Arma 3 Free Weekend

It’s an Arma III free weekend! Arma III is the most realistic military simulation out there. If your rig can handle it, that is. The game begins at a pep rally in high school, one in which the military has come to recruit students looking for a sense of purpose in their life. Or, as the recruiting officer explains, a scholarship, exclusive technical job training, the chance to travel, etc. He makes it sound very convincing, and despite the fact that you were going to try and play ball at State a swelling of patriotism deep within you makes you decide to enlist. 
Flash forward to bootcamp where you are awoken at 3 AM by a shouting drill instructor who has informed you that you will now hike for 25 miles, in real time. There is no quicksaving or autosaving and if at any point you are unable to complete the full hike, you will have to start all over again. During this time, the drill instructor will shout various morale-boosting slurs at you. He will insult you with words like “Mary” and/or “pansy.” But it’s all in the name of country. The only thing that keeps you going is nightly letters from your high school sweetheart, who promised to wait for you to return from your Call of Duty. Except those nightly letters start coming less and less frequently, and you start to worry that something might be wrong. However, you told your best friend Billy to make sure to take good care of her while you were gone and Billy is a stand up guy so everything is probably fine.
From there, Arma III is all about the waiting. Waiting for deployment. Waiting to find out where you’ll end up. And then waiting to travel. And then you wait for your flight, and it’s lonely. Sure, there’s other soldiers there but really, you’re alone. And then you wait for your first taste of combat. Your finger sits on the side of the trigger, waiting to be used for the first time in a real life or death situation. And you wait for the first sign of the enemy. And you wait for someone else to fire first because you want to make sure that you’re doing the right thing. All the while, thinking of Suzy, back home, waiting for you too.
pretty lonely out here, just the two of us
Only she’s not waiting for you, oh no. I got bad news for you, Private. Suzy got tired of waiting and she got herself knocked up. Billy took care of her alright. So if this sounds like a game you might enjoy, give it a shot! Arma III is currently on free weekend until Sunday, Oct 26th! 

RAGE

There are a lot of things about RAGE that will make you rage. In both the good and the bad way. Rage is one of those words like “bad” or “no” that can sometimes mean the opposite of what they are implying. For instance, if somebody gets ebola, that is bad. But if somebody swings through a window with two deagles blasting time traveling nazis, that is badass, which is good. Rage can mean getting angry, for instance getting angry at the horrible texture pop in issues that plague RAGE. But according to Urban Dictionary, Rage:

To party extremly hard: Excessive drinking, taking of pills, boozing or any combination of the three. 

As in, the texture pop in of RAGE will make you rage so hard that you rage, raging until you alleviate your rage while you play RAGE. Get it? I didn’t think so.

Anyways, when RAGE came out it was billed as id’s answer to Fallout 3/NV, which is really the worst comparison this game could have had. It is a linear shooter that combines the looting aspect of FO3 minus the actual loot. You know how in New Vegas and 3 you have to check every damn trash can and drawer out of habit because you might need a Sunset Sasparilla or a box of smokes? Well they added that feature in RAGE except you never find anything except for tin cans and useless junk. You will never find a cool weapon because that just doesn’t happen. Why is the looting system in this game? I have no idea.

The actual shooting is fine. It’s actually pretty good. However, there is regenerating bloody screen health, which is always just the worst. Quite frankly it makes me RAGE. There is also some driving and it’s just fine and dandy. Aesthetically the game pulls off a nice enough post apocalyptic world. But man for a company that’s built itself on making badass engines this one is so bad.

This is how Americans view all English football fans

 RAGE is currently on sale for 75% off, it is $4.99. This game goes on sale from time to time. If you really like linear single player shooters, the action here is enough to keep you interested. And although there is regenerating health, at least you can hold more than 2 guns at a time. $4.99 for a AAA title is pretty good though so it’s up to you. For diehard modern FPS fans: Verdict: Buy it

The Free Weekend Weekend: Payday 2

As you can clearly see, we have entered The FREE WEEKEND WEEKEND. It’s time to play for free Thurs 10/16 – Sunday 10/19. This is great news! There is almost always one free game on Steam every weekend but now we get to choose from so many, it really is great. So bask in the glow of free gaming goodness, and try them all out.

Payday 2 has been on a few free weekends already so you may have had a chance to try it at some point. Unfortunately Payday 2 is one of those annoying games where you purchase it in the first place, for real life money, and then they shove a bunch of DLC down your throat. Like a shotgun. Why the hell should I have to pay for a shotgun with more money if I already bought the game? The world may never know. So we’re already off to a misstep. However let’s talk about the game itself.

If you didn’t know, Payday 2 is the official video game sequel of Point Break. Which is already a good thing, because Point Break is the best movie (excuse me, FILM) of all time. It stars the greatest actor of all time, Keanu Reeves, and he beats up a bunch of suit wearing bankrobbers donning matching rubber masks that look like ex-presidents. The FBI calls them The Ex-Presidents. Payday 2 puts you in the shoes of the bad guys instead of in the shoes of Keanu which would be way cooler but whatever.

Anyways, you should buy Point Break The Movie before you buy Payday 2 because that’s where the coincidences stop. First of all there is no surfing! How can you have a bank robbery team that doesn’t surf? They are supposed to be a real tight unit and nothing brings bros together like surfing. Also, Keanu Reeves is nowhere to be found, and neither is the ghost of Patrick Swayze (???). So let’s talk about gameplay. Basically this game is like Left 4 Dead 2. Well, actually it’s like Left 4 Dead 1 before Valve nerfed shiva stacking. You sit in a closet and just mow down wave after wave of idiotic police and SWAT officers. There’s supposed to be some kind of heist going on but the whole thing just feels silly and there’s not much strategy. There’s also not a ton of weapons of less you buy them.

Keanu Reeves is an FBI agent, sadly missing from Payday 2.

However, Payday 2 is currently on a free weekend and if you have 4 friends you can give it a shot and it might be fun if you try and dick each other over. It’s probably not worth the purchase though, even at 75% off. Verdict: Skip it.

Planet Explorers

Planet Explorers is an open world sandbox game set on another planet. You have a cool backpack and also a jetpack to fly around in. It also uses what the devs call a “new OpenCL calculated voxel system” which basically means that you can build stuff like in Minecraft only more complex, less blocky things. Do you like sandbox games? More specifically, do you like Minecraft? If you like the idea of open world exploration, mining and gathering resources for survival, and then building stuff, well then this could be the game for you.

There are a few huge things that set Planet Explorers apart from Minecraft. Obviously the graphics are different. There are a few aspects that look really nice, like some grass and the water and generally the color palette and art style are all very good. When you look close though the textures aren’t so good and neither are most of the models (trees, etc). But for what it is, it looks pretty damn good. You can also build a lot more than you can in Minecraft, mostly in the way of ships and whatnot. And Planet Explorers makes it pretty easy to build ships. If for some reason you thought the stupid Trade Federation barricade ships looked cool in Star Wars Episode 1 you could build those ships, like this guy.

WE MUST BOW TO THEIR WISHES

Anyways, the gameplay is basically what you would expect from a sandbox game on another planet. You can dig, and dig, and then do some more digging, and then after you do that you can dig some more. Then you run around a lot looking for stuff, and then when you find some stuff you can build yourself a helicopter to fly around to find some stuff. The sense of exploration is great though due to the art style.  Combat is pretty basic and mostly just consists of running around punching things. But this is all pretty standard for a sandbox game. It is in early release game but Planet Explorers is pretty far along for an alpha. It’s not exactly polished but there is enough there to mess around with and have a good time. Supposedly there are serious memory leaks that become game breaking if your character lives for too long, which is basically the worst possible scenario. Early access everyone!

C3PO gets lost storming away from a fight with R2

Planet Explorers is currently 40% off and $14.99. This is a pretty decent deal but the game has consistently gone on sale for the exact same price every few months. It will surely go on sale for this price again so if you have reservations about buying a game in this state, you can feel good about waiting. If you love sandbox games though, there is enough here to keep you entertained for a while, and thus far the devs have been good about updating. Verdict: Buy it.

Hammerwatch

Hammerwatch is like Gauntlet. It is really, really like Gauntlet. Gauntlet is pretty fun. Hammerwatch is pretty fun. Do you like Gauntlet? You will definitely like Hammerwatch. Do you dislike Gauntlet? Well you might still like Hammerwatch. If you have never played Gauntlet, let me explain how Hammerwatch plays. It is simple, and simple on purpose. You hack and slash and dungeon crawl, taking on hordes of enemies while mashing the attack key. You also have a few special attacks that vary depending on the class that you select. 
The pixel graphics are incredibly simplistic but the backgrounds still look nice. The control scheme is the same… you can use a controller if you like, as all you really need are a few buttons. You move, you shoot/attack, and you use your special attack. That’s it. You don’t level up but you do get new special moves and you do get buffs, and skills and combos and things as you gain gold. The most complicated thing in Hammerwatch is the soundtrack which is actually great and probably the best thing the ambiance has to offer.
Hammerwatch isn’t just Gauntlet, though, so much as it is every “Action RPG.” For this reason it is interesting to look at as game design devolved. Specifically it is Diablo III in its purest form. Diablo III has a very rigid skill and level up system. You don’t really get to select the skills that you want to unlock…they just unlock at a certain level. This leads itself to an illusion of choice when it comes to using skills to get combos. Hammerwatch removes this illusion and you get skill combos just by killing consecutive enemies. So you are not mashing different skills together repeatedly in the exact same order like you do it Diablo III, it removes that step and just does it automatically. In Diablo III, leveling up feels important so you can be strong enough to fight the enemies in the next area. But it all just happens naturally as you move throughout the game, and you are stronger against stronger enemies so it doesn’t matter as much as the skills you gain. Hammerwatch removes the levels and just leaves the new skills and buffs. 
Pictured: My Basement
Hammerwatch is a minimalistic look at the Action RPG genre. Or maybe it isn’t and it’s just a hack and slash dungeon crawling Gauntlet clone? Either way it’s only $2.49 and it’s fun to dick around with. Verdict: Buy it.

Serious Sam 3

If you have never played a Serious Sam game, what the hell is wrong with you? Do you hate the FPS genre? Do you hate computer gaming in general? Why do you even have Steam at all? You are not a bad person, but man, it is time you turned your life around and experienced what this is all about. Everyone has their own personal Serious Sam experience- I was but a scared boy when the original came out, and it was a discount title. It was one of the first times that I realized that “discount” and “video games” didn’t necessarily mean bad, and one of the reasons Steam Daily Deal exists to this day. After I played the game, I emerged a grizzled, beer-guzzling man.

The Serious Sam games play like Doom or Painkiller on cocaine. There is no cover and there is no regenerating red jelly health, it’s just hordes of enemies and your wits, big guns and reflexes. All you do is run around in circles (we call this Circle Strafing) while shooting at screaming, headless, bomb wielding terrorists. Yes, screaming AND headless. Again if you have never played a Serious Sam game, the first two hold up great. Go purchase one immediately, they are $1.49 and it is the best $1.49 you could possibly spend on a video game and possibly in YOUR LIFE. Yes that’s right, there’s not a lot you can get for one dollar and forty-nine cents these days. As far as deals go, the best possible things you can get for less than a dollar fifty are two tacos from Jack in the Box and Serious Sam the First Encounter. You know what you can’t get for $1.49? Actual food that isn’t ramen, any tall can of beer that isn’t expired malt liquor, a single shot of liquor, or a pack of condoms (3). As if you needed any more reason, go buy Serious Sam The First Encounter right now, dammit.

So after you’ve played that, the question is should you play Serious Sam 3 BFE? Let’s look at the facts. What does BFE stand for? Nobody knows. Doesn’t matter. Why is the game 90% off? Well, the starting price of $39.99 for a three year old game is a little silly so they had to knock 90% off of it. And the most important question of all: is the game as good as the previous installments? No, but it is still really fun.

What is a cyclops without an eye?  

There are some Serious issues to this game, for starters, the fact that you can’t dodge a lot of the enemies’ attacks, i.e., they are hitscan. This is bullshit, and who knows why Croteam put this feature in the game? But honestly it just ups the difficulty level, you don’t need to dodge if you kill the enemy first and it is just more of a test of your mettle. Also, the beginning of the game is not very fun, there are iron sights involved, which is the antithesis of the Serious Sam games. However I think Croteam put that in as a joke, because as soon as newer weapons are introduced the iron sights go by the wayside so I think they were messing with all of us. Basically, Serious Sam 3 BFE plays like the other Serious Sam games eventually but with better graphics- it might not be exactly as good but it is still really damn fun. For this reason the Verdict: BUY IT

Prison Architect

Prison Architect: Build and Manage a Maximum Security Prison is an Early Access Game which is usually a bad thing but these guys have a near-complete game that they just want to polish, at least that seems to be the general consensus. According to sources the Prison Architect team has raised over 10 million big ones through crowdfunding and early access sales. What are these sources you ask? Just random comments on the Interwebs, which everyone knows is the most reliable form of information in this day and age. This is funny because prisons in the United States are so overcrowded and lacking in funding, but a UK based prison sim can get 10 mil just like that.

In case you haven’t figured it out, Prison Architect is a prison sim. As such you would think there would be lots of jokes in the reviews section about the dropping of soap and about toilet wine, about kicking someone’s “ass” or becoming somebody’s “bitch” but sadly there has been a complete lack of this. Only one person mentioned the word “fish,” and this is just a damn shame. That can mean only one thing, that Prison Architect is actually a good game. And it is, if you enjoy Tycoon- style games. You can build your own prison however you want, whether it is going to be a white collar paradise or a federal p.m.i.t.a.p(see below). The choice is yours! Make everyone sleep in one room or give everybody cells, either way the people are going to riot eventually and somebody is going to get shivved by a spork.

Prison Architect is currently on sale for $10.19, it is 66% off. This game is pretty fun and pretty addicting if sims/tycoon games are your thing, but $10.19 is a little bit steep. Unfortunately, since it isn’t even released yet the price isn’t going to get much better than that anytime soon, so if you have had your eye on this one for awhile than go ahead and get it. For the rest of you come back when the game is done and it is on sale again. Verdict: Skip it.