Updated: July 8, 2010
Oh, we did talk about top payware games, but which ones are truly the best? If I had to narrow the list down to just five games, which ones would those be? And how do you decide? Well, the price is one thing. If you're willing to shell out a few drachma without hesitation, then it's the first good sign. There's the excitement, of course. Nostalgia factor plays a lesser part here, compared to free games, but it might just be the extra incentive you need.
While year 2010 is far from being over, this article lists my prime choices of payware games currently available for Linux. I believe they offer the best overall experience in terms of fun, completeness, detail, and depth. In other words, these games are a creation of well-crafted, well-executed professional work. Plus, most importantly, at the end of the day, you feel good about playing them. While they cannot compete with twenty years of ancient sainthood that OpenTTD or Scorched 3D have, they still are a very decent bunch.
So here we go. Please note that this article is a compilation of reviews already done. Most of the stuff below is taken from my other articles, so if you've read them, you'll see familiar bits and pieces. But it's definitely not a verbatim copy & paste, so don't begrudge me for recycling. In fact, I've thrown in a few surprises, so it pays off to read the whole thing. What more, if you want one article that sums it all nice and plain like, then you've come to the right article.
Prey is a Doom-style, Doom-derived First Person Shooter focused on a disgruntled Cherokee named Tommy who just happens to be in the wrong place at wrong time. While defending the honor of his girlfriend Jen against drunken patrons in a bar, Tommy, his stereotypical grandpa and Jen are abducted by an organic alien ship. While conveyed through the ship's interior, Tommy somehow wriggles free and begins a journey of saving his love and grandpa from becoming bio-degradable ingredients of an extra-terrestrial lunch. Possibly the most bizarre love story, except Romeo and Juliet.
The game has stunning graphics and the same terrifying, nerve-wrecking elements like Doom 3, with the right play of lighting, squeaky noises in dark corners, lots of slime, and ugly-looking monsters. The atmosphere is just right and you experience genuine fear while playing. I know I have. In fact, the same genuine fear has kept me from completing the prequel-father game Doom 3. The dark setting, the creepy noises, it was just too much. Thank you. I've reviewed the game not that long ago and it's also listed in my top payware game collection, so if you're in a mood for a few more paragraphs and some extra screenshots, do head there.
ETQW is a class-based team-oriented First Person Shooter, with hybrid strategy elements very similar to that seen in Wolfenstein - Enemy Territory, which explains the commonality in the game title, as well as the execution of the game action. ETQW places emphasis on mission objectives and close cooperation with your buddies. You utilize the classes to achieve advantage on the field of battle. The asymmetric order of combat makes for a daring, unpredictable experience. Plus, there's a flake of nostalgia too. Fans of the refusing-to-go-away Wolfenstein will surely like it. There are five different units available, each with its unique abilities. You can fight either as a human (GDF) or an alien (Strogg).
Humans have the common troopers, who fights with a handful of rifles and grenades. Then, there's the engineer, who can do all kinds of engineering tricks, build defenses, place mines, and sabotage enemy vehicles. The Field Ops is very similar to Engineer, except that he touts heavy artillery. Medic has the role of helping and reviving stricken comrades. Covert Ops can snipe from afar, place surveillance cameras or disguise themselves as enemy units, infiltrating behind the enemy lines.
Strogg units include: The Aggressor, the equivalent to human soldier; The Technician, who can deploy temporary energy shield shelters and some heavy guns and call in air strikes. The Constructor is similar to GDF Engineer; one of the novel technologies he can use are gravity mines, species-oriented so that only humans can trigger them. Oppressor is the Field Ops counterpart, carrying lots of heavy weaponry. Lastly, there's the Infiltrator, with a rather self-explanatory job description. Infiltrator can take the shape of enemy troops and teleport himself away from danger, but has less firepower and sabotage abilities than the human unit. As you can see, the Strogg favor offensive and force, hence no medic.
And so you rush into combat, surrounded with beautiful, stunning graphics, a handful of vehicles, including quads, jet packs, tanks, heavy engineering vehicles, and whatnot. There's artillery, air strikes, anything and everything that turns engagements into a swirling, breathtaking chaos. ETQW is plain simple great. It's tremendous fun, with all the legacy greatness of Wolfenstein - Enemy Territory, plus new graphics, extra detail and even smoother, more streamlined combat. Enough said.
ETQW can be found online priced quite cheaply, due to the fact it's been out for quite some time, so you can enjoy this excellent game at a bargain price. For instance, it sells for only USD7 on Amazon. Lastly, I've written a complete review, so feel free to read it.
Heroes of Newerth
You can choose among three major categories of heroes, including strength, agility and intelligence, which defines your character growth. The defining quality of your hero determines the best way to engage the enemy, stay alive and progress in levels. And it's not all about fighting either. There's a lot to be done. Buy recipes and mix dangerous, lethal spells, hoard artefacts that enhance your fighting and survival capabilities, fight neutral creeps about the map to gain strength and experience, use creeps to set traps and lure danger away from you, cast powerful spells to cause mayhem and confusion on the enemy. It's a blast.
The game is very fun to play. It's well made, complete, has a good pace, lots of colorful elements, and turns a seemingly simplistic task of rushing forward and smiting your foes into a balanced strategic onset. Last but not the least, HoN is a smart and much needed addition to the Linux real time strategy scene.
It's important to note that HoN is designed by S2 games, the same company behind Savage 2, a hybrid First Person Shooter game, which has made its way into my reviews on a few occasions and into the top five freeware list, too. The familiar quality of execution and attention to detail is evident in both works. Priced at USD30, it's a heavy weight in this bunch, but it's worth the investment. For a full review, hop hither.
Unlike the other three games, Vendetta did not have an individual article on Dedoimedo, but it was reviewed at length in my sixth thread. Vendetta is a space MMORPG. It's about piloting spaceships in a vast universe. You do this with hundreds and thousands of other people online, building your own career path as you choose. You can focus on fighting other people or being a peaceful trader - or both. You can ally with other players and form military and political factions. As you accomplish goals, you will earn money, allowing you to buy better ships, better weapons and more of the trading goods. This is done is a vast, complex Universe, which creates a sensation of a real world you can immerse yourself into and genuinely enjoy.
Each player can have up to six different characters, allowing him/her to enjoy different career paths. Furthermore, there are three playable nations to choose from, alongside a number of non-playable factions that spice up the story. In this regard, Vendetta Online is similar to other games, but it deviates from the rather standard, formulaic Dungeons & Dragons scenery and technology into a futuristic setup.
You start with some simple yet critical training that will help you familiarize with game concepts and maneuvering the spaceships in a zero-gravity environment. And yes, it's done with style, including off-bore shooting that you don't usually see in games. After that, you enter the endless, cruel world of economic struggle, political intrigue and conflict. The game is beautifully done and executed well. It feel real and it's quite addictive.
You can play the game for free for 8 hours, after which you will need to subscribe on a monthly basis. Vendetta Online is in continuous development, with new features added all the time, the most recent of which being the ability for several players to serve as a crew aboard the same ship. Star Trek, anyone? It's a very decent game with an affordable price. In return, you get a unique experience unmatched by any other MMORPG.
World of Goo
After playing all day long killing and mutilating people, World of Goo is an excellent respite from violence. It's an innocent yet challenging, all-family game of intellect, with a very surprising, addictive twist. Who would have thought that blobs of goo and some physics could be such a hit? Indeed, it's the simplicity of the game matched with a scientific twist that makes it so popular with just about anyone. Be they kids, adults, geeks, everyone can enjoy World of Goo. But what's it all about?
World of Goo is a beautiful, compelling puzzle game with a strong focus on physics. Using the word physics can frighten people, so you should know there are no nerdy equations waiting for you. The puzzles all focus on little blobs of goo, which you need to lead to an exit pipe by constructing structures like bridges and towers, fighting gravity and terrain. The physics is all about having fun in a world constrained by physical forces, just like our own. Solving the puzzles requires some ingenuity, as well as basic 3D spatial intuition. The puzzles become increasingly difficult as you progress through the game chapters, with the Z axis and vectors added.
The game is very simple in its premise, which is what makes it so great. You do not have to invest hours digesting the game interface or learning to rules. You start having fun instantly, and tons of fun at that. Add some light music and quirky cut scenes, and you're in for a big treat.
Truth to be told, I was skeptical about the game the first time I tried it. But after only a few moments, I was having tons of fun. It's weird, but it works. You get addicted. For a very strange reason, the World of Goo graphical settings creates a soft, pleasant backflashes that remind me of Leisure Suit Larry, sans the Woody Allen elements, and the original Worms, sans the bazooka moments. You know you're playing an entirely different genre, but you get a cozy feeling of long familiarity that should not have been there. It's a true testimony to game's success. USD20 and it's yours.
Time to end this article. The five games that will bleed your budget but IV-infuse you with joy and fun in return. My list of games worth every buck or any other world currency spent. Some may have a little steep tag, but it is balanced by the overall mix of pace, style, graphics, game story, and challenge.
All of these games are cross-platform, so you can enjoy them on other operating system as well. Theres' variety to be had, too. Single player, multiplayer, at home or online, role playing, classic strategy, puzzle solving. I have not intended to have balance in this list, but the games kind of naturally filled the right spots.
I recommend you start with demos and trials and see what gives. I believe you will have found a new collection of great items to play and explore. Along with the freeware collection, you have the rest of 2010 to get convinced in my choices. You won't be disappointed.