Buying New Games

As you know, now that I have a proper gaming rig I’m on the lookout for new exciting games to play. I had a blast playing Fallout 3, and I believe I will get many more hours out of this game. But I want to branch out and catch up on things that I have missed in the past. I tried composing a queue of interesting titles. One of the games I’ve been itching to try is Left 4 Dead. I mean, zombies! I love zombies.

But, I just know that with the sequel coming out soon I might as well wait until Valve drops the price. I’m checking steam every once in a while, and as soon as I see a sale, I’m totally getting it.

Other than that I’ve been looking at the following titles that sipped past me:

  • Crysis
  • Bioshock
  • Mass Effect
  • Overlord
  • Assasins Creed (I heard it blows though)
  • Prince of Persia
  • Farcry 2
  • The Witcher (made by Polish people – need to check it out)
  • Dark Messiah of Might and Magic
  • Mount & Blade
  • Mirror’s Edge (I heard it blows too)
  • GTA3 (event though the DIAS game play will kill all the enjoyment of it)

Not necessarily in that order of course. These are just the titles that captured my interest in the past. Feel free to add your suggestions to this list – I’m sure I’m missing some great games here. Of course I’m not getting all of these games at once. This is sort of my game queue right now. Each time I get bored with a title, I would pick another one of this list.

Here is my dilemma though: should I really buy some of these titles? I mean, it’s a silly question, I know. But take my experience with Fallout 3 – I had to bend over backwards to actually get it running. When my brother saw me struggle with actually getting this game to run he was like “WTF dude, why didn’t you just pirate it. I’m sure you wouldn’t have this many problems with it”. And you know what? He is right.

I wanted to support Bethseda and bought the game legally. What did I get for that? A headache, and lots of frustration. And Fallout 3 is one of the least restrictive games out there. According to Bethesda it uses SecuRom only for the disk check or something. Still, every time I’m installing something new on my machine I have to think twice. Does this count as emulation software? Will it trigger SecuROM? Will it lock me out of my game? This is bullshit! I don’t want to go through this type of stuff with each new game. I don’t want to have to worry that some perfectly legal, application will suddenly break my game.

Now look at the two top positions on my list. Both Crysis and Bioshock use SecuROM in it’s super-restrictive mode, along with online activations and install limit. Seeing how I have both Demon Tools and Nero on my machine I don’t even think I will be able to install these titles. If you do some googling, you will see that thousands of people are having issues with these games. Nearly all of them are legitimate customers. You will never see a pirate complaining about SecuROM online. Do you know why? Because pirates never see it.

Can you see the irony of this situation? I have both the money and the inclination to go out and buy a bunch of new video games. What is stopping me is the concern that the anti-piracy measures used by them will cause me endless trouble and frustration. If I buy them, I may need to uninstall bunch of legal applications, install patches and search the web for workarounds.

I asked a friend who really enjoyed Crysis about the DRM issues. Surprisingly he had none, but that’s because he downloaded the game illegally. He said he considered buying it, but then he heard about all the problems and changed his mind. And unlike legitimate customers who pretty much just rent the game, he actually owns his illicit copies of Crysis and Bioshock. As long as he holds on to the disk images, he can install them on new machines.

So we are in a peculiar situation here where DRM is not only ineffective, but counter-productive. It has a directly opposite effect from the one desired. Instead of thwarting piracy, it is actually driving it.

Am I wrong about this? Have you played any of the games on the list? Did you have DRM issues? Or did you obtain DRM free copies and skipped this headache?

Also, please suggest other games that I should add to my queue. Preferably DRM free of course, but if something is really worth the frustration (or a frustration free download) then I’ll consider it as well.

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23 Responses to Buying New Games

  1. Steve CANADA Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    Re: Bioshock. Do what I did. Buy the game, but only install the cracked version. Frankly, that to me is legit. I paid for it and now I am playing it without SecuRom. :)

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  2. Morghan UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Linux says:

    I’ve heard bad things about Mass Effect. Not about the game, I’ve heard nothing but good about that, but about all the crap that was dumped into it last minute when EA got ahold of BioWare.

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  3. Rob UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    I’ve heard that Crysis is nothing but a fancy graphics demo, so I probably wouldn’t bother with that considering the DRM restrictions. I have Assassin’s Creed but didn’t get very far with it because I had some audio problems (surprise, surprise). I might try installing it again soon though as I did enjoy it. I have the disc version of the game and don’t remember any weird DRM issues with it, but it has been a while. I’d play it with a game pad though if you had one, the mouse and keyboard controls were a little clunky. Did you mean GTA 4? I have it for PS3 and enjoy it, so I can recommend that one too.

    If you try Prince of Persia you’ll have to let us know how it is. I’ve been thinking about giving that game a shot too.

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  4. faemir UNITED KINGDOM Google Chrome Windows says:

    Bioshock – yes, before someone spoilers the amazing storyline for you!
    Mass Effect – YES. Buy it on steam to avoid the whole securom issue :)
    Assasins Creed (I heard it blows though) – some love it too though (like me). I would say try it first, then decide (also consider ACII is coming out soonish (Q1 2010 i think) which promises to fix some of the problems that AC has)
    Prince of Persia – Ignore the “hurr too easy you cant die” crap, great voice acting and character chemistry (plus the whole dying this is actually good when you think about it while playing the game)
    The Witcher (made by Polish people – need to check it out) – YES
    Mirror’s Edge (I heard it blows too) – worth playing, but not really worth buying, I would rent it personally.

    A new suggestion would be mount & blade, I’m awful at explaining things, but it’s on steam and the website is It’s indie developed too :)

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  5. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux Terminalist says:

    @Rob – yes, GTA4 – the one with the Russian dude (or Eastern European or whatever he is).

    I heard good things about PoP and it’s forgiving anti-DIAS gameplay so I will definitely check it out, and review it here.

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  6. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux Terminalist says:

    @faemir – yeah, I saw the Mount & Blade before but I think I mistakenly took it as a MMO. Looks interesting!

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  7. k00pa FINLAND Opera Mac OS says:

    Buy game, then download it if there is securom shit on it.

    You support developers and you can play clean game.

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  8. Anna Lear CANADA Google Chrome Windows says:

    I’m enjoying Assassin’s Creed right now. It’s pretty repetitive, but I’m enjoying the visuals and the storyline seems decent.

    I’m playing the Xbox 360 version, though, so I can’t speak to how painful or painless it is on a PC. That’s another way around restrictive DRM, though — pick up some variation of a current generation gaming console (excluding the Wii, since it lacks most of the more complex titles). Although I don’t imagine that’s a very acceptable way for you after getting a good PC rig going. :)

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  9. Daniel GERMANY Mozilla Firefox Mac OS says:

    Here’s a tip: don’t buy those games on a disc. it suuuuuucks.
    option 1: buy them but use the pirated version (stupid, but supportive)
    or option 2: download them legally, but without nearly all the drm hassels. has some pretty good offers (fully legal, but for polish peoble, so it’s cheaper and stuff). enjoy!

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  10. Square UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Linux says:

    Usually what I do is pirate the game first, play it, and then buy a legit copy if I’d like to support the developers. If there is a demo available, even better – since I can play the demo before pirating a copy, or even go out and buy the title while my pirated copy is downloading.

    Being honest, I can’t afford every title that I enjoy, but I do try to buy those which deserve it.

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  11. Fr3d UNITED KINGDOM Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    If any of those games are available on Steam, I’d always get them there, even if the price is slightly higher. While Steam does use DRM, it doesn’t care about Demon Tools, Alcohol 120%, or other emulation/imaging/burning tools. It also doesn’t get in the way or have activation limits; I can (in theory) happily install my entire collection of Steam games on any number of computers – the only limit is that I can only play online with one at a time (using my username anyway).

    I have to disagree with Rob: Crysis is far more than a fancy graphics demo; I thought it was an awesome game. The expansion pack is also a good play, and pretty cheap too. Also, I bought the special edition of Crysis and don’t remember having any issues with DRM.

    I honestly wouldn’t bother with FarCry 2. Without a doubt it has to be the most repetetive game I’ve ever played. It’s also suprisingly un-realistic for a modern game; the only (non-explosive) weapons that can kill with one shot are the sniper rifles; a shot to the chest (or even the head) with an M16, AK-47 or even a .50 Desert Eagle doesn’t kill an un-armoured foe, even at almost point-blank range. Even you, the player, can’t even buy armour… which means no big fire-fights :(

    I highly recommend getting Portal, and Half-Life 2 (and its expansion packs), if you don’t already have them :D

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  12. Bioshock is just too awesome to not play! I often find myself getting sidetracked and looking at the environment instead of playing the game. With it is so beautifully done with an intriguing storyline to go with, it is a “must own”.

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  13. Mart SINGAPORE Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    All those games you listed are very action-oriented. You don’t like strategic gameplay?

    Demigod, Gal Civ 2 Ultimate (both DRM free to install, but requires Impulse to update and play online). Or maybe Anno 1404? Sims 3? Street Fighter 4?

    How about indie games like Braid or Depths Of Peril? Granted, you may not want to play these since you’ve spent some cash making your rig into a graphics workhorse. :P

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  14. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    @Fred – yup, I was thinking Steam too… Then again Steam is DRM too. But one I can live with I guess.

    @Mart – yeah, I’m not a big RTS guy. I did want to play Braid, but isn’t that 360 only? If there is a PC version, I’ll gladly take a crack at it.

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  15. Mart SINGAPORE Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    @Luke: Yeah, there’s a PC version. I’m not sure if it’s out on Steam, but I did see it on other online distribution channels.

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  16. Alphast NETHERLANDS Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    The Witcher’s latest version (1.5) has no DRM at all. You have to install the Enhanced version first (1.4) which is the one most currently found in shops and upgrade it to 1.5 through an on line patch. I reviewed the game here:

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  17. Alex BELGIUM Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    I would say – buy & install a pirated copy to avoid the DRM problems.

    On Crysis: although the last third of the game is annoying, it is a really good game until then. It requires a lot of resources – but, hey, that shouldn’t be a problem for the newer machines. Also, Warhead is quite good (I enjoyed the first one more – but that’s a personal option)

    On Bioshock: after playing System Shock 2 a lot, it only seemed a dumbed-out version. The Vita Chambers (I hope I got the name right) bothered me the most – free unlimited resurrection is just stupid (I know they can be disabled from the menu, but the SS2 approach – make them have a cost was better – you would have your crutches, but the money/nanites used for resurrection would be substracted from the ammo/healing items/hacking/repairing/modifying fund). So… meh.

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  18. copperfish Mozilla Firefox Linux Terminalist says:

    Played everything on a Xbox, so while there is DRM its less annoying. The PC experience may differ.

    Bioshock – great atmosphere and story in a fairly regular FPS. Buy.
    Mass Effect – Some people love it, but the storyline wasn’t great, gameplay was poor and dialog trees inteminable. Avoid.
    Overlord – Fun and interesting until about halfway through and then it was just a poor platformer type game. Avoid.
    Assasins Creed – Loved it. Yes its repetitive, but it never bothered me. Buy.
    Prince of Persia – Terrible. Really bad. Don’t really know why because it is nice to look at. Avoid.
    Farcry 2 – Nice idea, poor execution. Respawning checkpoints anyone? Became boring fast. Avoid.
    GTA4 – Good, but disjointed and strangely empty. Saints Row 2 is much better (just ask Yahtzee). Avoid.

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  19. Zel FRANCE Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    It’s been said before, but just download the crack to your bought games to save yourself the hassle of dealing with DRMs. Actual advantages of this are that you won’t have to download the whole 8GB of data to get it (usually there’s a couple of libraries and the executable, at most a dozen megabytes or so), you’ll avoid corrupt, pre-release or fake versions and you’ll be able to sell your game second-hand without (too much) worry.

    Recently, I’ve been spending my gaming time on Anno 1404: Dawn of Discovery. It’s really great if you enjoy peacefully crafting cities (sort of like Sim City) with a touch of warfare when you’re bored, all the while enjoying pretty graphics (the water is especially beautiful, a pleasure to watch during the current hot weather). Time seems to disappear when I’m playing this game, thankfully there are some nagging reminders suggesting that you take a break every couple hours.

    Might I remind you that you also have two Fallout titles waiting for you ? Good Old Games now also offers the excellent Ground Control, which I would definitely recommend if you like micro-managing your troops. They are finite in this game, lose one and it’s gone forever, so you have to be very careful and use strategies other than “mass produce tanks”.

    Now about your list :
    * Crysis: good game, great graphics. Better than the average FPS in terms of gameplay, particularly if you enjoy open worlds. There’s lots of freedom when you decide how you approach your objective, and the maps are huge. Too bad it’s so short (the first half is excellent, the second half is back to the usual corridor FPS and is average).
    * Bioshock: too linear, too constrictive, I didn’t like it. There’s a plot, but I don’t enjoy watching my character act like an idiot so it didn’t impress me much. Gameplay is boring, with respawning enemies and infinite lives. The moral choice is non-existent as it bears no consequences. The city and the atmosphere is nice though, but as a game it fails.
    * Mass Effect: good space themed RPG, a bit repetitive on the sidequest side but overall pretty impressive. Just play it only once thinking your choices matter, and don’t go check on a second playthrough ;)
    * Overlord: It’s fun being the evil guy in a fairy tale world and lay destruction on your path. At first it’s just mindless destroying and killing, but the puzzle aspect soon shows up and add a nice layer of gameplay, although there are some control issues with getting your army to do what you want which can lead to some very frustrating moments.
    * Assasins Creed: repetitive … very repetitive. Good if you go for the main story as soon as possible instead of completing all available sidequests, which is something I can’t do…
    * Farcry 2: also repetitive, but I enjoyed it. Just drive past the respawning checkpoints and don’t bother ‘liberating’ them. Sniping is very enjoyable in this game. If you like finding the perfect safe spot and picking your targets one by one, then you’ll have plenty of fun in this game.
    * The Witcher: interesting RPG with some unusual themes, dialogues and characters. Check it out if you enjoy RPGs with meaningful choices and dark worlds where you have to choose the lesser evil.
    * Mirror’s Edge: fun for the first 30min then annoying. Jumping around in first person camera is enjoyable at first but the game becomes a pure unforgiving platformer then. Shooting phases are a pain. If you can’t stand DIAS gameplay, avoid at all costs.
    * GTA4: if you’re used to GTAs, then it’s great because you won’t have to try the missions times and times again. It’s easier than the last one (San Andreas), so you can fully enjoy the enormous work on the city and the characters, along with a pretty cliché but serviceable story.

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  20. James Heaver UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Mac OS says:

    Steam also uses third party DRM on some games, Anno 1404 is one. I got a refund from Steam as soon as I noticed this. I’m perfectly happy with steam DRM, I’ve never had a problem with it and it actually provides a benefit.

    If you’re going to pirate games to avoid DRM then don’t purchase them aswell. The game companies won’t know that you’re doing this and it would look like another sale to them. I’d say you’d be better off playing the game and boycotting the sale. Or perhaps you could write them a (physical) letter saying that you’ve purchased the game but are playing a pirate version because of their stupid DRM – you could even invite them to sue you if they have a problem. Its not like they will, especially if you keep a copy of the letter to show the press.

    I mostly play strategy games, but the FPS games that have grabbed me recently have been L4D and the Call of Duty games – only got into the series recently but the last 2 were both great, Modern Warefare particularly. Modern Warefare 2 comes out in November IIRC.

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  21. Rigel UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux says:

    You can purchase all of these games on Steam (I checked). I haven’t had a problem with their DRM either. I’ve personally bought Prince of Persia and Bioshock off steam. I haven’t started Bioshock as I bought it when it was on sale for $8 and have yet to pick it up, as for Prince of Persia, its a great game you can easily breeze through unless your the type that goes for 100% completion collecting all the seeds. Prince of Persia has a very fantasy look about it with great environments which plays out like a good story book. Its plot is ok but the cell shaded graphics were the real treat and I recommend it but my favorite PoP is the Sands of Time which story line drew me in as a kid.

    Mirrors Edge you should just rent if you have a console since you could beat it in less than a week playing casually. GTA4 I’ve played on PS3 but never finished it. Its story line is pretty good and the city is fun to explore.

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  22. Matt` UNITED KINGDOM Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    I’ll vouch for Steam – the DRM they use isn’t the silly kind everyone else uses, where it’s either tied to a disc or a PC (limited “activations” or disk checks or whatever), they go the route of tying all your games to an account. So you can download the games to as many PCs as you want as many times as you want, but you can only play them when you’re signed in to Steam and you can only sign in to Steam on one PC at a time.

    On the face of it, having to sign into Steam sounds like an annoying limitation if you need to be offline, but you can put it into offline mode for that purpose… which technically means you could cheat the system and have a machine in permanent offline mode whilst letting someone else play elsewhere, but I guess they’re not too worried about that because of the hassle it’d be to organise and go offline to cheat their DRM.

    True downsides: not suitable for families of gamers – you can’t play 2 different games on 2 different computers if they’re on the same account. Only solution to that is to make a fresh account for each game, which is just awkward. Also not all games are available in offline mode, so it’s not suitable for people who need to go offline a lot … treat offline mode as a bandaid for when you really can’t avoid some downtime and you’re fine.

    Any game with DRM above and beyond the Steam DRM will have a notice to that effect in the sidebar of the game’s page in the Steam store, so keep an eye out for that. For example Crysis is still encumbered with SecuROM and a 5-machine activation limit. Bioshock on the other hand has no 3rd party DRM listed.


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