Over at Good Old Games, where you can buy DRM-free classic PC games that are compatible with modern hardware, they’re having a 15% off sale on a host of RPGs.
Each game costs either $5.99 or $9.99 before the discount, and the sale ends on January 20th.
The RPG classics included in the sale are: Arx Fatalis, Fallout, Fallout 2, Fallout Tactics, Gothic, Invictus: In The Shadow of Olympus, Lionheart: Legacy of the Crusader, Sacred Gold, and Stonekeep.
Good Old Games has released a couple games for free before, and their site is an all around great place to find classic games without any hassle, and for a modest price. Plus their catalogue is constantly growing, with more classic games added almost every week.
So if you’ve never played the original Fallout series now’s your chance to grab the fantastic games on the cheap!
It’s that time of year again! No, not the time of year when last minute shopping rushes to find rare and valuable Elmo dolls bring grown men to tears (although I’m sure that happens all the time.) That’s right, the Christmas holidays are list time!
I’m not very big on making objective lists of the best things of the year though. It’s all too wishy-washy to go ahead and say that your list has identified the undeniably best whatevers of the year, implying that God himself would agree with your selection. (Oh man! God exclaimed, You guys put Start Wars: The Force Unleashed at number 7! I would have done the exact same thing!)
So instead I’ll just be giving a personal list of the 5 games from this year that threatened to destroy any free time I had, leaving me an unproductive shell of my former self. If you’re looking for a gift for a friend, or think you might have missed out on some great games this year, or you just want to ruin somebody’s life by getting them hopelessly addicted to a video game, then check out This Year’s Top 5 Games That Consumed an Unhealthy Amount of My Time!
5) NHL 09, for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3
What is it? Well, it’s a hockey game. Two teams skate around on the ice wearing loads of protective gear, trying to hit a piece of vulcanized rubber into a net with a piece of wood, pausing occasionally to punch one another in the face.
And it has all the official NHL teams!
Why is it so great? First of all I am required by law to enjoy this game due to my Canadian citizenship. Second of all, NHL 09 is probably the best sports game ever made. I’m not even really a fan of sports games, but NHL 09′s attention to detail and smooth gameplay are fun to play whether or not you know what a Zamboni is. (PS: I have no idea what a Zamboni is.)
From the fantastic Skill Stick mechanics, which allow you to control every movement of your stick with the analog controller, to the realistic physics and player movements, NHL 09 is a gem.
Why it will destroy your life: Based on the amount of time I’ve spent playing this game online it should almost be number 1, except that I don’t consider time spent screaming at my TV with my roommates to be misspent; no my friends, that is quality bonding time.
Seriously though, losing another game to the Penguins even though you outshot them 15 to 1 will test your nerves. Finding out that the person who just beat you is a 12 year-old kid from Wisconsin will make you furious. Finding out he just sent you a message deriding ur playing abilities and questioning your sexuality will make you want to snap your controller in half over your knee like a pool cue.
4) Final Fantasy Tactics A2, for Nintendo DS
What is it? Like all games with Tactics in their name, FFT is a game entirely composed of combat. Get a quest and travel on the map to an area where you kill a bunch of monsters on an isometric, turn-based playing field. It’s like a real Final Fantasy game, except with all that boring story stuff taken out.
Why is it so great? FFT is as massive, tightly-designed and addictive a strategic RPG you can ever hope to find, with more quests to complete, items to find, characters to level, and classes to strive for than you can shake a stylus at. How do they fit so much game into such a tiny little cartridge, you ask? The answer: magic. Black Magic, I believe.
Why it will destroy your life: Scrolling through a list of 400 different Medium-sized Gilded Shortswords to find the one that will give your fighter the Clammy Strike ability is a surefire way to risk your sanity. Getting to the bottom of the list and realizing that the weapon you’re looking for is actually in the Medium-sized Non-Gilded Shortswords list will definitely put you over the edge. Worst of all: FFT makes you like it.
3) GTA IV, for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3
What is it? To hear some of the media talk about it, GTA IV is a game in which a key strategy for success is setting hookers on fire, and reaching the next level requires you to commit vehicular homicide on a minimum quota of hobos.
In reality GTA IV is a game about Nico Bellic, an immigrant looking for a break in the land of dreams, but who instead gets mixed up with some shady characters and dangerous situations. The game has developed a great deal from its predecessors, making the actual grand theft of autos less of a focus, and putting storyline and gameplay at the forefront.
Why is it so great? GTA IV has brought a new level of detail to gaming. Liberty City, the game’s setting, is a vibrant environment with tons of believable pedestrians, landmarks and sights. On top of that, the physics in GTA IV are truly fantastic: car wrecks look incredible and exciting, and every object in the game reacts convincingly to your character. Plus, the single player campaign never gets boring, as GTA IV is always throwing you curveballs and surprising you, giving you new things to do throughout the entire game.
But most important is GTA IV’s story. The trials and troubles of Nico and his cousin are told in a truly cinematic style that is captivating and interesting. GTA IV could easily be turned into a movie without any modification to the plot and it would be entertaining. It shows what can really be done with a video game, proving that games aren’t just a shallow form of entertainment.
Why it will destroy your life: Beat the single player campaign? Why not drive around the city trying to drive your car off a jump into a flying helicopter? Done that already? Maybe it’s time to launch your car across the city with a swingset. Bored of that? Time to set your car on fire and drive it off a ramp, diving out of it just before it explodes, or jump out of a helicopter at maximum altitude into somebody’s swimming pool.
GTA IV has that combination of neat physics, amazing environment and tons of toys to play with that just begs to be experimented with for hours upon hours.
Oh, and there’s multiplayer too.
2) Rock Band 2, for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3
What is it? The sequel to the ground-breaking first Rock Band game, which was the first musical rhythm game to incorportate guitar, bass, vocals and drums, making it into an automatic party catalyst. Rock Band 2 brings some new features, like online challenges and a no-fail mode, but really all we care is all the new songs, right?
Why is it so great? Um, Bon Jovi’s Livin’ on a Prayer, anyone? No? How about the entire 1976 self-titled classic from Boston, aptly named Boston? I don’t care who you are, drinking a six-pack and belting out the lyrics to More Than a Feeling while your buddies wail on the guitar, bass and drums ain’t nothing but a good time.
Plus, owning Rock Band 2 means your neighbours will consistently get fantastic 3AM lessons in classic rock that they will never forget.
Why it will destroy your life: Let me just put it this way: if there was a column for Rock Band 2 DLC expenditures next to the Living Expenses section on my credit card statement, its total might just dwarf my spending on groceries. My song selection is great, but my food selection is down to Mr. Noodle and peanut butter.
1) Fallout 3, for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC
What is it? I’ve written about Fallout 3 before, but it’s worth talking about it again. Fallout 3 is the latest instalment of the classic series of post-apocalyptic RPGs, this time pitting you as a vault dweller who ventures out of the safety of his home out into the wastes in search of his father. Adventures ensue, raiders are shot up, and irradiated beasts try to eat you.
Why is it so great? Fallout 3 is the perfect modern incarnation of the classic Fallout games. It keeps everything that we know and love about Fallout, like the violence, gore, humour, irony, compelling atmosphere, interesting characters, and so on, while updating it with fantastic graphics and a massive, fully-explorable world. It even managed to hang on to Fallout’s combat system, now in a feature called V.A.T.S. (Vault Assisted Targeting System,) which means you still have the option of shooting that super mutant’s arm off with your shotgun. (No kicking people in the eyes any more though, unfortunately.)
Why it will destroy your life: I’ve never been to the actual DC area, but if Fallout 3 is any indication I will definitely get lost in the massive subway system trying to find Penn. Avenue East station, only to end up on the other side of the city, where I will be killed by a mole rat. Expect to miss a lot of important meals due to spending time exploring the world of Fallout 3. But be assured, it is super-fun, ghoul-killing exploration.
And the exploration is only going to get more intense with the release of Fallout 3 DLC in the near future.
Well, that’s it for This Year’s Top 5 Games That Consumed an Unhealthy Amount of My Time! Tune in next year, if you have the free time. (if you play these games you won’t.)
I was glad to get the opportunity to interview the professionals at Best Buy about gifts for the holiday season. I suppose I could write about the experience, but personally, I think you should just watch the video of it below. In case you don’t have the 20 minutes to spare, here are the highlights.
First of all, the biggest gadgets this year are the video game systems, GPS units, digital cameras, digital frames, web-cams, and photo-printers.
When I asked about video game systems, I was not surprised when they told me that the Nintendo Wii is hard to keep in stock. PS3 is also popular since many people want Blu-ray for their home theaters.
Speaking of Blu-ray, I asked if the resolution of the format wars this year affected sales of the X-box 360. Oddly enough, it does not, because X-box 360 has the ability to download HD-quality movies. I feel sort of silly for not knowing that.
Video games that Best Buy has to stock daily are the WiiFit, Fallout 3, Left 4 Dead, Resistance, Madden, NBA 2K, Guitar Hero, and Rock Band 2.
I asked the Best Buy guys what GPS devices that they would recommend, and they didn’t really give me any particular brand. They discussed that Garmin and TomTom are the big brands, and you can hear about the technical differences as to why some GPS devices are more expensive than others.
I also talked to them about digital cameras, and what makes Sony different from others. They talked about why Casio is getting popular, especially amongst YouTubers. Since I’ve tried out the Nikon, I had to bring up the COOLPIX and its ability to take a shot and email it.
My interviewees also told me that Home Theater is beginning to take off, and Blu-ray is slowly gaining popularity. The Vudu allows you to get Blu-Ray quality movies. Best Buy also recommended their in-home consultation services for setting up a home theatre.
By the way, since I had someone from Geek Squad on the phone, there was a question I had to ask: If Geek Squad and the Nerd Heard from TV’s Chuck ever got into a fight, who would win? Find out the answer in the video.
The classic gaming site Good Old Games has added two free games to their collection of downloadable oldies.
This week Good Old Games released Beneath a Steel Sky, the classic post-apocalyptic point-and-click adventure game, to their catalogue as a completely free download.
Beneath a Steel Sky puts the player in the shoes of the main character Foster as he makes his way through the dystopian Union City in a quest to save his tribe.
Lure of the Temptress, another classic adventure game, was also released for free by Good Old Games.
Besides these two free games, Good Old Games also offers a host of other vintage games available for a fee. Every game is completely DRM free, meaning you don’t have to hassle with copy protection, and is compatible with Windows XP and Vista, removing the need to mess around with DOS emulators and virtual memory and all those headaches.
Each game costs either $5.99 or $9.99, which is a small price to pay for such high-quality, hassle-free classic gaming.
Some other titles in Good Old Games’ catalogue include some personal favourites of mine, such as Simon the Sorcerer, the Jagged Alliance series of strategy games, and the original Fallout series of RPGs.
It’s always a pain navigating seedy abandonware sites trying to track down a copy of a game I loved as a kid but can’t play because my old floppies have become corrupt. And it’s always made worse when I find that they don’t work on my modern computer, or that they can’t be downloaded for legal reasons, but also aren’t available for purchase due to their age.
Good Old Games looks to remove all that hassle for a price that is well worth the admission. As a fan of old games it is nice to see a site like Good Old Games give classic video games the attention they deserve with a professional distribution system, comprehensive support and a slick website.
Good Old Games updates their catalogue every week, and you can click here to check it out.
Last night, Spike’s Video Game Awards debuted a host of new games, gave out awards for the best games of the year and, despite a bit of disingenuous Hollywood glitz, generally entertained.
The night, hosted by the always kinetic Jack Black, started with a very funny pre-taped skit in which Black was caught cheating on his Wii with a Playstation 3 and XBox 360, complete with blurred-out disc-tray exposure. Afterwards, the actual awards started with a rousing rock opera about fighting off the evils of reading, exercise and meaningful relationships, performed by Black and his Tenacious D partner Kyle Gass.
Besides humour, the VGAs also offered up game trailer debuts; a lot of game trailer debuts. The debuts included: Dante’s Inferno, Watchmen: The End is Nigh, God of War III, Uncharted 2, DLC for GTA IV, titled The Lost & Damned, DLC for Gears of War 2, which was released at midnight last night, and the metal-inspired adventure game Brutal Legend, which stars Jack Black as the main character.
The trailers were nice to see, but felt a little bit like advertisements, making it a bit difficult to get excited about them. I can’t quite shake the feeling that all these trailers would have just been released on the internet with little to no special fanfare if they hadn’t been debuted on the VGAs. This gave the impression that the only thing special about them was that they were, well, on the VGAs. Nonetheless, it was nice to see video games get the same sort of attention and recognition that blockbuster movies get.
The night also featured a host of celebrities, including Tony Hawk, Eliza Dushku, Kristin Kreuk, Keifer Sutherland, who won an award for Big Name in the Game for his work in Call of Duty 4: World at War, and many others.
Once again is was nice to see Hollywood recognizing the legitimacy of video games with its presence, but it also felt a bit disingenuous at times; while Tony Hawk has been at every VGA so far, and is deeply connected to the video game industry through his widely successful Tony Hawk skateboarding games, it’s hard to say that someone like Kim Kardashian attended for any reason other than some exposure. Maybe I’m being unfairly judgmental, but I can’t see Kardashian sitting down to pwn some noobs in Halo 3.
But it wasn’t just Hollywood celebrities that attended; some video gaming icons were featured as well. Will Wright received a lifetime achievement award, Tim Schafer presented his upcoming game Brutal Legend in a funny skit involving Judas Priest’s Rob Halford and a flamethrower-toting Jack Black, and Alex Rigopulos accepted an award for Harmonix’s Rock Band 2.
Oh, and there were awards too. I was glad to see that the games nominated and the awards given out seemed to be genuine choices that most video game players would agree with. GTA IV, Rock Band 2, Fallout 3, and other fan favourites brought home honours, and none of the choices seemed to be influenced by or chosen for marketing reasons. Here are the results:
GAME OF THE YEAR
- Grand Theft Auto IV
- Best Xbox 360 Game: Gears of War 2
- Best PS3 Game: LittleBigPlanet
- Best PC Game: Left 4 Dead
- Best Wii Game: Boom Blox
- Best Handheld Game: Professor Layton and the Curious Village
- Best Individual Sports Game: Shaun White Snowboarding
- Best Fighting Game: Soul Calibur IV
- Best RPG: Fallout 3
- Best Shooter: Gears of War 2
- Best Team Sports Game: NHL 09
- Best Action Adventure Game: Grand Theft Auto IV
- Best Driving Game: Burnout Paradise
- Best Music Game: Rock Band 2
- Best Game Based on a Movie or TV Show: LEGO Indiana Jones
- Studio of the Year: Media Molecule
- Best Multi-Player Game: Left 4 Dead
- Best Independent Game: World of Goo
- Big Name in the Game (Female): Jenny McCarthy
- Big Name in the Game (Male): Kiefer Sutherland
- Best Performance by a Human (Female): Debbie Mae West
- Best Performance by a Human (Male): Michael Hollick
- Best Original Score: Metal Gear Solid 4
- Best Soundtrack: Rock Band 2
- Best Graphics: Metal Gear Solid 4
Overall, the VGAs were entertaining, at least for this video game fan. Some of the glitz and glamour felt a bit contrived, but this is to be an expected outcome as video games become more and more mainstream and gain broader exposure. Overall, the VGAs did justice to the best video games of the year while offering up a few laughs at the same time.
This week has seen two new big pieces of news in regards to Fallout 3: the release of the G.E.C.K. mod tool, and the release of details on the first downloadable content for Fallout 3.
Fallout 3′s mod tools, named G.E.C.K. after then Garden of Eden Creation Kit of Fallout lore, were released earlier this week. The G.E.C.K. will allow PC users to modify any aspect of the game to make their own user-created content.
All of Fallout 3′s data is apparently available for tinkering with, including environments such as special locations and towns, written dialogue, characters, monsters, weapons, and so on. From the looks of it the G.E.C.K. will essentially give Fallout 3 fans all the tools that were at the disposal of the Bethesda crew in making the game.
Also, details have been released about Fallout 3′s first DLC, titled Operation Anchorage.
Operation Anchorage will be available for XBox 360 and PC, and will cost 800 Microsoft points, or $10.
The DLC will be set in a government-designed computer-simulation of Alaska, where the player will battle through the liberation of Alaska from the Chinese Army. As players play through this piece of Fallout 3 lore they will experience new weapons, armor, scenarios, a new perk, and the ability to command special strike teams in combat. The campaign will be mostly combat and stealth focused, according to members of the Fallout 3 design crew.
Two other small pieces of news about Fallout 3 were released in the midst of these updates as well. First, Bethesda is planning to make a general update to Fallout 3 to fix various bugs. Jeff Gardiner, lead designer of Fallout 3 DLC, had this to say:
We are releasing an update for all versions of Fallout 3 prior to the release of this DLC. We take pride in fixing issues that are found by our fans and posted in our forums.
Second, the third DLC, titled Broken Steel, will lift the level cap beyond 20, a feature may players of Fallout 3 will be happy about, me included. The 20 level cap was actually the only thing about Fallout 3 that really annoyed me, and I’m looking forward to being able to develop my character some more.
The original Fallout, released in the fall of 1997, quickly became a computer RPG classic. Set in a futuristic, post-apocalyptic California, the player assumed the role of the Vault Dweller; one of a handful of people lucky enough to grow up in a nuclear shelter, known as a vault, after nuclear war left the outside world an irradiated wasteland.
Ostensibly the goal of the game was to venture out of your vault into the wastes to find a water chip; the only piece of technology capable of repairing your vault’s water purification system. In reality this quest was only a fraction of what made Fallout the game it was. The meat of the game-play was comprised of a plethora of open-ended quests, constant choices between good and evil deeds, which would accumulate positive or negative karma for your character, and a character creation and development system guided by a wide variety of skills, abilities and perks.
The combination of these elements meant Fallout was a highly personal experience. Would you make a character who would take advantage of others, killing and stealing for his or her own gain, or would your character be paragon of justice and generosity? Would you make a stealthy melee weapon specialist, a charismatic con-man, a heavy weapon-toting brute, or a master of medicine or science? Whatever choices you made shaped your experience significantly.
More than a decade later the third game in the Fallout series has finally been released to an eager fan-base. The original developers, Black Isle, sold the rights of the game to Bethesda, the developers of the Elder Scrolls series of computer RPGs, who have delivered fantastically. The core mechanics of the game remain the same: you make a character, set his or her natural abilities, such as strength, agility and intelligence, choose what skills suit you best and travel from the Vault into the wasteland, this time in search of your father.
Obviously the game has been updated with the latest technology: what used to be a 2D, isometric view is now a 3D, first-person view, and what used to be a world with a few cities and points of interest for you to travel between is now a massive, sprawling, detailed, post-apocalyptic interpretation of the Washington DC area. As the player you are free to wander through a fully-realized world of painstakingly rendered environments, loads of encounters and adventures, and a seemingly never-ending supply of super-mutants, raiders, and other irradiated baddies to fight.
But what really made the original Fallout unique was the atmosphere it established. It presented a dark, humorous, original, and fiercely creative world, combining 50s-style aesthetics and music with a bleak and depraved post-apocalyptic setting to give a compelling sense of absurdity, sadness and dark humour. This is where Fallout 3 truly succeeds. Wandering through a burnt-out ghost town and encountering a robot that blares pre-recorded messages of hope from the president of America hammers home a sense of irony that does justice to the original game.
Listening to a radio station play songs from 50s crooners while you have a vicious gun-battle with violent wasteland inhabitants gives the feeling that the whole world is straddling a thin line between cheeriness and insanity. Experiences like seeing lonely, faded billboards exuberantly advertising cereal and cartoons in the middle of the barren wasteland is the sort of thing that gives the world of Fallout 3 the depth and richness that fans of the series expected. Overall, Fallout 3 is a game that delivers whether you’re a fan of the series or not. But if you are, you won’t be disappointed.