8088 based PCs. Contemporary and especially younger gamers would never be able to understand how grand such a game could feel, even though they would surely appreciate Ultima V: Lazarus.
Ultima V - Gameplay Screenshot 2

 

Ultima V: Lazarus is a 500+Mb total conversion mod based on the Dungeon Siege engine, created by the (aptly named) Lazarus Team. Not only an impressive audiovisual update, but also an expansion and overall enhancement of the original, Ultima V: Lazarus is a must-download for every (Computer)RPG connoisseur. Download it from the official site.


Maziacs: The Boardgame

maziacs - the board game

First, there was Mazogs on the Sinclair ZX81. It was a dungeon crawler and it was great. Then, there was Maziacs for the ZX Spectrum. It was a dungeon crawler and it was great. Now, there is Maziacs: The Boardgame. It is a dungeon crawler and it is great. It also is absolutely free, provided of course you have a printer and some dice, and can be played with purely analog means.

The question though is whether Maziacs: The Boardgame, a boardgame based on a rather ancient and definitely simple CRPG, is worth your time, effort and paper. Well, I’m pretty sure it is. The rules are incredibly simple, smart, fun and versatile, and the game can be played both in its standard single-player mode and cooperatively. I’m actually pretty sure it could be run with a Game Master too. As for its aesthetics, simple as they are, they remain true to the original source and evoke a certain retro feel. Definitely worth a try. Download your PDF copies here.

Gaming PC Benchmarking Guide February 2011

Gaming PC Benchmarking stopwatchIf you are like me then you probably do not have the latest gaming PC out there. Even if you built a new machine it will probably have at least one obsolete part easily within a month or two. Because of this dilemma I have created the following gaming PC benchmarking criteria, which has some modern games and game engines as well as some older ones which still scale well.

A problem a benchmarker will face, especially when comparing an older machine with a newer one is that sometimes the older machine will not be able to run whatever game or benchmark as opposed to the new machine. Not necessarily saying the whole program won’t run but saying that it won’t run at the exact settings that the program runs on the faster, newer machine. Some settings will simply never run because the GPU will never ever have the ability to render those settings as it’s limited at a hardware level.

The specifications for my main gaming PC which is now old are:

OS: Windows XP Professional (Corporate)
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-MA770-DS3
CPU: AMD Athlon 64 X2 5400+ 2.8 Ghz
Video Card: Sapphire ATI 3870 512 MB
Memory: G. Skill 4 GB DDR2 800 Mhz (limited to 3.4 GB by the 32-bit OS)
Sound Card: Creative Sound Blaster Live Platinum
Storage: Western Digital 750 GB 7200 RPM HD
Case: generic black case from newegg.com
Power Supply: generic 480 Watt
Peripherals: NEC DVD burner

My concern was to create a benchmarking guide that a normal person that is not running the latest hardware AND does not have an unlimited budget can use to test their system against ours and all the upcoming gaming PCs and parts we plan to review. How to do that? It’s rather simple. I sat there and hunted down many free games and demos that are currently available on the internet for download.

These benchmarks are run at a reasonable resolution that will yield great graphics while getting high frame-rates which a real gamer will use in a real world without risking to suffer lag in a (ranked) game.

As far as my picks go, I could have picked to run other games and just have FRAPS show my the framerates but FRAPS uses the hard drive a lot, especially to record and that would quickly become a bottleneck.

I will discuss why I picked those programs to benchmark now rather than some others which might be more popular. The list is the following:

The RealStorm Global Illumination Bench 2006 test has the following settings:

Demo: 1/5 Global Illumination Compare
Resolution: 1280×1024
Shadows: On
Reflections: On
Anti Alias: On
Depth of Field: On
Volume Lights: On
Radiosity: On

Download it from: http://www.realstorm.de/

This is the default benchmark option for this old benchmarking tool that is now discontinued but it will destroy the living shit out of any system out there. This benchmark uses straight-up RAW CPU processing power. It does NOT have multi-core support and it will simulate the max speed a single core will deliver in a system. Not every program has multi-core support and it’s still extremely important to have each core be as fast as possible. To a limited degree this benchmark does test the RAM as well but it’s mainly for the CPU. It stressed the living shit out of the system by making the CPU render everything, ignoring the GPU.

On my system, under the settings I listed above my computer yielded 2569 raymarks (the raw score used only by this benchmark), as well as 2.61 fps (frames per second) average, a minimum score of 1.7 fps, and a maximum score of 9.27 fps. Yes, that’s really really low but go ahead and run the benchmark on your own system. I hope you have good cooling, because you will need it! ;]

The Battleforge 1024×768 test has the following settings:

Shadow Quality: Very High
Resolution: 1024×768
Texture Quality: High
Fullscreen: On
Shader Quality: High
Anti-Aliasing: 8x
SSAO: Off
MultiThread Rendering: Auto-Detect
FX Quality: Very High
VSynch: Off
Cloud Shadows: Off
Glow: Off

Download from: http://www.battleforge.com/

Battleforge is a FANTASTIC free-mmo-rts that has kind of been abandoned by EA but it’s still free and many, many people still play it. I have mastered everything in the game and my friends are now all bored of it but I will play it once in a while. You can check my original review of the game here as well as check out my first strategy guide here for doing Battlegrounds as well as my second strategy guide for Battleforge here that shows you how to farm the mission Raven’s End by yourself.

Anyways, this full game is FREE and it includes a built in benchmarking tool. The way to use it is to login first to the game and then not login to your character, instead hit back, and select options, and go to the graphics screen and select to run the benchmark.

I picked this part of the test to run at 1024×768 because when I play the game competitively and most of the time, I run it only at this resolution to get the max amount of framerates and no lag.

At this resolution my system put out an average framerate of 9.2 fps, a minimum framerate of 3.4 fps, and a maximum framerate of 54.9 fps.

Again, if you never checked out the game, I encourage you to do so, especially if you are a massive RTS player. I like this game and benchmark because it taxes your CPU, RAM, and GPU. Every unit in the game moves and attacks in a complex way and it’s a great example of showing how well your system performs playing a real time war game with a ton of units.

The Battleforge 1280×1024 test has the following settings:

Shadow Quality: Very High
Resolution: 1280×1024
Texture Quality: High
Fullscreen: On
Shader Quality: High
Anti-Aliasing: 8x
SSAO: Off
MultiThread Rendering: Auto-Detect
FX Quality: Very High
VSynch: Off
Cloud Shadows: Off
Glow: Off

Download from: http://www.battleforge.com/

The same as above except with better eyecandy because of the higher resolution.

My average framerate was 6.8 fps, my minimum framerate was 0.5 fps, and my maximum framerate was 53.5 fps. Do you see now why I play it at a lower resolution? The game looks almost the same to me anyways, so might as well avoid lag!

The Dirt 2 1280×1024 max settings test has the following settings:

Resolution: 1280×1024
Refresh Rate: 60
Multisampling: 8x MSAA
Vsync: Off
Aspect Ratio: Normal
Gamma: 1.0
Night Lighting: High
Shadows: High
Particles: High
Mirrors: Ultra
Crowd: Ultra
Ground Cover: High
Drivers: Ultra
Distant Vehicles: Ultra
Objects: Ultra
Trees: Ultra
Vehicle Reflections: Ultra
Water: Ultra
Post Process: Ultra
Skidmarks: On
Ambient Occlusion: High
Cloth: High

Download from: http://www.codemasters.com/downloads/details.php?id=39424

In my opinion, you cannot get more intense for beating up your gaming system than playing a racing game OTHER than playing a real flight simulator game with all the options on. Think about how fast a system needs to render what’s going in a racing game, especially 200 MPH or higher being scaled realistically and you will see how these games are system killers.

Codemasters games are pure unadulturated eye candy, especially Dirt 2, GRID, and F1 2010. The games keep getting prettier and still run very efficiently despite the graphic quality increase. These games are also system killers because of how great they simulate the physics needed to create a realistic racing and driving experience.

Although I play it usually at a lower resolution, I tested it at 1280×1024 just to stay consistent with my future gaming PC reviews as well as my upcoming new gaming PC that I plan to buy this year so we can see the before and after results. My average framerate was 15.7 fps and my minimum framerate was 13.4 fps.

This IS the game that made me realize I needed to upgrade my machine to a newer system.

The demo (although I have the full game) includes a built in benchmarking tool so it’s a great test.

Tom Clancy’s HAWX 1280×1024 max settings test:

Screen Resolution: 1280×1024
Refresh Rate: 60 Hz
Antialiasing: 8x
VSync: Off
Full Screen: On
View Distance: High
Forest: High
Environment: High
Texture Quality: High
HDR: On
Engine Heat: On
DOF: On

Download from: http://www.bigdownload.com/games/tom-clancys-hawx/pc/tom-clancys-hawx-demo/

My friend Chris Mosso, which was my top Lieutenant in my massive guild in Auto Assault, always kept recommending for me to try out Tom Clancy’s HAWX saying it was an amazingly fun game and of course, he was completely right. I hadn’t had that much fun playing a game like that where you fly around fighting for your life since Descent: Freespace. The game is a permanent adrenaline rush and is simply total eye candy. I’ve shown this game to some friends of mine that are not gamers and it got them dizzy from just staring at the screen when I play.

Anyways, although this game is super eyecandy, it does have an AMAZINGLY efficient game engine. I like to include this game in the benchmarking guide because it represents for me what a well written game’s performance would be like with a typical game system. My system got an average framerate of 23 fps and a maximum framerate of 127 fps.

The fun demo includes the benchmarking tool, so it’s totally worth getting.

X3 Terran Conflict 1280×1024 max settings test

Resolution: 1280×1024 Fullscreen
Antialiasing: 8x
Anisotropic Texture Filtering: 16x
Texture Quality: High
Shader Quality: High
More Dynamic Light Sources: On
Ship Colour Variations: On

Download from: http://www.egosoft.com/download/x3tc/demos_en.php

My friend Ramiro became a huge fan of the X series after I lent and gave him a copy of X Beyond The Frontier many years ago. As kids, we grew up playing Elite 2: Frontier on my Amiga 600. We thought it was the most epic game every made and and I played it religiously exploring star systems and reading up on their composition and learning a lot about astronomy as well as doing missions nuking planets from space as well as other crazy things like assassinations. I even dabbled with Privateer 1 and 2 later on, but those games were much simpler than both Elite 1 and Elite 2: Frontier.

Anyways, although I played X: Beyond The Frontier a lot and a little of X2, I kind of gave up on that series, especially when I later got into playing Eve Online and found it kind of pointless to play a game like that single player. The people who make the X series have ALWAYS impressed the living hell out of me with how efficient their game engines are as well as how scalable, detailed, and completely beautiful they are.

This game engine will rock the socks of your CPU, RAM, and GPU. I couldn’t believe my eyes as to how detailed the final part of the benchmark was when I saw the massive, super-detailed space station being rendered as it was, on my old gaming PC.

Let’s see the numbers… My system only got a framerate of 17.012 fps in this benchmark but believe me, considering the settings and how beautiful everything looks, that was still higher than I expected it to be. Still, I would maybe play X3 when I get my next gaming machine.

Trackmania Nations

Resolution: 1280×1024
Antialiasing: 16 samples
Shadows: Complex
Shader Quality: PC3 High
Texture Quality: High
Max Filtering: Anisotropic 16x
Geometry Details: Normal
PostProcess FXs: On
Force Dynamic Colors: On
Force Motion Blur: On
Force Bloom: On
Water Geometry: On
Stadium Water Geometry: On
Trees Always High Quality: On

Download from: http://trackmania.com/

Trackmania is still one of my favorite racing game series of all time. This benchmark is done using the game Trackmania Nations that has always been the free version of Trackmania and the one that most people in the world play. I highly recommend getting Trackmania United if you are serious about having FUN in playing a racing game MMO.

This game is a massive physics simulator and it has looked good right from the start. The game engine is probably even as efficient as probably the Unreal engine except that Epic Games doesn’t put out free games! At 1280×1024 my system puts out an average framerate of 31.8 fps.

Okay, so there’s the list. Yeah, you might say that who cares because my system is running Windows XP and therefore DirectX 9 but the way I see it, gaming is a lot like racing cars in the real world. You might run DX11 on your Windows 7 box but if you barely run stuff and my system gets higher framerates than yours, that’s pretty sad. Only real results matter in the real world! I say fuck it, compare apples to oranges. I just care if the system will be able to run a game 100% stable as well as with decent performance.

So that about wraps it up. I hope you use my February 2011 benchmarking guide to test out your system and post some results below as comments. I know my system is a 2007 average price gaming system but let’s see what my next PC yields! And let’s see what the gaming PCs I will review soon will show us. Will these brands defend their speed claims when being tested in the real world? Stay tuned!

GOG Holiday Sale: Half off almost every game.

gog holiday sale banner
gog holiday sale banner

So you are a little short on cash this year, but you are a classic gamer and you need your fix. Well Good Old Games has just launched their holiday sale that gives you 50% off pretty much every title they have. The offer is good from December 14th, 2010 until January 3rd, 2011.  In addition, GOG is also giving a free copy of Tyrian 2000 as a virtual stocking stuffer.

Check out just some of their awesome games:

gog sale list
gog sale list

And that is just a few of over 290 games they have on sale so head on over to GOG.com and tell em Obsolete Gamer sent ya.

Up to Half off Ubisoft Games

gog good old games logo
gog good old games logo

You like classic games right? I hope so since that’s one of the main focuses of Obsolete Gamer. Our friends over at Good Ol Games are having a up to 50% off sale on a number of Ubisoft games foe this weekend only including, Farcry, Rainbow Six, Ghost Recon and Might & Magic. You can own all those games and more for just about five bucks which is pretty good deal considering you pay more than that for a Wii virtual console game.

Also keep in mind you can try out Good old Games before you buy by downloading some free games so either way you should check it out.

Click on this link and tell em Obsolete Gamer sent ya.

Don’t you love how I tossed in some Wii hate?

Ubisoft GOG sale
Ubisoft GOG sale

Buy 2 Games get 1 Free

video game store
video game store

It must be a hive mind thing because three different stores are offering Buy 2 get 1 free deals!

First up is Target which has a good number of games to choose from. This promo ends November 6th.

Next is good ol’ Best Buy. Here there are a select number of titles to choose from, but they include good ones like Fable 3, Star Wars Force Unleashed 2 and 2K11.

Last up is Amazon which gives you the largest list to choose from. Many of the titles qualify for free shipping. This offer also ends Nov 6th.

Free Stuff: DOSBox

DOSBox Logo
Dos Box logo

If you are a fan of classic PC gaming (pre-windows era) then you need to have and use DOSBox, especially since it’s free and there’s hundreds of DOS games legally free all over the internet.

You can download DOSBox for free at its main site here. You can adjust the speed of the game using hotkeys and it’s not just for gaming. I’ve ran a bunch of DOS applications that banks, doctors, lawyers, and accounting clients of mine still use that are from the DOS days. It’s the best legacy program I know. This is one of the top favorite programs of the Obsolete Gamer Staff.

You can get many free games from Abandonia and Home of the Underdogs.

Get out there and get them!

Portal is Free!

Portal Logo
Portal Logo

Portal is Free!

Until May 24th, Portal is now free. The game is short and most people can beat it in a few hours, so it’s worth checking out this short classic before the free period runs out, if you don’t have it already.

Portal is available for PC and for Mac.

Click here to get the game free and play it now.

Free Stuff – Lure of the Temptress

Lure of the Temptress
Lure of the Temptress

Free Stuff – Lure of the Temptress

If you love old point-and-click graphic adventure games then you will enjoy playing Lure of the Temptress for free from Good Old Games.

This game was like previous graphic adventure games except that the NPC characters would go about doing their own thing, even if you didn’t interact with them. That’s a very cool factor in a game, and even many games these days don’t have that.

You get the full game and the manual from this version.

Click here to download the full free game from Good Old Games.

Free Stuff: Death Rally full game

Death Rally
Death Rally

Free Stuff: Death Rally full game

Remedy Entertainment, creators of Max Payne 1 and 2 are offering the full game of Death Rally for free. The game is a top down racing combat game similar a little to Vangers and Burnout (except not 3D).

The game is pretty fun, even for an old game. You race based on what difficulty you pick each time and get money based on how good you did. You keep buying better cars and upgrades both for performance and different weapons as well.

You can download the full game by clicking this link.

Free Stuff – PopCap Games

PopCap Games logo
PopCap Games logo

Free Stuff – PopCap Games

If you love puzzle games and specifically free ones then visit the website of PopCap Games and have fun! Some of my favorites are Plants vs Zombies, Zuma, Big Money, Chuzzle, and Bejeweled. These games might seem simple but they are the kind of games that improve your logic skills.

The website for Popcap Games is the following: http://www.popcap.com/