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Running on empty

Affordable gaming for the dorm dweller

The Spectrum

You have a $15 allowance for the weekend.

Paying your cover for a Friday night frat party is the top priority on your budget. After a late-night Zonies run, you're left with minimal funds to do anything else. Playing video games is your go-to activity in this situation, but your game selection is stale with no upgrade in sight. Face it - you can't afford Grand Theft Auto V.

No worries.

For anyone adjusting to college, there are plenty of options to game on a low budget while integrating pre-gaming and other new weekend rituals into the mix. Check out these games for affordable gaming that will keep your interest and BAC high for the whole semester.

Best bang for your buck

You have some cash to spend for a change, but you're looking to get the most enjoyment and value when buying your new game. These games rely on re-playability and the amount of content to keep your interest strong into the early hours of the morning.


Price: $10

Developer: One True Game Studios / Iron Galaxy Studios

Release Date: Aug. 20 (PC, PS3, Vita) Nov. 15, 2013 (PS4)

Platform: PC (Steam), PS3, Vita, PS4

"Divekick is pure adrenaline, awareness and outsmarting your enemy. It's a fighting game deconstructed into its purest form," according to the developer's website. This two-button, comedic-fighter parody cuts out the BS and gets straight to the best part of competitive fights: A one-hit match. Each attack does "one billion damage," yet your character only has around "one million health." So fight wisely.

The fast-paced style and simplistic controls make it a very fun game for even non-gamers to play while doubling as an excellent drinking game. New local-multiplayer games are hard to come by these days with the prominence of online play, and Divekick makes it very comfortable and easy to play with your roommate on just a single keyboard.

The boiled-down fighter is hilarious and tense, yet contains a surprising amount of depth and strategy. With 13 unique characters that each have their own fighting style and special move, you'll have hours of hilarious local play to keep you occupied.

Guild Wars 2

Price: ~$40 (Amazon)

Developer: ArenaNet

Release Date: Aug. 28, 2012

Platform: PC, Mac

Guild Wars 2may seem like an odd choice for saving money when it's priced near the value of a brand-new game, but the sequel to the critically acclaimed, massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) delivers with immense longevity. Unlike most MMORPGs, Guild Wars 2 has no monthly subscription fee, which makes it completely affordable for the amount of content that can be played right out of the box.

The game hinges on its instanced environments, and it rewards players for working together in real-time world events. For those who loved to raid or run dungeons in World of Warcraft, Guild Wars 2 was designed for you.

On top of having no monthly fee, ArenaNet has released new content every so often since November 2012, including new mechanics, dungeons and items to eliminate the halting end game of most MMORPGs.


Price: Varies

If you live on campus, four controllers, a nostalgic-console and three friends may be the best pre-gaming routine you have ever come across. Mario Kart, Super Smash Bros., Mario Party, NBA Street, NFL Blitz andMLB Slugfest make for some great four-player action that will leave you with new memories of old games. All of these games are easy to learn right away, making them easy for even a gaming novice.

The systems, controllers and games can be bought for relatively cheap. Do some Craigslist hunting and eBay sifting to score yourself a Gamceube or Nintendo 64 bundle to get your weekends started off the right way. And if you don't feel like doing the research, you could always head to Oogie Games to get your equipment, but usually at a premium.

Free to play

Free-to-play games rely on micro-transactions to make money instead of actual game sales. Some of these games are entirely free to play and the experience won't suffer if you don't open your wallet. Others lean on the "pay-to-win" model, which does inhibit the experience if you don't shell out some cash.

Path of Exile

Developer: Grinding Gear Games

Release Date: Jan. 23

Platform: PC, Mac (unofficial)

Path of Exileis an online-action, role-playing game or otherwise widely known as a "Diablo clone." The game's dark tone and gory graphics set the player in a dark fantasy universe. The game's website states that the developers are "completely opposed to the concept of 'pay-to-win,'" and rely on cosmetic in-game purchases to support their game.

With a massive, passive skill tree, six player classes and a player-versus-player combat system, Path of Exile provides the character customization that you want, and days worth of content to be explored.

World of Tanks


Release Date: April 12, 2011 (PC) TBA (X360)

Platform: PC, Mac (unofficial), Xbox 360

If you're in the market for something new, then World of Tanks is your game. World of Tanks is a first-person-shooter experience inside of a tank simulator.

There are two ways to win each 15-on-15 battle: Eliminate the enemy team or capture the enemy's base. The game's free-to-play model relies on the purchase of premium tanks. Tanks are divided into tiers, and the game's matchmaking system attempts to match players using tanks within the same tier so that someone who buys his or her way through the game doesn't destroy someone who is playing for the first time.

World of Tankswas slated for a summer release in the Xbox Live Arcade, but has yet to receive a concrete release date. The game will be free for Gold members, while Silver members will be able to use the game's one-week trial on Xbox.

Tribes: Ascend

Developer: Hi-Rez Studios

Release Date: April 12, 2012

Platform: PC

Just like other games in the franchise, Tribes: Ascend relies on its versatile and unique movements to keep the first-person-shooter genre fresh. The use of jetpacks and skis to maneuver through the environment in this class-based multiplayer game truly defines the experience.

Battles take place with up to 32 players on large-scaled maps with lots of changes in elevation to reward players with momentum for skillful movement. With its pretty visuals and no cost to play, Tribes: Ascend is a no-brainer for the competitive gamer who is bored with the traditional first-person shooter.


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