Free mod Download
Download Empires

Empires has consumed my life. I would probably compare it to a land-based version of Allegiance if I had to compare it to an existing game. Empires is a hybrid RTS and FPS, complete with classes, vehicles, a commander, and experience points. Two teams fight to capture flags as each teams commander builds bases and collects resources. I won’t bore you by detailing the many aspects of the game, but an excellent description of the game can be found over at Playthisthing.

Empires totally aces the RTS/FPS hybrid, but my favorite game aspect is how the game’s pace ranges from orderly to complete chaos in mere seconds. Forget about America’s Army, Empires provides the most realistic feeling of being in an actual warzone I have ever played. Most other FPSes do a fine job of providing you with chaos during firefights, but only Empires presents a very rigid command structure, where not following orders is a sure way to get killed repeatedly.

For instance, at the start of a game, I followed my squad leader over to an old set of ruins, as we were ordered by the commander to fortify the area. Most of my squad played as engineers, with the exception of one heavy machine gunner. We immediately began building structures that our commander had placed as soon as we came in range, while our lone machine gunner set up to face any enemies that might try to interrupt our fortifying.

Within a few minutes, my squad of four had constructed a full base, complete with defensive turrets and a spawnpoint. This may not seem that great, but the amazing thing about it was that we did not speak a word to each other while doing this. Knowing what needed to be done, we simply went about building a base as fast as possible. On the other side of the map, where our commander had sent another less organized squad, our forces were being slaughtered, and our base was destroyed. This squad did not follow the order given by the commander, and died as a result. In Empires a small, organized group can do a lot if everyone follows orders and does what they should. Empires takes teamwork to levels almost no other game has gone to before.

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Game Review: OmniLudiCon

December 12, 2008

Free Flash Game
Play OmniLudiCon

OmniLudiCon(OLC) is a flash-based game creation toolkit as much as it is a game. At first glance, the game may appear to be just another flash platformer, but upon closer inspection, OLC really shows us a glimpse into the future of game creation.

OLC gives users the ability to create small game levels/prototypes in their web browser. Utilizing a handful of default actions and objects, users are able to create a fully functional game level that they can share with the Internet. From a basic platform character, to a Asteroids-style ship, OLC has the basic game control schemes present. What makes it really interesting is that you can combine these aspects freely. There was one level I played which utilized a number of control methods to present the player with more of a puzzle than an arcade game.

Say what you will about Kongregate, but OLC is the real Web 2.0 of flash games. Even though it is limited, it gives any user the ability to create and share games. No technical knowledge is required, so if you can click a mouse, you can make a game and present it to the public.

I would really like to see an RPG themed version of OLC. Allowing the user to not only create level situations, but also stories would greatly improve the experience. Here’s some levels I made…

Run Like Hell
Survive 430

Game Preview: Dark Dominion

December 11, 2008

Zach L, over at Dopterra, has released a short gameplay trailer for Dark Dominion, his upcoming platform adventure.

I happen to have had the pleasure of playing through most of the game, and I’m very excited for it. It includes branching paths, lots of cool bosses, and is full of cutesy insect characters that my girlfriend can’t get enough of. I will be keeping everyone updated as to the release status of Dark Dominion, but word on the street says to expect it sometime in January.

Free Flash Game
Play A game of visual composition

A game of visual composition (I’m not sure if that’s the final title or not) is a project by agj. It is reminiscent of a click & drag puzzle game, but instead of patterns of 3 or 4, the goal is to fare well against graphic design standards.

By applying basic graphic design parameters, like symmetry and rhythm, the game throws out the traditional point system for traditional concepts of design. You can see how well you fared once you complete your design, but it is somewhat difficult to figure out which icons represent which standard.

This is definitely a game which almost flirts with the possibility of “edutainment,” something a lot of people aren’t exactly sure can be done well. Because it is based off real design concepts, hypothetically, if you are good at graphic design, you should be good at the game. I think it would be interesting to see if that holds true. Using a game to measure someone’s skill in a field is an idea I really find interesting. It’s essentially applying a real world skill in a virtual world. I would hardly consider “whooping ass in Tekken” a skill, and would like to see more games that rely on real world knowledge.

A game of visual composition is something that is being worked on fairly frequently, and I really hope to see what it will become. I personally think it would be cool to integrate a way to export the designs you make for use as icons or banners.

Game Review: Gods and Idols

November 21, 2008

Freeware Download
Download Gods and Idols

Take the space stage of Spore, and combine it with Populous, and you’ve got something pretty close to Gods and Idols(GAI). GAI is an online MMORTS where players assume the role of intergalactic gods ruling over planets. The game starts by having you fly around space a bit in search of a star system with planets for you to plant the seed of life on. Once you have seeded a planet, you are tasked with taking care of your followers on it and upgrading their planet.

Upgrades come in the form of facility upgrades, like housing, or complete planet evolutions, which will dramatically change the look and quality of life on the planet. While you are busy managing your planets, there are many other people online doing the same. The game universe is pretty large, containing hundreds of star systems waiting to be colonized.

GAI is open beta right now, and what it lacks in features, it more than makes up for in scope. The game universe is massive, and while advanced features like hypergates are not available yet, the game is definitely worth playing. With a very friendly community, and new features being added all the time, GAI is playable for longer periods of time, or for only a few minutes.

I am totally into this game right now, so don’t be surprised if you hear some more about GAI in the future.

Game Review: Oiligarchy

November 19, 2008

Freeware Flash Game
Play Oiligarchy

Oiligarchy is probably the best persuasive game I have played to date. You essentially take control of Big Oil right after orld War II, and turn the oil business into a global scale pillagefest. The game mimics real life in the fact that you can give the government money to allow oil drilling in Alaska, or to wage war in Iraq so that you can drill there, too. In this sense, Oiligarchy does a great job of turning real aspects of the oil industry into game aspects. For example, I understand that real oil economics isn’t just basic supply & demand, but, for the purpose of the game, it gets the job done while keeping it simple.

oiligarchy

The best thing about Oiligarchy is its message, and how the game almost plays itself. The oil industry is a horribly flawed one, and is definitely not sustainable. The better you exploit resources and make money, the sooner you will become unable to meet demand. Oiligarchy really nails this point, because even if oil is used at a sustainable level, it is still not a renewable resource. One of the largest industries in the world is becoming obsolete, and all the people in charge can do is delay the inevitable collapse.

The odd thing is that when making a game like this is that the ultimate goal is for the game to become irrelevant. The creators made this game to expose the oil industry for the horrible scam that it is, and if we ever reach a point where we are independent from oil, this game will serve as only a reminder of what once was. While the game will still contain the same message, any contemporary relevance will be gone.

Game Review: Retroverdeo

November 17, 2008

Freeware Download
Download Retroverdeo

Retroverdeo is a neat little game that has you avoiding an increasingly overwhelming barrage of attacks. The game was made for a limited graphics game competition, and I think the creator has really done a lot with a little here.

The game is played like a standard platformer, and you jump around avoiding enemies on the ground. Jumping over them is pretty easy, so the game steps it up and adds a legion of other things trying to kill you. Carpet bombing and what look like orbital strikes are also added to the mix, making it hard to stay alive for long. I really like Retroverdeo, and will definitely keep it around for when I need a quick five minute video game fix.

Also, let’s see if anyone can beat my high score of 52. (View Online High Scores)

Game Review: Flowers of Error

November 11, 2008

Freeware Download
Download Flowers of Error

I’ll start this off by saying that I am a big Jonathan Mak fan. I have played Everyday Shooter countless times, and I would play Gate 88 a ton more, if I was any good at it.

Flowers of Error is slightly reminiscent of Everyday Shooter in that you play as a nondescript glowing ball of some sort. You must avoid enemies, or you die. This is where the similarities stop, though. In Flowers of Error, the focus of the game is using the mouse to drag and drop objects in the game. If a particularly nasty wave of enemies is headed towards you, all you have to do is drag a few of them out of the way, and slip through the whole you created.

Some enemies explode after you drop them, causing chain reactions of explosions, and dropping letters, which can be collected to form what appears to be a poem, or writing. You can even drag and drop yourself, which makes avoiding enemies much easier.

The graphics and music really add to the game, giving it a very complete feel. Probably my favorite part of the game is that it is easy to play a quick game. This is definitely something that will stay on my computer. As far as short games go, I think Flowers of Error really gets it right.

Freeware Download
Download Prompt Critical

Prompt Critical is a first-person rail shooter that has you orbiting around a dimensional gate of some sort, shooting at invading enemies coming through it. The enemies come in waves, and the overall pace is a bit arcadey. The higher waves get pretty intense, and I found myself hanging on by a shread of health against a large number of enemies a few times.

A sometimes frantic pace isn’t the only thing Prompt Critical has to offer. I am usually not a big 3D fan, in fact, the “realistic” textures in most modern 3D games kinda creep my out. A good 3D style is hard to really nail down, but I think this game looks beautiful. Most of the graphics are just 3D primitives, but they don’t look like your average Katamari-style cutesy shapes. They are sleek and futuristic, just like I would expect around a wormhole. The explosions can get a bit overwhelming in the later waves, but overall, I really appreciate the visual style of the game.

Now, if you are still not convinced enough to try it out, would that chnge if I told you the entire environment is fully destructible? If you shoot a missile at the structure around the wormhole or the outer plates, you get to watch pieces fly around, in addition to a nice explosion. This adds an extra level of interaction to the game, albeit a small one, that I think really makes Prompt Critical a solid freeware choice for someone looking for a unique and challenging game to spend a casual amount of time with.

Free Mod Download (Half-Life 2)
Download Battlegrounds

I was reading an article about some popular mods the other day, and wasn’t very interested in any of them. When the first entry in an article about mods is a mod enabling you to play Battlefield 2 as nothing but World of Warcraft characters, and everything else is a few years old, I tend to get bored.

One mod that caught my attention years ago, and still tends to suck me back in is Battlegrounds or BG. This is a Half-Like 1 and 2 mod that takes place during the American Revolution. The British and Americans fight to control points on the map. It’s pretty much like any team-based FPS, but guns take about 7.5 seconds to reload, and the majority of combat is done with bayonets.

This is, in my opinion, what sets BG aside from most FPS mods. Because the game relies heavily on melee combat, to really be any good at the game, you need to learn how to use a bayonet. Anybody with a mouse can point and click to shoot a person 50 feet away, but Battlegrounds has a bit of a learning curve in the fact that if you can’t melee, you don’t survive.

This mechanic presents an entirely different FPS experience, one where individual skill can easily outbalance team coordination. I have been in matches where a single person has held a capture point against 4 or 5 people, and come out unscathed. Combat in Battlegrounds is not a contest to see who can get the better shot, but usually a 1v1 test of melee skill.

I was never very good at Counterstrike or any of those shooting games, but I excelled at stabbing people in the face in Battlegrounds. My clan even won a couple of North American Championships. There are organized clans and league play in BG, and a pretty hardcore community centered around the game. There are even historical clans which get together and perform line battles using authentic military tactics for the time.

All in all, Battlegrounds is a welcome departure from your standard FPSes. It is a bit of a challenge to learn how to operate the bayonet properly, but definitely worth it. If you have Half-Life 2, or can use Half-Life 2 mods, this is arguably the best mod out there.