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:
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:
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:
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:
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!