Downloading the future

Lately there's been a lot of debate about used games, and how the developers are getting shafted from their sales. I've heard a lot of talk on websites and podcasts about different things game companies can do to get a decent return on their investment. Some are charging for online play, others are offering bonuses to people that buy the game new.

After playing the quality titles below, I'm convinced the future is in small downloadable games. They cost less to make, you can't rent them or get them used (good for game companies), and most of the time, they are totally worth the price of admission (good for game players).

It's all about the cost/entertainment ratio. I will gladly pay $15 for a downloadable game that offers four to five hours of fun, possible multiplayer, and some replay value. Depending on the game, I could get 10, 12, or more hours of enjoyment out of my purchase. I spend $20 or more to go to the movies with my wife. Shoot, I'll spend five bucks on a drink from Starbucks and finish it in minutes.

The $15 price point is easier for me to swallow, and knowing that the game probably won't take long to finish is attractive to me, since I've been so busy lately. If game developers would put out more, episodic, low-priced games, I'd be all over it.

Below you'll find my reviews for some downloadable games I've had some fun with lately.


Limbo 10/10
A wonderful, haunting, atmospheric game, Limbo is something to be experienced. It's an eerie platformer filled with tricky puzzles, dangerous traps, and striking visuals. You can clear it in one extended sitting, but the gloomy world is worth revisiting. The game has a very deliberate, tactile feel and some of the puzzles force you to think outside the box.

The Best Part: The evocative visuals combine with the sparse audio to really suck you in to the game.

The Worst Part: Not really a bad thing because I left satisfied, but I could have played a couple more hours of this game. Also, I would have liked to see more of those malevolent shadows...they were creepy.


Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light 8/10
For a game starring Lara Croft, this is quite a departure. It's from a isometric perspective and it has a focus on speed. The story is as compelling as the other Tomb Raider games, which is to say, it's pretty lame. But the gameplay is solid, with some very clever puzzles. The two-player co-op is excellent. It forces you to work together without feeling contrived.

The Best Part: The in game rewards and achievements encourage multiple play-throughs for higher scores and more loot.

The Worst Part: You have to do some tricky platforming late in the game and the camera perspective makes that much more difficult than it should be.


Plants vs. Zombies 8/10
I actually already own this on my computer. Brooke and I downloaded months ago and got addicted, though neither of us beat it. The Xbox version boasts new modes, and a cooperative element. It's got the same addicting strategy/tower defense gameplay from the one-year-old computer version, but now you can play it with a friend! If you're a strategy newbie, or a casual game player, this a great game. The pace can be a bit slow for my tastes, but overall, it's a lot of fun and has a great sense of humor.

The Best Part: New modes, new mini games, and playing with Brooke.

The Worst Part: The transition from mouse to controller was handled well, but there are some mini-games that will have you cursing the wonky gamepad controls.