Should I Buy? Steam Games

Seeing as Steam recently made a whole bunch of games Free to Play (that is, free to download and play, but with plenty of built in premium content you can only get by paying for) I thought I’d give some recommendations on what’s worth getting from the Steam catalogue. I’ll choose five games or game bundles, all under £20 and give a brief description with a yay or nay.

Also, there’s now a followup to this review with five more games! You can find it at

For those of you who don’t know, Steam is a service offered by Valve that allows you to purchase games online and download them direct to your computer. Also, you can access your Steam account from any computer with Steam installed to play the game on your home PC, your laptop, as many computers as you want. THough you do have to install it at every location.

By the way, a lot of the new F2P games are MMO’s, so if that’s your thing go take a look. And Team Fortress 2 is now free. Like online shooters? Get it. Now. Not sure if you do? Try it anyway, it’s free. I could probably do an entire post on TF2, but I haven’t played it enough.

So, let’s get down to business.

1) Sid Meier’s Pirates!

This is an easy recommendation. Sid Meier’s is the guy who made the Civilisation series, but this isn’t some dry game of economy management and meaningless stats. Instead, you’re the captain of a pirate vessel and it’s up to you to make your fortune any way you please. The regular way is to attack any ship that looks rich enough, but you could pretend to be a Privateer, only attacking the ships of your enemies or a merchant or smuggler, with lots of peaceful trading.

You can sail around the Caribbean doing pretty much whatever you want, making friends with and gaining lands and titles from any of the four nations present. Each element of the game, whether it’s an epic sword duel with Blackbeard, storming the walls of a Spanish port or romancing the beautiful daughter of a town’s Governor has its own little minigame associated. This makes the whole game feel like a series of minigames strung together with a lot of people flying the Jolly Roger at times, but they’re all fun and work well with each other.

Despite not being a game with an epic story or complex mechanics this can be a massive time sink. ‘I just wanna find this buried treasure!’ or ‘I’ll just listen to the gossip at the tavern, what!? A treasure Galleon? I must set out at once!” are all the sorts of things that’ll have you delay the closing of this game for hours.

So this is a fun, simple and charming game that costs just £6 from Steam. The game does lack tutorials of any kind though, but it is at least kind enough to make you play your first game on the easiest settings.

2) Broken Sword Triple Pack

This pack contains the first three games of the Broken Sword series, the first two of which are highly respected point & click adventure games. The third, not so much. For those of you not familiar with point & click games, you go through talking to people and picking up and using objects in the game world to solve problems, gain information and get to the heart of the plot’s mysteries. These games feature George Stobbart, an average American who gets caught up in globe-spanning attempts by bad guys to do stuff that’s really evil and mystical.

These games are strictly non-combative, so this isn’t one for action lovers. However, the first two games are well written with eccentric and colourful characters, and the main character George serves as a good ‘straight man’ to the many comedic people he encounters. As with all games that base themselves around puzzles, not being able to find an answer is frustrating. There’s no built in hint system, so it’s either gonna take logic, perseverance, luck or gamefaqs to get you through the tough times.

If you do like adventure games, or just wanna try something different I say yes to the Broken Sword Triple Pack. And getting all three games for £10 is a great deal.

3) Freedom Force Double Pack

Holy under-appreciated games, Batman! I love Freedom Force! Well duh I do, they put you in charge of a bunch of costumed superheroes based on all that fantastic 60’s cheesiness. Gameplay wise you control a team of four heroes through a squad based system, utilising each one’s powers to defeat your enemies. This can get a pit hectic and thankfully you can pause at any time to issue orders to your squad.

If the sometimes unwieldy interface pisses you off, the bright visual style (complete with BIFF! and WHACK! signs when you attack) and general humour of the game should help you through the game. Though the game’s   dialogue is meant to sound ridiculous, and the cutscenes are a joy, hearing the same lines over and over in battle gets fast quick.

These games are ones that you’ll have more fun with if you’re the type of person who can look past gameplay flaws for a great experience. I hope so, because these games are great. You go from fighting gangsters in the local park to battling the superpowered Nazi forces of Blitzkrieg and even to the ends of the universe to do battle with all-powerful sorcerers. You can get these two great games together for just £5, and then you too, can defend Patriot City.

4) Poker Night at the Inventory

You like Texas Hold ‘Em? Well if not, keep walking. That’s all this is, a Texas Hold ‘Em game. So how is it different from the hordes of poker games online, or just playing poker with some friends? Well because our good friends over at Telltale games made one with a lot of funny dialogue.

To elaborate they took Max from Sam & Max, Strongbad from Homestar Runner, Tycho from Penny Arcade and the Heavy from Team Fortress 2 and you get to play Poker while listening to them talk. They’re all well written and acted in a way that remains true to their portrayal in their respective franchises. Don’t worry about not having heard of them before though, they are fairly obscure to non-geeks. Even I wasn’t familiar with Max or Strongbad.

As for the game itself, it’s poker, you know if you like poker. And if you want to play it more but can never get the people together, it’s currently £3.25 in the Steam store. And if you don’t like the dialogue, you can turn it off.

5)  Greed Corp

This is a strange little game that mixes turn based strategy with timed turns. All the world’s resources are being used up and now four factions are vying for control of what’s left. The difference in the factions is purely cosmetic though, they all have the same limited amount of units.

These limitations means that instead of having loads of unit types to keep track of, the few units get to be used for more complex strategies. For example, your resource collectors remove one ‘health’ from the board tiles in their radius each turn to give you money, and when a tile has zero health, it gets destroyed along with anything that was on it. So you can use this to cut of enemy troops, destroy their cannons, isolate their factories etc.

This game requires quick and devious thinking. The campaign’s short and swiftly imposes strict time limits, but the multiplayer mode can be done on and offline with any ruleset you desire. At £8, I’ve played better games but this is certainly and interesting one and if you want a tactical challenge, give it some consideration.


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