Playing Games

Playing Games

Bill Howard, Mark Saltzman, and Don Willmott

C’mon, please tell us you plan to use your new home network for more than just sharing printers and sending a fast Net connection around the house. We know for a fact that you want to have some fun along the way, too. The Interactive Digital Software Association [] claims that 31 percent of the usage on a typical American home computer is for playing games, edging out e-mail as the most popular use of home computers. Since the family that plays together stays together, letting the kids compete with one another (and you) across a home network makes good sense. You can keep them busy as well as keep them from bugging you about subscription-based online gaming communities.

Ditching Solitaire and Minesweeper in favor of some shared mayhem is easy. Millions of action fanatics have indulged in a heated round of Half-Life: Counter-Strike [], but an even better game with which to test your new multiuser setup is Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast []. This Star Wars–based 3-D shooter features seven head-to-head and cooperative gameplay modes. (What? You’ve never heard of “Capture the Ysalamiri”?) As a twist, budding Jedis can battle not just with high-tech weapons but also with an impressive collection of nine mystical powers—including Force Push, Lightsaber Throw, and Force Heal.

Thrashers in the house can grind with the best-selling Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 []. Up to eight players can skate and talk trash through the virtual streets of Tokyo and L.A. in game modes including Trick Attack (whoever racks up the most trick points wins) and Control the Zone (two opposing teams compete to see who can unlock new boarding zones). And let’s not forget about magic, with popular role-playing games such as Diablo II [] and Dungeon Siege [].

Sports fanatics should consider Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2002 and FIFA Soccer 2002 from EA Sports [], and NASCAR Racing 2002 Season from Sierra []. Turning left around a track for a few hours by yourself is okay, but it’s much more fun when you’re screaming down the asphalt beside your friends (either on your home network or across the Net). Play as or against legendary NASCAR competitors such as Jeff Gordon or Dale Earnhardt Jr. on all 23 official NASCAR tracks.

For those who prefer brains over brawn, there’s always Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings [], a real-time historical strategy game. When you finish demolishing your spouse’s armies, log on and test your mettle against the rest of the world at MSN: Games []. Dozens of games at this site are free, while others offer free trials followed by daily or monthly fees.

Copyright © 2002 Ziff Davis Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. Originally appearing in Yahoo! Internet Life.