I spent a good chunk of this week searching zombie corpses for canned goods in DayZ. Very few games (or even basic human needs and bodily functions, for that matter) are able to tear me away from Dean Hall's excellent ArmA II mod right now, but that doesn't mean I haven't played anything else this week. The all-too-short Sleeping Dogs demo piqued my interest enough that I went out and bought myself a copy of the game, and I got into some fun betas and revisited a free-to-play MMO as well. Assuming you don't have Guild Wars 2 early access plans for the weekend, or even if you do, you'd do well to check out any of the following:
Guns of Icarus Online (PC) Beta
Steampunk airships are conspicuously absent from most online shooters, a deficiency that hasn't gone unnoticed by developer Muse Games. In the upcoming Guns of Icarus Online, player captains with modest player crews of gunners and engineers will pit their airships against each other in team-based skirmishes and, sometime next year, against AI enemies in a persistent Adventure mode. Guns of Icarus Online is currently in closed beta, and while I haven't had an opportunity to play the game myself yet, I did watch Kevin VanOrd join a crew with some of the game's developers for a recent live-stream.
A release date of September 30 has been confirmed for Guns of Icarus Online, and if you preorder the game on Steam right now (with a 25 percent discount at the time of writing), you get instant access to the beta that's scheduled to run until launch. Alternatively, you can get into the beta simply by grabbing one of the 10,000 access codes that we're giving away via the link below.
DC Universe Online (PS3/PC)
Like so many MMOs, DC Universe Online is a game that I jumped into when it launched and then, perhaps because I didn't feel like I was playing enough to justify the monthly subscription fee, fell out of within a month or two. The game has since benefitted from the release of four expansion packs, and not too long ago a fifth titled Hand of Fate was announced for release next month. Less than a year after it launched, DC Universe Online also introduced a free-to-play option that reportedly saw its player population spike 1,000 percent.
This week I finally got around to playing DC Universe Online again, but rather than reinstalling the PC version and picking up where I left off, I opted to check out the PlayStation 3 game. The free download from the PSN store weighs in at a hefty 18GB, so I had to delete a bunch of stuff from my launch console's 60GB hard-drive to make room for it, but I'm glad I did. While the PS3 game doesn't look as impressive as its PC counterpart, DC Universe Online's combat was clearly designed with controllers rather than a mouse and keyboard in mind.
There appear to be plenty of other player heroes and villains going about their business in the cities of Gotham and Metropolis, though since I created a new character I'm not yet at a level where I've felt the need to team up with any of them. I also haven't given any serious thought to spending money within the game yet; there are some cool-looking customization options available for purchase, and I like that spending $5 gets you permanent premium status. There's also a legendary account option available for $14.99 a month; it comes with plenty of benefits, but unless I end up with a high-level character that I play regularly there's no danger of me subscribing.
The PS3 version of DC Universe Online can be downloaded for free via the PlayStation Network store. If you're interested in the PC version, click the big "Play Free" button on this page:
Auto Club Revolution (PC) Beta
I don't care what the GameSpot review says (sorry Alex), I liked the original Big Mutha Truckers a lot when it came out in 2003. That game, and plenty of more-traditional driving games that I've enjoyed since, was developed by the good folks at UK-based Eutechnyx who, right now, are working on a free-to-play racer titled Auto Club Revolution. The game has been in open beta for a while, but after briefly taking it for a test-drive during the closed beta earlier this year, I only got around to revisiting it this week.
Auto Club Revolution plays like a finished game already, and after checking out some news items on the game's official site, I'd wager that most of the features still being worked on are those that surround the gameplay proper. It's clear that not all of the vehicle customization options have been implemented yet, for example, and there are some oddities in the pricing of premium items and currency that suggest those things are still work-in-progress. Got $4.99 to spend? For that you can buy 550 E-Bucks or you can buy 550 E-Bucks, a Ford Focus ST, three additional color options, and a tribal decal pack. Regardless of your feelings about Ford, the choice seems a little too obvious.
Upon setting up my new Auto Club Revolution profile, I was presented with a bright red Opel Corsa OPC that, while clearly not one of the more desirable cars on the roster, is fun to drive. Playing through the tutorials plus one or two single-player time trials was enough to add a Mazda RX-7 Spirit R to my garage, and I'm sure additional free cars will come my way if I keep playing. I doubt those cars will include the Bugatti Veyron or the McLaren F1, though, because those and 40-plus other cars are available for purchase from a showroom that deals exclusively in the premium currency of E-Bucks. The aforementioned rides sell for 1,995 and 995 respectively so, depending on the quantities that you purchase your E-Bucks in, the Bugatti costs around $15.
I've yet to try my luck in any multiplayer races, largely because most of the other players in the lobby appear to be using vastly superior cars. The credits I'm earning in-game are fine for upgrading cars that I already own, but as far as I can tell there's no way to spend them on new car purchases, which is unfortunate. Regardless, Auto Club Revolution is a racing game that I think I'll be sticking with for at least a short while. Keep an eye out for me if you decide to check out the game for yourself via the link below:
Previous Free Play Fridays
August 17, 2012 - Guns, Guns, Guns, Medic!
August 10, 2012 - Beta Codes, Shooters, A Story About My Uncle!
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!