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March 17, 2014 | by  | in Opinion |
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Articulated Splines

I Need a Weapon

When our parents wanted to play a new video game, they had to wait for the arcade in town to invest in a new set of cabinets. We don’t have the same problem in an age of downloadable content and online retail; the days of trekking out to the mall in the hopes of picking up a boxed copy of the new Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater have gone the way of the Falmer. What follows is my attempt at summing up the beginner, intermediate and advanced levels of shopping to satisfy your gaming habit.

NORMAL

For PC users, the entry point is Steam. It’s basically the iTunes-Store-meets-Facebook for PC, Mac and Linux gaming. There’s a fairly open and diverse marketplace, as well as a means of managing your game library. There are also many, many sales and discounts, as well as a quasi-social network involved. There’s a little more DRM (anti-piracy measures, for the uninitiated), but at least Steam makes it less intrusive. See “Origin” for the inferior EA-based version.

On console, of course, you’re tied down to whatever Xbox Live or PSN will give you, but there’s a surprising depth of non-AAA content out there. Same goes for mobile gamers, too.

Either way, make the most of reviews and write-ups from some of the better gaming sites out there. I recommend Polygon.com and rockpapershotgun.com, but there are literally hundreds of options, not to mention whatever you can sift through on reddit.

HEROIC

Good Old Games (GOG.com) is a treasure trove of old-school classics (as well as some newer titles) fixed to play on your modern OS. Most games cost about $3 and have stood the test of time surprisingly well. For more cheap goodness, check out Humble.com to grab bundles of various games and software on a pay-what-you-like basis.

If you’re into physical copies, pricespy.co.nz compares the best prices from every retailer, and links to the lot of them to maximise your buying power.

LEGENDARY

At this point, you know the systems well enough that it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get a bit freaky. Trawl through YouTube “Let’s Play”s to find the weird and the wonderful. Look into Kickstarter and Steam Early Access to play games that aren’t even close to ‘finished’ but offer you an avant-garde experience and the ability to be somewhat involved in development. This method is more of an investment than a one-off purchase – don’t expect to be fully satisfied right away!

Instead of a mini-review this week I’m just going to list some titles for you to google: Banished; Castle Crashers; Guacamelee!; Rust; Octodad: Dadliest Catch; Gone Home; The Castle Doctrine; Chivalry: Medieval Warfare; Mount and Blade: Warband; FTL; Starbound; Space Engineers; Spelunky; Ace of Spades; Star Citizen; Hawken.

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