Bargain Bin: Spooky Edition

Bargain Bin

With the holly jolly crap of Christmas thankfully behind us — forgive me, I’m a scrooge — I’m in the mood for a scare. Well, that’s not really accurate, as I spent a portion of winter break playing through the delightfully conceived Dead Space. Despite its flaws, it is probably the best survival horror game I’ve played since the Gamecube remake of Resident Evil. With Electronic Arts’ nice new IP behind me though, I want more! As such, for my own purposes and the purposes of our beloved Bargain Bin, I’ve tracked down a few eerie games that will spook you without scaring you into poverty!

F.E.A.R.  (PC, PS3, Xbox 360)

F.E.A.R.

While it may seem a bit silly to invest in the original F.E.A.R. with the sequel not too far off, for those of us with light wallets or endowed with that oftentimes annoying desire to be utter completionists, F.E.A.R. is a choice shooter. Notable both for its Japanese-style use of spiritual horror, and for its aggressive and intelligent enemy AI, F.E.A.R. boasts a number of unique and excellent qualities in a genre that often spawns far too much stuff that can be labeled derivative.

Best of all, used copies of the game are relatively available for the PC, PS3, and Xbox 360. There are some things to mark about each version, the ports most especially. The PC version was the original and stands as the best. The Xbox 360 version comes in second place due to the fact that it maintains the quality visuals of the PC edition, but suffers from sometimes clumsy controls. The PS3 version is the worst of the bunch, maintaining many of the better elements of the PC version — the atmosphere and AI are all intact — but at the same time suffers both from the control problems of the 360 version and visuals so badly downgraded they appear more in line with the last generation of video games rather than the current.

Overall though, whichever system you choose to play it on, you’re in for a good time, or at least a few good scares made to remind you of creepy flicks like The Ring and The Grudge.

Amazon (Note: Used Amazon.com prices are subject to change)

PC – $17.50 (New) $8.99 (Used)

PS3 – $29.99 (New) $14.67 (Used)

Xbox 360- $31.15 (New) $9.99 (Used)

Dementium: The Ward (DS)

Dementium: The Ward

The first and most important thing to note about this attempt at creating a DS-based FPS is that it didn’t live up to most expectations. The level design was generic, the save system was highly flawed, and overall it possessed very little replay value, which is generally a must for modern FPS games, no matter what system they call home.

That said, if you can put up with its numerous problems, then there is a solid game here, combining scare tactics from games like Silent Hill and Doom into a nice little package you can play anywhere. Like Doom, you can either equip a flashlight or a gun. When you have a flashlight in hand you can of course see better, but you can’t defend yourself. With a gun, this is reversed; you can shoot, but you can’t see more than a few feet in front of you. It’s a clever limitation that worked well for Doom and works well here. Furthermore, your enemies are spooky enough that you’ll want to be able to see them. Filled to the brim with all sorts of freaked out creatures, the horror draws on all sorts of video game scare conventions, but it works and one can’t really complain about something that’s succesful.

Overall, there are better games out there than Dementium. There are better shooters out there for the DS — give Call of Duty 4 a try sometime — but if you’re looking for spook (cheap spook at that), Dementium: The Ward isn’t the worst choice available to you.

Amazon (Note: Used Amazon.com prices are subject to change)

DS- $19.99 (New) $16.50 (Used)

Shopping Advice

You know that big pile of games sitting on your shelf? Yeah, the ones collecting dust that you saw at GameStop, just had to have, and then never played, or never played again? Yeah, that’s called a backlog, folks. There is no greater waste of money than a backlog. NONE. More often than not, the games that fill out a backlog are all perfectly good, but we refuse to play them. There’s always some big game that just came out that we want to play more. If you want more bang for your buck then simply stop buying new games for a bit and work through that stack of games. At the end of it you’ll feel better, and guess what, those big games you wanted before…chances are in the month or two or three it took you to get through all those treasures you were neglecting, those games might have seen a price drop. Bargain shopping is fine, if you actually use what you buy. Turn your backlog into a money-saving asset and actually play those games.

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