Something scary happened when I signed up for the InstantAction.com
beta; something completely unexpected. You see, I’ve heard these rumblings of web-based games being the “future of the casual market”, but people probably said that about flash-based games like the ones you find on NewGrounds. But grinding up celebrities in a blender was really only ever going to be fun for a limited
time. While a lot of java-based games are now making their way to mobile phones and the like, the web-browser has struck back at the gaming community with a set-up you really need to see to believe.
InstantAction.com is a beta program for a number of web-based games that are equal to, and potentially better than, most last-gen console (and PC) games. Running entirely out of your web-browser, these new games are fully 3D, seamless and fun. Currently the site only has a handful of titles available to play, but from the main page you can view a video-reel showcasing the direction of the site and their plans for casual gaming domination through a host of incredible looking games that just seem like they shouldn't be able to run in this way.
That said, however, InstantAction isn’t just for the casual surfer. While the likes of ThinkTanks, Cyclomite, Marble Blast and Screwjumper are all pretty standard gaming affairs designed to be picked up and played immediately, the Coming Soon gallery shows these guys are looking to cater for the hardcore players as well. This, more specifically, can be seen with the video demo of Fallen Empire: Legions, a team-based online FPS romp reminiscent of Tribes, only all running from within a web-browser. There are also plans for a racing game and an aerial game, but no other details other than the fact these exist are available.
The games that are
up and running though, are still a pretty damn good place to start. As mentioned above, most of these are of a simpler nature than what IA seem to have planned for the long-run, and could be viewed more as tech demos, really. However, that doesn’t stop them from being fun. Gameplay for all of them is simple enough; it’s your usual WASD keyboard movement configuration with the mouse acting as both a free-aim reticule (where appropriate) or as the in-game camera. The rest is handled by super-smooth gaming engines, some pretty nice graphics and a keen grip on gameplay by the player.
ThinkTanks throws you inside a small tank on a pretty large playing field. You have a standard weapon to fire, but strewn about the map you'll also find power-ups and more, all to take down either AI tanks equally bent on your destruction, or humans from whatever gaming party you join or create. The name comes from the idea your tank is being powered by a brain (hence the text in the accompanying screenshot). Ultimately this is one of the more enjoyable and replayable games on offer with plenty of room for tactical and fervent gameplay, regardless of whether you're playing against AI or humans alike.
InstantAction Minimun System Requirements
- Operating system: Microsoft Windows 2000, Windows XP or Windows Vista.
Web browser: Internet Explorer 6, Internet Explorer 7 or Mozilla Firefox 2.x (Firefox 1.x and 3.x not yet supported).
- Processor: AMD 1.0 GHz Processor Or Intel 1.2GHz Processor.
- RAM: 512MB SDRAM or better.
- Graphics card: Radeon 9800 or 128MB integrated graphics card or better.
- Sound card: Soundblaster or compatible Audio device.
- Internet access: High-speed/broadband connection.
- Network interface: A network interface card is required.
- Additional: DirectX9, Adobe Flash add-on for the web browser
Marble Blast is both a single-player game and a multiplayer one, with an emphasis on puzzle-solving and battle (depending on the mode you choose), but like its obvious inspired reference (Marble Madness), Blast’s goal is for you to move a stunningly crafted chrome marble from a start point to an end point in the shortest possible time. Each level then becomes progressively more difficult with impediments and precarious map design all working against you. Physics-wise, Blast isn’t quite up-to-scratch with other games of this nature, but considering you’re playing through a browser (and it’s still at the beta stage), we can look past it.
Cyclomite is strictly a puzzle-game that doesn’t really push the 3D splendour of everything else on offer, but it’s still looks pretty damn amazing. The concept simply sees you turning a wheel to match coloured projectiles falling towards it. Match the coloured projectiles with the correctly coloured area of the wheel and you earn points. Initially pretty easy, Cyclomite can actually become really intense, very quickly.
Screwjumper is the last game currently up and running on IA. Again, like the other titles, its premise is simple; here you take a character who is freefalling, move him around with the WASD keys and change his forward direction with the mouse. While freefalling it’s a simple matter of ensuring you don’t hit the red pads, but break through the green ones. As most puzzle games go, this concept is made more difficult the further in your get. But at its core, Screwjumper is another light-hearted puzzle romp impressively set in 3D.
There is insurmountable possibility with InstantAction, and as its name suggests, players who sign up are eligible to play immediately. You can host online matches with friends or join in most games already running. Equally, each game offers a single-player mode; taking away the limitation of needing to join a hosted game (the AI is pretty good, too).
The hardcore test will come once Fallen Empire launches, as well as the other more advanced games IA have in the pipeline; will the system be able to run a complex team-based FPS as seamlessly as it does the games mentioned above? We’ll be keeping you informed for the answer.
For now though, anyone interested can sign up to the Beta for free and start playing immediately (link can be found in this article’s first paragraph). Registration is quick and easy and you’ll be kept informed of changes and updates regularly by the development and support teams. You can also post in forums and give feedback to ensure the final products are as promising as the Beta is having us think they will. So far so good though, and as soon as any of the other titles hit Beta stage, we’ll be letting you know.