Free Play Friday: Beta Codes, Shooters, A Story About My Uncle!

Stuck for something to play this weekend? Justin Calvert offers up more free gaming suggestions and beta codes.

By the time this story appears on GameSpot I'll be on a road trip down to LA armed with my iPad (mostly for Flick Kick Football) and my recently dusted off Vita (Sound Shapes!). Those should keep my gaming withdrawal symptoms at bay until I get home on Sunday night, but assuming the drive hasn't wiped me out, it's a safe bet that the first thing I do will be to boot up either League of Legends or one of the following games.

The quantity and quality of gameplay experiences that are available for free continue to amaze me every week as I work on this column, but I can't help wondering if those of you reading it are similarly impressed? Let me know in the comments what you think of the games that are featured, and, as always, please feel free to recommend any that you think I should try. Enjoy:

ShootMania Storm (PC) Beta

I've been excited to get into the ShootMania Storm beta since playing it at an event shortly before E3, and this week I finally scored some codes. I've played in only a few matches so far, and while I've yet to find the same maps that I enjoyed playing on so much at the aforementioned event, I haven't played on a bad one yet. Regardless, I still plan to have a go at making a map or two of my own just as soon as I can find the time.

The exclusively multiplayer gameplay in ShootMania already feels like it could pass for a finished game for the most part, but elsewhere it's readily apparent that the game is still very much a work-in-progress built using the same tech as TrackMania. Players are sometimes referred to as vehicles; laps and stunts are listed among the handful of available gameplay modes; and the map creation tools aren't as user-friendly (or as stable) as I assume they will be at launch. It's still possible to create and start running around on your own map within a matter of minutes once you're comfortable with the tools, but if you don't have prior experience with creating tracks for TrackMania 2 Canyon, you should expect either some trial and error or some trips to the official forums as you familiarize yourself with them.

If you'd like to have a go at creating your own ShootMania Storm maps or are just looking for something a little out of the ordinary in a first-person-shooter, you can jump into the beta by claiming a code via the following link:

ShootMania Storm - Beta Code Giveaway

Hybrid (X360) Trial

Ordinarily I wouldn't include a demo that you can play for only an hour in Free Play Friday, but I had such a blast with the Hybrid trial earlier this week that I feel compelled to mention it. At first blush you could be forgiven for thinking that Hybrid is a generic third-person shooter, albeit one in which gravity plays a smaller part than usual. The controls make Hybrid quite unlike most shooters that I've played before though; movement between cover positions is achieved simply by pressing a button, which frees you up to concentrate on combat at all times. Hybrid also incorporates a good selection of weapons and special abilities that you unlock as you level up.

At least in my experience, matches generally don't last for more than 5 to 10 minutes, so you can squeeze a fair few of them into the hour of online play that the trial affords you. Furthermore, all of your progress (with the exception of achievements, which can't be unlocked until you hand your Microsoft points over) and unlocked items carry over to the full game if you decide to buy it. Fair warning: There's a good chance that you'll want to.

You can queue up the trial version of Hybrid for download to your Xbox 360 via the following link:

Hybrid on Xbox.com

A Story About My Uncle (PC)

Developed by a team of students who were working on an assignment to make a nonviolent, first-person game, A Story About My Uncle was released as a free download last week. The game is a platformer first and foremost, but that doesn't mean that you spend all of your time jumping; A Story About My Uncle makes good use of a grapple mechanic that, among other things, requires you to take your momentum into consideration as you swing around the game's subterranean locales in search of your adventuring uncle.

I haven't finished A Story About My Uncle yet, but I've put an hour or two into it already and fully intend to return to it sometime soon. The main reason I haven't seen the story through to the end already, in fact, is simply that when I did return to it I realized that I was going to have to restart from the beginning of a level that I had already put around 30 minutes into; as far as I can tell, there's no way to save your progress within a level, so consider yourself warned should you choose to check out the game yourself.

You can download A Story About My Uncle for free via the following link:

A Story About My Uncle - Full Game

RaiderZ (PC) Beta

Remember that RaiderZ beta that I included in Free Play Friday a few weeks back? Good news! Not only has that beta started now, but we still have some codes left for it. I've enjoyed my time playing as a cleric so far; dodging enemy attacks in real time is pretty satisfying, picking up parts of enemies to use as weapons for a short time seems like a neat addition to the otherwise traditional loot system, and within the first 20 to 30 minutes I was ready to craft myself a new weapon and a complete outfit.

I have no idea how long it's going to be before I can team up with other players in Monster Hunter-style battles against huge enemies, but I'll definitely be sticking with RaiderZ for at least as long as it takes me to find out. If you didn't grab yourself a RaiderZ beta code already, and assuming we still have some left, you can claim one using the following link:

RaiderZ - Beta Key Giveaway

Previous Free Play Fridays

August 3, 2012 - Wizards, Robots, Strategy, Bullets, Codes!
July 27, 2012 - Rocket Jumps, Through Balls, 15,000 Porsches, Codes!
July 20, 2012 - Awesometacular Beta Code Giveaway Edition!
July 13, 2012 - Star Wars, Soccer, League of Legends!
July 6, 2012 - Cave Exploration, Turn-Based Strategy, and Tanks!

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Discussion

27 comments
Pierce_Sparrow
Pierce_Sparrow

I really didn't care for RaiderZ. I played maybe an hour or two before I stopped out of boredom. Nothing about the game presents itself as unique or even interesting. It's boring, typical, quest giving MMO. Even with the promise of hunting large monsters, nothing hooked me enough to even want to get far enough to hunt giant monsters. Not sure what about the game is interesting, but I would really love if developers of these MMO's would stop using outdated mechanics for their games. 

Greyfeld
Greyfeld

Why is it that every indie game is a god damn platformer or puzzle game?  "I have this really cool gameplay idea!  Let's make an entire game centered around it, surely people will enjoy that!!"

 

This isn't to say that indie games suck, or that platformers and puzzle games aren't any good... but would it kill an indie developer to try to tell a story?  Make a point-and-click adventure game, weave a visual novel, craft an RPG.  I can count the number of indie games that I've heard of that don't fall under "platformer" or "puzzler" (or heaven forbid "platformer/puzzler") on one hand.

Vividnightmare
Vividnightmare

Got into RaiderZ, it's the free to play version of TERA. Way way worse graphics, much slower gameplay, etc, etc. If you don't want to pay for TERAs monthly (Or dont have a PC that can run TERA) then RaiderZ is a free alternative.

RiP_ili
RiP_ili

Shootmania suuuuucks. Avoid it.

Kos1c
Kos1c

I got a RaiderZ key from another website a few weeks ago. Finally got into the Beta, and the second night in, they got issues. Taking a while to log into the game, and when changing/loading zones, it freezes and doesn't load a single percent.

Hopefully they'll fix this issue soon, since the beta is almost un-playable due to it.

 

It's a great game. But I'm still sold on GW2. But it'll be a fun game to play for a while.

Nodashi
Nodashi

I'd play Raiderz, but after playing gW2 BWEs and stress test days, I cannot find the will to play any other MMO.

ShadowRun02
ShadowRun02

shootmania=AWESOME!!!

the best shooter i've played after quake and tribes ascend.

only downside is that i get some lags but it's probably cos i live in a hole

LeftyDPS
LeftyDPS

Already downloaded and played RaiderZ when you mentioned it on here a few weeks ago. Very very good game.

 

Also downloaded, played and completed a story about my uncle earlier today. Very impressed with it. Good story line, good gameplay, love the fact it is completely non-violent, and fantastic ending.  My only gripes is my normal laptop didnt like playing it smoothly, so had to use the tv linked desktop, and it was a little short, but considering they had 11 weeks to make it, it is very. very good. Hope the team gets to make some updates or a sequel!

hlmcpherson
hlmcpherson

d/l RaiderZ now.  Sounds promising for a f2p game.  but only until gw2 is out, haha.   ;)

shinspikes
shinspikes

Ah Mang, GS and Justin does it again.  The Uncle game looks great.  Also I'm enjoying my RaiderZ beta.  Thanks.

spikepigeo
spikepigeo

Son, I am disappoint. When I read the title on GS's front page I thought Justin was gonna tell us a story about his uncle. Ah, well.

killman961
killman961

a story about my uncle is just amzing. i love it

jessie82
jessie82

btw since i got no friends the world can have these codes

 

 

LMZ89-H1J-73YZ

MJT74-X2P-11HS

 

enjoy!

 

oh and 1 hour download :(

TM-Mordred
TM-Mordred

ShootMania Storm needs some music, imo, but i don't think most FPS games do...only reason i'm interested in it is because i'm a huge TrackMania fan.

Gantrathor
Gantrathor

The combat in RaiderZ is fantastic! But almost everything else about it seems to be very by the numbers for an MMO. I would enjoy it a whole lot more if that were not the case. But, I suppose I shouldn't complain. They let you play it for free after all, and the combat is quite good.

 

Anyways, thanks for the codes Gamespot!

 

dkdk999
dkdk999

If any one wants to play a cool free to play diablo-ish game checkout path of exile. It's ten bucks to get into the beta, but it's pretty awsome so far.

you_aint_Z
you_aint_Z

Downloading 'A Story About My Uncle' now, can't wait to try it out!

GriffinBalls
GriffinBalls

 @Greyfeld Platformers and 2d games in general, they're just easier to program, so for one guy at home, yeah, he's gonna be making a platformer. give him a studio, 1000 programmers, a ton of money and I'm sure he'll be able to get something more mainstream.

 

Then you've gotta seperate your platformer from the rest so then comes the hook of whichever puzzle element that dev goes for, think of braid, nothing without the going back in time mechanic, give it that and you've got a game.

 

 

Pierce_Sparrow
Pierce_Sparrow

 @Greyfeld Most indie games I've played have had pretty good stories, even if they're subtly told. But indie games seem to be typically created as leaping stones to bigger and better things. Platformers are just generally easier to create, so they are heavily used. Thankfully, developers tend to at least try to be creative, so a lot of the popular indie games never really feel like they're clones of each other.

obsequies
obsequies

 @Greyfeld crack open some genesis or snes games and you'll see how popular 2d scrollers were..almost every title. I don't think its a bad thing..its a genre not a game selling mechanic. From a developers standpoint..scrollers and fpsers are the also the best things to develop..its just practical. The problem could be that too many indie devs are thinking like devs and not gamers though...like how a metalhead guitarist listens to a lot of the same music..but notices the sublte defining differences. it doesnt render what he listens to as crap as its probably really good but to the outside listener its "all the same sound" as the outside listener is more atune to listening and now playing guitar

obsequies
obsequies

 @Greyfeld because you don't pay attention to anything but pop culture..that and 2d side scrollers are the largest genre in gaming..its past is longer than 3rd persons or even fpsers..you could call it the classic rock of gaming.  Because it has such a past as mainstream and indie games its easier to learn from and for younger devs to make..so ya.

project343
project343

 @Vividnightmare I 'hated' TERA by the end of the tutorial. Forced myself to play through the first zone and got to the main city before giving up--seething hatred in tact. I happen to think RaiderZ is pretty cool if you like that sort of game. So, I'll go ahead and say that the two games are fairly different and that I'd personally recommend RaiderZ over TERA any day.

ShadowRun02
ShadowRun02

 @RiP_ili why?

although right now they're all french the gameplay is fast and fun, the battle and siege modes are strategic, and the combat is all about skill.

maybe not much sense of achievement and progress, but unless you're a CoD die hard fan you should like it or at least appreciate it's uniqueness 

project343
project343

 @Gantrathor I think the focus on killing monsters, collecting their parts, and turning them into gear is pretty darn unique--and sort of the driving force behind the progression.

Cillah187
Cillah187

@dkdk999 Yeah, because ten bucks makes it free.