Thursday, February 17, 2011

Free and fun video games



Gaming is now, as ever, an expensive hobby.
But there are ways to fulfill a game craving without breaking the bank.
Game repositories like Newgrounds.com, Kongregate.com and ArmorGames.com offer thousands of free Flash-based games. Several online multiplayer RPGs have adopted a free-to-play model in the face of “World of WarCraft’s” unwavering popularity. Classic games from a decade ago or more are occasionally released for free.
There are far too many free games out there to cover more than, oh, 15 or so at a time. And that’s what we’ve done, rounding up several interesting offerings for your consideration. Entertainment Software Rating Board age ratings are noted for games that have them.
Alien Swarm
Lead a squad of futuristic soldiers on a mission to clear out a hive of aliens infesting a human colony world in this action game. Up to four players can cooperate online to exterminate the bugs.
BattleForge
This real-time strategy game is set in a fantasy world where cards can be activated to create the units they represent. The free version of the game initially offers 32 cards, several for each of the game’s four elements. Players may buy points to spend on more cards.
Crane Wars
This physics-based game from the makers of “Off-Road Velociraptor Safari” has players trying to construct buildings while fending off crane attacks from rival building sites and trying to throw a wrench (or exploding vehicle) into their efforts as well.
Desktop Dungeons
A puzzle game in the shape of an RPG, “Desktop Dungeons” has players moving through dark dungeons and using attacks and spells to defeat the enemies that block the way to the exit of each randomly generated floor.
Goblin War Machine
Strike back at the hated humans with a slapdash contraption in this action game. The goal is to wipe out each village in the game with a war machine constructed from various parts. Quick and easy to play and with a two-tone visual style similar to last year’s eerie “Limbo.”
The Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeons & Dragons Online
Once a purely subscription- based game, “The Lord of the Rings Online” now allows free play up to level 65, with items available for purchase in an in-game store and special VIP content offered to those who decide to pay a monthly fee. “Dungeons & Dragons Online: Eberron Unlimited” operates under a similar model.
Minecraft Classic
“Minecraft” recently sold its millionth copy, not bad for a game that isn’t even finished yet. The game’s site still hosts the free “Classic” version, in which players can explore, build upon and destroy the terrain in a blocky world.
Mechwarrior 4: Mercenaries
Pilot big, stompy robotic death machines in this futuristic simulation based in the “BattleTech” universe. The game, originally released in 2002, was made available for free download last year.
Octodad
As a cephalopod stuffed into a suit (complete with a dashing tentacle mustache), players desperately try to maneuver and perform tasks while avoiding suspicion from family members unaware of “Octodad’s” aquatic nature. Designed by students of DePaul University in Chicago.
One Chance
Players have one chance to save all life on Earth in this indie game where choices are important and final. There are several alternate endings, and the game does not allow players to start over and try again for a different one.
Pirates of the Burning Sea
Set in the 1700s Caribbean, “Pirates of the Burning Sea” puts players in the boots of a pirate, naval officer or privateer, among other career paths, and allows them to partake in ship battles and on-land swashbuckling and participate in a player-driven economy to amass a fortune. Premium content is available through a paid membership.
Quake Live
This free-to-play, ad-supported online game is a browser-based version of venerable competitive shooter “Quake III: Gold” (1999). Fast-paced and fun after all these years, if a bit dated on the visual side.
This Is the Only Level
The title says it all about this game. The goal of the single level is always to guide a little elephant past some spikes and into the exit pipe, but the game adds new ways to complicate that task with every victory.
World of Tanks
Still in its beta stage, “World of Tanks” offers a wide array of World War II-era American, German and Russian tanks with which to blast other players on various maps. The game is free to play with the option to buy in-game currency for use in purchasing new vehicles and upgrades.
For PC at www.store.steam powered.com. Requires Steam to be installed. Rated Teen. For PC at www.battleforge.com. A deluxe version is sold for $3. Played on most Web browsers at www.blurst.com/crane-wars. For Mac or PC at www.qcfdesign .com. For browsers at www.bigblock games.com. Both rated Teen. For PC at www.lotro.com or www.ddo .com. For PC, Linux, Mac or browsers at www.minecraft.net. Rated Teen. For PC at www.mektek.net/projects/mw4. For Mac or PC at www.octodad game.com. For browsers at www.new grounds.com/portal/view/555181. Rated Teen. For PC at www.burningsea.com. Rated Teen. For browsers at www.quakelive.com For browsers at http:// armorgames.com/play/430

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