Half-Life 2

No one wants to end up in jail, but there’s something fascinating about life in the clink. There have been some great fictional prisons in literature and cinema—and video games too. The following hoosegows are some of the toughest, most brutal, and hardest to escape from in gaming. Some horrible prisons, both new and old, have made their way onto this list since we first wrote it.

From freezing Russian labor camps to max security space-jails, these are scariest imaginary prisons on PC.

B.J. Blazkowicz had to shoot an awful lot of Nazis to escape from the labyrinthine Castle Wolfenstein. As prisons go, Wolfenstein does offer some perks: ample access to weaponry, secret Nazi treasure, and delicious, hearty meals. On the downside, the dogs aren't very friendly and there's a giant Nazi with two machine guns standing between you and the exit. If you take too many bullets, you'll have to resort to eating dog food. Yuck.

Batman famously has one of the best rogue's galleries in comics, and his nemeses inevitably end up in Arkham, Gotham's prison for the criminally insane. 2009's brilliant Arkham Asylum makes the prison itself the star, imagining it as a densely interconnected 3D playground in the vein of Super Metroid. As Batman gains new bits of equipment he opens up new ways to explore and unlocks new shortcuts. In the end, Arkham Aslyum has some great depictions of Batman's villains and the dark knight's abilities, but mastering the asylum is the true joy.

The Souls series has some of the toughest prisons in gaming. Dark Souls starts you off in one, the Undead Asylum, which is guarded by an overweight demon that ruins newcomers on the reg. Dark Souls 2 has the Lost Bastille, a prison made entirely of cold grey stone, patrolled by undead knights and exploding mummies, and wraps with a boss battle against three nimble suits of armor. But Dark Souls 3’s Irithyll Dungeon is the prison-iest of all (most prison-y?). It glows a sickly green and greets you with the Jailers, spooky robed guards that lower your max health just by looking your way. Explore the cells and eventually you’ll run into the wretches, grotesque human-dragon hybrids, botched experiments of the Lothric family. Deeper in you’ll find giants taken prisoner, massive sewer rats looking for a snack, a downright mean basilisk ambush, some items that sound off a large scream when picked up to alert nearby enemies, a gluttonous humanoid with an enlarged hand for a head called—what else—the Monstrosity of Sin, and some sewer centipedes. Don't Google them.

It’s an awful place that folds over on itself in a disorienting search for one key after another, delaying your escape just beyond its rows and rows of thick iron bars. Get in, save Siegward, and never return. 

Protagonist Vito Scaletta gets busted for selling stolen ration stamps and ends up in the clink. This is an act break of sorts, separating the game’s 1940s and 1950s chapters. The slow walk through the gates, being yelled at by jeering prisoners, is straight out of The Shawshank Redemption. You pass the time by punching people and scrubbing toilets, before emerging into a terrifying world of quiffs and rock and roll.

JC Denton defects from UNATCO and becomes a wanted man. He’s captured and wakes up in a mysterious underground cell. With the help of a creepy AI calling itself Daedalus he manages to escape, only to discover that the sinister prison facility is located below UNATCO’s Liberty Island headquarters. Most people who mess with Majestic 12 end up dead, but JC uses his nano-powers to break out and flee to Hong Kong.

Butcher Bay is a space-prison for the galaxy’s toughest, gruffest space-bastards. Escape From Butcher Bay sees the titular Riddick, played by Vin Diesel, breaking out of this maximum security sci-fi prison by stabbing, choking, shooting, and sneaking past its small army of guards. But, even though escape is his top priority, he still finds the time to enter bare-knuckle boxing matches and shiv other prisoners.

“It used to be a high security prison,” says Alyx Vance, gravely. “It’s something much worse now.” She always was good at introductions. Nova Prospekt is an old prison that the Combine have converted into a facility for processing any ‘anti-citizen’ who fights against their tyranny. ‘Processing’ meaning being turned into a hideous half-machine monster. A grim place indeed, but no match for Gordon’s gravity gun.

The Suffering is a mostly forgotten 2004 shooter from Midway, set on the twisted Carnate Island off the coast of Maryland. The penitentiary itself, where you're on death row, is just the beginning—the whole island has a dark history, including an insane asylum and a whole lot of executions. Hell breaks loose immediately when an earthquake calls up hordes of twisted monsters, who proceed to wreak havoc on the prison. It all may sound like standard horror fare, but The Suffering stood out thanks to some fabulously creepy designs by Stan Winston Studios. Those are monsters we would not like to be trapped on an island with.

Probably the toughest prison on the list, Vorkuta is grim Russian labour camp and one of the most memorable levels in Black Ops. With help from Viktor ‘Gary Oldman’ Reznov, your fellow prisoners, a mini-gun called the Death Machine, and giant slingshots loaded with explosives you battle to freedom and destroy half the prison for good measure. Shame about that rubbish vehicle section at the end.

The prison ship Purgatory, operated by the Blue Suns mercenary company, is where unstable biotic Jack finds herself. Commander Shepard, hunting for the galaxy’s baddest asses, flies there in order to recruit her. Before it was a prison, the ship was used to transport animals, which explains the tiny cages masquerading as cells. It’s not all bad, though: if it gets crowded, the Blue Suns will dump you on a nearby planet.

This desert prison used to be a peaceful coal mining town, but now it’s a hellish jail. Cloud and co. are dumped here after a misunderstanding, and have to earn their freedom by entering, and winning, a chocobo race in the Golden Saucer theme park that looms over the prison. As far as I know, this is the only time in gaming history where you escape from jail by riding a giant chicken. Hopefully it’s not the last.

That’s not a very nice name. Why not Warmridge Prison? Dishonored protagonist Corvo Attano is sent here after being wrongly accused of murdering the Empress he was charged to protect. It’s an imposing building—designed by the same guy who dreamed up Nova Prospekt, Viktor Antonov—and serves as the game’s tutorial. Murderous inmates, brutal guards, and rats are among this foul place’s residents.

This Alaskan military base isn’t technically a prison, but Solid Snake finds himself imprisoned in a cell there during the first MGS. There are a few ways to escape, but my favourite is spilling a bottle of ketchup and lying down next to it. The idiot guard thinks you’ve killed yourself and rushes in to help, giving you a window to break out.

Only slightly harder to endure than listening to the band Bastille, this famous French prison was notorious for its brutal treatment of prisoners. It’s here that the foppish hero Arno Dorian learns how to fight, and ultimately becomes an assassin. After the French Revolution it was demolished and replaced with a monument, but it will live forever in the decidedly average Assassin’s Creed Unity. C’est la vie.

Hell's Prison, posted on Reddit, is just one of thousands of devious, depressing prisons concocted by Prison Architect players. There's probably a harsher prison lurking on a hard drive somewhere, but Hell's Prison is a good example of how totalitarian Prison Architect lets you be as a warden. 

"At any given time about 90-100 prisoners are in the initial stages of starvation and taking damage," reads the description. "The entire prison is one giant infirmary so that doctors automatically tend to them. Prisoners who are close to death are brought to the medical beds by the guards. I have yet to lose a prisoner to starvation."

Prison Architect's Steam Workshop is also full of fantastic creations and recreations, like Alcatraz. Now that's a tough prison.

One of the most famous video game prisons, this is where you start your adventure in Oblivion. You don’t know what your crime was or how you ended up there—you’re supposed to fill in the blanks—but a fateful encounter with the Emperor of Tamriel leads to your escape and transformation into a hero. You can return later and take the opportunity to teach gobshite Valen Dreth some manners.

Wolfenstein 3D - Robert Workman
B.J. Blaskowicz will make his return this month in Wolfenstein: The New Order. Although many may have brushed the game off last year as just another mindless shooter, the game has come a long way. The hands-on demo shown at PAX East was impressive enough for doubters to reconsider their position on Wolfenstein. At its heart, Wolfenstein has always been about straightforward, gory, and fast action. Wolfenstein 3D birthed the first-person shooter genre and put Id Software on the map. Players take the role of B.J. Blaskowicz, who launches a one-man battle against an army of Nazis. There were some efforts to bring the series back into the spotlight, including a supernaturally themed game developed by Raven Software and published by Activision in 2009. However, none managed to make Wolfenstein relevant again.
Wolfenstein 3D - Valve
Today's Deal: Save 75% on Return to Castle Wolfenstein and Wolfenstein 3D!*

Try out a Wolfenstein game while getting ready to play the upcoming Wolfenstein: The New Order, which is available for pre-purchase now on Steam.

Look for the deals each day on the front page of Steam. Or follow us on twitter or Facebook for instant notifications wherever you are!

*Offer ends Monday at 10AM Pacific Time
Wolfenstein 3D - Steve Watts

The last we heard of a movie based on Wolfenstein was five years ago, when the Writers Guild strike gummed up the works. But you can't keep a good bad idea down, because distributor Panorama Media and producer Samuel Hadida have announced that Castle Wolfenstein is back on-track.

Canadian director Roger Avary, who won an Academy Award for co-writing Pulp Fiction, is slated to direct the film. His other work hasn't been as highly regarded, consisting of writing credits for Silent Hill and directing credit for Killing Zoe, which was executive produced by Quentin Tarantino. Avary has been attached to direct the film from the beginning, but by the time the WGA strike ended in February 2008 he was facing a charge for vehicular manslaughter, to which he later pleaded guilty.

The movie will follow two lead characters, a US Army Captain and British Special Agent on a top-secret mission to Castle Wolfenstein. Hitler himself is paying a visit to the titular castle to debut a new weapon to his Nazi buddies. The two strapping lads have to fight Hitler's SS Paranormal Division, and presumably destroy the weapon so that Hitler can't take over "ze vurld."

The announcement claims the film will be an action-adventure reminiscent of Captain America and Inglorious Basterds. It seems a little counter-intuitive to acknowledge the existence of Basterds, though. At that point, why would a Wolfenstein movie need to happen at all?

Wolfenstein 3D - Valve
Today's Deal: Save 75% off Wolfenstein 3-D!

Look for the deals each day on the front page of Steam. Or follow us on twitter or Facebook for instant notifications wherever you are.

Wolfenstein 3D - Garnett Lee

Gamers have been waiting a long time since Ken Levine and company unveiled BioShock Infinite. And the wait is only getting longer, with the game now delayed to 2013. Could a new multiplayer mode be behind the lengthy delay? Then, the creators of Ratchet & Clank and Resistance spread their wings to social games. Outernauts is a new effort from Insomniac... but why does it sound so familiar? Finally, the classic FPS Wolfenstein celebrates its birthday by going completely free to play.

Check out today's episode of Shacknews Daily.

Wolfenstein 3D
To celebrate Wolfenstein 3D's 20th anniversary, here's a video of programmer John Carmack playing and talking his way through the 1992 first-person shooter.


Carmack, the co-founder of Id Software and one of the key programmers behind the Quake and Doom series, has a lot of interesting things to say about the old Nazi-packed shooter (which you can now play for free on your browser).


Wolfenstein 3D Director's Commentary with John Carmack [YouTube]


Wolfenstein 3D
To celebrate Wolfenstein 3D's 20th anniversary, here's a video of programmer John Carmack playing and talking his way through the 1992 first-person shooter.


Carmack, the co-founder of Id Software and one of the key programmers behind the Quake and Doom series, has a lot of interesting things to say about the old Nazi-packed shooter (which you can now play for free on your browser).


Wolfenstein 3D Director's Commentary with John Carmack [YouTube]


Wolfenstein 3D - Alice O'Connor

What did you get yer old pal B.J. Blazkowicz for his birthday? Come now, surely you didn't forget that it's the 20th anniversary of Wolfenstein 3D's launch this month? Luckily, id Software and Bethesda haven't, and have given us all a free browser-based version of its seminal shooter. John Carmack has also given a director's commentary, full of the usual fascinating Carmackchat.

You can play the snazzy HTML 5 version of Wolf 3D if you're browsing in Firefox 10, Chrome 16, Internet Explorer 9, Safari 5, or newer. Fingers crossed that your work computer is updated vaguely frequently.

The iOS version is also going temporarily free in the App Store some time later today.

id Software got distracted by Doom and Quake after the release of a Wolf 3D prequel, but the series returned in 2001 with Return to Castle Wolfenstein from Grey Matter and Nerve Software. Splash Damage followed this with the superb free multiplayer spin-off Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory, then the last entry in the series was Raven's Wolfenstein in 2009.

Here's Carmack's commentary on Wolf 3D:

Wolfenstein 3D
Six Classic and Contemporary HTML 5 Games You Can Play Free Right Now A lot has changed since the days when web developers relied almost exclusively on Flash for media-rich interactive content. Although the technology is still very much alive and may not see a replacement anytime soon for certain uses, more and more websites are implementing HTML5 for streaming audio and video, and we are also starting to see some applications in the gaming space.



HTML is a markup language for structuring and presenting content on the web. Its latest and still-in-development incarnation adds a variety of elements and attributes that make it easier to include and handle multimedia and graphical content on the web without having to resort to proprietary plugins.


Three elements and related APIs for media introduced by HTML5 are the <audio> element, which allows developers to add in-browser audio to a document or application, the <video> element for in-browser video without the messy <embed> and <object> tags, and the <canvas> element and API that provides a 2D drawing surface which can be used for everything from a simple animation to a complicated game.


Although there's still going to take some time until the HTML5 specification is final, it is already relatively stable and there are implementations that are close to completion. Recent versions of all major browsers support HTML5 to a large degree, and close to 80% of all videos on the web are encoded in H.264 according to the data from MeFeedia, which means they can be delivered within HTML5's <video> tag — although for business reasons (read: ads and copy protection) they aren't always delivered through HTML5 just yet.


As far as gaming is concerned, there are some really impressive examples that could easily rival some of the stuff that has been done on Flash over the past decade. We've compiled a small selection of old classics and modern titles built with HTML5 and other open web standards that will give you a taste of things to come.


Old classics ported to HTML5

Six Classic and Contemporary HTML 5 Games You Can Play Free Right Now


Command & Conquer: Tiberian Dawn


The classic real time strategy game Command & Conquer was recreated entirely in HTML5, running on 69k of Javascript, by an enterprising developer named Aditya Ravi Shankar who wanted to improve his coding skills.


Shankar took three and a half weeks to put the first build together, combing through the original game's files in order to get the sprites, sounds and unit specs right. The project is far from complete and there is still some polishing up to do, but nonetheless it's a great example of HTML5's potential for games. The game works best in Chrome or Firefox and the source code is available on github.



Six Classic and Contemporary HTML 5 Games You Can Play Free Right Now


Wolfenstein 3D

This implementation of id Software's 1992 game, Wolfenstein 3D, was made using Javascript and the Canvas element. All of the first floor is mapped out, albeit with a few modifications, but it's more of a proof-of-concept than an actual playable game. There's no AI for the guards, for example, they just stand around and wait to be shot.


Other famous first-person shooters have also been ported to HTML, including Doom — which was taken down after a cease and desist notice from Id Software — and Quake II. The latter was actually ported by Google employees to show off what is possible with HTML5 in the browser. The game is playable with full HTML5 audio and WebGL rendering at up to 60 frames per second sans plug-ins. It's not hosted online, unfortunately, but installation instructions are available at its Google Code page. There's also a video of the game in action here.



Six Classic and Contemporary HTML 5 Games You Can Play Free Right Now


Google Pac-Man

Released as a homage on the 30th anniversary of the popular arcade game, Pac-Man, this was Google's first ever interactive, playable doodle and was so well received by users that the company decided to host it indefinitely instead of just for 48 hours as initially planned.


The game is based on HTML5 with a fall-back Flash option for browsers that don't support it yet. Much like the original Pac-Man, Google had programmed the game to glitch and end at the 256th screen, although it appears to have been cut down to a single level built around the Google logo. Still, a worthy example of HTML5 capabilities based on an icon of the 1980s popular culture.



Modern games built for HTML5

Six Classic and Contemporary HTML 5 Games You Can Play Free Right Now


Cut the Rope


Designed to help promote Internet Explorer 9 and the Beauty of the Web campaign, a desktop HTML5 version of the hugely popular Cut the Rope game was made available online for free out of a partnership between Microsoft and developer ZeptoLab. The game is playable on any compatible HTML 5 browser, not just IE.


For those unfamiliar, Cut the Rope features a green monster called Om Nom that you'll have to feed candy by cutting and manipulating ropes, airbags and bubbles.It's highly addictive and has been downloaded millions of times on mobile platforms. This port showcases HTML5 capabilities like canvas-rendered graphics, browser-based audio and video, CSS3 styling and WOFF fonts. Aspiring developers can check their Behind the Scenes page for inspiration.



Six Classic and Contemporary HTML 5 Games You Can Play Free Right Now


Pirates Love Daisies


Pirates Love Daisies is a tower defense game based off 'Plants vs Zombies' created by Grant Skinner's studio, which is better known for its work in Flash, and was funded by Microsoft also as part of their Beauty of the Web initiative.


This is one of the better accomplished HTML-CSS-and-JavaScript games to date, with a really polished interface, great sound effects, and a beautiful visual style. Basically, the game requires players to defend their daisies from different type of 'creeps' (octopus, crab, rat and seagull) using the most appropriate type of pirate, each of which has a different set of skills and weapons. As players accumulate gold from destroying their enemies, they can upgrade the pirates' skills or add more pirates. It's a very enjoyable game. Runs better on IE9.



Six Classic and Contemporary HTML 5 Games You Can Play Free Right Now


WordSquared


WordSquared is a massive multiplayer crossword game written in HTML5. It's essentially a clone of the famous puzzle game "Scrabble" on steroids, where you'll have to create as long a chain of words as possible, scoring lots of points in the process. Users simply use the mouse to drag and drop the letter tiles onto the board.


The original game was created in under 48 hours for the Node.js Knockout competition, which required contestants to create a game or application using HTML5 and the Open Web Platform in a very short period of time. It has since received several modifications, including the addition of achievements and in-game purchases. Dragging the map around you cannot help but be impressed by the size of the board and the word chains already completed.



This is just scratching the surface, there are tons of other great examples over at beautyoftheweb.com and the Chrome Web Store, including the insanely popular Angry Birds which we purposely skipped on this article because you've probably heard enough about the game already. While we won't argue that the browser is not the best platform for gaming, we're still impressed with the potential of HTML5, CSS and JavaScript as an alternative to Flash.


Have you discovered any awesome HTML5 games or apps? Any personal favorites? Share them with us in the comments.


Republished with permission from:




Jose Vilches is managing editor of TechSpot. TechSpot is a computer technology publication serving PC enthusiasts, gamers and IT pros since 1998.


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