As I write this, my World of Tanks game client is something like eight hours into its updating process and still has a ways to go. I'm eager to check out the recently released 8.0 update to one of my favorite free-to-play games, but fortunately I've been able to play plenty of other games while World of Tanks is doing its thing in the background. XCOM: Enemy Unknown is one of them, but I can't say too much about that one yet. The other three are detailed below; hopefully you'll enjoy them as much as I have been.
LD24 X0ut (PC)
Prior to this week, I had never heard of Ludum Dare. It's a "rapid game creation community" that regularly schedules events at which folks create games around a given theme. Ludum Dare 24, which took place at the end of August, challenged entrants to create games around the theme of evolution with incredibly varied results. Of those games that I've played, my favorite is the game that was voted the winner of the "Jam" portion of the event: the imaginatively titled LD24 X0ut by community member X-0ut.
To simply describe LD24 X0ut as a side-scrolling shooter in which you control a cube that shoots other cubes would be to do the game a disservice, but that's at least the gist. The twist, or at least one of them, is that among the countless cubes that you shoot are sprinkled so-called companion cubes that, when destroyed, cause your cube to evolve--increasing its firepower. Collide with a cube at any point, and your cube devolves back toward its original form; collide in that original form, and it's game over.
Regardless of whether or not side-scrolling shooters are your thing, you really should take a look at LD24 X0ut; the gameplay feels familiar yet original, the music is great, and if you're anything like me, you won't rest until you've reached the end.
You can download LD24 X0ut from the Ludum Dare site via the following link:
I'd also encourage you to check out Super Clew Land, the 2D platformer that finished second to LD24 X0ut in the Ludum Dare 24 jam:
In case you're interested, the top 50 games from the LD24 Jam are detailed (and downloadable/playable) here:
World of Warplanes (PC) Beta
World of Tanks is a game that I've been playing on and off for well over a year now, so naturally I've been curious to see what Wargaming.net has in store for us with World of Warplanes. I've seen early versions of the game running at a couple of events, but it wasn't until this week that I sat down and spent some time with the beta.
Like World of Tanks, World of Warplanes is relatively easy to pick up and play, though I will concede that I found a couple of the tutorial missions pretty frustrating. Once I got those out of the way and flew a couple of practice dogfights against bots, though, I had no trouble holding my own against other players. Since I only have tier I planes in my hangar right now, I don't have access to any of the bombs or rockets that larger planes use against ground targets, and so as a result, my usefulness is limited to shooting other players out of the sky. (One nice touch before each match is that in addition to the team objective, you're told what your personal mission should be based on your plane.)
Perhaps I've just been online at the wrong times, but there don't appear to be a lot of people playing World of Warplanes right now. Regardless, it rarely takes more than a minute or so to get games up and running, and provided the teams are evenly matched (which they almost always are), it doesn't really matter whether matches have the maximum possible number of players in them.
With that said, the World of Warplanes beta would definitely benefit from having a few more folks playing it, so to facilitate that, we've teamed up with Wargaming.net to offer no fewer than 50,000 GameSpot users access to the closed beta. Want in? Grab yourself a code via the following link:
Spice Bandits (iOS)
Last week I mentioned that I'm a fan of tower defense games. This week I added another tower defense game to my collection. For free! Spice Bandits sees you taking control of the titular intergalactic criminals as they arrive on Earth in search of the precious spice that they crave. Several levels into the single-player game (multiplayer is also supported), I'm still not entirely clear what's going on with the narrative, but I also don't care; what matters is that I'm having fun playing.
Unlike most of the tower defense games that I play, Spice Bandits features hex-based levels that afford you a great deal of freedom when placing towers. It's not enough to simply position towers between the enemies' entry point and the base that you're defending; you need to use your towers to create routes that keep enemies away from your base and in range of your towers for as long as possible. At least for me, this is a welcome change of pace, because I feel I have to put a lot more thought into the overall layout of my towers rather than just react to waves of enemies when they arrive.
Another interesting feature of Spice Bandits is the enemy AI. Rather than always attempting to get to your base as quickly as possible, enemies figure out which route (assuming multiple routes are available) is safest for them and act accordingly. Sell a couple of towers along a route that no enemies are using, and you might see some of them change course to take advantage of the hole that you've opened up, for example. I'm only a couple of hours in at the time of writing, but I'm sure there must be some great ways that you can turn their intelligence to your advantage.
As you progress through Spice Bandits, you earn spice that can be spent on unlocking new tower types as well as upgrades for your existing towers. Spice can also be purchased using real Earth currency, but to date I'm certainly content with the rate at which I'm earning it in-game.
If you'd like to give Spice Bandits a try, you can queue it up for download to your iOS device here:
Previous Free Play Fridays
September 21, 2012 - Defenders, Bombs, Portals, Pac-Man!
September 14, 2012 - What's Old Is New Again!
September 7, 2012 - Dust 514 Beta Codes, Hand of Fate, Gotham Gangs!
August 31, 2012 - Portals, Strategy, Charitable Donations!
August 24, 2012 - Steampunk Beta Codes, Superheroes, Automobiles!