Metaboli: Gaming on Demand

Written by Joe Martin

August 10, 2007 | 10:31

Tags: #awomo #beyond-good-and-evil #deus-ex #free #games-on-demand #gametap #subscribe #subscription

Companies: #steam

Getting your game on

So, there are plenty of games to choose from and the games cater for a wide audience; classics like Deus Ex sit right next to casual puzzle games like The Treasures of Montezuma, which at the time of writing was listed at the number one game being downloaded by users. But what about the interface and process for downloading the games?

Well, it’s incredibly simple to use. Users start off by creating a new account if they don’t already have one – which is easily done and requires the usual type of information changing hands. It’s also worth mentioning that Metaboli supports all major credit cards as well as Maestro and Solo cards – so students without credit cards (as I used to be) can join up easily and waste their student loan on something other than Pot Noodles and beer.

Once a user is signed up to either one of the collections, it’s simply a matter of finding the game you want to play and then clicking on it. Each computer that you want to download a game onto will need the Metaboli, which I’m starting to find a bit of annoying name the more that Microsoft Word refuses to recognise it, dedicated playing software.

Thankfully, the player isn’t a massive system hog or C:/ devouring program and it weighs in at only 7.3 MB so that the download and install time is minimal. Once the player is installed, which takes only seconds, then you just need to click the ‘Play’ button next to your desired game.

Metaboli: Gaming on Demand Getting the game on Metaboli: Gaming on Demand Getting the game on
Games like Deus Ex are an excellent addition to the collection

Doing so opens up the Metaboli player, which is streamlined to perfection and doesn’t need anything else doing to it for it to work its magic – and what magic it can wreak! The Metaboli player automatically starts downloading at the ”highest speed your broadband connection will allow” and once a third of the game is successfully downloaded then it can be opened and played straight away while the rest of the game continues to download.

We had an unusual time monitoring the speeds of our downloads in Metaboli. The progress and download speed are both listed in the bottom-right corner, so we monitored our speeds as we started downloading games. Annoyingly, you can only download a single game at a time, but that’s easily balanced out by the auto-patching feature of the system.

Oh, and the system fully supports Firefox too – score another success for our browser of choice.

Metaboli: Gaming on Demand Getting the game on Metaboli: Gaming on Demand Getting the game on
Games are all tested for Vista compatibility, but some games have porting errors

The first game we set about downloading was Deus Ex, the futuristic story-driven and massively replayable FPS/RPG hybrid which is often regarded as one of the best games ever. The first third of the game weighed in at 150MB and, on the bit-tech HQ 6Mbit connection to the Internet, we were reaching speeds of up to 397KB/s, with lows of 260KB/s – in other words it was quite a nippy download.

However, I’ve played Deus Ex before. A lot. So, I ran through the Liberty Island level with no problems and quickly exited, ready for a different game after my getting my fix of JC Denton for the day.

Hmm, what to play next?

Beyond Good and Evil is another favourite game of mine, combining platform and stealth elements with an incredibly emotional story which has consistently reduced me to tears. I booted up the download and sat back and waited, only to find that the download speed was only about half what it was before. It later turned out that the reduction in speed was due to someone in the office hogging the Internet (probably Tim, clogging the toobs with lolcats once more), so I can’t blame Metaboli for that. However, it does outline some of the problems with using the system on a shared connection. Or sharing the connection with a load of lolcat addicts at least.

Metaboli: Gaming on Demand Getting the game on Metaboli: Gaming on Demand Getting the game on
There are plenty of old classic games available, like Beyond Good and Evil

Booting up Beyond Good and Evil wasn't as fluid a process as it usually is for me at home, where I own the boxed copy, but I soon discovered this was due to problems the game has with Vista. Metaboli informs users of this by giving a brief system requirements on each game page, in the same place where it provides a difficulty summary, quick-start guide and full downloadable manual.

Some of these smaller elements are obviously flawed however. The difficulty summary, for example, lists Far Cry only as medium difficulty despite the fact that the final levels of the game are commonly cited as the most infuriating things since relix first appeared on the bit-tech forums.

At the same time, every single game I looked at had a series of five star reviews from the users who had downloaded it, even the rubbish games. Obviously, if you haven’t heard about the game then this makes it a little hard to know if it’s worth your attention or not.
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