How To Shoot People For Free

By Alec Meer on December 11th, 2009 at 12:42 pm.

Ah, the free weekend – a delectable demonstration that traditional box-bound videogaming is a relic of yesterday. It’s stupidly simple to download a few gigabytes of game within just a couple of hours, then dispose of it without concern. It’s done fine things for the likes of Team Fortress 2, Killing Floor and Unreal Tournament 3, so any bugger with an ounce of sense is trying the same thing. Currently, the unrespected Dreamkiller is at it until the end of the weekend – pick it up from Steam. Could a cheery overload of multiplay fun save it from its bad word of mouth? Plus, next weekend, Crysis Wars – the online component of Crysis: Warhead – goes free to play for 10 days. No Steam required there, but you do need to sign up to official fansite MyCrisis.

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50 Comments »

  1. terry says:

    http://steamcommunity.com/stats/Dreamkiller/achievements

    How do you rescue a game in which 97.9% of users have failed to sit through even a single level?

    • Christian says:

      Oh my, you’re right. The achievements do tell a very interesting story about this game. That seems rather depressing.

      But for free I’ll have a look, preload finished yesterday.

    • Mman says:

      It’s obvious there’s some sort of bug or the achievements were just added; even if this was the worst game ever (and even though it’s supposed to be pretty bad it’s apparent it’s still not close to that), there would be at least one crazy who’s done everything, or at least some of the simpler stuff currently in the 0% category.

    • Mman says:

      After seeing something elsewhere it’s confirmed that downloads for the free weekend count on the achievements and the stats were higher before… Though still more than low enough to reflect very badly on the game.

    • shalrath says:

      I was really depressed at Red Orchestra’s achievements. 11% of users have 10 kills.

  2. Dominic White says:

    Yeah, Dreamkiller is very bad. It’s by the semi-amateur crew that did the vastly underwhelming Painkiller: Overdose, and somehow actually manages to make the formula WORSE.

    Here’s the GiantBomb quick look on the game, and all you will ever want to see of it:
    http://www.giantbomb.com/quick-look-dreamkiller/17-1514/

    Save yourself the download. Just watch that.

    • Christian says:

      Thanks for the GiantBomb-link, Dominic White…didn’t know that site somehow. Their Quick-Looks-section is just great, esp. because they don’t even try to hide that they suck at some games…this all adds to the fun and is a great way of showing the mechanics of a game. Great site, that.

  3. M.P. says:

    Not that I don’t think this is a great idea, but wouldn’t it have been better if they had given people a few days forewarning and a chance to preload the game? I have an 8Mbps connection and Steam estimates it’ll take me another 2.3 days to download the whole 10GB behemoth, and a lot of folks are on much slower connections than I am!

    I’m beginning to think the “free weekend” marketing stunt has become a cheap substitute for devs too lazy to make a good demo for their game.

    • SirKicksalot says:

      You could start preloading since Wednesday. There was an update news in the client.

    • Okami says:

      Devs aren’t too lazy to make a demo. Creating a demo takes time and costs money, it takes away resources that could be used to polish the full version.

      I hate it when people who have no idea about how game development works call developers lazy.

    • heartless_ says:

      Your connection isn’t the limiting factor. Generally, Steam caps out at about 1.5-2 Mbps (~500-700 KBps as reported in Steam) on single downloads.

  4. skalpadda says:

    “just a couple of hours”

    Minutes, more like, at least from the Scandogernadian regions of Steam. The main reason I get almost everything from Steam these days is that it’s faster than taking the bus into town to buy games on CDs (which I’ll inevitably scratch or lose within a year anyway).

    Still, this game does seem like a waste of both time and bandwidth.

  5. SomeCallMeDave says:

    I gotta say it, Crisis Wars sucks

    I really tried to get into it, sat down and had a 2 hour session and its just no fun. Most games seem to involve people running around without a clue whats happening or people just flying about for kicks, would rather play Desert Bus!

    • Dominic White says:

      This happens with every free weekend for any vaguely complex game. The flood of newbies means most matches are confused messes, and things usually don’t return to normality until a week or two after the event ends, and the new players have a clue what they’re doing.

    • somecallmedave says:

      i’m afraid i got mine outside of a free weekend so that theory doesn’t fly with me matey

      However i do think Crysis Wars has potential for good LAN party gaming, if organised properly i think a decent game could be had

    • StarDrowned says:

      I absolutely love Crysis Wars, it’s one of the few multiplayer shooters I still go back to regularly. The suit powers can be a lot of fun in MP. The stealth actually works if you’re careful, but using the speed and strength to get around can be really useful, the mobility can make for some really intense fights. Hell, I never finished Warhead, I might have to go do that.

  6. Spod says:

    Dunno if I’m doing something wrong but this isn’t showing up as free for the weekend for me. I’ve found the news link in Steam highlighting the offer but clicking the link just gives me the option to buy it and nothing else. Naturally I’ve tried restarting Steam, anyone else having this problem?

    • JuJuCam says:

      @Spod it should just automagically appear in your “Not Installed” list of games you own with a note on the time limit. I can confirm that the store page still shows add to cart.

    • Spod says:

      @JuJuCam: You’re absolutely right. I’ve always found that you need to go to the store page and add them to your games list to get the free weekends but this one was just dumped right there. Thanks for the info. :)

    • nutterguy says:

      Have to disagree with you there SomeCallMeDave.
      I really enjoyed Crysis Wars, I think that it took over very well from Unreal 2003/04.
      Some of the maps are frantic small deathmatches and then on the other end of the scale you have giant maps with vehicles of all sorts and multiple objectives.
      Also I think it has some of the best non-simulator style tank games. Tanks in Crysis wars are awesome.

      What bothered me was the cheaters/hackers, now some people who can use the Nanosuit controls very well may almost seem to be hacking (just skill) but there are others who are clearly using aimbots and other more obvious hacks.

      Because of that I haven’t played it a few months… Will definitly be back for the 10 days leading up to christmas! Yea.

    • nutterguy says:

      Oh RPS….
      FIX YOUR REPLY SYSTEM!

  7. MindFukr says:

    Spiders yay. I tried to complete the first level but after accidentally killing myself with that rocket launcher-y weapon four times I just gave up. One of the worst first level ever, so unimaginative level design… and there’s so much, much more bad stuff. Why am I even telling you this? Just skip this piece of shit game!

  8. Persus-9 says:

    I tried this yesterday and erm yeah, I didn’t even complete the first level because basically life is too short. It does get a little better after the opening cinematic but not much, not much at all. It’s just like I’d imagine the videogame tie in to The Cell would have turned out. Seems like a pretty brave move on the part of Mindware to let this stand and fall on it’s own merits since it doesn’t seem to have any. This is a game so bad that even the minigun with an attached grenade laucher is annoying, that takes talent. Still I’m guess they’ll be some people who’ll insist this is the best thing since sliced bread and might have been put of buying it by all the people with taste so this weekend will be very nice for both them and Mindwave.

  9. pimorte says:

    To be fair, those achievement stats include all the free-weekenders, not just the people who have bought it.
    (Take a look at L4D2′s stats for other examples. 120% had one particular achievement.)

  10. Premium User Badge oceanclub says:

    I bought Frontlines: Fuels of War on Steam for the €2.50 special offer (_almost_ free) and am pleasantly surprised by bought the single player and the online shooty part. Not quite sure why it got such a bad rep.

  11. Tei says:

    I love the “free weekend” thingie for mmo’s. Really helps to decide if the game is worth revisiting. Try before you buy is a good formula, I think DOOM proven that.

  12. Donkeydeathtasticelastic says:

    Alas, some of us are stuck on shitty island ADSL and can’t actually pull down anything bigger than a few hundred megs without adversely affecting everything ever.

  13. Jad says:

    It’s too bad. I had tons of fun with the original Painkiller, and its sad that both the official expansions and spiritual sequels, like this one, are no where near as good.

    Serious Sam HD being re-released is good and all, but I’d like some new stuff in the “mindlessly shoot thousands of dudes” genre.

  14. toro says:

    DON’T FIX YOU REPLY BUTTON!!!….I LOVE IT!!! :)

  15. toro says:

    DON’T FIX YOUR REPLY BUTTON!!!….I LOVE IT!!! :)

  16. Rane2k says:

    Ok, preloading now, I´ll have to see if this falls in the category “So bad that it´s good”. :-)

    (I loved Painkiller and thought the Battle Out Of Hell expansion was rather nice (not as good as the original tough), never played the Overdose thing)

    • Dominic White says:

      Overdose was a third-party hackjob. The original Painkiller development team have been bought up by Epic Games (and have been working on Gears of War patches/maps ever since… bah!). Just warning you that this is less likely to be ‘so bad it’s good’ and more ‘so painfully dull it doesn’t last a day on your hard drive’.

  17. MadTinkerer says:

    This game has a TON of flaws, but there’s a pretty interesting game past those flaws.

    Is anyone else using the teleportation power? I ignored it at first, but after a bit of practice, it really changes how you play. Getting mobbed? Teleport to a better place to shoot them.

    I think one of the things that makes it seem charming to me is that it reminds me a lot of a student project. The concept of the game, as well as the artistic design is fantastic. They just dropped the ball on many of the “game” parts.

    Probably the most annoying thing to me is the way the enemies fail to react to being shot. They just soak up bullets/missiles/fire until they fall over dead. Enemies actually acting hurt when you hurt them (and giving you a split second to ready another attack or flee or whatever) has been a part of FPS games since Wolfenstein 3D.

    That and the default mouse sensitivity is ridiculous. It’s like the Dreamkiller team has never played an FPS that uses mouselook other than the ones they’ve made. Crank it down to the third-lowest setting and that’s about the Valve default setting. I can’t imagine anyone wanting to crank it above the default Dreamkiller setting…

    Also “easy” mode is a ridiculously transparent lie. Bad Dream is more like “normal” in Valve games than anyone’s idea of easy. Definitely a symptom of under-playtesting.

    I think the whole general problem with the game is that it’s rather unlike anything else except maybe Painkiller. It’s not like Serious Sam at all, other than the quantities of bad guys thrown at you each round. It’s obviously under-playtested because nothing is adequately explained, and each new and important gizmo you get has to be practiced while fending off waves of baddies. On the positive side the environments are fantastic (all of level 2 so far and parts of level 1), the weapons are neat though they take some getting used to, when you learn to teleport correctly the annoying parts become a lot less annoying

    Flawed but fun, when you get a handle on the weirder design decisions they made. I might buy it if I get all the way through the second level. The second level does introduce a rather annoying feature where you need to jump through portals to kill certain enemies, but I’m willing to slog through it just to give the game a decent chance. It seems like it could turn out to be an “acquired taste” that’s worth acquiring. We’ll see.

    • megaman says:

      I have to agree with a lot of things. Played it yesterday and found that I got bored after like 3 hours. It’s always the same scheme: new level, new easy enemies, next room with new medium enemies, next room with easy and medium enemies, next room with hard enemies, next room with easy and hard enemies, next room with easy, medium and hard enemies, final room with boss and the rest. I stopped during the medieval “museum” level. After 3 hours my favourite gun was still the minigun/rocketlauncher combo you get as first weapon after 5 minutes (but who’d need anything else than a minigun/rocketlauncher combo-weapon, ever?).
      I found that it was lacking in level design (the old painkiller was huge and beautiful, where Dreamkiller often has small rooms to fight in and looks like a boring room where someone dropped some stuff in). Also, I was missing some hints on what to do or how to use stuff you found (weapons, souls, berserker mode, energy bars in your HUD, etc. pp.). The “portals” thing is a pure chore and I lack to see how it adds to the fun of playing the game.
      The only real thing it got over Painkiller is the red marker on your hud for “nearest enemy” and the green one for “next exit” (I found myself seaching and wandering around in Painkiller a lot more, but then it was also much more fun to search for the secrets there).
      All in all, the game fails to be an improved Painkiller. Sadly.

  18. MadTinkerer says:

    Oh, also I haven’t tried multiplayer yet. It’ll be interesting if multiplayer is it’s saving virtue.

  19. Mman says:

    So, is this singleplayer or not? Sounds like it might be MP only, which would make sense I guess, but I thought this might be an opportunity to grab the SP for free and play through in a couple of days.

    • Mman says:

      Now I have it, in case anyone’s wondering, the full SP is there, so I guess I’ll treat this like a rent (which, from what I’ve heard, is all the game’s worth anyway).

  20. patrick says:

    Problem with the steam stats like that, is that that includes purchases made as part of a bundle but never loaded or played. How many people picked up the orange box to get episode 2 as well, but never played portal? at least 25% of them.

  21. invisiblejesus says:

    I didn’t try the multiplayer, but I did download and give the single player a whirl. It was so horrible I actually regretted even bothering with the free download. Seriously, these are precious minutes of your life that you could be spending doing something more enjoyable than playing Dreamkiller, like getting a prostate exam or eating brussel sprouts.

  22. Premium User Badge Carra says:

    Sadly a 10 gigabyte tryout is outside the realms of my 30 gig/month download limits.

    • heartless_ says:

      Check with your provider. A lot of them don’t count game or movie downloads from larger content distribution networks like Steam.

  23. devlocke says:

    I just played through the first level, and quit because I want to listen to the RPScast before I go to bed. Honestly, I didn’t find it all that bad. I almost quite five minutes in, but I was determined not to be someone who didn’t complete the first level, and by the time I offed the boss, I was actually enjoying it. Someone above mentioned the teleport system, which I otherwise would not have bothered with, and that seemed like (if I were good at it) it would add some depth to the run n’ gun. I couldn’t figure out what use, if any, the alt-fire for the first weapon was, and didn’t think to check the alt-fire for the minigun until right before the boss (and felt really dumb, as I imagine the rocket launcher would have made things a lot easier), but it seems to be a competently executed run n’ gun sort of thing. I’m probably just out of touch (the last similar thing I played was Serious Sam when it came out, tho it’s not super-similar) but I don’t think all the vitriol is justified. The voice-acting wasn’t the worst I’ve heard, the moving images were mostly pretty, and everything worked. Only thing I really didn’t like about level one was the fact that there were only three or four enemy types, and they were all spiders. So that was kinda dull. I’m looking forward to checking out level two tomorrow.

  24. Christian says:

    Well…after starting this game and it being deleted from my computer half an hour later, I’d say I would understand the low percentage. But then again, I didn’t pay for the game (free weekend), so maybe I’d at least have progressed to the third level before quitting and deleting.

    • Christian says:

      So, not being logged in seems to be really bad for the comments, as the above was meant and written as a reply to terry/Mman. Oh well.

  25. gryffinp says:

    When I tried this game I went in trying to avoid making comparisons to Painkiller, because I felt that would be unfair to it. I thought I should try to judge it on it’s own merits. Then, when I was playing I kept making comparisons to painkiller no matter how much I tired not to. The breaking point for me was the beginning of the second level, where I get a new weapon that had valves and spinny lighting around the barrel and I fired it and it was a shotgun.

    Which was fine, because the shotgun is an old and venerable FPS weapons and despite the fact that this shotgun doesn’t do much damage and fires slowly and sends my screen bouncing around from “recoil” it was not horrible. Then I right clicked and if fired a freeze bolt.

    It was the shotgun from Painkiller. IT WAS THE SHOTGUN FROM PAINKILLER. They stole the shotgun from Painkiller and made it terrible! The incredibly shit chaingun-rocket launcher was bad enough, but here they’ve taken another of the fantastic weapons in painkiller and made it suck! At that point I threw away all of my sympathy, as it was clear they were trying to make another Painkiller, and I judged it against the original. and they failed. Horribly. I didn’t make it through the third level before I had to stop lest I vomit in disgust.

    I don’t understand why they would put this game up for a free weekend. In theory that might help sales, but that assumes that after playing your game people will WANT TO BUY IT.

  26. postmanX3 says:

    Looks like I dodged a 10 GB bullet by reading these comments. Guess I’ll just go back to scrounging loose change for Serious Sam HD.

  27. Mman says:

    Finished it now, and I’ve apparently written a whole review too.

    There’s a few nice ideas there but a lot of the game seems to suggest fundamental misunderstandings of what makes “Doom style” FPS games work. I think the biggest issue is the pacing; while they occasionally go overboard, all the best shooters of this type know when to stop, Painkiller (the most direct comparison since this is supposed to be a spiritual successor) was mostly balls-out, but it also had the occasional bit where you just explored for a short time with no combat, and each combat in itself generally had a certain flow to it, where the end point felt quite natural most of the time. Conversely Dreamkiller has parts where it just keeps sending stuff at you despite there being no space for any interesting gameplay to develop so you’re just stuck mowing down a bunch of completely dominated enemies over and over again (although this did seem to improve a little later on), and it pretty much never has quiet moments at all.

    The infinite ammo feeds into that, as equipment is major part of the flow in games like this, and well-placed (and balanced) ammo, health etc can be what makes a fight interesting in the first place; Dreamkiller has nothing more than the occasional powerup, which are rare enough to make them have almost no influence on the combat, meaning you can just mow everything down with your optimal choice of weaponry and never be forced out of your comfort zone. The portals to the subconsciousness seemed like some attempt at forcing you to be active, but it’s not really enough.

    I did think it picks up a bit later on (although the puppet house level is the only real stand-out thematically), which goes into another thing, as the games places too much emphasis on the weapon-upgrade system. Later on the game gives far more upgrades, but part of why the first levels are worse is that your guns are stuck at the bottom levels where they are pretty worthless; while they mostly still suck when leveled, one or two become a lot better later, the shotgun especially, which completely outclasses every other weapon most of the time… On that note, there’s very little balance in the weapons at all, and the two weapon limit is completely nonsensical, there are one or two interesting combinations (like combining the enemy lure Sunbeam secondary with explosives), but nothing being able to carry everything would take away from. Also I think it suffers in general from trying to follow Painkiller despite not having the concept to work with its mechanics, for instance, the “berserker” mechanic doesn’t really make sense when the main character comes across as a relatively calm snarker most of the time (as opposed to being constantly on the edge or something).

    Really, the biggest missed opportunity is the concept itself, even if it remained “just” a shooter there’s plenty of space for the ideas and level concepts to be far more imaginative than they are here, but I can’t help feeling it would work better as a pseudo adventure game or something, where you explore patients minds both in and out of the dreamworld (the dreamworld could even work similar to how it is now as a sort of action interlude, with the bonus that there could be something solid outside of the rudimentary shooting mechanics).

    • Shalrath says:

      Just wanted to do a quick, not-nearly as good ‘review’ to agree with yours:

      What is bizarre is they built a twitchy, fast, run-and-gun shooter … with crappy controls. Everything is off – turning is always too quick, even with the slider at the minimum; guns take FOREVER to kill something, but there’s almost no danger; bosses require circle strafing.. but are in corridors; the alt-fire of the chaingun fires a high-damage grenade… but you can’t use the chaingun itself until you reload the grenade; if you jump forward, then let go of forward, you simply stop moving; your own abilities involve a push that has a bizarre distance I still don’t understand, and a flame ability that only works while the enemies are hitting you; etc etc etc.

      So I agree with what you’ve said, only I was most infuriated with the controls.

  28. Rane2k says:

    Okay, I gave the game a chance today, played on the hardest setting to the 3rd level.

    If the game was free, it would be … okay. The gameplay reminded me most of DooM II, particularly the relatively fast movement speed and the resulting dodge/attack patterns that work best. However, DooM had interesting level design and a wide array of enemies, this here does not.

    The interface was rather unintuitive, I still don´t know what the top right “energy bar” does, it was probably explained in one of the 5 second tooltip messages that came up mid-combat… and thus weren´t read by me.

    The two-weapon system was annoying and clunkily implemented. The fact that the weapon-pickups stayed in the room after you used them was really annoying in 2 spots in the 2nd level, where the pickup was constantly in the way, and whenever you backed away from something and ran into the thing then your preferred weapon was on the ground, and you had the other gun in your hand…

    I´m not sure how the developer´s got this through any kind of quality assurance, maybe everyone was too afraid to tell them “Hey, you made DooM/Painkiller/Serious Sam, only without the elements that made those games fun and good.”.
    As mentioned above, they even copied things directly from Painkiller, like the shotgun/freeze weapon (only in ugly) and the berserker dog things in the third level (instantly recognized them, only the color scheme was different).
    To anyone who considered buying this: Rather get the Painkiller Black Edition, it´s simply better, and you can get it for something like 10-15 Euros.

    (Oh, and regarding my earlier comment: It was not “So bad that it´s good”, unfortunately.)

    • Rane2k says:

      Oh, one thing I forgot:
      What´s up with infinite ammo? That only makes everything more dull.