A true vision of the future? 30,000 computer nerds swapping statistics about their virtual country, in order to compensate for personal inadequacies by achieving theoretical world domination. Could be closer to the truth than you’d want to think. Better check it out. It doesn’t look like much on the surface, but Earth 2025 is quite an in-depth game where thousands of unpaying participants get to pit their managerial skills against one another. It’s slow and thoughtful, so don’t expect the adrenal gland to pump too soon. Nation building requires patience.
Verdict: Number crunching fun. - SS
Quality is usually assured with a large organisation, and Funcom delivers. By combining some slick chat scripts with simple and fun games like backgammon, blackjack and a whole swathe of others, a fine old time can be had with friends and strangers around the globe. It’s like IRC with bells and whistles. The graphics are pretty and if you can’t find a friend, you can always play the computer. Certainly worth visiting, picking your favourite game and making instant friends. You can even sit there silently and watch other games in progress. That’s as good as television!
Verdict: Come in and play. - SS
Net Worth: *****
This is a medieval virtual world in full 3D with avatars playing, meeting and greeting one another for fun and for free. At the time of review, it was in beta-test mode, which, if you think of the massive programming genius required setting this baby up, you could well forgive. It’s fully built in Java, so if your browser is compatible, you are on your way immediately. This thing could take off, and if they can franchise the technology to more diverse styles of world, we may all one day join an avatar community and play blackjack til the cyber cows come home. Now that’s funtopia!
Verdict: Stick around, it’s early days yet. - SS
Hollywood Stock Exchange
When you join you are given 2 million dollars. That feels good! Now you start investing in real movies and real actors based on their box office performances. I’ve got a funny feeling that this has been set-up by someone who actually invests real money in Hollywood, but it sure is a great idea, and very well put together. If you do well, you join a list of top traders. If you do real well, you should consider getting into it for real.
Verdict: California does it again. Cool. - SS
Talk about meaningless concepts. Poot is many things to many people, and if you really feel compelled to explore poot in its totality, this is the place. Find poot among the boots in 10 levels of Java scripted hilarity. Merchandising is on the way, so look out world, another meaningless, time wasting, resource-chewing purile phenomenon is upon us. The game actually is kinda fun. Annoying, but fun.
Verdict: What the poot? - SS
Stellar Crisis Room
Claiming to be the first ever on line multi-player game, Stellar Crisis is still going strong. It’s a game of alliance and war, and the tables can turn very fast. This has been growing since 1995, so the infrastructure is well in place. It continues to be free, and ad-free, and maintains its underground and organic nature. A quick check of the history reveals a fascinating record of the trials and tribulations of setting something like this up. Once you are hooked on the game, there is plenty of community action here to keep you coming back.
Verdict: Go with the original. - SS
Olympia – Play By Email
The intro sounds great. Wild adventures of fantasy, building ships and castles, hacking through tunnels and eating brains. Trouble is you have to pay to join. Fear not, check out the public moves and see how involved this thing gets. I can imagine some people having to give up their jobs to stay in this game. Doing it by email makes it very cerebral, so you are going to need to keep your brain to make it here. This is elite, but of course, so are you.
Verdict: Start filling that in-tray with battle plans. - SS
This cute little doggie adventure is a simply designed linking game of making choices within a story. Lots of funny things happen to you, the dog, as you encounter all kinds of crazy incidents, choosing your fate along the way. It’ll take a couple of hours to get through, before you return to your kennel for some dry biscuits and a nap. The best thing about this is that it will inspire others do create more adventures along the same lines. It’s an easy and fun way to go, and could even point the way to more serious applications.
Verdict: Woof! Woof! Pant, pant…its tail-wagging fun. - SS
To Boldly Go
This game has a two to three week waiting period to join. It looks pretty cool. You can check out a results page and battle report and it looks well worth signing up for. It’s a PBEM (play by Email) game but the good thing about this is your moves are made using menu bars and a “make it so” submit button. It’s all quite enthralling, and the action never stops. Basically you just get a ship and off you go, manifesting your desires for power, control, or just cruising around watching the stars go by.
Verdict: Neat and clean, just like your Star Trek uniform. - SS
This is a pretty snazzy game. Download the software and join in the fun. ARC stands for Attack, Retrieve, Capture, and has been designed with fun as a high priority. You chat while you play in this groovy looking zone in teams of floating craft, either collecting flags, claiming buttons, or just blasting the hell out of one another. There is some strategy, but you’ll have to use most of your brain for quick-witted commentary and banter while the game is in progress. Basically, you run around, score, shoot em up, cheer and ROFL.
Verdict: The HQ of fun. - SS
Starship Troopers – The Massively Multi-Player Online Game
Yes, it’s that Hollywood blockbuster. It’s big, flashy, totally over the top, and it costs $9.95 US a month to play. You do get the first month free, but I was too scared that I would forget to tell them to cancel in time, not read the fine print, and find that I had signed up for thirty years. If you are brave, you do get all the titles from the GameStorm stable thrown into the deal. It is really quite appealing, but there must be enough action out there without having to submit to monthly payments. A once-off fee would be much more appealing. Surely the movie made enough to warrant that.
Verdict: Prepare to be fleeced by the Hollywood space bandits. - SS
CleverMedia Shockwave Arcade
This is the place for truckloads of Shockwave fun and games. The single and multi-player games vary from the classics like backgammon and blackjack to lots of cute games like “Peanut Butter and Jelly Wars”, “Smite Thee”- where you play Zeus, and the Men’s urinal game. There are so many games to get through, your boss will probably have to sack you for time-wasting before you get a tenth of the way through the list. Each game has its file size listed, which is helpful, and none of them are too big not to have a go. Besides the games there are heaps of other fun applets, gadgets and tricks. Clever media are Shockwave gurus. The evidence abounds.
Verdict: Shockingly clever. - SS
This one is shaping up to be an awesome on-line extravaganza. In beta-test phase at the time of review, Everquest is expecting itself to become a big hit with gamers everywhere. The graphics look very enticing. The variety and scope of the game looks extraordinarily large, and they plan to allow players to choose whether or not they want to get involved in killing one another. That has to be good, because things can get pretty violent when more experienced players lead newbies to the slaughter. Up to 1,000 players per server are allowed for, so this quest really could end up going on forever.
Verdict: This is certainly one to watch out for. - SS
Warped Web Games
The name says it all. Divided into categories of silly, strange and sick, a host of Java and Shockwave frivolity awaits you. From Virtual Bubble Wrap and Cow Bingo to Building Michael Jackson’s baby then on to Exploding Cane Toads and Zombie Dinner, your twisted sense of humour will be tickled no end. After you’re done with all this, head on into celebrity beat-up land, where you can take all your anger out on your least favourite celebrities by engaging in fisticuffs. This has got to be a site to bookmark. Boredom is totally unachievable here.
Verdict: It’s sick, it’s twisted, it’s you! - SS
Acronyms are strings of letters that stand for words, ICYDK (in case you didn’t know). This game is a very fast paced and fun challenge to come up with the cleverest and/or funniest string of words from a given acronym. Rounds are played leading up to a championship play-off for the undisputed master. Chat away with your opponents as the round progresses. Players vote for the best answer and the points are tallied. You can’t vote for yourself, so the object is to be as quick and clever as possible to make the whole channel of competitors split their sides laughing. You must download the program, but it is really well worth it. There are varying degrees of obscenity allowed in different channels, which is very good, because, as you would expect, a lot of people seem to come up with the same word every time certain letters appear.
Verdict: F.W.A.C.F. (Fun With A Capital “F”!) - SS
Nexus – The Kingdom Of The Winds
This family-friendly fantasy game is based on animated Japanese character styling. It’s full of adventure and mystery, and presents very well as a gentle but challenging adventure for young and old. A 3-6 Meg download is required to get things started, but the action is free and plenty of good clean fun awaits you in this world of dragons, kings and legends. The graphics are a little unconvincing, but it all comes down to getting involved and interacting. It is certainly more for the sweet little kiddies than your hard core on-line blood and guts player.
Verdict: A sweet and charming journey into Asian mysticism. - SS
SimGuild’s Flying Circus
A multi-player WW1 flight simulator game. Looks like a lot of fun, with chaos in the skies as hundreds of untrained pilots take to dog fighting each other. Download the free software and get on board. Like many of these games, this one is still being developed and there are more games to come. Looks like it’s all happening though, in beta phase. The graphics look good for this kind of fast live action game. If you are into flight simulator games already, this must be the next step. It probably won’t match the home versions, but the interactivity more than makes up.
Verdict: Bally ho! Off we go! - SS
Designed as a fast and fun interactive event, Hover Race begins in the chat rooms. You get to know everyone else who has already downloaded the software like yourself, then up to 8 of you jump on your hover crafts and start racing. It’s non-violent, but you can use mines and missiles to try and slow your opponents’ crafts down. You can even design your own courses once you get sick of what’s been dished out. Being free and all, you can hardly complain now, can you? This certainly beats standard IRC. Nothing like a good hovercraft race to settle a point of contention in a discussion.
Verdict: On your marks, get set, download! - SS
Yes, it’s true, paintball has hit the Internet, and it hurts a lot less than the real thing. This site has all you need to get your camouflage gear and guns ready for on-line splat action. A nice bonus here is the amount of advice and tips you get. Many of these sites just say “download and play, sucker” but Paintball Net seems to care that newcomers don’t get shot to pieces on the first day. Who knows, maybe someone has managed to sue them for trauma induced by a savage virtual skirmish. The subscriber list is fairly small, and mostly 13 to 15 year old boys, but it could just be your thing.
Verdict: Ready, Aim, Splat! - SS
This is a Java strategy game, set in Japan, and including a chat area so you can ask other players what the hell is going on. The download takes a while, but is worth the wait as it is quite a cool game with graphics to match. Take the time to read the comprehensive instructions as the applet loads, and you are on your way. You can play alone if you like, to get used to the game, before humiliating yourself in defeat by more experienced players.
Verdict: Run in and play. - SS
This “Pictionary”-style offering from Microsoft has a very easy format. One player draws a given word from various categories, and the other players guess it. Everyone takes turns. Scores add up and champions are made. This is a very fast paced game, like Acrophobia, so you have to be quick. There is almost no time for bantering around in the chat window, you just have to knuckle down and guess or draw. It’s a great idea for a game to play on line, and the software is pretty fancy. Help is plentiful, though not that necessary. Look out, you may get stuck playing this for weeks on end! The only trouble is that the drawings are, in general, pretty damn lousy.
Verdict: Nearly didn’t finish writing this chapter! Got stuck scrawling. - SS
Talk City Games Events
This mega chat world site serves up so many different chat-style word games, your non-cyber life is now officially over. Games are run by a timetable, and all you have to do is get the chat client and join the fun. Rhyming games, fill in the blank games, come up with a punch line games, silly sentences, the fun just doesn’t stop. Some games are always open, but most are scheduled, so you’ll have to set a hundred alarm clocks all over your house, car and office. If you ever get tired of the chat games, try the absolute plethora of other chat options here. These guys have taken IRC and turned it into something almost useful.
Verdict: You’ll never leave. - SS
Microsoft Gaming Zone
Of course, Microsoft has about fifty trillion dollars to invest in any on-line development they care to put their collective brains to. This means that they can afford to do it properly, although you will always feel like you are dealing with the same dude who wrote your word processor help menu. A team of lawyers has ensured that no one is going to get hurt here, and technically, everything is pretty much taken care of. Funny thing is that with all this technology, the biggest game on this site as far as participation goes is a damn card game! Thanks Bill.
Verdict: Is this really the road ahead? - SS
Mplayer.com – earth’s free multiplayer game service
Boasting over one million members, mplayer has made it their mission to be the number one location to play games on line. They have hooked up with all the major game creators like Westwood and Electronic Arts to offer the technology for all kinds of games to be played fast and free. They host retail games, where you must own the CD, as well as downloadable games, and a lot of cool free Java and web-based ones as well. With so much corporate involvement from the manufacturers, mplayer has the power to hold major competitions with real prize money. Pit your wits against the world.
Verdict: This is the new Olympics. - SS
This game needs no introduction. It has been training the world for sixty years how a lucky few can get as rich as possible while the rest of the world starves to death. And how successful the monopoly ethos has been. Now the Internet is being used as a medium to perpetuate the game. Once you buy the CD, of which there are many previews of animations and screen shots, you can begin playing people all over the globe. The old site offers rules, tournament news and a link to Westwood Studios, creators of the CD Rom. The new site is running an election to choose the new Monopoly piece planned for launch in 1999.
Verdict: A decent attempt to drag an old-world game into the 21st Century. - SS
Although there are only four games here at present, Wordland is shaping up to be a pretty cool place to hang out. It is for young and old, (age-friendly), meaning no swear words, and there is plenty of chance to meet and greet players before or during games. Once again the software needs to be downloaded, but that hasn’t stopped you yet, has it? There is a challenge ladder, too, so you can sign up to whip other peoples’ butts, if you think you are smart enough.
Verdict: Good clean fun. – SS
1-ON-1 Free Basketball Game by Voltec
Here is the world wide basketball competition that you don’t have to be a super-athlete to win. All you need is a keen idea about basketball, and a good head for figures. The game is played by assigning specific attributes to a fictional player that you create and manage. Each week, the dude who controls the site takes all the players attributes, and in his computer at home, pits players against each other, one on one. A play by play description of the entire virtual game is given on the web site, which is quite clever really. After winning or losing, you can adjust some of your player’s attributes and try again next week.
Verdict: Just like the real thing – on the radio. - SS