Gamebytes and Bots
Gamebytes and Bots
GAMEBYTES AND BOTS
Assassin's Creed Black Flag screenshot
THE BEST OF SINGLE PLAYER PC GAMING - NOW PLAYING:   ASSASSIN'S CREED BLACK FLAG
THE BEST OF SINGLE PLAYER PC GAMING - NOW PLAYING: ASSASSIN'S CREED BLACK FLAG
Assassin's Creed Black Flag screenshot
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COMING SOON
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FIRST-PERSON SHOOTER
RECENT POST-RELEASE REVIEWS - SEE BELOW FOR LIST OF SINGLE PLAYER GAME REVIEWS
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TALES FROM THE BORDERLANDS
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LEGEND OF GRIMROCK 2
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MAGICINDIE COLLECTION
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OUTLAST

ARE GAME REVIEW SCORES RELEVANT?

Many sites use a number rating system in their reviews. I've chosen not to go this route as reviews are subjective and depending on the player's preferences can net a very different level of satisfaction. It's like ice cream - some like chocolate and some like vanilla and who's to say which flavour is better. The most a review can do is give you an idea of what the game is about, whether the mechanics work properly, whether the graphics are acceptable and whether it has a lot of bugs or not. What it can't do is determine whether any given individual will enjoy it or not as we all like different things. However, some people like a rating system with the most notable site being metacritic, which offers both critic and user ratings. Regrettably, sometimes these scores are not entirely objective and there are many examples of good games with bad scores for one reason or another. It's not entirely worthless, but it should be viewed with a little caution. You can often find the official critic scores at extreme odds with the user scores.

Personally, I read reviews just to determine the above things and find them very useful in that regard. I also read forums where you get both negative and positive feedback from other users. However, whether you will like playing a game cannot really be determined by a majority vote. For instance, many people like Real Time Strategy games, and I'm sure there are some great ones that get high marks, but personally I don't like that genre and wouldn't play it, even if it was free. An example of a highly scored game is Alien Isolation, but the mechanic is all stealth, which I'm not very fond off, so even though it's apparently a very good game, I likely wouldn't enjoy it. Conversely, it's hard to imagine people not liking a game like Half-Life, one of the highest rated FPS ever, but it happens.

So my humble advice is that you should not buy games just because they are popular or the latest craze or you will end up with a collection of games you won't play for more than five minutes. This assumes, of course, that your interest is in playing. Some people get satisfaction just in collecting and others think they will like a game and end up getting bored with it. Some get caught up in the hype of new releases before the game has been properly reviewed or because they just like to be involved in current community discussions. But regardless, in practicality it doesn't really matter when you purchase a game if your interest is in playing single-player, however if your main interest is multiplayer, the rules are quite different. These you need to buy in a timely manner when the game is popular. In primarily single-player games, the multiplayer portion usually doesn't stay highly populated for long, although there are some notable exceptions, and older games will likely not have official multiplayer support any more.

So learn to analyse your own likes, dislikes and interests and make purchases that align with these. It took me awhile to learn these lessons myself and to stop adding to a library I could never reasonably have enough time to play.

COMING NEXT TO
POST-RELEASE REVIEWS
COMING NEXT TO
POST-RELEASE REVIEWS
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PC GAME REVIEWS LIST - THE BEST OF SINGLE PLAYER
Jan 2016 - All game pages have now been updated with the latest information and links. Games that have had relevant or recent news since their release are marked with  !  and an  UPDATE NOTE  added at the end of the review. A short bio on the game's development history has also been included. The reviews are based on single-player content, although many of them have a multiplayer mode as well.
GAMES LEGEND
  • !   Game Update
  • +    Multiplayer
  • m    Mod Support
  • §   Co-op
  • ¤   DLC Available
  •            New Reviews
UPDATE: With a security update, Windows Vista, 7, 8, and 10 no longer support games that use SafeDisc and certain versions of SecuRom.
See Microsoft Support and related articles RockPaperShotgun and How-To Geek

ABOUT THE GAME REVIEWS

Although the information on the site applies to PC gaming in general, the review section is dedicated to the single player portion of each game and is based on playing that through to its completion. There are no reviews done on partially played games. Nor have I, or do I, receive any free copies or compensation of any kind. Game reviews were done at the time of playing and not at the time of release, which is why they include a date for reference. Most of them are no longer being actively supported by the developer, but are still relevant, worth playing, and readily available. Any post-release updates or current news is included after the review as well as any technical problems I experienced and how I solved them. There is also a short bio on the game's history. Some games have had re-releases in the form of remastered or definitive editions, which kinda makes them new releases again. As these editions usually only upgrade some visuals, performance for newer technology, and may now include the DLC, I don't intend to re-purchase them as this would likely not change the review by much. However, it's duly noted under UPDATES on the game page. You will also find some screenshots and a trailer.

In the sidebar, you can find lots of other information. It includes, where you can purchase it, the system specs, and links to the official sites, other reviews, forums, patches, achievements, cheats, mods and guides. I don't endorse any of these other sites, but have tried to provide only links to reputable sources.

Also on the sidebar is a list of the specs of the machine the game was played on. All of them were either on XP or Windows 7, so there is no references to how they might perform on Windows 8 or 10. However, you will probably find the answer to that through the forum links.

The games list is by no means comprehensive as that would be impossible to achieve with thousands of them on the market. However, I have stuck to my particular likes and dislikes and the games you will find on this site are for the most part good post-release single player games within a reasonable budget. To that end, current new releases will probably not show up on here for some time. There are enough sites dedicated to covering them. If you are interested, you can find current Game News sites listed under the top menu as well as a list of the most legitimate and safe PC stores.

On a final note, as this is a one-man hobby site, reviews are added as time allows. I try to maintain a two week schedule, but sometimes life gets in the way and it could take longer.

ENHANCING YOUR GAMING EXPERIENCE

Minerva screenshot

About Mod Support  You will notice that some games have tools released to the community by the developer for the purpose of making mods. Good mods can not only fix bugs, but also extend the life and value of a game. Mods made by the community have typically been free and come in all shapes, sizes and quality. In April 2014, Valve and Bethesda made a move to allow the monetization of mods starting with Skyrim. This received such a tremendous backlash from the community that Valve was forced to remove it. However, the door has been left open for a future iteration of this program on other games. Some mod makers and some developers would like to see this happen and I suspect that this will become more prevalent in the future as this opens up another stream of revenue for the industry.

Another new development introduced by Valve is giving game developers permission to utilize Valve's Anti-Cheat program (VAC) which allows them to issue bans on their own games. Playing with unauthorized mods installed can be considered cheating, even simple mods that have no effect on other players such as FOV (field of view). Although not intended, in some cases a mod used in single-player mode could be detected as cheating when using online modes. Bans will show up on your Steam profile in red text.

IS STEAM THE ONLY GAME IN TOWN?

At one time, for PC gamers, I would have said yes, but those days are long gone. As Steam was so incredibly successful in the PC Games arena, adding millions of users every year, it was inevitable that others would eventually want a share of this rather large pie. As digital delivery became more widely accepted, other distribution sites started to pop up. However, Valve had such a head start and did such a good job in actively supporting and promoting PC game development and thereby growing customer loyalty, that to this day, some people remain nervous about buying elsewhere. It's only been within the last few years that people are slowly being weaned from the great mothership.

ABOUT DRM - (Digital Rights Management) Besides the DRM that developers or publishers may include in a game, there is also a secondary type of DRM commonly referred to as a Game Client. Installing these may be necessary in order to download and/or play a particular game. For instance, Steam & Origin are clients with forms of DRM that have their own subscriber agreements. Whether a game requires this type of DRM may depend on where you buy it. For instance, some games may offer the option of a Steam key and/or a generic key. One would require the Steam Client and the other may not require any client if the distributor offers a download app. However, if the actual game uses the application Steamworks, you will need Steam to run it regardless of where you buy it.

Unfortunately, growing to such an unwieldy size and continually adding new features and games, Steam has also become very bloated. Valve no longer completely steers the ship and have handed over many functions of the client to the developers and publishers. Unfortunately, Valve has also given up the ghost on communicating with its customers and their poor support has been the brunt of jokes for years. This has resulted in a number of complaints from customers about various issues and has created a certain level of dissatisfaction. The one thing that I've always believed about Valve is that they are great innovators, but lousy housekeepers. Once they have introduced a new feature, it takes them forever to clean up the messy parts, if ever. With their flat management structure, I somehow picture in my imagination that the uncreative jobs like fixing stuff are done only by the employee that draws the short straw for the day.

One of the major impacts of changes to Steam over the years has been smaller game discounts. Although Steam undoubtedly used to have the best prices during sales, that has changed. A number of industry forces have contributed to this, but my own opinion is that Valve has also thrown in the towel on negotiating the best deals for the customer. At one time, during their early growth, they were hungry and now they are not, which allows them to concentrate on other interests while the client basically motors along on its own well-established momentum.

At one time, Steam basically was the only game in town for PC game developers to get the most exposure, but now there are many other avenues available for selling their games, which often results in better pricing elsewhere. One can surmise that these other distributors are taking less of a cut of the revenue than Steam does, which savings are sometimes passed along to the customer. However, several of these sites offer Steam keys, so you can buy there and add them to your Steam client. This is actually a win, win situation for both the distributors and Steam as both benefit in some way through this symbiotic relationship. The customer also benefits by getting the best price while still being able to use the features of the Steam client, one of which is ease-of-use for downloading and playing games. Therefore, Steam continues to grow in users year in and year out with one of the main attractions being their highly successful free-to-play-games and virtual trading market.

Also, because Steam is more than just a store, offering many community features that are unmatched by anyone else, it appeals to a broad spectrum of interests, and although other clients have varying services, none have quite reached the heights of Steam yet. In 2011, Electronic Arts went on to develop their own client store called Origin and Ubisoft followed suit with Uplay. Gog, a subsidiary of CD Project Red, started by selling older Drm-free games, but have since rapidly grown and continue to add games to their catalogue. They have also introduced an optional download client similar to Steam. Other distributors, such as Green Man Gaming, Gamersgate, Humble Bundle Store, IG Bundle Store, Bundlestars, Direct2Drive and Amazon are all legitimate sellers and are heavily into game distribution in one form or another. Even some individual developers/publishers have stores and sell their games on their own sites.

There are always going to be die-hard Steam fans, but it's nice to know that consumers now also have choices. Steam does not always have the worst prices, but neither do they always have the best deals, even during their highly touted annual sales. Those glory days are gone. So do yourself and your wallet a favour and shop around. Steam is not the only game in town for buying your PC games any more and you can still enjoy the best of both worlds as most sites offer Steam keys. Just be careful to stick with the legitimate ones.

SITES TO BOOKMARK

Steam Legacy Forum - Steam created a new community discussion board tied in with your account, but some of us diehards are still around on the old forum. Unfortunately, no new titles are being added to the game subforum, but many fixes for older games can be found there.
Big List of 3rd Party DRM - This is a list of games available on Steam with external DRM and their current status. Pretty useful for checking what type of DRM is on a game or whether it's been removed at some point since its initial release.
SecuRom - This includes Securom FAQs, a list of games that use SecuRom, and revoke activation tools.
PC Gaming Wiki - Evolved from the Big List, this wiki purports to offer fixes for every PC game.
Steam - This is a list of games that have full controller support.
Wikipedia - This is a list of games that require Steam to play
TweakGuides - This site provides a number of detailed guides to help you optimize your graphics and computer
AutoHotkey - Some games don't have the option to rebind controls. This program lets you to remap the keys.
D3Doverrider - As a last resort to fps lag, you can use this program to force triple buffering and vsync on. Instructions apply on any game
IsThereAnyDeal - A site that tracks current sales and prices on numerous sites.
Get up to speed on the Basics of PC gaming in general, and how to develop personal strategies that will avoid disappointments and give you the best bang for your buck. TechTalk explains the ins and outs of all the components listed for a PC game's system requirements, and Install shows how to install games or mods from discs or downloads. Features is a master list linking to individual game pages that provide a review, screenshots, specs and details about the game. And in response to people asking about safe and reliable digital distributors and their client programs, a section has been added called GameClients that includes a short bio and how each site handles the downloads. You can visit Home for a mini summary of the next upcoming full review.
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