11:39 AM

Top Video Games For Kids Of All Ages

What's the broad-based appeal of World of Warcraft, Desktop Tower Defense, Orange Box, Wii Sports, Civilization IV, and other top video games?

Desktop Tower Defense

Hand Drawn Games

Price: FREE

Pros: Simple-to-learn…but entertainingly difficult to master; it’s free!

Cons: Lack of deep story and photorealistic graphics reduces the appeal for hardcore gamers.

Desktop Tower Defense is a browser-based easy-to-grasp, puzzle/strategy game.
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One of the biggest contemporary trends in computer gaming these days is the migration to so-called "casual" games. Casual games are entertainment experiences that are considered to be less complex than a full-blown, boom-pow PC or console game. Mobile games are the most ubiquitous example of casual gaming. Other examples are games that are built in Flash and are fully playable from within a web browser.

Desktop Tower Defense is one of these browser-based games. Over the last two years, very few games have exceeded its popularity or durability. Literally millions of people have played this easy-to-grasp puzzle/strategy title. The gameplay is simple: A number of enemies (named "Creeps") are trying to infiltrate your space. You build a series of towers and tower upgrades to stop them. Killing the creeps earns you gold; this gold can be used to build more towers and upgrades.

The appeal of DTD is two-fold. First, anyone with a web browser can play it -- there’s no need for sophisticated overpowered PC hardware. Second, it’s free. You can play right now by clicking >here.

Orange Box

Valve Software

Price: $49.99

Pros: Five games in one; gorgeous graphics; and Portal is one of the best games of 2007.

Cons: With the exception of Portal, the gameplay can be fairly aggressive and requires fast-twitch reflexes.

If you’ve recently seen or heard the saying "There is no birthday cake" in people’s email or message board sigs and wondered what this quote means, the answer lies in Valve Software's recently released Orange Box game set.

Orange Box is a steal because it contains five complete games. Half-Life 2 and two follow-up episodes, plus a multiplayer game called Team Fortress 2, and the crown jewel of the Orange Box, a game called Portal. The first four games would be well worth anyone’s money. Half-Life is a stellar action adventure game set in a dystopic future. You play the role of Gordon Freeman, and your job is to help liberate a city from the grips of oppression. The story twists and turns and you fight all manner of enemies, villains and monsters with all kinds of weapons. And while the gameplay can be pretty fast-twitch oriented, a unique blend of creative story-telling makes it all worthwhile.

Team Fortress 2 takes the basic gameplay in Half-Life 2 into the online multiplayer arena. The nice thing about TF2 is that, in comparison to other multiplayer action games, it is an extremely straightforward fast-paced affair.

But again, the real gem is Portal, one of the most talked about computer or video games of 2007. Originally developed by a couple of game design students, the game eschews guns and combat for a series of mentally challenging action puzzles. It takes about 5 hours total time and the ending is worth the price of the entire Orange Box set.

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