Almost regardless of all the “Basics” info we imparted in part one of this article, the first step of any budget gaming experience is to investigate the free gaming market. It has expanded greatly over recent years with the inclusion of in-game advertising, as well as advances in browser gaming with again, advertising money fuelling developers to push the boundaries of what browser based games can do.
NB. All games showcased in this section we have personal experience with. There are no doubt tonnes of other games out there, but these are the one’s we’ve enjoyed.
Boxhead Zombie Wars
So where to look, well a simple Google search of “flash games” will turn up hundreds of websites all with multitudes of flash games ranging from basic 5 minute excursions, to epic RPGs that can take hours to complete. One problem we have though, is that regardless of how many good flash games there are out there, there are far many more poor ones. They can often be mixed in with flash movies as well, which are great unto themselves, but we’re talking about gaming here. Below you’ll find XSR’s top list of Flash Games websites which are clean, concise and feature some top flash games in an easy to navigate manner. If anyone wants to suggest more sites, please contact us by clicking my name at the top of this article.
*Warning*: Some of these sites contain Adult Content.
Newgrounds.com – One of the oldest flash sites around. Features movies as well as games, but is pretty simple to navigate. Stick to the collections if you want to bypass some of the poor quality games.
Armorgames – Far younger than Newgrounds but almost rivalling it in popularity, ArmorGames is one of the web’s top flash games sites featuring some truly amazing games considering what flash was initially designed to do.
XGenstudios – Creators of some very original flash based titles, they also showcase some top games from other artists. Very clean site design with good game instruction.
NinjaKiwi – Original hosted content for some of the more popular browser based games online at the moment including Bloons, and it’s derivative; Bloons Tower Defence.
Crazy Monkey Games – Again, create some of their own top games while showing off some great ones from other authors.
BattleOn/Artix Entertainment – This company produces indepth flash based RPGs and have recently released a flash based MMO. They have a variety of turn based titles that can occupy serious amounts of time if you let them.
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An oft forgotten facet in the realm of gaming is the text based one as it’s become rather outdated with many enjoying the heavy graphical interfaces of modern titles. However, there are select groups of those still enjoying this age old style of gaming, harkening back to the days of tabletop RPGs. They can also provide a sense of depth that other games cannot due to their heavy reliance on the user’s imagination. Some of XSR’s favourite ones are:
UrbanDead – One of the more popular text based games still operating, UrbanDead is a Zombie survival MMO title where if you’re bitten, you become one of the undead, unless one of your fellow humans can revive you. A large community and semi-regular updates.
Utopia – Without doubt one of the oldest and most widely played text based strategy MMOs out there. Compete against thousands of other players for supremacy. Guilds, different races, different government types; it’s all there.
Earth 2025 – Working in a slightly different fashion to Utopia, and set in a more modern universe, Earth 2025 is produced by the same company and has an equally large fan base. Definitely worth a look.
Wiki List – Wikipedia has a longer list of text based MMOs. We haven’t tried them all, but I’m sure there’s some gems in there.
Interestingly, considering their stigma of having monthly fees, there are many Free to Play MMO games out there, even more so if you count those currently in open beta. However, discounting those you have to pay an initial up front charge for – this is the pure free section of the article – here’s a few popular completely free MMOs that might interest you:
Runescape – Most will have heard of this one already, and while it has a paying option for advanced members, you can still enjoy a vast majority of it’s swords and sorcery style adventures for free. There’s quests, tonnes of equipment and a pretty impressive community though you might find a bit of mockery if you mention that you play it as it’s built up a stereotypical image of it’s players over the years.
DreamLords the Reawakening – Dreamlords is an interesting game as it mixes PVP online MMO play, a single player experience, and a browser based resource management system. It’s hard to explain, but good fun.
Urban Rivals – Urban Rivals isn’t a traditional MMO, it’s a card game; of sorts. You can level them up, trade, buy cards – if you so wish, but it isn’t necessary – and form clans and groups. It’s apparently got millions of players, but with only 3,000 or so online at once, I doubt it.
9Dragons – 9 Dragons is an interesting martial arts based MMO and is completely free to play. It’s a bit of a grind, but still lots of fun.
FreeMMORPGList – For a huge list of other Free MMO titles, check this site out. There are so many out there, it should keep you busy for ages.
Pirates of the Burning Sea
If you’re wondering whether to splash a few dollars on a game, and even if you aren’t and just want a bit of play time, there are several that offer free trials for you to check out:
World of Warcraft – The biggest MMO available at the moment, and it’s not a bad one. I gotta say, I think there’s better ones out there, but if you want to try the one that set the tone for MMOs to come, check it out.
Guild Wars – Another very popular MMO in the fantasy genre which is actually free to play once you’ve bought it. However, if you want to check it out before you dump a few pennies on it, grab the 14 day free trial here.
Pirates of the Burning Sea – One of the more interesting MMOs I’ve played. You take on the role as a pirate, or privateer in the Caribbean during the golden age of the seas. Essentially it’s Pirates of the Caribbean without Johnny Depp. What more could you ask for? With this one you get a 14 or 21 day trial to sail the seven seas.
GameOgre – This site has a full list of Free Trials for other MMOs including the ones we mentioned.
Demos might not be the full game, but they can give you a fair amount of playing time and at the very least, let you try out a game before you buy it. They can be found anywhere online, just google “ demo” and you should find something along the lines of what you’re looking for. However, for a long list of games, check out:
Nzone – Large list of downloadable demos.
Conclusion… for now
With the free section of this article covered, it’s high time we took a look at low cost gaming. In the next part of Budget Gaming, we’ll be talking you through retro games, 2nd hand options, downloadable titles and swap sites. Look for this part in the next few days.
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