Developer: EA
Platform: Facebook
Release Date: 9/8/11
Content Warning: Sexual References
Link: http://apps.facebook.com/thesimssocial/

     Hibba rabee warshtanor, nena blibber fliggon... oh, hi internet, I didn't see you there. Illegal drugs? No, no, no, that wasn't just random gibberish, I was just playing The Sims Social, a Facebook installation of the popular Sims franchise where everyone speaks in gibberish. Any good, you ask? The short answer is, it's ok. But be warned, if you get any more into it than a quick check once a day, prepare to be driven completely insane. Like, enough that you'll start speaking nonsense.

     And when you do, I apologize for what I said about your mom a few lines ago.

     In The Sims Social, like all Sims games, you create little people called "Sims" and witness their life from the perspective of God... that is, if God suddenly took up home redecorating. It's kind of a game about nothing. You can tinker around with your house, complete some odd little quests, and look after your Sim's personal needs. You don't really have a specific goal, although your friends' house values are displayed at the bottom of the screen, so I guess it's all about seeing who can be the most selfish materialistic idiot.
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I'm friends with Marik Ishtar? I hate this game already.
 
 
Developer: TurboNuke
Platform: Flash
Release Date: 8/15/11
Link: http://www.kongregate.com/games/turboNuke/cyclomaniacs-2

     Do you ever get that feeling where you realize you're tired of sitting on your butt doing nothing of importance and just want to go outside and enjoy some good, old-fashioned physical activity? Yeah, me neither. But just in case, here's a flash game that's got you covered.
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     Cyclomaniacs 2 is the sequel to a classic of flash games where you pick from an array of zany characters and have a 2-d sidescrolling bike race. Each area has unique hazards and properties to deal with as well as goals to achieve, meaning you'll have more to shoot for than simply winning the race. Your accomplishments will net you new riders and areas as well as money to upgrade your riders.
 
 
Developer: Nitrome
Platform: Flash
Release Date: 8/5/11
Link: http://www.kongregate.com/games/Nitrome/steamlands

     Ah, Steampunk. You never fail to amaze me with your fancy British accents, weird technology and amazing top hats. I wouldn't go as far as to call myself a fan, but I'm interested enough that I was intrigued by a flash game called Steamlands when I came across it.
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     In Steamlands, your goal is to survive in a brutal European wasteland shortly after the "Great War". The wasteland is inhabited by pirates who cruise around in massive tanks, and in order to survive against them you'll have to pick up spare parts and build a tank of your own.
 
 
Developer: Firaxis
Platform: Facebook
Release Date: 7/6/11
Link: http://apps.facebook.com/civworld

     Oh, snap. It's finally happened. Ladies and gentlemen, the social media game has just taken a major step toward taking over the world - not just by absorbing all the time you're supposed to be spending doing more important stuff, but actively encouraging you and your friends to take over the planet.
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     CivWorld is a Facebook version of Sid Meyers' Civilization, a long-running PC franchise where your goal is to build an empire and take over the world. Now, I'm not a big fan of most Facebook games, since most of them are too busy hawking virtual currencies and making you hold your friends at gunpoint to visit your farm to deliver a decent game. In fact, I'd started to give up hope that a good Facebook game could exist since so few can overcome these problems.

     But suddenly a ray of light emerged from my computer screen, and an angel delivered to me a stone tablet with the URL you see above. Well, maybe that's an exaggeration. But it may as well have happened that way, because CivWorld is a glorious example of casual gaming at its best.
 
 
Developer: Anonymous D Studios
Platform: Flash
Release Date: 6/7/11
Link: www.kongregate.com/games/xdanond/rpg-shooter-starwish

     In this post-modern world, it seems like everyone's trying to smash things together that don't seem like they should ever be allowed in the same zip code. Like apples and oranges, or metalcore and auto-tune. So it was only a matter of time before someone realized there's never been a hybrid game based on 2-d space shooter and role-playing mechanics. In case the title didn't completely spoil that twist already, this is that game.
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     So, the idea here is you've got levels with some shooting and bits with talking in between. The concept works and even has some moments of shining brilliance, but like any genre pioneer it has some significant flaws that hold it back from being as good as it could be.
 
 
          Hello again, dear readers! I'm happy to report that I escaped my sister's wrath for stealing her computer last week and mine is back in working order! All is right with the world! Well, except for war, global warming, starvation, genocide... alright, so maybe we've still got some work to do. But, in the meantime, let's look forward to a more peaceful future! At least, that's if the upcoming free-to-play MMO Black Prophecy doesn't have anything to say about it.
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For the final frontier, this place seems awfully crowded.
          A friend of mine was kind enough to direct me to a beta key for Black Prophecy, a 3d space shooter in the vein of Star Fox and Ace Combat. It's already out in Europe, but doesn't have a set US release yet.

          Black Prophecy's plot revolves around two rival factions of humans: the Genides, a race of genetically perfected humans, and the Tyi, a race of cybernetically augmented humans.  You start as a Sapiens - a normal, unaugmented human - pilot and colonist heading for the newly discovered planet of Triamon. After some tutorials, a plot begins to unfold that ends up with both the Tyi and Genides offer to provide you with their respective augmentations in exchange for your services as a fighter pilot. I went with the Genides, mainly because I like the suit you get a lot better than the Tyi one (Genide stuff tends to have lots of blues, whites, and greys, where Tyi stuff tends to have more blacks, reds, and yellows). I'd really like to talk more about the plot, but there are spoilers afoot and I don't want to ruin them, but it's well thought out and does a much better job of pulling you into the world than many MMOs I've seen.

 
 
Alright folks, I'm back from the land of the dead. My computer decided that it was going on strike and I'm currently waiting on a new battery charger, so my reviews the last 2 weeks got flushed down the toilet. I was originally going to review League of Legends, but seeing as I've only played 2 matches in it my inner journalist was kicking and screaming at the idea of squeezing a review out of it. However, I've boarded and commandeered my sister's netbook, and I have until she realizes it and sends her crew of mutant zombie hamsters after me to review some flash games. Besides, there were some great games this month that really deserve mentioning, one of which I've been anticipating for a while and freaked out when I saw. So, without further ado, let's get flashing!

 
 
Developer: FailBetterGames

Platform: Standalone Site

Release Date: I dunno lol

Content Warning: Minor Sexual References

Link: http://echobazaar.failbettergames.com/

          Welcome, delicious friends, to another exciting installment of the Freeware Fanatic. You may perhaps be pondering why I deign to refer to you as delicious, as though I had recently developed a tendency toward cannibalism. Or, perhaps you might be curious as to why I call you friend, when we've likely never met before. Well, delectable acquaintances, I assure you that my reason is no more nefarious than having recently been engrossed in Echo Bazaar, a posh British text-adventure game set in a universe where London has been swallowed up by a fissure and now resides deep underground.
 
 
This is just a quick little note, anyone who reads my blog will probably be interested in this week's issue of The Escapist, themed around gaming on a budget! Sadly, it's mostly dedicated to console games and there's not much about my sphere of interest, but they're similar enough that I can empathize. Check it out at http://www.escapistmagazine.com/features/issue/301. Happy reading!
 
 
          Hey, look, it’s next week already. Well, isn’t that lovely. My apologies for the lack of postage last week, I’ve got some pretty sweet stuff cooked up for the next few weeks, but they’re all bigger games that take more playing to review accurately, and because of my new job I just didn’t have the time to scrape anything together. However, in the spirit of making up for my tardiness I’m going to try a different format from the usual. It just so happens that I’ve played and enjoyed several flash games in the past few weeks that didn’t have quite enough content to justify their own separate review. Well, a few days, an energy drink or two, and an unfortunate encounter with a Swedish Fishmonger later, I realized I should cover multiple games in a good old-fashioned flash game party! One small note: these won’t be getting numerical scores as they’re not really big enough to warrant them. You can assume that since I’m talking about them, they’re pretty good and deserve a look.
 
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    Every week, I bring you the best in free video gaming! Flash games, Facebook apps, free-to-play MMOs and more every Monday!

    Got questions, feedback, or games I should check out? Contact me on Facebook or Twitter below, or send an email to TheFreewareFanatic
    @gmail.com!

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