Top Ten Free-to-Play Games - Click for Kicks

For nearly a year, I wrote content for Ten Ton Hammer’s Dungeons & Dragons Online (DDO) hub. I was drawn by the chance to rekindle my relationship with D&D and the promise of a game that...

For nearly a year, I wrote content for Ten Ton
Hammer’s  target="_blank">Dungeons
& Dragons Online
(DDO) hub. I was drawn
by the chance to rekindle my relationship with D&D and the
promise of a game that featured the authentic core rules. Turbine
delivered on its promise to faithfully render the D&D
experience, and I enjoyed the game for most of the time that I played
it. Nevertheless, I found faults with DDO, chief among them the
real-time battle system. Self-proclaimed “active” battle systems annoy
me worse than a zit on the tender tissue where your nostril meets your
face. But am I a dinosaur? Is real-time combat the future of

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No matter how high this Dwarf's stats are,
the monsters in DDO will wipe the floor with him if the player behind
the avatar is not adroit enough

I have legitimate reasons to dislike real-time combat; I’d
like a chance to state my case, to defend myself, before you (my reader
and jury) convict me of lameness. 

Strategy is the core of good gameplay. Whether I am playing my
favorite MMOG, a sports title, or a single-player RPG, I derive my
pleasure from making choices to overcome my challenges. When I
play  href=""
, I find joy in picking the right units
and arranging them correctly to conquer foes. If I hop on the
Playstation 2 for a game of Madden
NFL Football 2008
, it’s more important for me to utilize
the right personnel and execute the correct play call to defeat my
opponent than it is for me to press a combo of buttons to break a
tackle.  Finally, when I am playing a style="font-style: italic;">Final Fantasy RPG
on any console, my goal is to develop my characters in a way that helps
them survive each battle. In a sense, any game I play is just providing
a GUI (graphical user interface) on a bunch of number crunching. What
can I say? I like numbers.

contrast to the strategy required in the games I like most, titles with
twitchy combat rely on the reflexes of the user to create a challenge.
In DDO, it doesn’t matter how well I know the D&D rules or the
spells available to a level 1 Wizard. If I can’t perform a tightrope
walk along the beam in the ceiling, I’m never going to reach that
treasure chest hidden up there. Without the manual dexterity to perform
the Hadouken (???) before my opponent drops me in style="font-style: italic;">Street Fighter III,
I might never win a match. Certainly, dexterity and agility are
measurable traits (albeit imprecise measurements) and tests of those
skills have merit. Even so, games that rely on challenges of deftness
aren’t really providing any challenge; they pit the player against
himself. The gamer’s limits are his nimbleness rather than any learning
curve or leveling scale within the game. If I wanted to be aware of my
faults, I’d enter a body-building contest.

Whether I like it or not (and I don’t), action components are coming to
an MMOG combat system near me. I experienced it firsthand in DDO, but
it doesn’t end there. During those sweet honeymoon weeks when gamers
couldn’t stop making love to  href="" target="_blank"> style="font-style: italic;">Age of Conan
(AoC), webizens gushed about the sexy combat style of Funcom’s title. I
wasn’t impressed because the need to change the focal point of attacks
just sounded like needless button mashing to me. What seemed innovative
to the masses appeared to be extra mindless work to me, and the trend
looks to continue in the next round of AAA titles.  href=""
Chronicles of Spellborn
features a targeting
“crosshairs” of sorts.  href=""
and  href=""
Universe Online
promise action-styled
combat.  href=""
looks to make the z-axis a real element in combat. The list goes on and

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Online uses a series of
key presses to deliver more damage in combat.

Just as I have argued that microtransactions are coming to the
Western market whether we all like it or not (and I like it), this
action blend of combat is already invading F2P games. href="" target="_blank"> style="font-style: italic;">Cabal Online
players to spam clicks or key presses instead of auto-attacking. href=""
has gamers using key press combinations
to deliver extra damage.
The F2P audience often gets lobby games with heavy PvP elements (see href=""
or Rakion).
also receives the sports MMOGs (see Cody “Micajah” Bye’s  href=""
target="_blank">In the
Trenches). A
number of kung fu games on the market likely involve twitchy combat,
too. But should this old fossil get with the program and buy into the
new fad?

Parting Thoughts

In moments of weakness, I almost cave and denounce myself for not
embracing the acne of action combat games. Then I realize that I’m a
gamer, dammit! We’re not supposed to be marvels of the human form or
specimens of grace and agility. We’re supposed to be geeks, thinkers
who take pride in our ruthless cunning, which enables us to take over
the world (or at least virtual worlds). So, forgive me if I choose to
apply an astringent to my pimples; I’ll pass on the twitchy games,

Do you like twitchy combat, or are you a dinosaur like
Ralsu? Email
your thoughts

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