Budget Desktop Gaming: Four Fantastic and Free Video Games
Gaming on desktop computers is expensive. Every year, new games require new hardware to run, and the games themselves aren’t that cheap either. Not everyone has the income to keep up with the rat race. Luckily, more and more companies are shifting to the Free-to-Play business model, where playing the basic game is free, but micro-transactions can be used to improve the play experience. Some games are entirely free, but are just as fun as any game that costs money.
TEAM FORTRESS 2
- Available On: Windows and Mac (Steam)
- Publisher: Valve
- Release Date: October 2010 (The Orange Box)
- Genre: Team-Based Shooter
- Recommended for: FPS enthusiasts, fans of team work, fans of dapper hats
Now free and downloadable through Steam, Team Fortress 2 was once just the odd child out in the Orange Box. Now, it’s a multiplayer juggernaut that is played by hundreds of thousands of players around the world. The game is focused on objective-based competition between two teams: RED (Reliable Excavation & Demolition) and BLU (Builder’s League United). Players can choose to play one of nine classes, each with unique strengths and weaknesses.
It owes its longevity to its team-based gameplay, consistent and free updates, and its ever growing list of ways to customize your player classes. Customization ranges from utilizing different weapons to wearing an increasingly insane number of hats and miscellaneous items.
Free-to-play gamers can experience the full game, but have limited backpack space, and their random drops exclude rare items, such as hats. Purchasing anything from the Mann-Co. Store upgrades the account and comes with an extended backpack, a wider range of random drops, and the ability to trade items.
As a bonus, the game is cross-platform friendly. As another bonus, the new Steam Trading allows people to trade extremely valuable drops for complete games. Not bad for a free game.
- Available On: Windows (Steam or GamersFirst)
- Publisher: Realtime Worlds (Original), K2 Network (Current)
- Release Date: June 2010
- Genre: Hybrid (Third-Person Shooter, Action-Adventure, Sandbox)
- Recommended For: Fans of Grand Theft Auto, players who want a lot to do, fans of dressing up
APB Reloaded began its life as just plain old APB before it was re-launched in the second half of 2011 as a free-to-play game. Before, it was received badly by reviewers. Now, more and more people every day are playing it.
Set in the fictional town of San Paro, players can choose to be part of the solution (Enforcers) or the problem (Criminals). Once players are prepared, they can set themselves to “ready” status, where they will automatically be grouped together with other players and given assignments. The first few assignments are introductory in nature and involve no opposition. Later on, players will be set against players on the opposing team. That’s where the fun really begins. Enforcers will often end up defending vital witnesses against assassination from Criminals, while Criminals will often be tasked with setting fire to a few select buildings.
The magic of APB Reloaded lies in its massive map. Battles can rage across town as two groups try to wipe each other out. More often than not, teams will need to coordinate to get to the combat location as quickly as possible. It’s a riot when it goes well.
Free-to-play gamers enjoy the same gameplay as premium account holders, but gain prestige and in-game money at a much slower rate.
I WANNA BE THE GUY: THE MOVIE: THE GAME (IWBTG)
- Available On: Windows
- Publisher: Independent
- Release Date: October 2007
- Genre: Action-Adventure
- Recommended For: Hard-core gamers, masochists, gamers from the Nintedo-Hard era
An oldie but a still goodie, “I Wanna Be The Guy” is perfect for anyone who thinks they’re pretty good at video games. This game is not for the faint of heart. This game is not even for people who play regularly. This game is built and meant for people who want a challenge that can tempt them into punching their monitor.
IWBTG consists of pastiches taken from classic NES era games, such as Castlevania, Mega Man, and Tetris. The player takes on the role of “The Kid,” who wants to be “The Guy.” The plot quickly takes a back seat to the game’s infamous difficulty level. Not only do players have to contend with traditional action-adventure traps, such as spikes and pitfalls, IWBTG tosses in several unconventional threats. Picking up a sword in most adventure games consists of simply walking over it. In IWBTG, walking over the sword’s blade results in immediate death.
In fact, it’s best to assume that everything leads to immediate and sudden death. The Kid has no HP – a single hit will send blood flying everywhere. It’s not for everyone, but it is incredibly enjoyable for the highly competitive hard-core gamers out there. Masochists may also find it rewarding.
YUME NIKKI (DREAM DIARY)
- Available On: Windows
- Publisher: Independent
- Release Date: 2005
- Genre: Hybrid (Exploration, RPG, Art, Horror)
- Recommended For: Adventure gamers, fans of open-world gameplay, nightmare fetishists
The plot is deceptively simple. The player controls Madotsuki as she adventures through her surreal dreamscape. That is the last sane thing players will experience in this game. Despite its simple 8-bit style graphics, many will find the visuals in the game profoundly distressing. The game is surprisingly open-ended and offers little in the way of direction. Yume Nikki is all about exploration and experience.
The objective is to get all 24 “effects.” Each “effect” has a unique ability attached to it. Some “effects” result in Madotsuki wrapping herself in a blanket. Other effects are slightly more bizarre and can transform her into an Oni. Once the player collects all 24 “effects,” they can see the ending.
Yume Nikki is more about the journey than the ending. It is a uniquely distressing game, one that horror enthusiasts will enjoy.
These four fantastic games are all free and readily available on the Internet. They serve as proof that you don’t need to keep up with the video-card rat race to enjoy quality games. What are you waiting for? Go download them!