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play free online gamesGaming can be an expensive hobby, whatever your system of choice may be. The games are cheaper on PC, but keeping your rig up to speed in order to play the latest titles can burn through cash quickly. With consoles you have to buy the system, and then pay $60 a pop for each new game. If only there was a way of playing games for free.

OK, so there already are a number of methods open to you, but they’re usually of dubious legal status, or the games are either old (read classic Atari Arcade - Play Retro Video Games In HTML5 [MUO Gaming] Atari Arcade - Play Retro Video Games In HTML5 [MUO Gaming] Anyone who plays video games today owes a huge debt of gratitude to Atari and the founders and engineers who worked for the company during its formative years. Atari was responsible for many of the... Read More ) or substandard knock-offs of the original titles. What we need is a big-name, mainstream publisher to offer games playable for free in the humble Web browser. Step forward Square Enix, for which all is forgiven. Yes, even Final Fantasy XIII.

Core Online

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Core Online is a gaming service from Square Enix that offers anyone the chance to play selected titles completely for free using nothing more than a Web browser; Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer are all supported. The games are presented in high definition, and can be played either in a boxed mode with the instructions viewable below, or in fullscreen mode with all distractions removed.

Square Enix has managed to keep Core Online free by the clever use of video adverts. The more ads you watch, the more game time you receive. It’s actually a rather generous ratio, with 1 minute of ad viewing resulting in 20 minutes of game playing. You can accumulate a maximum of 60 minutes of game time at any point. Those who would rather play without ads are given the option of purchasing full games or individual levels for a set fee.

Core Online is currently in open beta, meaning anyone can use the service but bugs and errors are to be expected. I haven’t encountered any problems thus far. You can register for a Core Online account, but doing so is completely optional. Registering has its advantages: game time is carried over between sessions, game saves are recorded, and achievements are opened up.

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There are currently only two titles available to play: Mini Ninjas and Hitman: Blood Money. Both play just fine on my run-of-the-mill laptop which meets the minimum specs but not the recommended specs. Playing in Firefox or Internet Explorer requires the installation of the Square Enix Secure Launcher plug-in (SESL), while Chrome users should find the games run natively.

Mini Ninjas

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Mini Ninjas is a cartoonish action adventure that was originally released in 2009 on a range of different platforms. The player controls one of six characters – the titular Mini Ninjas – from a third-person perspective, which can be switched between at any time depending on the skills and weapons that are needed. Mini Ninjas has a compelling storyline, a lengthy campaign, and fun gameplay.

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Playing Mini Ninjas using Core Online is great, even for someone who is more used to playing on a console rather than a PC. The controls are fairly balanced and easy to learn, with only the faster-paced action requiring me to pause the game occasionally to figure out a better strategy.

play free games online

Mini Ninjas features 22 levels, each of which can be played individually at any time. This takes away some of the challenge, as if you get stuck on a particular section of game you can merely exit and move on effortlessly. There is also a demo available to play, though that would seem a little surplus to requirements given that the full game is free to play anyway.

Hitman: Blood Money

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Hitman: Blood Money is a rather serious stealth killing game that was originally released in 2006 on a range of different platforms. At the time it was notorious for its violent content. The player controls a professional hitman called Agent 47 as he completes missions carrying out hits on individuals. Hitman: Blood Money features a rather convoluted story, a mind-numbing set of controls, and morbidly appealing gameplay.

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Playing Hitman: Blood Money using Core Online is a little challenging, but I suspect PC gaming veterans will take to it a lot quicker. The controls take some mastering, as the different killing methods require different button combinations. Thankfully the gameplay is relatively slow-paced for the most part.

free online games to play

Hitman: Blood Money features 13 separate missions, each of which can be tackled individually at any time. Doing so means you’ll inevitably miss whole sections of the ongoing storyline, which is somewhat integral to the gameplay. Still, it’s a useful tool to have at your disposal because this isn’t an easy game, even when played on the Rookie level for n00bs.

Coming Soon…

play free online games

Two titles clearly won’t be enough to sustain interest in this service, but thankfully there are more on the way. Lara Croft and The Guardian Of Light, Tomb Raider: Underworld, and Gyromancer are all listed as “Coming Soon.” Assuming the advertising business model proves to be successful I suspect newer titles may also start appearing on Core Online in the near future.

There is obviously one rather large omission from the line-up at present… the Final Fantasy series 5 Best Websites Dedicated To The Final Fantasy Series 5 Best Websites Dedicated To The Final Fantasy Series The Final Fantasy series of video games is 25 years old this year, with the first title, unsurprisingly called Final Fantasy, released in 1987. Since then there have been 14 games released in the main... Read More . Core Online would seem to be an obvious home for the older Final Fantasy games, even though many are already finding new homes and new audiences on the likes of iOS, Android, Xbox Live, and PSN. If Final Fantasy VII Square Enix's Final Fantasy VII Re-release: Worth It? [MUO Gaming] Square Enix's Final Fantasy VII Re-release: Worth It? [MUO Gaming] Final Fantasy VII is the most beloved game of the series, and arguably the best JRPG of all-time (if we all forget about some guy named Crono). This re-release (not remake) comes with a few... Read More ever makes its way to Core Online then that will be all my spare time gone in an instant.

Conclusions

I can see myself using Core Online a lot, especially if and when the range and quality of games available to play on the service improve over the coming months. Hopefully the number and frequency of adverts won’t increase to compensate Square Enix for any lost sales. People are more than willing to put up with ads as long as they’re rewarded fairly for doing so.

Have you tried Core Online yet? If so, what did you think? Are there any Square Enix games you would love to see added to the browser-based service? Would you like to see other publishers following this example? If so, which? Do you think this, along with cloud gaming The OnLive Cloud Gaming Revolution - A Faster, Easier Way To Game The OnLive Cloud Gaming Revolution - A Faster, Easier Way To Game OnLive is a cloud gaming service that presents a truly unique way to access your favorite games. No longer are you forced to constantly upgrade - instead, you run the games in the cloud, and... Read More , offers an alternative to the current treadmill of console generations? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

  1. Srikant Mahapatra
    November 23, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    Do such kinda services support controllers?

  2. Free Online Flash Games
    October 8, 2012 at 2:50 am

    The graphics of Core Online is awesome. Surely gonna try the game.

  3. Anonymous
    October 7, 2012 at 9:35 pm

    This looks great, trying now!

  4. Lisa Santika Onggrid
    October 7, 2012 at 10:48 am

    All hail Square Enix! But no, I'm not going to try it before they release Final Fantasy or Seiken Densetsu series there.

    Umm, does every game run smoothly in your browser or should I upgrade my graphic card to achieve the original playstation graphic?

    • Dave Parrack
      October 8, 2012 at 12:03 pm

      There are minimum and recommended specs lists on the site - http://beta.coreonline.com/help/ - but I had no trouble playing either game on my laptop, and it's not exactly overpowered.

  5. Harish Jonnalagadda
    October 5, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    Thanks for sharing this! Had no idea that such a service existed.

    • Dave Parrack
      October 8, 2012 at 12:02 pm

      That's what we're here for... finding stuff on the InterWebs most people miss :)

  6. Santos
    October 5, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    This (Core) has the potential to compete with the current mainstream for of gaming such as Steam.

    • Dave Parrack
      October 8, 2012 at 12:01 pm

      I think you're correct. I just wish more publishers would get on board and add their games to the list of those available.

  7. Austin
    October 5, 2012 at 3:10 am

    Native my butt, no support for Linux :( Even in Chrome. Not sure exactly how they're achieving this, but whatever it is, it's not Linux friendly, so I probably won't bother. At least, until a game I've been wanting to play pops up on there, then I'll switch into Windows, but not worth the effort right now.

  8. Igor Rizvi?
    October 4, 2012 at 10:18 pm

    Holy cow!! 1 min of ad for 20min of gameplay,and you even dont have to pay for anything...awesome.. thanks,im sharing this

    • salim benhouhou
      October 5, 2012 at 10:14 am

      awesome i'm in

    • Dave Parrack
      October 8, 2012 at 12:00 pm

      It's a pretty sweet deal. This perhaps proves that advertising as a form of revenue isn't dead after all.

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