Tag Archives: Video Games

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.

Does the Internet impair our ability to concentrate?

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ARGUMENT: The Internet impairs our ability to contemplate and concentrate for long, sustained periods of time

AN ex-colleague of mine (Ryan Calder) started an interesting debate about the Internet on Facebook. He was asking whether or not people thought that the Internet (and cyber culture in general) impairs our ability to concentrate. Some of the comments were quite interesting.

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Steam rises to power

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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.

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Fallout New Vegas Game Guide

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

GAMES such as Fallout New Vegas are a lot more fun and intense when they’re extra challenging. Playing in hardcore mode really adds to the survival aspect of Fallout, and, in my opinion, makes the game a lot more fun to play.

Fallout New Vegas Game Guide: S.P.E.C.I.A.L: General stats and perks

If you decide to test your Fallout skills in hardcore mode you’ll want to pay special attention to your starting stats. It’s a good idea to create a character with high strength and endurance. Strength will allow you to carry more items for selling and creating explosives and endurance will provide you with more hit points and the ability to get enhancements later on.

Fallout New Vegas SPECIALAlso remember that in hardcore mode ammo weighs you down and it becomes frustrating if you have to constantly drop items when encumbered.

You’ll also want a fairly high intelligence so that you can add more skill points when leveling up. These are the three stats I’d give preference too. Remember that you can always add extra S.P.E.C.I.A.L. points with the Intense Training perk, by collecting bobbleheads (download Fallout New Vegas bobblehead mod here) and by visiting the New Vegas medical center.

Fallout New Vegas Game Guide: Skill points

It may make sense to play as staunch, melee character in hardcore mode. Fallout New Vegas has improved melee combat considerably, so this can be a lot of fun.

Fallout New Vegas combatHowever, I find it wiser to keep enemies at bay by playing as a gun nut. Killing or injuring enemies before they can get close enough to cripple you may just save your ass.

In the beginning, I generally feed my skill points into Guns, Repair, Explosives, Lockpicking and Survival, and maybe a few in to Medicine and Barter. You need to be able to inflict as much damage as possible early on as well as heal yourself with stimpaks or by cooking gecko steaks at a campfire.

Note that some foodstuffs work just as well as chems by giving you boosts to strength and other skills such as agility. It is also a good idea to keep well fed and hydrated in hardcore mode before leveling up.

Fallout New Vegas Game Guide: Finding a home

NovacIt is useful to find a place to rest and stash your excess goods early on in the game. Unfortunately you don’t get offered as nice a place as the little shack in Megaton back in Fallout 3, but there are other options.

I chose to settle in Novac – in a rented motel room. You pay peanuts once off and the place is yours! I store extra guns and ammo in the safe, special Nuka Colas and other drinkables in the fridge, extra armour in the cabinet and all miscellaneous goods in the footlocker (for creating items later).

Fallout New Vegas Game Guide: Leveling up

When playing on very hard difficulty in hardcore mode you’ll want to level up as quickly as possible. The best way to achieve this is by completing quests early on. Accept all side quests and odd jobs that come your way and get out and explore.

Fallout New VegasA good idea is to take the Hunter perk early on which gives a 75% critical hit score against mutated animals and creatures. Once you have that, get out and pot a few geckos and mole rats, but watch out for those killer Cazadors!

I won’t get into perks as there are various strategies involved with picking these, but allocating skill points wisely is vital to surviving the Mojave Wasteland. Don’t spread your skills points too thinly. Rather fuel them into a single stat until it reaches 50. Again I would first focus on Guns, Repair, Lockpicking, Explosives and perhaps Barter and Medicine before anything else.

It sucks coming across a safe or ammunition box that you can’t open because your lock pick skill is too low. You also want to keep your weapons in mint condition so as to inflict as much damage as possible.

Related post: Fallout New Vegas Bobblehead Locations

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

7 ways games reward the brain

TED TALK: Tom Chatfield chats about the benefits of gaming ON the brain and social behaviour

I’VE always believed that games can be highly beneficial in many ways. I remember always trying to justify why I played games so much to my folks at a tender, young age. Apart from improving basic hand-eye co-ordination, I argued that I was learning a great deal about history.

Sid Meier’s Civilization was my main ammunition for this argument, but even World War games with real historic footage and snippets of factual information made learning an incredibly engaging and fun process. There is even the chance that gaming could make you a braver person in the real world.

Tom Chatfield gave a TED Talk in 2010 about the benefits that games can have on the way the brain learns new information and responds to stimuli in both the virtual and real worlds. He suggests how universities and business can learn from gaming by applying some simple techniques.

The video takes a few minutes to get into the juicy bits, but it really is interesting stuff and well worth a watch. Enjoy!

Tom Chatfield: 7 ways games reward the brain

About this talk
We’re bringing gameplay into more aspects of our lives, spending countless hours — and real money — exploring virtual worlds for imaginary treasures. Why? As Tom Chatfield shows, games are perfectly tuned to dole out rewards that engage the brain and keep us questing for more.

About Tom Chatfield
Tom Chatfield thinks about games — what we want from them, what we get from them, and how we might use our hard-wired desire for a gamer’s reward to change the way we learn.

About TED
TED is a small nonprofit devoted to “Ideas Worth Spreading”. It started out in 1984 as a conference bringing together people from three worlds of Technology, Entertainment and Design.

That’s www.ted.com

Best Games of 2009

A look back at some of the best games of 2009

2009 was a great year in gaming. Titles such as Assassin’s Creed, Wolfenstein and Fallout 3 are quite simply some of the best games ever developed. Period.

So if you’re still struggling to keep up with the new 2010 game releases, then why not catch up by playing the following, highly recommended 2009 releases (which are also a lot cheaper now than when they were first released):

Best Games: Fallout 3

Fallout 3 boxBased on the idea of a post-apocalyptic world in the near future, Fallout 3 is without a doubt the best game I have ever played to date. The game not only has a riveting storyline and an amazing graphics engine, but also has the most sublime explosions you will see in any game. Being able to create custom-made weapons from Wasteland junk and choose from a library of unique perks whenever your character levels up, are just a few pleasures that make this game a must-have.

Best Games: Wolfenstein

Wolfenstein boxYou are super-spy BJ Blaskowitz and your job is to singly-handedly put a stop to those naughty Nazis and end WWII. The earlier versions of Wolfenstein still fill me with nostalgia and give me a tingly feeling in my fingertips. The latest Wolfenstein is a treat to the eyes and is one of the most intense war games in my collection. The game has a real solid feel and explosive effects, and being able to move in and out of the veil is certainly a unique gaming element. There is a great selection of upgradable weapons and is awesome if you’re a fan of the rifle. Capping Nazis has never been this fun!

Best Games: Call of Duty 5 – World at War

Call of Duty 5 World at War boxGranted that this game was released at the end of 2008, it is certainly in the same league as 2009 war games. It is fast-paced and intense, and in my opinion the best Call of Duty title released. This is one of those titles that gamers can play time and time again whenever the urge to kill kicks in. My only gripe is that Captain Price is off the scene (I understand that he was busy auditioning for a place in Modern Warfare 2). Nonetheless, the American and Russian campaigns are a blast.

Best Games: Resident Evil 5

Resident Evil 5 boxI was never a fan of the third-person Resident Evil games until I played this one. The Direct X 10 version of the game is both spectacular and intense. Even on normal difficulty, Resident Evil 5 is a desperate challenge to find ammo and cap zombies. Having a hot sidekick follow you around is a very welcomed element and she is far more than just a well-rendered face. Resident Evil 5 is also by far one of the longest games I’ve ever played (perhaps too long), but no doubt it will keep you entertained for months. Keep clean underwear nearby.

Best Games: Assassin’s Creed

Assassins Creed boxBeing a huge fan of Assassin’s Creed, I bought the second installment this year and was rather disappointed. Although ’Screed 2 is far better looking than its predecessor and offers a few more gaming elements, it still does not match up to the story and immersiveness of the first game in my opinion. Nonetheless the Renaissance environment in which you play is rather appealing. The controls for ‘Screed are by far the easiest to learn and nothing beats leaping off a clock tower into a bundle of hay. Bundles of fun!

All of the games above are available at Take 2 for reasonable prices. If the prices have not yet come down, it may be a good idea to simply add them to your wish list. Take 2 will then notify you when the prices drop.

Happy gaming!

Related Post: Fallout 3 Tweaks & Tips

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