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PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to The top 10 free PC games of 2011">Best-free-games



With New Year celebrations just around the corner, it's understandable that you might not have time to trawl through our weekly Best Free PC Games archive, analysing every write-up to construct your own top ten list. So, since we understand the importance of ranking free games in order of perceived quality, we've done it for you. Here are PC Gamer's ten favourite freebies of 2011!







10. Don't Take It Personally, Babe, It Just Ain't Your Story



Christine Love. Download it from Christine's website.







With its anime style and graphic novel format, Christine Love's Don't Take It Personally, Babe, It Just Ain't Your Story might not seem like the most enticing prospect to a lot of players. Push past the presentation, though, and you'll find an intricate and notably human story of what it is to be responsible for the lives of a group of teenagers.



You play as a teacher who gets a little too involved in his students' issues. And while the game is only minimally interactive, it does present you with some genuinely affecting moral choices, the likes of which even the biggest videogame developers struggle to get right year after year.



9. The Wager



Surprised Man. Download it from the official website.







An exploration game whose stretches of planet are generated on the fly each time you start, The Wager is a much smarter game than its often primitive presentation would let on. You take to the seas in search of new lands, whose resources you might exploit, or whose co-ordinates you might sell to others eager to spread their feathers into new climes.



It's smart because of the requirement to make decisions about how you'll deal with the game's obstacles, and because of how neatly the often bizarre writing slots into its place in the game. It also received a substantial update recently, making the already compulsive title even more of a delight.



8. Proun



Joost van Dongen. Download it from the official website.







Proun's developer recently revealed that the game's 'pay what you like' sales pitch didn't do as well as he'd hoped. When people treated it as a freebie, though, the response was overwhelmingly positive. It's a gloriously presented indie title that sees you rolling a ball around a frantic racetrack, avoiding obstacles as you go.



Its crowning achievement is the speed at which you travel, and the sense of kinetic energy the game manages to convey. Performing well on the slowest speed setting, 'fast', allows you to unlock unimaginable paces for later races. Let's hope the £23,000 van Dongen did make is enough to convince him to make another game this good.



7. Sweatshop



LittleLoud. Play it on the official website.







Channel 4 gets educational games. Commissioning talented and renowned developers with proven track records, they manage to take concepts that our young could find tedious, and transform them into experiences that even proper grown-ups can get something out of. Sweatshop is one of those games, a title designed to teach of the ills of the horrible forced labour that goes on around the globe.



You play as an aspiring factory manager, hiring, firing and tweaking your factory's workforce. What initially starts as a genuinely amusing title quickly grows dark as your workers begin to tire, you start hiring children for cheaper labour, and you quickly realise you've become the horrific being you promised yourself, at the start, that you wouldn't be.



6. At A Distance



Terry Cavanagh. Download it from the dev's blog.







This is the renowned indie developer's take on co-operative play. Two people sit at separate computers, preferably side-by-side but certainly on a network. Each player is lost in some kind of colourful maze. But it is by exploring the world that the other person inhabits, and seeing what effects your actions are having on your friend's game, that you'll solve the overarching puzzle of At A Distance.



It's clever and inventive, and a shame that the requirement of network play might put some people off one of the more interesting two-player games in recent times.







5. BeGone



NPlay. Play it on NPlay's website.







BeGone has become quite the thing in 2011. Initially launched as a competent and impressive multiplayer shooter, this browser-based gem quickly grew to become something that could rival a lot of full games. There are now several maps, all nicely balanced, and the presentation has been spruced up considerably.



It's a bit like Counter-Strike, basically - and that's hugely impressive, considering this runs in a nice little window right in the middle of a web page. It's a game that requires some decent skill, which it rewards handsomely. And it keeps getting better and better.



4. Stealth Bastard



Curve Studios. Download it from the official website.







A tactical action-platformer, as if Metal Gear Solid were reimagined in true retro-modern style, Stealth Bastard sees you sneaking past robot guards and security systems that aim to take you out in a millisecond. It's fortunate that you can put your sneaky know-how to use across a variety of beautifully imagined levels.



And if those aren't enough, you can even create your own in an initially confusing but eventually fairly sensible level-editing suite that comes free with the already-free game. It's baffling when a developer releases so much of such quality for no coins at all, but it's probably best not to complain too much, or they might stop.



3. Wonderputt



Damp Gnatt. Play it on the dev's website.







One of the most joyously creative games of the year regardless of price, Wonderputt is a crazy golf experience like no other. The game plays out on just a single screen, but it's a landscape that changes radically across the 15-or-so minutes it'll take you to see it all.



That might not sound long, but every second of Wonderputt is remarkable: from the changing landscapes, to the immaculate ball physics, to the splendid music that plays throughout. It's an absolute labour of love, a game that seems to have had layer upon layer of attention gifted unto it throughout the course of its development. 18 holes have never been so delightful.



2. Nous



DigiPen. Download it from the official website.







Nous is creepy. This seemingly sentient AI says it's a psychoanalysis system, but it appears to mean you harm. Or does it? It also enjoys confusing you at every turn as it judges your performance across a series of neon-lit and action-packed levels.



The game's ability to craft such an atmosphere from so little is an extraordinary feat, and it's coupled by engaging game mechanics that see you striking a fine balance between killing your foes and turning them into health by herding them through special converters. It's fantastic fun, gorgeously presented, and both captivating and unsettling as the story plays out.







1. Team Fortress 2



Valve Software. Grab it via Steam.







Well, of course. What else could it be? It's the best multiplayer shooter ever released on the PC, and you can play it for no pennies. We are, quite truly, being spoiled.



We've written about Team Fortress 2 a lot, you may have noticed. Some might say we've praised it to death. Others will be quick to point out its original 2007 release date. But this is the year when TF2 became a free game, and as such it would be barmy not to position it right at the top of the list.



Its quality lies in every aspect of the game. Beautifully and distinctively presented, it's also fantastically balanced, each class playing its own unique role across a variety of maps that, in their immaculate attention to detail and playability, could only have been created by Valve. It's also a game that's filled with personality, as evidenced by the vast amount of fiction that's cropped up around this wonderful shooter.



You get so much for no money at all. It might as well be the full game. In fact, it's not quite, but to upgrade all you need to do is buy a single item from the store. The cheapest item is 29p. That's all you need to pay to unlock a premium account - but if even that seems a bit too much, you'll lose barely anything by playing at the most basic level.



Craig re-reviewed the game this year, upping its original 93% score to a PC Gamer UK 'highest score ever' of 96% as a result of the carefully planned additions and refinements that have trickled in over the years, in what must be one of the most comprehensive post-release support campaigns a developer has ever committed to. We don't give out scores that big lightly - but not only is Team Fortress 2 the best free game in the world, it's also now one of the best in the world regardless of cost.



Found a better free game in 2011? You should totally let us know about it in the comments!
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

We once had so very many screenshots of TF2. Where did they go, those screenshots? Are they alright? Do they have someone who loves them?Back, back, back, back even further, back a bit more, keep going, yes, not much further now and… there we go. You are now back in the most dim and distant past of the then tiny baby website Rock, Paper, Shotgun, a mere three months into our making-it-up-as-we-went-along existence. You will see ancient typos. You will see only glimmerings of understanding of how the internet works. You will see Kieron Gillen. And you will see The Go Team!, a multi-part mega-feature in which the four RPS founders present their assorted thoughts on Team Fortress 2′s classes, based on our delightfully haphazard experiences in the original beta back in September 2007. (more…)

PC Gamer






Do you remember the tail end of 2010? We all wore rags and lived in dirt-floored shacks, dinosaurs ruled the Earth, and ‘free to play’ was still a dirty set of words. 2011 saw those words climb into the word shower and wash themselves clean, courtesy of League of Legends.



Developers Riot Games released player figures for their five-on-five Defence of the Ancients interpretation in November 2011. The numbers were, frankly, dazzling. League of Legends now has more active players than World of Warcraft – yes, World of Warcraft – sporting a population of 11 million. More impressively, over four million people play LoL every day, and 1.5 million of those are on at the same time. To put that in context, all of Steam has 2.5 million concurrent users.







But capturing the short term attention spans of children, idiots, and child idiots was easy enough for the terrible free to play titles of the past. Craftily, League of Legends snared their monstrous userbase by bucking that trend, and by being crisp, clear, and blessed with thousands of ways to play. No wonder it’s done so well – it stands out like a golden pin in a shed full of pigswill.



I play as Caitlyn. I stand in the bushes, peppering creeps with shots from my comically oversized sniper rifle. My basic attack is a single shot. My ultimate attack, gained after fifteen minutes of play and souped up over the next half an hour, is a bullet wider than Caitlyn’s waistline that travels a quarter of the length of the map and slams a third out of its target’s health bar. I kill people from a distance, and never let myself near other players.



Tim plays as Leona. She’s a holy paladin, kitted out in gleaming golden armour and armed with a repertoire of incredibly earnest sayings. Leona’s pure tank – she steams into combat, drawing attention and aggression from everyone, leaving other players free to escape or level their weapons on their stunned foes.







Owen plays as Teemo. He runs around behind the AI creep scuffles, watching and waiting for his moment to drop traps. Teemo’s stealthy: he hides in plain sight, supporting his team and sneaking shots against any weakened foes. Well, he’s as stealthy as he can be, at any rate, considering he’s dressed as a fluffy white rabbit, and the traps he lays are easter eggs.



I always play DPS characters. Tim’s tanked for years. Owen… Owen really likes dressing up as fluffy animals. That League of Legends lets us all play different games inside one title is impressive. That it let us play them even when it had one game mode and one map is amazing. That it’s a free to play game with a level of polish, community, and developer support unseen outside of studios like Valve is utterly unheard of.



Highly recommended: Team Fortress 2, World of Tanks.
Kotaku

Portal Christmas tree is absolutely geniusHere's further proof that basically everything goes better with Portal. Check out Ryan Kelly and his coworkers' Portal-fied Christmas tree, which certainly beats the hell out of the 20 years' worth of musty tinsel I festooned all over my folks' Tannenbaum this very evening. Also, learn how to make this Aperture Science-infused arbor for next year.



Kelly broke down the construction process for io9 as such:




Basically, it's our artificial tree which comes apart in three sections. The top section is suspended from the ceiling by an adhesive hook so it simply hangs downwards. The other two sections are connected and placed upside down on the floor - the tricky part is that the branches are meant to be kept extended out by gravity, so there is fishing line attached between each branch and what is usually the base of the tree, pulling the branches up towards the ceiling.



We then got two sets of rope lights (blue and red as we couldn't find orange). We laid the red out in a tight circle around the tree on the floor. The blue was wrapped in a circle, scotch taped to hold together, and then hung on to more adhesive hooks on the ceiling. Then we cut two circles of black poster board and placed these beneath the rope light rings to give them the feeling of holes. You barely see the black with all the branches and the portals lit up so it plays fairly well.



Finally, the hanging top piece didn't have branches that extended all the way up to the ceiling, so to cover the obvious gap we bought some artificial garland and wrapped that around it to match up with the ceiling. That way it looks like the tree continues up into the surface.



With a little bit of finessing, you can hide any of the obvious gaps and have one seamless tree.




Rad! You can see some more photos of the tree below, including a photo of Kelly's friend Jason entering the portal. For more Portal-inspired sculpture, see New York City's giant Companion Cube.




Portal Christmas tree is absolutely genius

Portal Christmas tree is absolutely genius

Portal Christmas tree is absolutely genius

Portal Christmas tree is absolutely genius

Portal Christmas tree is absolutely genius




[Tymykal via Reddit/hat tip to Precious Roy]


Product Update - Valve
An update to Team Fortress 2 has been released. The update will be applied automatically when you restart Team Fortress 2. The major changes include:
  • Fixed a Spy-cicle exploit
  • Fixed the Manmelter idle effects showing on other flareguns
TF2 Blog
An update to Team Fortress 2 has been released. The update will be applied automatically when you restart Team Fortress 2. The major changes include:

  • Fixed a Spy-cicle exploit
  • Fixed the Manmelter idle effects showing on other flareguns
PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Half-Life’s Gordon Freeman gets the Lego treatment">lego freeman thumb



Even though Lego Lord of the Rings has been announced, we reckon they’re fast running out of franchises to render in acrylonitrile butadiene styrene. Lego James Bond is the one we always mention when we see the Traveller’s Tales guys, but so far we’ve had no luck convincing them that squashing a plastic version of Sean Bean with a giant satellite array would be a very good thing.



Flickr user Catsy has completely inspired us to believe that a Lego version of Half-Life would be the way for Lego to go. As Kotaku reported, he/she has created a Lego version of Gordon Freeman using stock Lego bits and bobs, equipped with a customised Overwatch Standard Issue Pulse Rifle made from a Lego tommy gun.



As Catsy notes, Freeman needs a little more smoothing and painting. But between his/her and Orrange Stahl’s attempts at Lego Half-Life, we think there’s more than enough to convince the Danish toy giants to create Lego versions of Freeman, Alyx Vance, The G-Man et al. Who knows, maybe they could even make a game of it.
Kotaku

Half-Life LEGO? One Man Made It Happen.Custom LEGO builder Brandon Bannerman doesn't wait for due process to take its course, he makes his own damn LEGO. And this week he's made this wonderful little Gordon Freeman.



It'd look great with that last set of Half-Life LEGO we saw, give those Combine someone to chase after.



You can check out more pics of Lil' Gordon, and some of Brandon's other work, at the link below.



Catsy [CSF]'s photostream (1,103) [Flickr, via Toycutter]


Kotaku





width="500" height="333" allowscriptaccess="always"
allowfullscreen="true">

Portal 2's Wheatley did not win an award at the Spike VGAs. Mildly disappointing, but then, given the Spike's themselves are mildly disappointing, I'm not losing much sleep over it.



Eeexxcccceeepppptttt for this. Being a virtual character, Valve had to make his acceptance speech in advance. Just in case he actually won. He didn't, but the speech exists, and here it is.



If Wheatley Had Won [Rock, Paper, Shotgun]


Community Announcements - SZ


With all the hustle and busty fustle of Australian Christmas, you probably thought we forgot the most important part of it: The gift-giving. Well, we didn't forget. We were hoping you would. But you didn't--you guys are sharp! So get your Gift-Gettin' Pants on, because you are about to get gifts, and we'd prefer you were wearing pants for it.

GIFTED! All the community items previously only available in the Nice Crates are now craftable, droppable, and available in all the ways you're used to getting them!

ALSO THIS GIFT! A free Secret Saxton for every premium account!

DUCK! GIFT COMIN' ATCHA! To acknowledge all you generous souls who've been handing out Secret Saxtons and piles of gifts since the formation of the TF economy, everybody is receiving a Spirit of Giving badge. It's a plate-sized x-ray illustrating to your peers exactly how big your heart is, and consequently, what a good person you are. You—and more importantly, everybody else—will actually be able to see your heart grow over time depending how many gifts you're giving. We strapped an actual decommissioned Soviet-era x-ray machine to several team members' chests, and trust us, the science checks out: The people in our experiment with the biggest hearts were in fact the nicest guys on staff. How do we know? You should have seen how many people showed up at their funerals.

STOCKING STUFFER! In an effort to get the gift-giving juices flowing, we've made every map as Smissmassy as possible by wrapping lights around every rope!
BUT THE GREATEST GIFT OF ALL... was inside you all along. It's blood! Turns out you can sell it! See you at the plasma center! Merry Smissmas, everybody!
...

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