Cult of the Fiver | July 2014

Rollercoaster Tycoon 3: Platinum

Rollercoaster Tycoon 3 is the third (and so far final) entry in one of the most popular Tycoon game series of all time. In it, you manage a theme park, try to attract as many guests as possible, and then take all their money in return for temporarily entertaining them. Or making them vomit. But ideally, a bit of both. The Platinum edition comes with some additional water park and zoo attractions.

Rollercoaster Tycoon 3: Platinum is worth your $5 because... it's a fun simulation/tycoon game with a lot of hilarious replay value. Will you torture your guests or coddle them? If you choose torture, you can charge them obscene amounts of money to put them on rides that scare the vomit right out of them, and then charge them again to go to the bathroom afterwards. Or you could put some silly rides in, I guess, and charge a reasonable amount. But what's the fun in that?

But don't pay full price for Rollercoaster Tycoon 3: Platinum, since... it's pretty long in the tooth, and the series was better in the first two incarnations. The game can get a bit slow, and it's got a learning curve. The interface isn't that great, and getting stuff done often feels like a struggle.

The $5 Deal: Steam

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Sniper Elite V2

In the closing days of World War 2, Nazi rocket scientists are defecting to the Soviets. Although the Soviets and the US are allies in the war, there's talk that the Soviets are planning to use Nazi rocket technology against the US. Oh Noes! It's up to a lone sniper to sneak deep behind enemy lines and blow a lot of people's brains out (literally) in order to save the day.

Sniper Elite V2 is worth your $5 because... it's a halfway decent first person shooter. The sniping mechanics are kind of fun. Lining up shots, slowing down time, and taking down an enemy all the way across the map can be entertaining in any game, but this game takes that mechanic and makes it front and center.

But don't pay full price for Sniper Elite V2, since... the amount of not-sniping you have to do is kind of high for a game about sniping. Plus, almost everything else about the game is a mess. Trying to fight with your SMG is painful. Stealth is a mess. The silenced pistol is terrible. Without a clear understanding of how the maps are laid out, setting traps is rarely useful. Even when you guess correctly, sometimes the enemies just teleport right past them.

The $5 Deal: Amazon w/Steam DRM | Steam | Humble

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Papers, Please

Glory to Arstotzka! It's the 80's in a fictional Soviet bloc country. Having won a labor lottery, you have been assigned to work the border between Arstotzka and Grestin. However, tensions are high and the bureaucracy is corrupt. You'll have to balance an increasingly difficult set of border checkpoint rules, your family's monetary needs, and the constant threat of terrorist attack in order to survive. Cause no trouble.

Papers, Please is worth your $5 because... it's a unique and important game that really deserves attention. It teaches you about how systems and circumstances can dehumanize and desensitize people. I wrote about the lessons it's trying to teach in another full-length Papers, Please article.

But don't pay full price for Papers, Please, since... the game itself can be fun, but chances are you're either going to love it or hate it. While there are 20 different endings, a lot of them are just variations of different ways to fail. There are a lot of scripted encounters that play out the same way every time you hit a particular day, making the replay value less than you might expect.

The $5 Deal: Steam | Humble

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Goat Simulator

In this game, you play as a goat. You do goat things like headbutt stuff and lick stuff and do 360 double frontflips off of trampolines. Mostly you cause chaos and trash everything in sight.

Goat Simulator is worth your $5 because... this game is the unholy union of Tony Hawk Pro Skater and Saints Row. There's explosions, destruction, ragdolling, flying through the air, comboing for points, and a boatloat of secrets to find and collect. I was expecting it to be funny for about half an hour and then get boring, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that it's just as hilarious 10 hours in as it was in the first 10 minutes. There's a lot of fun game mechanics and stuff to do and explore.

But don't pay full price for Goat Simulator, since... it's more of a silly diversion than a full-blown game in its own right. Plus one of the achievements is to win at a Flappy Bird clone, and # *$&# that game.

The $5 Deal: Amazon w/Steam DRM | Steam | Humble

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Dead Rising 2

Chuck is a down-on-his-luck former motocross star who is now taking part in an exploitative game show in "Not Las Vegas. " He needs the money in order to pay for medication for his sick daughter. All hell breaks loose when zombies attack, and he's framed for letting them loose. Now he's got 72 hours to clear his name, all while dealing with psychopaths, reticent survivors, and his daughter's constant need for medication.

Dead Rising 2 is worth your $5 because... it's a tense but funny zombie-bashing experience. The clock is constantly ticking, so there's a lot of strategy to how you plan your movements in order to do as much good as possible while still keeping track of the main story line missions. The combo weapon system gives you some awesome and ridiculous weapons to beat back the zombie invaders.

But don't pay full price for Dead Rising 2, since... a lot of issues, both major and minor, mar the experience. For instance, the constantly ticking clock. It keeps the game moving, but it also means you've got little time to deal with anything but what's absolutely required of you. The combat is often sloppy, especially against psychopaths. They all have unblockable, uninterruptable attacks that knock you down. Most of the available weapons are downright useless. Combat with guns especially is unwieldy.

The $5 Deal: Steam

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Dust: An Elysian Tail

Dust is an amnesiac badass warrior with an oversized sword and a fairy partner named Fidget. Together, they'll save the world from an overzealous general hell-bent on genocide. Beautiful sprites and backdrops compliment the 2-D Metroidvania style gameplay.

Dust: An Elysian Tail is worth your $5 because... it's beautiful and fun to play. Just moving around is fun, but the combat is also quite entertaining. Revisiting old areas is rarely a chore, since the game keeps a good map that contains locations of loot and often secret entrances to other areas. The game's a good length - not so short that you don't get a chance to really get powerful, but not so long that it wears out its welcome.

But don't pay full price for Dust: An Elysian Tail, since... it's got a hackneyed plot, and often the combat is pretty one note. Despite there being various combo moves, for the most part you'll probably just hit with a few normal attacks and then use the Dust/Fidget "Dust Storm" combo move to deal massive damage to practically everything on the screen. Lather, rinse, repeat until everything's dead.

The $5 Deal: Amazon w/Steam DRM | Steam | Humble

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