The RPS Bargain Bucket: Horse Play

By Cassandra Khaw on February 8th, 2014 at 11:02 am.

And I’m back. Welcome to the Year of the Horse, the one creature in the Chinese Zodiac cycle Rats like me are supposed to inexplicably, viciously hate. Sorry about the lack of a Bargain Bucket last week. I thought I could type around fireworks, nosy aunts and people trying to shovel sea cucumber into my face. I was wrong. So, very wrong. (Does anyone else celebrate the Lunar New Year around here?) But before I get unceremoniously dragged back into a heap of curious, personal space-blind relatives, let me just chuck this big bucket of discounted goodies. (Send help.) Also, this week’s plushie is from one Yuya Fukuda. According to the e-mail I received, the answer is: yes. Yes, he’s floating that octopus in an aquarium.

The Batman Sale
75% off on everything except Batman: Arkham Origins and Batman Arkham Origins: Season Pass which are 66%
Tell me the Batman theme song didn’t immediately start playing somewhere in the back of your head too. Seriously, I dare you. The good people in Get Games look determined to make it a batty weekend for anyone with even the slightest bit of interest in the Caped Crusader. As far as I can tell, the only kind of Batman missing from their massive sales is the one you can find in the newest Scribblenauts game but we don’t talk about that side of the family. (Too bloody cute.)

S.T.A.L.K.E.R Series Launch Promo
70% if you purchase everything in a bundle, 50% off for individual items
So, the first game that ever clued me in on the concept of NPCs operating independent of their relationship with the protagonist was S.T.A.L.K.E.R. I remember drinking in all the previews, pureed and seasoned with a few hyper-cherries. The whole thing blew my mind. The actual game? A little less so. But the series was fascinating for a whole bunch of reasons. It had Ideas. Big ones. And since the entire franchise is going for rather cheap right now, this might be a good time to pick up any missing pieces in your collection.

Sleeping Dogs
$6.80/£4.14/€ 4.99
I’m a little embarrassed to admit to it but I tend to have a soft spot for anything that is not immediately set in the West. I love all you people with the strange hair colors and the weird eyes, but there’s simply not enough Asian people in my video games. Sleeping Dogs is a sprawling, open world sandbox which has you taking on the role of an undercover cop in the underbelly of beautiful Hong Kong. Also, martial arts stuff and refrigerator doors.

Company of Heroes
$1.51/£.92/€1.11
I can’t remember who brought it up a few weeks ago but there was talk about how there isn’t anything terribly different between Company of Heroes and Company of Heroes II. Except, I suppose, pricing. Older games are always going to be cheaper. If you’re feeling leery about picking up the sequel, Get Games Go has the original Company of Heroes going for awfully cheap right now. Great time to indulge in some of World War II-related action.

RockStar Deals
75% off on everything
And over at Green Man Gaming, it looks like it’s RockStar Games is king of the discount pen this weekend. There’s a veritable deluge of Grand Theft Auto-related titles on sale right now, a handful of LA Noire-related goodness and a random outlier in the shape of Max Payne 2. Why Max Payne 2? Why not, I suppose, is the better question. Hopefully, these games will help tide you over until RockStar finally decides to grace the PC with their latest smash hit. P.S: I think they like Yogscast a fair bit. Check out the code for the voucher: YOGCST-BESTYT-EVERRR

Amnesia Fortnight 2014 Jam
Contribute what you will for different levels of access
Guess what time is it? Yes, it’s that time of the year when Double Fine opens their game jam process to the general public and we all get to chip in with our many, many opinions. Depending on how much you contribute to the whole endeavour, you’ll be able to get everything from eventual access to the prototypes that Double Fine employees are working on to the right to vote on which prototype Pendleton Ward of Adventure Time will lead the charge on.

Also of note:

Alien vs Predator – $4.09/£2.49/€3.00
Because nothing says a good weekend like one spent engaged in orbital murder sprees and engineering massive gouts of acidic blood.
Indie Royale’s The Mixer Bundle-$4.96/£3.02/€3.64
I haven’t heard much about some of the games in this bundle but I loved The Journey Down: Episode One and Cherry Tree High Comedy Club, which more people should really play, goshdarnit it all.
The Humble Sid Meier’s Bundle – Pay at least $9.01/£5.49/€6.61 for 7 games
A quick reminder for fans of Sid Meier’s: the Humble Bundle is offering an impressive spread of titles right now. Get ‘em while they’re hot. If you’re willing to fork out $15, you’ll be able to go home with a copy of the Sid Meier’s Civilization V: Brave New World DLC dlc too. (Thanks for the nudge, Noburu!)
Groupees’ Be Mine 11 Bundle – $1/£0.61/€0.73
I don’t know why I keep missing the damn Groupees bundles, but I do. I apologize for that. Hat tip to effervescent for reminding me of its existence. I’m ambivalent about the rest of the games in the package $1 for Redshirt is amazing, guys.
As always, feel free to send tips, tricks, leads and plushie photos. E-mail works swimmingly, smoke signals a little less so.

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120 Comments »

  1. Noburu says:

    No Sid Meir humble bundle listing? For shame! I know RPS already covered it earlier in the week but someone might have missed it.

    https://www.humblebundle.com/

    • Darth Gangrel says:

      I’m seriously tempted to buy the Double Fine Humble Weekly Sale, it’s got Psychonauts, Costume Quest and Stacking for whatever and then Brutal Legend for 6 dollars and up. I’d imagine that most people here already have those games (yes, that’s prejudice right there), but I’m a bit on the uptake so they’re all new to me.

      • Cassandra Khaw says:

        Oh, god. Those are fantastic games. You should spend the weekend with them.

        • odgaf says:

          thread hijack alert

          http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-26033685

          EA getting reamed by molyneux and the bbc over in app charges for dungeon master
          quick get a reporter on it

          • Bull0 says:

            Well RPS is a pc gaming site, and while the original DK games were on PC, this is a mobile affair. It’s well documented all over tinterweb that it’s a piece of shit, I don’t think we really need RPS to get involved too.

      • vivlo says:

        Yes, i got all those games, because i bought them in a very very similar humble bundle…’twas probably another double fine weekly sale iirc

      • mazzratazz says:

        For you or anyone who cares, here’s an extra Psychonauts key which would go on to rot if I didn’t give it away: https://www.humblebundle.com/gift?key=YXPzAUGayd8wEHUR

        • Darth Gangrel says:

          I just clicked on your link and it actually worked. I’ve seen other people throwing around codes for free games, but whenever I’ve clicked on them it says that they’ve already been used. If something seems to good to be true (“oh, lookie here, a free game if I click that link”) it probably is, but this time it worked. Psychonauts is one of the reasons I’m interested in this bundle, the other being Brutal Legend. I’ll probably still buy both, but a free game is always nice.

          • Emeraude says:

            You’d think spammers would have figured how abusable that practice is and start posting fake links to free games on in comment sections.

      • HaroldJLawyer says:

        my classmate’s half-sister makes $78 /hr on the laptop . She has been laid off for 10 months but last month her pay check was $16930 just working on the laptop for a few hours. you can check here……. http://www.KeptMoney.com

        • the_leveller says:

          Mr JLawyer, you’re not even *trying*- it’s like you didn’t even read what Emeraude put in the comment above.

    • Stod1936 says:

      my friend’s sister makes $69 an hour on the computer . She has been fired for 5 months but last month her paycheck was $16554 just working on the computer for a few hours. visit their website..

      >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> http://www.Jobs84.com

    • Dittleatized1989 says:

      my friend’s ex-wife makes $89 hourly on the laptop . She has been fired for five months but last month her income was $13065 just working on the laptop for a few hours. have a peek at this web-site..
      >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> http://WWW.JOBS84.COM

  2. Premium User Badge

    AngelTear says:

    I’m sorry but I just didn’t enjoy Cherry Tree High Comedy Club. I didn’t expect anything exceptional, but it was just… an uninteresting grind of stats. When other people say that about a game I like, I usually reply that they’re confusing the “game” with the “game system”, but it had nothing going for me. I feel like there are similar, but better free flash games. The graphics are cute, unless you’re one of those heartless people who despise everything anime, but I can’t honestly point out any aspect of it that was enjoyable to me.

    • Cassandra Khaw says:

      What made me love that game, I think, was how different it was from the usual visual novel/dating sim grind. Instead of trying to get into someone’s pants, you had this absolutely ridiculous little girl running around collecting souls for her comedy club.

      • KDR_11k says:

        It does play like the non-combat parts of Persona 4 though so most prefer P4 for being a meatier game.

    • Wedge says:

      I loved it, the stat “grinding” was still way easier than all the grinding in Persona, and I didn’t even have to bother with any annoying combat! And besides, the game more than paid back what I put out for it with it’s mysteriously valuable Steam Trading cards.

  3. Beebop says:

    Missed a far better Batman deal elsewhere but whatever…

    • rustybroomhandle says:

      The polite thing to do is to provide a link.

      • CookPassBabtridge says:

        The modern thing to do, unfortunately, is passive aggressive resentment.

        • Premium User Badge

          Llewyn says:

          Internets, etc. Alas.

          I’ll provide a link:
          http://www.game.co.uk/en/batman-arkham-origins-244846?cm_mmc=Affiliate-_-Tradedoubler-_-savygamer.co.uk-_-Deep_link

          I suspect the passive aggressive person was bitter about Lewie no longer doing the bucket, and not wanting to provide a link he got from Savygamer. I’m not bitter, but the link does include Lewie’s affiliate tag – seems like a win all around to me.

          Edit: Assuming I’m not misunderstanding how the affiliate links work, that is…

          • CookPassBabtridge says:

            There needs to be some sort of official Lewie grieving process, so people can finally let go. Like maybe a Lewie shrine or something, where we can all go and stick discount price tags all over it with “Miss U M8″ written on them. Maybe we can burn effigies of Those Who Banished Him, and drink wine and smash plates from Poundland as we sing songs of their eternal disembowelment. With sticks. There will then be much crying and raging, but then calm. A shaft of white light will break the darkness. And as choirs of kittens mewl soothing lullabies, Cassandra will emerge, dressed in white linen, and bearing buckets of the most adorable Diggles the world has yet seen. Peace.

          • The Random One says:

            Come on. You know what we need. We all do.

            Lewie plushie.

          • CookPassBabtridge says:

            Maybe in a 75% off sale

  4. WrenBoy says:

    Alpha Protocol going for £2.50 if anyones yet to buy it. Hat tip to Lewie…

    http://savygamer.co.uk/2014/02/08/alpha-protocol-pc-2-49-2/

    • Bull0 says:

      Thanks for the tip. Been meaning to play this for ages.

    • mouton says:

      It has been discounted for years now, though. One night when I was drunk I bought it for like five friends, 1 euro per piece.

      • WrenBoy says:

        Oh Im sure its been discounted plenty of times. I seem to keep missing them though. 2.50s low enough that I dont really care.

        • mouton says:

          isthereanydeal is a neat site I found some time ago. Enter what you want and for how much and it will mail you when a deal happens. No more crawling deal lists.

    • Kefren says:

      I bought it years ago, played it for the first time last month. Despite a few silly bits (and not liking the start) I really got sucked into the game, loving all the options when interacting with people, and the way outcomes seem to thread through later levels. A lot of fun, and like Deus Ex or SS2, it has a lot of replayability. I watched an old film called Icon last night (Patrick Swayze, set in Russia) and it brought back nostalgia for the Alpha Protocol Russian levels.

    • Premium User Badge

      Andy_Panthro says:

      I actually pre-ordered it, and played it right through in the first week of release with very few of the reported problems (which have now been patched AFAIK). Very enjoyable, and for £2.50 it’s a steal.

    • The Random One says:

      Pretty nice, but some people will be ticked to discover you don’t get a Steam key (it’s DRM-free). I won’t, so thanks!

  5. effervescent says:

    How about this one?
    1$ minimum. No BTA.
    http://groupees.com/Bm11

    • Premium User Badge

      melnificent says:

      When did Grimm get a proper release? They’re the only games I transfer between hard drives as they were unavailable shortly after release.

    • kalirion says:

      Excellent value bundle. For those too lazy to click, here are the games you get for $1:

      - (America McGee’s) Grimm (Complete Series)
      - Infected: The Twin Vaccine
      - ÆRENA – Clash of Champions (Early Access)
      - Shufflepuck Cantina Deluxe (with very cheap trading cards)
      - Redshirt (a love it or hate it title apparently)
      - Ultionus: A Tale of Petty Revenge (John Walker would have a field day with this greenlight title, plot potentially places it in Redshirt’s universe)
      - IL-2 Sturmovik: 1946
      - 1953 – KGB Unleashed
      - The Body Changer (Desura title, not on Steam)

      And some music:
      - Hollow & Akimbo – Pseudoscience
      - Rymdkraft Collection

      Don’t forget to check the Donate box in Payment are so that 20% of proceeds would go to help a little girl fight neuroblastoma. I have no clue why groupees still doesn’t auto-check that box….

  6. nerdook says:

    Happy Lunar New Year, Cassandra!

  7. Scumbag says:

    I have a sudden urge to play Octodad

  8. Premium User Badge

    strangeloup says:

    I need to go back to Sleeping Dogs. I have it on the PS3, and it’s a better GTA than GTA. The world’s realised in a lush and detailed manner, the writing is sharp, and there’s some quality acting — though unless you’re a fan of Hong Kong cinema, it’s unlikely you’ll recognise many names in the credits. It gets my Totally Didn’t Expect This To Be Great award for whatever year it came out in.

    • Premium User Badge

      Vandelay says:

      The price (at least in the UK,) is also slightly better than listed above. It is showing as £3.74 for me.

      Been meaning to get that at some point. Deals normally include the DLCs though. Missing much without it?

      • Premium User Badge

        strangeloup says:

        There’s a bunch of cosmetic DLC and three expansions. Nightmare in North Point gives a sorta Asian horror campaign that’s unrelated to the main game (a little like Infamous’ Festival of Blood or Red Dead Redemption’s Undead Nightmare), Zodiac Tournament is a side mission that’s like a classic martial arts movie — think Bruce Lee — and quite a lot different in tone to the main game, whereas Year of the Snake is probably the largest expansion and continues the story after the end of the main campaign.

        That being said the base game has a great deal to do without even touching any of these, so they can be considered optional. I think Nightmare is really neat, but I’ve yet to touch the Zodiac Tournament, and I haven’t picked up YotS as the campaign is plenty long as it is.

      • Cassandra Khaw says:

        Odd! O_o I will correct. Always good to have a native pinpoint stuff. Thank you!

      • aldo_14 says:

        I can’t remember the costume, etc, DLC adding much, but I found all 3 story DLC to be short but fun (at the same time, definitely not worth the full price). They do a nice job of switching around the atmosphere, particularly in the first two. Albeit Sleeping Dogs was probably my favourite game of last year, so I’m quite tolerant of any repetition.

      • Premium User Badge

        Vandelay says:

        Cheers for the responses. Just picked up the standard and didn’t bother getting any DLC. Sounds as if there is enough game to keep me going until another sale comes along on the DLC.

        Played for a little while. Why has no one mentioned how pretty this game looks? The reflection of all the neons on the road during the rain is stunning. The melee combat is also a lot of fun, which is surprising in a GTA-alike. Not used any guns yet, but seeing as I now have unlocked an ability that is supposed to make disarming easy, I doubt I’ll be shooting many people.

        • Bioptic says:

          It is incredibly good looking! Even on my cruddy 2008-era PC when I played it last year. Will have to see what it looks like on newer hardware, given that I’ve yet to try out some of the DLC. There’s also plenty of meat to the story, and I actually found (most) of the side missions to actually be fun!

          Incidentally, check that you’ve installed all of the ‘free DLC’ via Steam – this is a pretty minor clothing pack, and a SERIOUSLY MAJOR HD-texture pack! It ups the install size a bit, but everything is so incredibly crisp.

        • aldo_14 says:

          Nah, there’s virtually no guns in it; which is a major improvement over GTA, I think, because the combat gets steadily better and increasingly vicious) as you unlock more and more moves.

        • Tams80 says:

          I bought it today as well. Oddly when claiming it on Steam, you it was referred to as the Limited Edition. However when in the library it doesn’t (as on Get Games).

          Both the Limited Edition bonuses are in the DLC pack, which is on offer on Get Games as well. However it’s still almost twice the price of the base game! Still, it does mean you can get the complete Sleeping Dogs content for £9.98 which is still a bargain.

          • Jason Moyer says:

            I would recommend *not* getting the DLC pack, as there is some of the standard “cheater” type DLC similar to what Saints Row 3/4 have (extra money/XP), but unlike SR3/4 you can’t disable the DLC you don’t want to use.

  9. CookPassBabtridge says:

    Can i add a backup plushie? Its another OctoPUSS: http://www.dappertoad.com/2011/08/octavian-octopuss.html?m=1

  10. tobecooper says:

    Max Payne 2 is the best game in Rockstar’s catalog.
    There, I said it.
    It’s true though.
    So very true.

    • Werthead says:

      Almost. MAX PAYNE 1 is better from a story perspective and twice the length (MP2 is ridiculously short for such a major, SP-focused game), but MP2 has better gunplay and is more polished. They complement each other pretty well, but MP1 edges it for me. It also has Sam Lake doing the ‘Max face’, which is more entertaining than the hard-boiled cliche of the second game.

      Both leave MP3 in the dust, that’s for certain.

      Is MP1 technically even a Rockstar game though?

      • tobecooper says:

        Well, yes, the fight between the two is a close one.
        I enjoyed the second one more, because of how wacky and crazy it was in terms of narrative. But that’s just my preference, MP1 had a lot of self-awareness too, and the story was a delight.

        Sam Lake might have not given his face to Max in MP2, but he donated it to every other character he could. He’s a hero of at least three TV dramas in that game, and haunts many a billboard. I loved that.

        MP3 is too different to really compare. There are some gameplay similarities and nothing more.

        • Bull0 says:

          MP3 shares a lot more with the first two than gameplay.

          Sam Lake *is* the face of Max in the first game.

          • tobecooper says:

            Ah crap, that face comment was about the second MP game. Sorry, I’ll edit it.

            I played the three Max Payne games back to back. One after another. And the third one felt like an ugly adopted step-child who clearly doesn’t belong. It was fun though. Not very memorable but fun.

            But let me write why I think this way:
            3 has Max’s voiceactor which is probably the best element of the whole game. 3 has a lot of various easter eggs for the fans of previous games. 3 even has that couple of levels placed in New Jersey that may remind one of 1-2.

            But what else is there? Humor is completely different. The narrative is straightforward movie stuff instead of that wild multi-level noir rollercoaster of previous games. Graphic novels are gone. The atmosphere is completely different, in part because of locations, in part because of concentrating on Max being a drunk.

            To me, it felt soulless in comparison to 1-2. The old ones have character and style. The new one has a different style and more polish.

          • Bull0 says:

            The style is the same, but the setting has changed and the dodgy graphic novel bits are gone. Your points about the narrative are fairly perplexing – 3 is a multilayered noir mystery much in the way 2 is. I don’t really see what’s so different about it, other than the amount of time given to Max’s alcoholism. Dismissing the story as “straightforward movie stuff” just doesn’t seem fair. I don’t know what, if anything, you mean by “soulless” either.

          • SkittleDiddler says:

            It doesn’t share skippable cutscenes, unfortunately.

          • Bull0 says:

            You can skip the cutscenes once the next level’s finished loading. Guess we’d rather watch a progress bar.

          • tobecooper says:

            I’m writing about the way the narrative is delivered.

            Max Payne 3 is a story game. It concentrates on plot and on getting that through. The overlong cut-scenes are a part of it. The twists are important, because the game emphasizes them. It has a lot of emotional build-up – deaths and treacheries that are meant to count for something. It wants realism and it oozes realism (with that usual ’1000 kill’ action hero bit). It’s such a smooth game.

            Max Payne 2 (and to an extent 1) are not story games (though they can be treated that way). The plot is there just for fun. It’s satirical. They shoot noir cliches left and right. Dark hero in the dark city. It likes to get surreal too. It’s overwritten to a ridiculous extent – the descriptions, the deaths of characters, the TV dramas that double the themes of the main narrative. It all creates a slightly mad self-conscious atmosphere. Player is imprisoned into the Noir New York just like Max, and there’s no escape.

            To me, and I emphasize that this is my person experience, the third game felt too serious and too plain in its story. It didn’t have the eerie atmosphere of past MPs. Above all, it wants to be a movie about criminals, John McClane and plot-twists.

          • SkittleDiddler says:

            Are you quite sure you can eventually skip the cutscenes in MP3, Bull0? Admittedly, I only got about three hours or so into the game before I got frustrated with the length of time between the playable bits, but I was never able to skip the cutscenes. You’re literally the first person I’ve ever encountered that’s made that claim.

            EDIT: Doing some googling, it looks like those with relatively fast SSDs can skip some of the cutscenes. Lucky them.

      • HadToLogin says:

        Max Payne – time played: 3 hours. That’s how long Max Payne 1 is for someone who played it a bit (and isn’t Remedy time being around 1 hour?). And that include few good minutes of unskippable cutscenes.

        It FEELS like Max Payne 1 is much longer, but in truth they are both quite short.

      • fish99 says:

        Personally I enjoyed the Max Payne 2 story a lot more. It’s one of my favourite games ever.

        Max Payne 2 may be the shorter, but half the length is a bit of an exaggeration-

        http://www.howlongtobeat.com/search.php?t=games&s=max+payne

      • Inglourious Badger says:

        You’re forgetting Max Payne 2 had the Physics, making it the superior game in terms of fun. Max Payne 3 was nothing special and I’m now terrified of returning to the first 2 for fear it was always thus

        • Shadowcat says:

          Ah yes, the physics. Some people seem to think that Max wasn’t a drunk until MP3; but in MP2 it was clear to me that he wasn’t sober at any point in the game. Sure, he hides it pretty well most of the time; but just try to get Max to run down an aisle between two shelves without sending everything flying, and you’ll realise the full extent of his intoxication.

        • Low Life says:

          Max Payne 2 also has the most ridiculous reload animation of all time (during bullet time). I never got bored of it.

    • LionsPhil says:

      When Max Payne was good, it was developed by Remedy.

    • InnerPartisan says:

      Since that catalog also includes Bully, you are clearly wrong.

  11. MartinWisse says:

    Any thoughts about the Gothic deal over at Bundlestars? Four euros for 1, 2 and 3, but are these any good?

    • dE says:

      Gothic 1 and 2 are absolutely phenomenal games for their time. It’s a somewhat more down to earth fantasy and aged, in my opinion, reasonably well. Just heed the fanpatches, they’re kinda needed as the company is legendary when it comes to bugged messes. Speaking of mess, whatever people will tell you, there is no Gothic 3. And no Gothic 4. And really, anything after the Night of the Raven has never been made. It’s better that way.

      • MartinWisse says:

        Cheers. Bought the bundle, will ignore that non-existent 3rd game then.

        • Premium User Badge

          DragonOfTime says:

          I wouldn’t say it was THAT bad actually. I found Gothic 3 quite decent.

          I won’t talk about 4 though…

      • WrenBoy says:

        Gothic 2 is possibly my favourite game ever and was way ahead of its time in my opinion. I could never understand the love for Morrowind compared to this.

        That being said it has aged badly in my opinion. You would have to be prepared to tolerate it for the first 20-30 mins to get used to the controls and to ignore the poor voice acting throughout. Its still class though.

      • kalirion says:

        I thought Gothic 3 had a pretty major fan patch, near total overhaul, which actually made it good?

    • trjp says:

      Gothic 1 and 2 are ‘of their time’ and may feel dated – that is if you can get them to run on a modern PC which isn’t terrifically easy.

      Gothic 3 was a bit of a diaster at launch but modders have done SO MUCH WORK on it that it’s like a completely different game when you’ve finished modding it (much like Saints Row 2)

  12. nemchenk says:

    Euro Truck Simulator 2 -75% and DLC -50% on bundlestars:

    http://www.bundlestars.com/store/euro-truck-simulator-2/

  13. dE says:

    I think Injustice: Gods among us for $12.49 is a reasonable price over at GMG.

  14. CookPassBabtridge says:

    Sad to hear that STALKER failed to impress. The whole series for me is a standout experience of PC gaming, and certainly SHOC and CoP have left quite deep emotional traces in my gaming mind. There’s something soporific, almost opiate-like about the zone itself which wraps me up in this soft hazy brain blanket. The particular look of the trees and fauna of some remote part of the Urals, the bonfires, the guitars, the men speaking in a rich language I don’t understand. A sense of place and of really being comfortable in a wild, broken environment.

    Then that will be shattered by the real, physical palpable fear of running across a mutant, or your first powerless, terrifying encounter with an X-Lab poltergeist. Not forced on you, not because someone told you to, but because you chose to wander there, chose to go through those trees to see what was behind a hill, chose to explore that purposeful yet dangerous looking building because maybe – just maybe – there will be a magical power-granting artifact, or a beautifully, accurately modeled Warsaw Pact assault rifle to be found.

    Then something hideous flies out of the gloom, and you run, you panic, you shoot, and you keep running. Growling and snarling inches behind you, and unsure how you will escape, because you know for damn sure this thing wants you dead and the game’s designers may never even have foreseen this, let alone intended to make this some easy Deus Ex Machina. And then half a kilometre of frenzied sprinting later, you stop. You can feel yourself panting. You frantically look around. All you can hear is the soft sound of rain on the grass around you. The sun is rising. Your heart rate decreases. The opiate feeling returns.

    All of this takes place in a world that doesnt really care if you survive, that basically designed itself by virtue of being a perfect facsimile of the secretive yet awe inspiring Soviet Era landscape, and gives you few if any stabilisers to get through. Everything you achieve is because you learned how to fight, learned how to use terrain and to shoot well (or knew when to leave well alone), explored and found the best equipment, maybe got lucky and found a rare grenade launcher on the body of some poor A-Life stalker who came off worse in a fight with a mutant. No stats to level up, no perks to be allocated. Just learning how to take on the environment and its inhabitants and win. And then when you’re sick of fighting, you can just swim back into the welcoming morphine of the 100 rads bar and the sound of underground russian pop bands.

    • Maritz says:

      Absolutely. I very rarely replay games, but I keep going back to the Stalker series. They just ooze an atmosphere you don’t get anywhere else.

    • malkav11 says:

      I can’t speak for Cassandra, obviously, but I suspect it’s less that they didn’t impress and more that they didn’t live up to what was planned pre-release. Because (and this is why I ignore previews), there was a lot of stuff cut. Quite possibly for the better, in the end, but the previews have a tendency to conjure up unsustainable fantasies.

      • CookPassBabtridge says:

        Hmm that makes sense. When I played SHoC I was quite new to gaming after more than a decade hiatus from my Amiga 500. I didn’t read any magazines or go to any sites, I just wandered into a shop, saw SHoC for £20 and thought ‘that looks good’. I installed it, and my machine couldn’t handle it at all. I wandered into the trees just out from the path at the loner village, and got attacked by a slideshow dog. I gave up, but something had bitten me (other than the pooch). Even through the shitty framerate, something felt different about it that made me want to go back. 6 months later I had a better machine, and re-installed. I’ve now replayed SHoC more than 20 times :)

    • bill says:

      I’ve only played the first one, and you are pretty much right about the atmosphere and the sense of place.

      But it was a very hard game to get into. I think I tried it twice and gave up quickly, before getting into it the 3rd time.

      The fault mainly comes down to the 1st mission, and the huge difference that better weapons and armor can make. The first mission is probably the hardest in the game (except the power plant exterior) because you have no armour and a crappy pistol and no experience and it sends you against a compound with about 10 better armed guys. In other games you’d heroicly win that easily, but in this game you’ll probably die a lot. (then get killed by radiation on the train line, or the guys buy the bridge, or the pack of wild dogs nearby) Until you learn the rules and get better equipment. Then it gets much easier and you can begin to get involved.

      Other than the beginning, I basically thought it was great. But not quite as mindblowing as some seemed to think.

      • CookPassBabtridge says:

        For clarity, I take it you are talking about the first map in Shadow of Chernobyl, at the Cordon? Yes indeed that part can be a shocker especially if you go in with the usual assumption that this will be a safe tutorial area.

        I know you personally are not a beginner, but for anyone interested here are some bits of advice I can think to give to new players considering buying. “Sultan says, Listen Up!” :

        (1) Use the ‘lean’ keys Q and E from behind cover. This confers so much of a protection bonus its unreal
        (2) Make sure you have LOTS of bandages (for bleeding) and medkits (for health bar filling) and ensure they are bound to keys (I use the “{ }” keys which may be default). Messing about in your inventory when soldiers are hunting you down isn’t the best way.
        (3) Explore EVERYWHERE, loot anything and everything as there is virtually nothing that won’t be used as a stash by someone, though leave stuff in anomalies until you have better armour. Look out for little purple markers that get revealed when you discover a dead guy’s PDA, as these are caches with lovely free stuff. In SHoC and CS, the stashes are not populated until you find the PDA. In CoP they are ready populated no matter what. SO in CoP, look for them! It may be the case that some stashes will only be revealed via dead Loner’s PDA’s. They are the good guys, so you’ll have to decide if you want to kill them or not, or maybe try to lure packs of dogs to loner camps and let them do the dirty work! Lastly as long as you don’t mind mild spoilers, find zone maps online. This will ensure you find all the loot lying around. Oh, and knife the little containers that look like lunchboxes (and the wooden crates, but you knew about that already) :)
        (4) If you think you can get onto that roof, or crack, or cave – you probably can. And it’ll probably be worth it
        (5) Use guerilla tactics. Lure individual soldiers away, and prioritise headshots as the damage they inflict is amazing. Then get away, heal and repeat
        (6) Anti-radiation meds or vodka. Especially early game, make sure you have them – there is nothing more annoying than seeing your health bar drip-dripping away pointlessly because you got irradiated.
        (7) Top tip for difficult to find loot – holding the F key causes name labels to pop up over any nearby items, out to a few meters or so. Great for caches hidden in bushes.

        With that army base, I learned a good trick. I don’t wait for the mission to actually go there – I make it my first priority in a new game in order to get hold of an assault rifle early. The way to do it is hide behind a tree, and take potshots at the patrols when they are nearest to the loner village. Make the soldiers chase you then lead them to the village. This will cause the loners to start a firefight, hopefully knocking off a soldier or two so you can get their kit (sadly not armour at this stage). Once you have a rifle and some ammo, you can use sneaky peeky and stealth tactics to take out the base. You can also lure soldiers into the grav anomalies by the big rocks near the village, though it makes their kit harder to get for you. If you feel like showing off, its also actually possible to headshot all the patrol soldiers with a pistol from behind a tree :)

        • derbefrier says:

          ok fine i’ll install it and give it another chance…

          I bought SoC in a sale a looooong time ago installed that stalker complete mod. It was pretty great but goddamn, was it tough. I cant remember how far I got either. I just remember getting killed alot and getting pissed. I dont know if it was the Mod or what but the AI in that game was more than I was expecting…been needing something to play while i am waiting on darksouls 2 though. Maybe if i treat it like darksouls…go in with the mindset i am gonna die a lot at first, I wont rage quit so quickly this time.

          • malkav11 says:

            The Complete mod actually makes the game easier (or that was my experience at least). It just takes some getting used to the way things work.

        • CookPassBabtridge says:

          I think you’re right, Complete rebalances some of the AI. It also makes the game gorgeous, and at one point adds a total mind=blown moment with a ‘celestial object’ :) Wow.

          I’ve just been playing CS, and another tip I would add is having a choice of weapons. I tend to carry at least a shotgun and an assault rifle plus ammo for them. Trying to shoot fast movings animals with an assault rifle is bloody hard and a waste of ammo, so switch to a shotty for the doggies / piggies / quadripedal abominations (its worth knowing you can keep moving with your inventory screen open, eg sprint, hit “I” and switch weapon slot or use med). It does unfortunately strain your inventory limit a bit though, and once over a certain weight your sprint ability is limited. Heavier still and you can’t move, so sell off stuff you don’t want or use the stash at Sidorovich’s shop whilst you’re in the Cordon.

          It is possible to get upgrades to increase the limit too. Finally, F5 is your friend. Don’t be leery of save scumming. It stops a lot of frustration.

  15. rhubarb says:

    Also of note is 50% off Borderlands 2 and all its DLCs (in the goaty or indiviually) on Steam. Borderlands 2 is quite a good game.

  16. fish99 says:

    Obligatory mention of how amazing the Stalker series is. Can’t think of another series or game with the atmosphere and fascinating world Stalker has. It also has fantastic gunplay, with projectile physics and bullet penetration, and some of the best combat AI you’ll see. Still very good graphics by todays standard as well (esp Clear Sky and Pripyat). Semi-open-world, tons of side missions and stuff to find, also some great mods available.

    Probably worth mentioning they are quite buggy though, and have some annoyances. Save often and make unique named saves (don’t just overwrite one save). Also make sure you see all the endings to SoC (and don’t progress from Pripyat with any side quests unfinished).

    • CookPassBabtridge says:

      I never personally found any bugs of note in the later patched versions of the games, even in 15+ playthroughs, though at launch they were awful. That said, the advice to save frequently is still good as its very easy to suddenly lose a couple of hour’s foraging and exploring because you ran into a controller.

      • fish99 says:

        I can assure you they are buggy, even fully patched. I’m playing Clear Sky through at the moment and had both my main save and my quicksave just go wrong and fail to load, losing me several hours (hence the advice above about not overwriting one save). The Loners vs Bandits faction war has gone wrong in my game as well, so the Loners aren’t sending out squads anymore, so will never hold the depot in the garbage when I take it. I’m also having to play Clear Sky in DX9 since it crashes continually in DX10 (the supposed fix involving removing a windows update made no difference for me). My brother is currently playing Pripyat (with the Misery mod) and also had a save go wrong.

        None of these issues should put anyone off playing them though, they’re some of the best games ever made IMO.

        • CookPassBabtridge says:

          Odd. I will admit to primarily playing SHOC and CoP, and honestly never had any trouble with them. I do remember someone saying that the games can be very setup dependent however. I only have 2 playthroughs with Clear Sky, and no problems at all.

          On a separate note, have you found the artifacts that massively increase your carry weight yet? I think its Meat Chunk in CS, though could be wrong. Hope you enjoy the Red Forest, it was one of my favourite sections.

          EDIT: Also as far as I remember, its not possible to actually finally win the faction war in the swamp. It just endlessly goes back and forth.

          EDIT2: Actually this is ringing a bell now, and I do remember hanging around waiting for other stalkers to turn up. This forum post seems to address the issue you mention: http://www.ttlg.com/forums/showthread.php?t=128582

          • fish99 says:

            Thanks for looking that up.

            Just got the +20 weight artifact yesterday :) I’ve now moved on to the red forest/army warehouses areas after having problems with the freedom/duty faction war crashing the game. Think I’ll use the Complete mod next time I play Clear Sky.

    • Spakkenkhrist says:

      The Stalker series is utterly unsurpassed in terms of atmosphere in my humble opinion, the world seems so wild and dangerous being both familiar and totally alien at the same time.

      • CookPassBabtridge says:

        This conversation has inspired me to fire clear sky back up again. Really enjoying it :)

        • jnqvist says:

          Let’s just put it this way: I passed an exam yesterday,and wanted to play a video game before I continue on studying for the majority of the month. And what did I turn to? You guessed it – SoC. A save just before Red Forest,made some time ago :) I simply love,LOVE the game and the series,glad to see others still enjoying it as well!

  17. Baines says:

    The Batman Sale
    75% off on everything

    Except for the stuff that isn’t 75% off, or is Europe getting a different deal than the US? (Origins and its Season Pass are each 66% off.)

    • Cassandra Khaw says:

      No. No. You’re right. I’m just being buffeted by real life and therefore stupid. Updated to match. Thank you for that.

  18. Premium User Badge

    Tom De Roeck says:

    Rats get eaten by Foxes. Im a rat, sadly.

  19. shagohad says:

    saying CoH 2 and 1 are the same is not quite true.

    The games play very similar but unfortunately CoH 1 at the moment is completely broken.

    On moving the game to steam the matchmaking and game hosting has been completely destroyed in my experience making getting into a match hard and often games end prematurely due to desync errors that kick everyone

    the single player is great but if you want multiplayer get coh2 on a sale, the matchmaking is far and away superior to the first game which was never great even before the steam switch breaking the servers.

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  21. GunnerMcCaffrey says:

    Offhand dismissals of Max Payne 2 and STALKER? In the same post? I’m watching you, literate and ostensibly video game-playing Octopus.

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  24. malkav11 says:

    Notably, the Groupees bundle includes IL-2 Sturmovik, of all games, at that same minimum $1. I’m not a simmer, but I hear that is one of the greats.

  25. Wulfram says:

    There’s a free Sims 3 Town Life stuff pack and a 50% sale on (almost?) everything Sims 3 on Origin.

    Not sure how great 50% off is, but free = free. Well aside from having to register your existing Sims 3 on Origin, which will probably end up being a great palaver.

  26. Notelpats says:

    Too.. many.. games..

  27. bill says:

    Where are the sunday papers??? Need something to reeeed!!!

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  29. melvar says:

    The 75% off all Rockstar games deal appears to be a lie. They say 75% in big text, but when you get to the checkout the code only takes off 25%.

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  33. Shooop says:

    It’s such great news GoG can sell the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series. In part because it’s great news when GoG can sell anything.

    On a side note, Jazzpunk is out! And it’s available on GoG.