GamerSushi Asks: Reviewing Free Games?

Alien SwarmAs you’re all probably aware, most of the GamerSushi staff are in the throes of Alien Swarm addiction. The game is really engaging, and it manages to wedge itself nicely into the niche left in my gaming life by Diablo 2. Valve was even kind enough to give it to us for free, and judging by how their servers got the crap beat out of them on its release day, they’re probably kicking themselves for not charging at least five dollars for the thing.

Even though we all love Alien Swarm, it’s not a perfect game. There are a few issues I’ve had with it, but my mind keeps glossing them over because of the price tag (or lack thereof). So I pose this question to you guys: can you even review free games? Price is definitely something that has affected the perception of past titles (ODST comes to mind), so will something that only costs us hard drive space be given an automatic pass in the grading department?

Something else I’d like you to consider is DLC. I’ve played all of the Mass Effect 2 content packs, and, when stacked against ME2 proper, they come up very poorly. Even Overlord, the most recent and best of the DLC, is kind of lack-luster compared to the main game and its selling price. Can DLC be rated on its own merits, or does it have to take the larger picture into account?

Mass Effect 2 Says “Tanks” For the Memories

I’ve been replaying Mass Effect one recently so I can import a character over to the sequel, something I wasn’t able to do on my three play-throughs (quiet, Eddy). For those of you who may not be familiar with the mechanics of importing versus not importing a legacy Shepard, the game assumes that you made certain decisions, all of which follow the Renegade path, something I don’t usually do in moral choice games.

While Mass Effect one still holds up, one thing that’s really getting to me are the Mako driving sections. That armored personnel carrier handles like a hyper-active child throwing his Hot Wheels around, and I’ve gotten stuck in narrow canyons more times than I care to mention. While I may hate the Mako with a passion, the good folks over at BioWare have decided to give the old wheeled vehicle a make-over and transform it into a hovering tank. Watch the tank in action in the following video:

Pretty slick, if you ask me. Looks like BioWare solved all the complaints with the Mako, which were mostly concerning handling and the occasional problem of not being able to aim properly due to wonky terrain. Most of us have probably finished our ME2 campaigns by now, but who’s going to jump back in and give the “Firewalker” DLC pack a try? It’s coming out late March free for Cerberus members, and those who didn’t buy the game new will have to pay $15USD to join the Network.

What Do Bad Company 2 and Mass Effect 2 Have in Common?

bad company 2
If you first answer is “the number two”, then you’re only half correct. The other thing these two sequels have in common is that they’re both playing host to EA’s new online initiative which asserts that all major forthcoming releases will have heavy back-end support and a lot of additional content available post-launch. Just as purchasers of brand new copies of Mass Effect 2 obtained a Cerberus Network Card which gave them access to free day one DLC, customers who buy unused copies of Bad Company 2 will receive a VIP code that will offer up a couple exclusive multiplayer maps. If you buy a used copy then you can still gain access to these promotions, you just have to pay around $15 dollars first.

By 2011, EA expects that all of its games will have an online component and this is a major step in the company’s efforts to combat both piracy and the used game market. By making the bonus content available to paying consumers, it keeps those of us with weaker scruples out of PC matchmaking (at least for a little while), and it also provides additional incentive to drop $60 on a title, a little extra enticement which is beneficial in these trying time.

I for one applaud this movement, but how do you guys feel? Now that DLC and online support is becoming more and more popular, should companies attempt to assert their monopoly? While publishers have a right to protect their games, do you feel that shunning the used game market is the right way to go about it? Let us know how you feel!

Source: The Escapist