The RPS Bargain Bucket: Iterative Value

By Lewie Procter on November 3rd, 2012 at 5:00 pm.


I’m somehow still riddled with GameCity flu, but it takes more than germs in my body to stop me from chronicling the best deals in PC gaming every weekend. As long as there’s air in my lungs I’ll be around to inform you that a game you might want to buy is slightly cheaper than you might have expected it to be. This is my power. This is my curse. I guess I should plug SavyGamer and then get on with it.

Dark Souls: Prepare To Die Edition – £12.42/€15.50/$19.90
This is from Amazon US, so you’ll need to enter a US billing address. It registers on Steam.
The game too strong to be confined to the consoles. Adam left the relative safety of the campfire to venture into Dark Souls, and somehow made it back to tell the tale:

I was trapped for hours, too afraid to go deeper, too weak to ascend. It’s the closest I’ve come to feeling completely lost and doomed to eternal death in a game for a long, long time. Curses, like so many boosts and buffs, do not immediately explain themselves and nor is a solution or purpose directly communicated. Experimentation and exploration are the key to discovery and victory.

The rest is here.

Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory – £2.09/€2.99/$2.99
Still the best Splinter Cell. This entry in the neck-snapping, espionage-crouching simulator is the one where they got the open ended level design just right. Once the levels open up, there’s always multiple objectives that can be completed in different orders. There’s also optional objectives that will impact subsequent missions. It’s got a kick-ass soundtrack, and I hear the multiplayer is solid too. Are the servers still running? I never tried it.

Amnesia: The Dark Descent – £3.24/€3.74/$4.99
RPS’s own John “scaredy pants” Walker thought these things about this game:

The sense of urgency to get back onto a box, out of the water and onto the safety of a crate, is insane. The whole of my body tensing as the click of my mouse becomes more intense, more frantic, leaning forward in my chair as if that will help me climb to safety more quickly, my spine and chest tingling with urgent fear.

Tomb Raiders for cheap:
Tomb Raider: Legend – £1.74/€2.49/$2.49
Tomb Raider: Anniversary – £2.49/€2.49/$2.49
Tomb Raider: Underworld – £2.49/€3.74/$4.99
I’m not sure if I’m qualified to appraise these, because I’ve never done any consultancy work for Square-Enix. I’ll give it a try anyway. I reckon Legend is the best one here, it’s probably a fair bit dated now, but it gave the series a much needed reboot at the time. Anniversary was a mostly solid remake of the first game, with some lovely looking environments, but they ruined the best bit in the whole game by turning the T Rex encounter into a quick time event laden boss fight, instead of just a GIANT T REX COMING RIGHT FOR YOU. Underworld I didn’t get too far in, because I got bored. Should I give it another try?

Deal of the week
Sim City 2000 – £1.49/€1.86/$2.39
There’s shedloads of great games as part of this EA promo at GOG this weekend, but Sim City 2000 is one the games that made me:

SimCity 2000 instilled a few qualities in me which I know massively shaped me in my child and then adult life. I learnt the value of ‘gaming a system’, working out the underlying rules, and manipulating and pushing them for maximum personal benefit. I also gained an understanding of the value of iterative learning. I knew after my first failed attempt of creating a huge sprawling metropolis that I could do better next time. And I did.

What a game. Also totally worth your attention are Alpha Centauri, all the old Bullfrog games, the Wing Commanders and the Ultimas.

Also of note:
A bunch of games where you pretend to pilot helicopters and aeroplanes, two for a fifteen currencies.

More deals can always be found over at SavyGamer.co.uk.

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84 Comments »

  1. Commander Gun says:

    “all the old Bullfrog games”
    *goes off to instantly buy Theme Park*
    .
    ..

    sad face :(

    • Didero says:

      It seems Theme Park is abandonware, so you can just download it.
      Though abandonware is a gray area, so I don’t know if this post breaks any rules.

      • The Random One says:

        Legally speaking, abandonware doesn’t exist. Not unless the game was made in the 30′s.

        • Ich Will says:

          Is it so black and white? What if this download has been available for years unchallenged, with full knowledge of the IP owners? Surely it can be argued that if they don’t actively protect their IP, it is what is colloquially known as “abandonware” until such a time as they choose to protect it again.

          • Continuity says:

            You can argue whatever you like, it wouldn’t help you in a court of law if it ever came to that. Not that thats likely, but its the principle: illegal is illegal.

            Not that I’m getting on a high horse, I’ve been a part of the abandonware scene since 2000, taking an active part on sites like Hotu and classic trash, but that’s history now.

          • malkav11 says:

            Yes, it is that black and white. There is, legally speaking, no such classification as abandonware. Unless the copyright holder has specifically made their material available to you for free download, you are violating copyright by downloading that. Will people care? Possibly, even probably not. Should copyright law be changed? Probably. Are abandonware sites doing a valuable service for the medium? Yup.

            Doesn’t change how things are at the moment.

          • HadToLogin says:

            As far as I can tell “abandonware” means “nobody sells it, so nobody cares if you pirate it”.

            So, I guess thanks to gog.com, there’s nearly none abandonware now.

          • Ich Will says:

            @Continuity && malkav11 – Yes, I appreciate that, but would it ever get to court if you hadn’t been asked to stop? I mean, let’s say you own the IP to a game. You find a site offering a free download of the game. If you don’t ask them to stop and just start the process of sueing them, would the court officials ask you to contact the site with a cease and desist before they will accept the application? I think yes myself.

            Now if you pursue damages against the site, you are going to find it tricky to argue damages if your game wasn’t actually for sale during the life cycle of the site. You could maybe argue that the brand has been damaged, but I personally feel that if anything, the site would have strengthened your brand and I think that would be a very difficult sell!

            Remember to be awarded damages, you have to demonstrate that you actually have sustained damage!

            Anyway, what I was trying to get at was the idea that IP needs to be actively protected. If you own an IP, you are responsible for the identification and pursuing legal action against those who breach it. If you have not been doing that, if the site has been on the first page of google for close to a decade if you search for your game name, how are you going to persuade the judge that you have been actively protecting your IP? And thus, I believe we enter a shade of grey!!!

            @HadToLogin – GOG doesn’t sell every old game!!!

          • LionsPhil says:

            @HadToLogin: Pretty much. If you’re after something for nothing, GOG’s been pretty terrible to you.

            If you’re interested in playing old games and preserving some of gaming’s cultural artifacts, though, having known versions with minimal meddling, no malware, most of the sundry bits like the manual (not as a mistyped text file or set of askew muddy-contrast scans) etc. is a pretty great thing to happen.

            HotU et. al. served well, but someone put the legal-wrangling elbow grease in to monetize it properly, and we’ve actually got a pretty good deal out of it. An illegal activity has been stopped The Good Way: making a legal alternative that’s actually better.

          • I want to stab you to death and play around with your blood. says:

            “‘Illegal’ is just a sick bird.”

            -Officer Dave “Date Rape” Brown (Woody Harrelson) – Rampart 2011

          • PodX140 says:

            This isn’t reddit, nobody cares about your memes, and your username is disturbing and too long.

  2. MarkN says:

    Oh my! I didn’t realise Nox had made it on to Gog. An under-appreciated gem if ever there was one. If the idea of a Diablo-like game with bags of charm appeals it’s well worth checking out – especially for less than 2 quid.

    • InternetBatman says:

      I absolutely love Nox. It’s one of the best ARPG I have ever played, second only to Diablo.

      • MessyPenguin says:

        Nox was amazing, the line of sight mechanic was really cool.

        • johnnyan says:

          I cannot agree more with you guys. Nox is one of the best games I ever played.

          • wyrmsine says:

            Nox is on GOG? Guaranteed sale, and thanks for mentioning.

    • godwin says:

      Ah Westwood and old Blizzard… you are missed.

      • LionsPhil says:

        Oh, Westwood. What cruel fate took you from us so soo—

        —oh, right, EA. Destroyer of all things beautiful.

  3. SuperNashwanPower says:

    “Experimentation and exploration are the key to discovery and victory.”
    Or more accurately, getting so irritated that you want to feed your controller to a badger, and then looking up the solution on Dark Souls wiki / Epic Name Bro videos instead.

  4. PsychoWedge says:

    Theme Hospital (at GoG for 2.39$) is one of my all time favourite cosiness games. It’s one of those games you can play in the middle of a snowy winter, lying in bed, a cup of hot chocolate besides you and a purring cat sleeping its hearts content away on your legs.

    • Ergonomic Cat says:

      You’re probably stuck in bed because you’re suffering from Slack Tongue, eh?

  5. pakoito says:

    Got Dark Souls from a weird-accent friend :D cool cool cool

  6. djbriandamage says:

    “I’m not sure if I’m qualified to appraise these, because I’ve never done any consultancy work for Square-Enix.”

    LOL my bucket runneth over

    • Kasab says:

      I’d see a doctor about that.

    • Deano2099 says:

      On the other hand, he’s made a bunch of affiliate money off linking to Square/EA games on his website so he’s probably qualified by that metric.

      • MondSemmel says:

        Right, but once you include video game advertising, there isn’t an unproblematic video game journalist (who has to work for a living) in existence. That’s either a reason to despair, or to change the metric…

      • Deadly Sinner says:

        The problem isn’t taking money or gifts from publishers, the problem is not disclosing that fact.

        • Lewie Procter says:

          Bingo, which is why I explain the SavyGamer business model to anyone who is interested in the about section.

          Edit: and I’d actually hope my track record for calling publishers on their bullshit whether or not I earn any money from their games would give me some credibility.

  7. TychoCelchuuu says:

    Note that the Sim City 2000 on sale at GOG.com is the inferior DOS version. Maybe someday they’ll have the Windows version but for now it might make sense to hold off buying it.

  8. jon_hill987 says:

    Underworld was better than Legend, they got rid of the QTE and Boss fights and the Motocycle sections were much better as well. Combat still dodgy, but there was less of it in favour of the platforming puzzles.

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      Agreed. Underworld is sublime. Underwater norse ruins are good.

      Plus, I was grateful for the option of a less sexy outfit for each level, though I’m less positive about what that says about the franchise.

    • jonfitt says:

      Which of the three has the least combat? I always liked the climbing and exploring puzzles and hated the combat in the originals.

      • LennyLeonardo says:

        If I remember correctly (which is quite unlikely) Underworld very much puts the emphasis on exploration and jumping about, with around the same ratio of Tom Raiding to shooting as the original game. But, like the original game, the final few levels still get a bit too combat heavy.

      • Mman says:

        Anniversary has the least combat by far (despite being a remake it probably has less than half the enemies of the original game), on the other hand it has the most irritating forced combat mechanic for bosses with the Adrenaline Dodge. If you get the hang of that move combat is basically a non-issue though, and unlike the other two it doesn’t have any worthless shoot-em-up levels.

      • DPB says:

        Legend has the most by far, and Anniversary and Underworld are about the same in that regard, apart from the last levels of Underworld which are very combat-focused. I liked Anniversary best, it has the most challenging platforming sections. I thought Legend was the worst of the three – the shooting and motorbike parts were rubbish, and the platforming was very easy (I found the first couple of hours of Anniversary harder than anything in Legend). Underworld was pretty good, but the platforming never felt as exciting as Anniversary to me.

        • Xocrates says:

          The biggest difference between Anniversary and Underworld is the difficulty. Underworld is fairly easy, but Anniversary can get pretty damn hardcore. It is harder than the game it is remaking by a fair margin.

  9. harakka says:

    I’d love to get the DCS games for that price, but for some reason Get Games no longer likes my credit card. I used the same card to preorder Hotline Miami from there a month back though and it went through just fine.

  10. Urthman says:

    Anyone successfully played Dark Souls with mouse & keyboard? Yes I know lots of people say controller is mandatory, so you don’t need to say it again. But have any of any of my controller-hating brethren played this successfully?

    • Barnox says:

      I’ve no gamepad, finished Dark Souls.

      It is very, very possible. Once you get the controls memorised, maybe change the Parry/Block buttons, it’s not hard at all.

  11. Hammurabi says:

    I did not know that they QTEd the T-Rex fight in Tomb Raider Anniversary. I played the original when it came out *cough* getoffmylawn *cough* and remember that encounter quite clearly. It was an incredible moment. The fight was hard and long and made you feel great when you got through it. Its because of stuff like that that makes me be overly-cautious about expending ammo. You never know when a dinosaur is gonna be in your face, and you really need those machine gun mags. Eventually I was good enough to just dual pistol the thing to death, but it was one of those encounters in a game that gives you a high bar to try for. Changing it into a QTE is just…sad. Sad like a broken toy or a sick kitten.

    Also, finally got Dark Souls, thanks to the Amazon sale. Its soo good, despite the wonky-bits. I miss not dumbed-down games. What happened? (rhetorical, I know what happened)

    • Xocrates says:

      It’s not a QTE, though it is preceded by one if I’m not mistaken.

      It’s still pretty rubbish compared to the original though.

    • Mctittles says:

      To bring another perspective to the table, as one who loved the original Tomb Raider, hated the sequels, and thought Legend was “ok”; Anniversary is one of my favorite Tomb Raider games ever. There is so much content, beautiful scenes, and challenge in it. If you were a fan of the original I would greatly recommend trying out Legend.

      If you do end up getting it, make sure to change some of the options to be more like the original, like pressing a button to grab, etc.

  12. MrNash says:

    The GoG sale has quite a bit of stuff I’d be interested in. Maybe it’s time for me to get off my butt and grab Syndicate.

  13. Zenicetus says:

    Rise of Flight is having a sale on Weapon Mods through Nov. 5th. I haven’t gone into those mods yet, but I might pick up a few for my favorite planes.

  14. Naum says:

    Be advised that, in addition to being an incredibly bare-bones port, Dark Souls has a tendency of randomly crashing on certain configurations including mine, which makes it completely unplayable. Extensive searching on the Internet and a good amount of trial-and-error haven’t turned up a reliable workaround yet.

  15. Scouter says:

    How is chaos theory? I played conviction first in the series, then played double agent and threw conviction out of the window.

    Edit: Pandora tommorow I meant, not double agent.

    • malkav11 says:

      Chaos Theory is the last game that uses the original Splinter Cell mechanics and feel, and IIRC by most accounts is the best of the lot. It was sabotaged for a long time by having Starforce DRM but that’s been removed now, AFAIK.

      • Suits says:

        It’s not in the Steam version at least, so probably not in other digital versions either.

    • sinister agent says:

      Double Agent, for what it’s worth, is fucking terrible, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the first many hours of Chaos Theory. HOWEVER! I bought it from Gamersgate several months ago, and it didn’t bloody work. After hours of futile faffing around on the internet trying to find a solution that actually worked, I gave up and downloaded a pirated copy, which of course worked immediately. You might find it doesn’t happen to you, but be prepared.

    • KenTWOu says:

      @Scouter
      Believe me, when you get Chaos Theory you will throw linear and heavily scripted Pandora Tomorrow out of the window.

      @malkav11
      I think, old gen Double Agent was the last game that uses the original Splinter Cell mechanics and feel. And Steam Chaos Theory doesn’t have Starforce DRM and works great on Win 7.

      @sinister agent
      Next gen 360/PS3/PC Double Agent was terrible. Old gen PS2/XBOX version was very good.

      • malkav11 says:

        Technically, yes, but the lead (and only PC-relevant) version of Double Agent was the 360/PS3/PC version, which began taking the series in its new direction, for better or worse.

  16. Rictor says:

    Quick note: GameFly is offering 75% off a few select military shooters. If, like me, you haven’t picked up Spec Ops: The Line yet, this is a chance to get it for cheap. Not a huge selection, but they’ve got: Sniper Elite 2, Spec Ops: The Line, Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, Red Orchestra, ARMA II, Battlefield 3 and some others.

    http://www.gamefly.com/download-games/browse/?ids=5004520,5003921,5003923,5004583,5003870,5004056,5004513,157940,157565,5000018

    I think the games authenticate on Steam, but the purchases need to be confirmed by phone (which I haven’t done yet)…so just saying. US/Canada/Mexico only, I think.

    • Saarlaender39 says:

      Too sad, Gamefly only accepts CCs. Otherwise I had bought ‘Spec Ops: The Line’.

    • Ergonomic Cat says:

      Arma II also leads you directly to Day Z, which is currently the Darling of the Internets, so there’s that. It’s only $6 (Or some number of quids, or rupees, or whatever it is you people pay in) off, but still….

      I’m pretty excited to see Starflight on there. Starflight was fantastic, to my memory. I’m just nervous I won’t like it if I play it now.

      • belgand says:

        I’d say that rather than playing Starflight, which by all accounts was amazing at the time, players might want to try the spiritual successor and all-time classic in its own right Star Control 2. Which, because of the Ur-Quan Masters project, is still very much available and holds up quite well. The original is technically available on GOG, but really there isn’t much reason to bother with it compared to the open-source UQM.

      • Rise / Run says:

        So I love SC2 and the UQM port, but I’d disagree that SC2 is a valid “instead of” for Starflight. Starflight is just slower and more thoughtful. You can explore the planets for hours. I’ve played it in the last couple of years and thoroughly enjoyed it again. I did find that save scrumming muffled the enjoyment a bit. For those who haven’t played it before, the original game was on two floppies (write protected) which had to be backed up to a non protected pair in order to play. One pair was one game state that constantly was overwritten. Planets were procedurally generated, etc. So in a lot of ways it was a space rogue-like.

        In any case, having a “quick save” option (copying the directory structure to a backup) definitely made the game less ‘true’ to its old state. In the oft had “quicksave vs. checkpoints” debate on these pages, I usually think about Starflight and how it was designed around a slow-save mechanic. It probably would never fly these days. But the game wasn’t unforgiving as such. You just learned to do things like not attack random spaceships, or not forget to scan planets to see if they had crushing gravity.

  17. flowsnake says:

    Any reason not to play Chaos Theory without any of the previous ones?

    • DPB says:

      Chaos Theory is the only one I’ve played, and I didn’t feel like I was missing much for not having played the others, just that the characters that give you mission briefings don’t have any sort of introduction. The plot was the weakest part of the game anyway.

    • The Pink Ninja says:

      Yeah, same here. Recently replayed CT, enjoyed it, never played any other one except the one that came after it which sucked.

  18. Heliocentric says:

    Chaos theory is a flawless classic, the multiplayer and coop are both very much alive.

    The coop is unmatched all these years later and the multiplayer is a 2 vs 2 asymmetrical fps vs 3rd person stealther which has a grace and elegance which has yet to be matched and makes a mockery of newer muliplayer games simplicity.

    Yes, I’m a frenzied fanboy, but honestly, this game its a relic of what could have been on consoles if games like halo and MW hadn’t warped the expectations of games into the stunted wreck they now are.

    Its 3 masterfully made games, one slick single player, one an unmatched coop game* and the third a multiplayer hide and seek em up that spawned a whole community desperate to replicate it http://www.projectstealthgame.com/

    You really should get it, ignore the tom cuhlancey pre title and try it.

    *technically Double agent on the wii,ps2 and xbox1 has coop that is just as excellent but that has become a relic of the past hidden behind a wall of outmoded technology.

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      It’s also worth noting that Chaos Theory has some absolutely stupendous writing. It’s by far the funniest of the series – some of the interrogation diaglogue cracked me right up. Sarcastic Sam Fisher is best.

  19. porcelain_gods says:

    I always appreciated Frankie Boyle doing these articles each week, the GOG EA sale is brilliant

  20. welverin says:

    Tempted by the Tomb Raider games, but I can’t help but suspect they’ll be preorder bonuses for the new game, which I will be getting.

  21. The Pink Ninja says:

    Theme Hospital is crying out for a sequel: It’s a great game that has had no real sucessors in the years since, yet also the original was flawed enough that it could be improved upon.

    • Pemptus says:

      Just one feature would be enough: the ability to permanently assign individual doctors to individual rooms, therefore eliminating the fiddly and unfun micromanagement in the later levels where your multiple-skilled staff would faff around the corridors until you drag them manually.

      • The Pink Ninja says:

        For me the biggest bugbear was the fact there’d always be one objective I hadn;t completed (Cure however many pantients) and the game would just drag on as that slowly went up. No way I was going to lose but still, very tedious, and put me off doing the later levels where I knew I’d have to do even more.

        Lots of other little fiddely bits, ineffeciencies, the forced and limited room layout, the decreasing lack of variety.

  22. Davie says:

    I bought Alpha Centauri yesterday. I haven’t been this engaged in such an obtuse game since Dwarf Fortress. I’m terrible at it, and I still like it better than every Civ game I’ve played and then some. It’s brilliant stuff.

    More strategy games where the map isn’t just a bunch of potential battlefields and resource slots, I say. Nothing quite like stumbling on an alien temple or falling through a dimensional gate.

    • Ich Will says:

      I don’t know how far you’ve gotten into the game, but you are in for a treat! I believe SMAC is by far the finest civ clone ever made and it gets better the further up the tech tree you climb, unlike in my opinion, the civs which are at their best in the early game

    • The Pink Ninja says:

      I never really mastered the economics (Had to fully automate formers) and the AI inevitably spirals down into a deathmatch which can get tedious but it is still a great game, requiring real strategy and thought, having flexibility in what paths you choose and how you fight depending on faction or region or what your enemies use.

      Also all the quotes and stock footage that goes with upgrade and reseatrch and secret projects is great. Adds realy story and flavour to the game in a way Civ4 or Galactic Civ just does’t for me. If the AI were only a little more clever and more wiling to fight limited wars (And if the economics were less complicated or the former AI was a bit smarter) it’d be the perfect strategy game.

      • sinister agent says:

        A remake with a ‘war objective’ system (like in most Paradox strategy games, and probably others, where each war has a specific objective such as capturing a specific territory, rather than every conflict being a case of trying to wipe each other out entirely) would work wonders for Alpha Centauri. Not that I hold it against it, obviously, as it predates that notion by a decade, but still.

  23. Armante says:

    Unrelated, but hey maybe it’s effectively a free game for someone :)

    BETA KEY for Planetside 2. First in first served. If you use it, please reply so people know.

    KN9E-6EEA-N4T9-4CRJ-43H6

  24. Suits says:

    obligatory Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory recommendation from me too

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