Why no test drive?

January 10, 2010 at 01:09 | Posted in demo, dlc, download, games, GOG.com, Good Old Games, Steam | Leave a comment

Some games I can spend waiting for years to come, the expectation of some sweet deliverance of exuberant proportions digital joy being part of the appeal. Other games I merely stumble upon and for some reason decide to buy.

Fortunately I seem to have a lucky track record of buying games I know little of with only one of them being a disappointment. A few of the games I bought on a whim are Super Smash Bros. and Banjo Kazooie for the Nintendo 64, as well as a small game called Fallout, the latter of which I recently re-bought soundtrack alone. More on that later.

Then there’s the middle child of these categories. The games I kinda know of but isn’t sure if it’s something for me. I’ve read some reviews and seen some footage, but is still not convince. Usually a great demo will be enough to sway me to buy it, but unfortunately that kind of software becoming something of a rarity these days. If I’m lucky I will be able to try them out some other way, maybe trying it on a platform at a friends or something of the like. There are still titles where I feel I’m flinging myself into them, not really sure if I’ll like the game or not. Again, I’m usually in luck here as Prototype, a game which I had tons of fun with, and Borderlands are both fairly recent purchases which I’ve enjoyed. I plan on writing a bit more about Borderlands a bit later.

But it’s strange, isn’t it? I remember people shipping out the demo months before the game was even available. It gave you a hint of what was to come, it was the sales pitch. Back then you could buy expensive magazines with portable media (floppies, CDs or DVDs depending on the era) which were filled to the brim with these goodies. I especially remember one game that PC Gamer in Sweden had two different demos of in different issues. One of them was so big it practically had it’s own separate disc. The latter one was indeed a big section of the game, and the only limit you had was that it stopped working after playing for an hour.

The game in question was called Outcast, a game I will forever hold dear to my heart. Okay, how many of you just thought I meant Star Wars: Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast? Well, if you did, you were wrong! Which proves how overseen this game was. Despite critical acclaim and great, epic gameplay with a fantastic soundscore, it didn’t become as big as it deserved to. My guess is that it’s partially due to the bugs (I’ve yet to make it run properly on another computer). But I digress.

SteamLately there seems to have been an influx of cheaper titles, often indie, or a way of getting older titles for a cheaper price. This is all thanks to the wonders of internet. My two current favourites would be the humongous Steam and the fan-friendly GOG.com. Steam is great for newer titles and sometimes they have some insane weekend deals, such as the Christmas holiday sale (from which I bought over ten games from). The added achievements and ease to join friends in multiplayer in certain games is also a nice bonus.

GOG.com, or Good Old Games as they’re also known as, is a entirely different beast. The most recent titles will probably be at least a year old, and many stretches back more than five, or even ten years of age. There are some real jewels in there for comparatively cheap prices. What makes this all so great though is the fact that they not only sell you the game, they make sure it runs on the latest version of Windows! (Sorry Mac, but we already knew games weren’t your thing.) So now you don’t have to worry if Vista will harass your copy of that old DOS-age game you have lying around. To make a great deal even sweeter you’re often given some extra material for the product you’ve bought such as soundtracks, concept art and wallpapers. Come on, give them a look. If you’ve been playing games the last decade I’m sure you’ll find something interesting in there. Oh, and did I mention there’s no DRM?

I wonder how hard it would be to arrange more demos to come out for platforms such as Steam. It would be a nice addendum to the vast catalogues of games to be able to try them before buying them. Heck, I’d even spend a buck or two on a short stand-alone DLC that could be played without the full copy if it was tailored so that it didn’t feel useless if you bought the game later on. With all the DLC craze going on lately, maybe that’s something appealing for the publishers out there?


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