Category Archives: Gaming

Game reviews, news, and latest trends

New & Free Online Games at Playberry!

GAMING: Fresh offerings from Playberry

As a games critic, I have to say that I am hugely impressed with the quality of both free online games and mobile games. There are of course hundreds of really unimpressive free online games, but if you know where to look, there are many gems among the rough that are certainly worth giving a bash.

One new website that offers some quality free online games, is Playberry. Described as a “social gaming website dedicated to bringing great gaming content to your browser”, Playberry both develops and handpicks some really great games. It is made by gamers, for gamers.

Playberry Website – Free Online Games

Playberry - Free Online Games

There is a great range of freebies on Playberry, from zombie shoot-em-ups such as In Death We Rise to off-road speedsters such as Renegade Racing. Games are also voted on by Playberry users, providing a user-generated list of the most popular choices.

Playberry covers every major genre of games – from action, adventure and shooters to puzzlers, sports and strategy. Best part is that all these games are free to play and require no registration of any kind. Just visit www.playberry.com and dive right in!

There are of course benefits to registering with Playberry, which is free and can simply be done using your Facebook account. You’ll receive updates of new releases, and I see that they are creating a forum whereby users can make suggestions for new releases. A great feature for any online gaming site.

Playberry is building up a steady following on Facebook, and if you register with your Facebook account, you’ll also have the option of sharing your gaming awesomeness and progress with your friends.

So if you are a gaming enthusiast and are looking for the latest offerings of free online games, check out Playberry and get your game-face on! These games are so nice and small – making them perfect for playing while waiting around or whenever you can sneak in a few minutes of quality playtime.

Dear Esther Game Review (PC)

* View this post in HD *

** This review is spoiler free! **

Dear Esther,

I happened upon fragments of washed up letters found amongst the rubbish that the sea brings. Soggy parchments bring word that those on the mainland speak of my lonely plight as some sort of game.

Continue reading

Steam rises to power

*View this post in HD*

STEAM: And the future of the video game industry

DIGITAL distribution giant and gaming platform, Steam, has fast become the Google of the gaming world – reaping in an estimated US$468 million (roughly R3.1 billion) in revenues through June 2011, according to mygaming.co.za. This attests to the fact the gaming industry has become one of the fastest growing industries in history.

Using Steam has become compulsory for ardent PC gamers, who are forced to use the platform to buy, install and update several of the latest gaming titles. According to Wikipedia, as of July 2011, Steam had over 30 million active users and offered over 1 300 game titles. It is estimated that Steam has a 70% share of the digital distribution market for video games.

The Steam platform
The Steam gaming platform

The idea of creating a centralised online platform to distribute games and related media online was, in part, a move towards combating software piracy – specifically pirated games. To play a store bought game that is powered through steam requires one to register a Steam account. One then has to be logged into Steam to install the game, update the game, play the game and be offered a host of promotional adverts upon exiting the game.

In bandwidth-stricken countries such as South Africa, one can imagine what a schlep this can be. In my experience, if a newly released game if bought through Steam, it can take up to two days to download and install. Thereafter Steam automatically updates your newly bought game, which can take another day or two. If your bandwidth hasn’t run dry by this point, you then have to log into Steam before you can play your new game for the first time.

The benefits of Steam

One can understand the benefits that gaming platforms such as Steam offer. They have made it extremely difficult for impoverished gamers to play pirated titles; it automatically patches and updates your game collection, and it offers you downloadable content for your favourite titles. It does also offer a lot of specials and promotions, whereby one can easily transfer and convert your money into US dollars and buy games via the web for cheap. In fact, purchasing games through Steam is so simple that it can be dangerously addictive.

This is not to mention that the Steam servers are often running at full capacity whereby one is put on a waiting list to play. I was once informed that my newly installed and updated game would launch in approximately five days. Bearing all this in mind it’s fair to say that Steam is having a negative impact on many game consumers who don’t necessarily want to play multiplayer.

Market research

Anti-piracy aside, Steam most certainly uses its cleverly crafted platform for market research purposes. A Steam user’s page includes some brief personal information, details of any games owned, as well as the number of hours played in each game. Steam admits that it collects and reports anonymous metrics of its usage, stability, and performance and uses this information to justify implementing new features.

However, a lot of this information is collected without notifying the user or offering an opt-out. Some of these metrics are also available publicly, such as what games are being played or statistics of a player’s progress in certain games. Last year, Steam announced that they would begin collecting a list of the user’s installed software as well.

Steam critiques

Steam has been criticised for allowing developers and game publishers to change prices and restrict game availability depending on the locations of users. Despite the reduction in manufacturing, packaging, design and distribution costs, this can cause some games to cost more than their retail prices. Steam has also been heavily criticised by European users for pricing games much higher in Euro-zone countries.

Furthermore, according to the Steam Subscriber Agreement, “Steam’s availability is not guaranteed and Valve is under no legal obligation to release an update disabling the authentication system in the event that Steam becomes permanently unavailable.” – www.gamefaqs.com

Ardent PC gamers can argue for or against the value of Steam. However, with Steam now being in the position of power that it is, has implications for gamers worldwide. In our liberal and democratic age, I suppose the biggest concern is a lack of choice.

*View comments on this post here*

Fallout New Vegas DLC: Honest Hearts and Dead Money

*View this post in HD*

FALLOUT NEW VEGAS DLC: Honest Hearts and Dead Money

Hopefully by now all the bugs in the first two Fallout New Vegas DLC have been stomped out. If you haven’t yet played Dead Money or Honest Hearts here’s a quick review of each.

Fallout New Vegas Dead Money Review

Dead Money was a little disappointing in my opinion. It almost seems like Bethesda were trying to make a zombie shoot ‘em up expansion for Fallout New Vegas. The scenery is dull and eerie and the bad guys mostly consist of bright-eyed ghosts with multiple sclerosis. They have been cleverly named the “Ghost People.” There is a lot of dialogue if that’s your thing and, in the case of one companion, none at all. There are a few new weapons on offer, which is nice, especially in the melee department.

So if pawning zombie-like creatures with melee combat in close quarters is your thing, Dead Money is for you.

Fallout New Vegas Honest Hearts Review

Honest Hearts, on the other hand, is something of a marvel. Fresh and expansive canyon scenery will have you immersed into a newly crafted section of the Fallout universe named Zion. Honest Hearts also ties in nicely with stories told back in New Vegas. The legendary Burning Man, who shall not be named according to Caesar, is looking for vengeance. You have the choice of either teaming up with the macho mummy or siding with a soft-hearted evangelical soul on missionary work.

The landscape in Honest Hearts is home to three different tribes who live off the land and have much to teach an adventurous courier. Will you team up with the Burning Man and wipe the White Legs off the face of the planet? Or will you help evacuate the Dead Horses before they fall victim to the same fate?

  • Both Fallout New Vegas DLC are available through Steam for $10 (roughly R70).

Fallout New Vegas Bobblehead Locations

*View this post in HD*

FALLOUT NEW VEGAS Bobblehead mod and locations

Fallout BobbleheadFans of the Fallout New Vegas game will be please to know that there is a Bobblehead mod available for download. Bobbleheads add another dynamic to the game, which is particularly useful if you play the game in Hardcore mode. Download the mod via the link above. Below are their locations.

Fallout New Vegas Bobblehead Locations Revealed

1. Agility

The Agility Bobblehead is found Near Chance’s Grave – near a Fiend camp where Chance slaughtered them all. In the center of the camp is a log where you’ll find this bobblehead resting.

2. Barter

The Barter Bobblehead can be found southwest of Bitter Springs in Cap Counterfeiting Shack. The Bobblehead is on a workbench in the basement.

3. Charisma

The Charisma Bobblehead is inside the Gomorrah Suites building – in a large room with two circular beds. The bobblehead is on a shelf near the red bed.

4. Endurance

In Quarry Junction is a cave near a Deathclaw mother and her demonspawn. The Endurance Bobblehead is being grasped by a skeleton at the back of the cave.

5. Energy Weapons

The Brotherhood of Steel are holed up in a place called Hidden Valley, which is near the NCR Correctional Facility. You have to complete a few quests to gain access inside. Once you’re done, the Energy Weapons Bobblehead is under some stairs at the back of the fortress.

6. Explosives

Look in the first aircraft hangar at Nellis Air Force Base. The Explosives Bobblehead is on a shelf at the back of the hangar.

7. Guns

Inside Vault 34. At the very last floor, at the very bottom is the Armory. The Guns Bobblehead is lying on a table next to a missile launcher and some armor.

8. Intelligence

The Intelligence Bobblehead is inside a building called Allied Technologies near downtown New Vegas. Take the first door on the right after entering the Interior Offices and you’ll find it on a desk along with tons of Sunset Sarsparilla Star caps and bottles in the corner. Score.

9. Lockpick

The Lockpick Bobblehead is inside the NCR Correctional Facility – Prison Block B. It’s underneath a rusted bunk bed at the back of the cell. Lockingpicking is essential for playing Fallout New Vegas in hardcore mode.

10. Luck

Where else but the Lucky 38 Casino! Check the check-in counter for the Luck Bobblehead.

11. Medicine

The Medicine Bobblehead can be found right at the start of the game, inside Doc Mitchell’s house. It’s on his desk next to where you (probably) swiped his glasses and magazine.

12. Melee

Near Legate Lanius’ Camp is an area with a bunch of training dummies and what looks like a weapon forging area. The Melee Bobblehead is sitting on a table next to a grinder, Anvil and a stack of machetes. Fallout New Vegas has taken melee combat to a new level and is a lot of fun to master in.

13. Perception

The Perception Bobblehead resides at a place called “Sniper’s Nest” – west of Cottonwood Cove. The bobblehead is sitting on a shelf next to a bed.

14. Repair

In the New Vegas Strip is a building called Michael Angelo’s Workshop. The Repair Bobblehead is sitting on a bench next to a blueprint for a billboard.

15. Science

The Science Bobblehead is in a place called Fortification Hill Weather Station, located near The Fort. There are some panels on the floor that lead to a secret basement, which in turn leads to a massive Securitron Vault. The bobblehead is near the back of this vault on a desk with a broken radio and toolbox.

16. Sneak

Inside the Hoover Dam Power Plant is a bunch of wooden crates (one of which contains a suit of Chinese Stealth Armor). The Sneak Bobblehead is hidden behind the top crate on the right.

17. Speech

Nipton Town Hall is where you want to look. The Speech Bobblehead is on a table at the back of the room on the left side.

18. Strength

The Strength Bobblehead is on the top floor of Blackmountain Radio, which is on Blackmountain Summit. The bobblehead is sitting on top of crazy Tabitha’s radio.

19. Survival

The Survival Bobblehead can be found on Scavenger Platform, which is right in the middle of Lake Mead. You’ll have to swim to get across. The bobblehead is sitting on top of a footlocker.

20. Unarmed

Another bobblehead coveted by the Lucky 38 Casino! The Unarmed Bobblehead is in the VIP Lounge – right in front of a golden pair of boxing gloves.

Related Fallout Articles:

The Mind Sport Debate

MIND SPORT: Should competitive gaming be considered as an internationally recognised mind sport in South Africa?

THERE was a lot of talk and debate towards the end of last year about 2011 being “the year of eSports”. The central debate in a South African context was whether or not competitive gaming should be recognised and treated as an international mind sport in our country.

Electronic sport, or mind sport, falls into the category of non-physical competition. Competitive gaming is the fastest growing mind sport, and there currently exist several leagues and tournaments word-wide whereby gamers compete at amateur, semi-professional and professional levels.

With a steady increase in the number of competitive gamers across genders and cultures, the mind sport debate revolves around the idea of classifying network gaming as an official national sport and treating and covering it in the same manner as existing sports such as rugby and cricket.

It’s a misnomer that ‘real’ sport is physical and sweaty and demands an impressive display of physical prowess. With most sports being based on warlike principles, it’s often forgotten that quick wit and strategy play an integral part in most of the sports we love. And let’s face it – not everyone is cut out for the gym or has the impressive build of Os du Randt.

Consider chess, poker, pub quizzes, crossword contests and poetry slam as competitive mind sports. These all require quick wit, intellectual talent and creativity without the need to physically tackle opponents to the floor. And if you think that gaming is mindless finger-clicking, competitive gaming demands huge amounts of quick thinking, strategy, and above all, teamwork.

The World Cyber Games

World Cyber Games

The World Cyber Games, which began in 2000, initially consisted of 174 competitors from 17 different countries with a total cash prize of $20 000. In 2006, 700 competitors from 70 different countries fought for the cash prize of $462 000 (Wikipedia. Image: erodov.com).

The good news is that African countries are gradually getting on board and gearing up to compete internationally. Mind Sports South Africa (MSSA) is currently driving inter-school gaming leagues and organised the first official gaming test match between South Africa and Namibia last month.

According to an interview with the president of MSSA, Colin Webster, published on ITWeb, “One of the key highlights this year is the fact that MSSA is in talks with local government to organise a national e-sports LAN event that will have the same stature as a national sporting event. Gamers from all over the world will be able to test their skills against South African gamers.”

Unfortunately, for South African gamers to compete on a global scale and participate in the major leagues held in Europe, Korea and the United States, politics need to come into play. In order to compete internationally, gaming (as well as any sport) need to meet a certain set of criteria. There are good reasons for these, but when we consider that hi-tech sports such as gaming are ever-evolving with technology, perhaps we need to consider having such criteria updated as well.

The central issue is that for any sport to qualify and be able to compete at an international level, it needs to be accessible to everyone. Every government school has a sports closet full of soccer balls and cricket bats and there are real efforts to offer the same to rural schools around the country.

However, now that we are undoubtedly living in the digital age, it is also becoming compulsory for all schools to have computers and internet access. That’s all it takes to set the stage for competitive gaming tournaments. Learners could even opt to participate in network gaming during their lunch breaks. I’d guarantee that you wouldn’t have to twist any arms to get learners interested.

Mind Sport Growth and Revenue

There is also the opportunity to make a decent living from competitive gaming. The World Cyber Games held in South Korea every year sees a huge flow of revenue from sponsorship and advertising – not to mention the marketing value that top, individual gamers gain by proving their skills. As existing tournaments have shown, large technology and PC corporations are more than willing to play their part and offer sponsorship and support.

To put the growth and interest of competitive gaming into perspective, the World Cyber Games, which began in 2000, initially consisted of 174 competitors from 17 different countries with a total cash prize of $20 000. In 2006, 700 competitors from 70 different countries fought for the cash prize of $462 000 (Wikipedia).

I sincerely hope that competitive gaming gets the attention and coverage it deserves within the realm of mind sport. As an ardent gamer, I believe that having games pushed and played to their limits by professionals will improve the quality of existing and future games as well as associated technologies.

Furthermore, it’s a chance for people to engage with the latest technology, a chance to bring together people with similar interests, to team-build, to profit off all the advertising possibilities, and to show the rest of the world that South Africa has what it takes to compete globally in the realm of quick wit and real time strategy.

Mind sport links:
2011: The Year of eSports
Africa gears up for e-sports

Fallout New Vegas Game Guide: Part II

GAME GUIDE: Playing Fallout New Vegas on very hard difficulty in Hardcore mode

Read Fallout New Vegas Game Guide part 1 here.

Fallout New Vegas Game Guide: weapons

There is a great arsenal of weaponry available in Fallout New Vegas. However, it isn’t wise to carry more than just a few weapons at a time. I generally prefer handguns and rifles over heavy artillery and generally keep one handgun, one shotgun, a rifle and an assault rifle or machine gun at my disposal.

It is important to learn what ammo you need for each weapon and to carry enough of it. If you have collected other ammo that doesn’t fit your guns, break these down at a reloading bench and try and create more of the ammo you need for your favourite gun. If you’ve chosen lead over energy weapons, microfusion cells are still useful for collecting and selling later.

Fallout New Vegas Game Guide: Crafting items and weapons

This is one of the best aspects of Fallout New Vegas. There is a plethora of items that you can make from wasteland junk – some of which are essential for survival.

fallout cartoon guyOnce your medicine level reaches 40 you can start making healing items; when your explosives skill reaches 50 you can start making time bombs; and when you science and survival skills pass the 50 mark you can start creating all sorts of chems and goodies at a campfire.

Learn what ingredients you need to craft each item you think might be useful and store these until your skills are at the right levels. Stash them in a safe or footlocker or get a trusty companion to carry them for you.

Making money in Fallout New Vegas

Fallout New Vegas gives you the chance to make it big and spend it all on guns, armour, enhancements and more gambling. What’s great is that there is always something to blow your caps on, unlike Fallout 3 where you often ended up sitting on a pile of bottle caps.

The casinos are where you can strike it big playing blackjack and roulette, but there is a game that can be played fairly early on to make some extra dough. The game’s called Caravan, which does take a little getting used to but can be a lot of fun. You will need a minimum of 30 cards before you can play and you will need to seek out merchants who know how to fold em.

Fallout New Vegas Game Guide: Combat tips

Everyone will have their own combat style, but if you’re playing as a gun nut with a high explosives skill, I would recommend the following.

Momma DeathclawKeep an eye on your compass for red markers as you explore the wasteland. Once spotted, sneak up as close as you can to assess the situation and see what you’re up against. Determine which direction the enemy will come charging when spotted and place a mine or two in this spot. Take some drugs (preferably jet and psycho), crouch down and go for a critical hit.

Let’s assume that the creature is the fiercest of them all – namely a Deathclaw. Funnel the creature to where your explosives are placed and throw a grenade or stick of dynamite just before said Deathclaw steps on your explosives. Boom! You want to try and cripple the enemy before they can get close.

If still alive continue to pump the creature with lead. Use you VATS to assess which areas are in critical condition and take it out! Be warned that playing Fallout New Vegas on very hard difficulty and in hardcore mode can be really tough early on. But give it a bash by playing strategically and the the rewards and good times will follow.

Please feel free to add any game tips or suggestions you may have!