Imagine a huge games arcade where thousands of dedicated game players can gather to do battle. That’s what GameSpy Arcade attempts to offer in a virtual world where game is the name and variety is the aim.
GameSpy started life by simply helping Quake users find a functioning sever to log onto but today, it has developed into a world of gaming in its own right. The developer claims that millions of gamers meet online on GameSpy to play the hundreds of online multiplayer games and free demos it’s linked to. They also claim the all-in-one interface offers the fastest game servers available – up to 60% faster than in-game browsers. Plus, it already features integrated texting, voice chat and instant messaging – eat your heart out SecondLife.
After installation, the program scans your PC for any installed games you have and lists those which are GameSpy compatible. All the major games such as Counter-Strike and Age of Empires are supported. The key feature of GameSpy is the Buddy List, which means you’re almost always guaranteed someone online to play with or against (depending on how many buddies you’ve got of course!) Using an engine called ‘PlayerSpy’, it gathers together all those friends that are online. You can see which chat room they are in and what game they are playing. If you fancy dropping in on their action, just click on their location to be instantly taken there. You can also send an instant message, start a voice conversation or send a game invite.
The other key feature of GameSpy is a searchable server filter (SmartSpy) which enables you to find the right server for the game you want in seconds. Popular dedicated-server games like Half-Life have literally thousands of game servers available and SmartSpy helps you pinpoint the best one for you in a matter of seconds. Just select the type of game you want to play and GameSpy Arcade will download data from and ping only those servers. For those that simply like to keep abreast of the latest games, GameSpy also offers DemoSpy - a daily updated list of the latest releases, supplied to them by FilePlanet which saves you registering with the latter. This also includes a handy patch section to keep your games updated.
The drawbacks can be summarised in two words – advertising and resources. From the minute you open GameSpy you are bombarded with advertising from developers hawking their latest games, which becomes rapidly tiresome. In addition, GameSpy tends to be very heavy on your CPU. If you’re playing on an older machine, forget about running anything else alongside it – it simply hogs your CPU to deal with the heavy graphics.
In summary, if you frequently find yourself without gaming companions, GameSpy Arcade is worth it for that reason alone – it’s a great way to make friends too. If however you’re dedicated to just one or two games and you regularly log on with others, the advertising and resource-hogging mean you can probably do without this.