Genuine Ultrabooks use integrated graphics which, while not as powerful as a ‘discrete’ GPU, allow the systems to be slim and power efficient. Even though the graphical capabilities of current Ultrabooks won’t satisfy those looking to play the latest blockbuster titles at full settings, there are still plenty of excellent games that will run perfectly on an Ultrabook. I’ve got six great games to share with you that will run great on your Ultrabook and offer hours of entertainment (all together hardly more expensive than a single blockbuster title!) For now, my recommendations and performance-evaluations are based on an Ultrabook using the current-gen HD3000 ‘GPU’ and Core i5 processor. Also note that your experience may vary depending upon the processor that your Ultrabook is equipped with (Core i3, i5, or i7), amount of RAM, whether or not you have up-to-date drivers, and your power settings (check back with us at UltrabookNews for a guide to optimizing your Ultrabook’s power configuration).
Definitely the oldest of the bunch, launched in 2004, Gish is a unique platforming game that follows a lovable ball of tar on his quest to find is captured lady friend, Brea. The game takes a physics-based approach to animation and gameplay; Gish’s movements are completely physics driven and controlled by you. You’ll stick and slide your way through the sewers once you master the controls, and be tapping your toes the whole way to the catchy jazz tunes. If you like finding well hidden secrets in platformers, Gish won’t disappoint — keep your eyes peeled. This one is a must-buy because you can get it for as cheap as $1 (see link below)!
For Best Performance: In the options screen, find video options at the top. Crank the resolution up to match your Ultrabook’s screen and get your game on, HD3000 powers this game smoothly with no problem!
- 2004 Game Tunnel Indie Game of the Year
- 2004 Game Tunnel Adventure Game of the Year
- 2005 IGF Grand Prize (Seumus McNally Award)
- 2005 IGF Innovation in Game Design
- Metacritic Score: 80/100
- Download the Demo Here (verify performance before you buy!)
- Buy it Here: Pick your own price! (minimum of $1)
2. World of Goo
World of Goo is another physics based game… oddly enough, it also involves balls of tar (I swear this is the last tar-related game!). This time, your goal is to construct various structures as efficiently as possible to save as many of the adorable tar balls as possible. This is a fun construction-puzzler and is great for both brief and long gaming sessions. You’ll slowly be introduced to varying game mechanics and be asked to find more complex solutions to puzzles as you progress.
For Best Performance: Just fire it up and get building! HD3000 graphics runs this game extremely well!
- 2009 IGF Design Innovation
- 2009 IGF Techincal Excellence
- Metacritic Score: 90/100
- Download the Demo Here (verify performance before you buy!) [see ‘demos’ section]
- Buy it Here: $20
If you haven’t heard of Minecraft by now, then you haven’t heard of perhaps the most successful indie game ever made. From humble beginnings, the title has now sold 5.6 million copies and registered 26.7 million users. The gameplay is what you make of it as there are essentially no pre-defined objectives, but the entire game revolves around a randomly generated world that, for all practical purposes, is infinitely large. Minecraft is a bit like virtual legos with some adventure thrown in. The randomly generated world consists of many cubes of different materials; once you’ve gathered various resources, you can craft them into useful tools and items. Build yourself a house, explore the vast world, farm the land, tame animals, design complex redstone circuity, explore vast and dangerous caves, or battle monsters at night (or all of the above) — the only limit is your imagination. Although the game maintains a very ‘blocky’ feel because of its nature, the dynamic day/night and weather cycle combined with the randomly generated terrain can make for some truly inspiring vistas. Make the game even more exciting by jumping onto a multiplayer server to build and explore with friends. This game is surprisingly addictive… you’ve been warned. If you do play, you’ll want to see this handy tutorial page and the Minecraft Wiki… the world can be an unforgiving place (and the lack of tutorial doesn’t help). Watch the trailer below to get an idea of how the game works:
For Best Performance: I’m a big fan of Minecraft and getting the best performance will require more tweaking than a simple resolution adjustment. I’ll be dedicating a full article to optimizing Minecraft performance on HD3000 for Ultrabooks, stay tuned!
- 2010 Good Game Best Downloadable Game
- 2010 Indie DB Indie Game of the Year
- 2010 PC Gamer UK Game of the Year
- 2010 IGF Grand Prize (Seumus McNally Award)
- 2010 IGF Audience Award
- 2011 Game Developers Choice Awards Best Debut Game
- 2011 Game Developers Choice Awards Best Downloadable Game
- 2011 Game Developers Choice Awards Most Innovative Game
- 2011 GameCity Videogame Arts Prize
- Metacritic Score: 93/100
- Play the Demo Here: (verify performance before you buy!) [this is a much older version of the game in ‘Creative’ mode, which is arguably much less fun that survival mode with monsters!)
- Buy it Here: $26.95
4. Superbrothers: Sword & Sorcery EP
Originally launched on iOS, this unique title just made its way to PC in the last week. This 2D side-scrolling adventure game features a beautifully crafted pixel-art world. You’ll journey through the forests and areas surrounding Mingi Taw, uncover the secrets of the enthralling world, and perhaps most importantly, be serenaded by the excellent soundtrack created by Jim Guthrie. This game is quite linear, but somehow manages to attach you to the world and to characters despite being named nothing more than ‘Logfella’ or ‘Dogfella’. The reason that there is an ‘EP’ in the title (as in: an album) is that the music really is part of the experience. The score compliments the game to a stunning degree and is a wonderful album to listen to even on its own. Better yet, if you buy the game for PC, the album is included with the (very reasonable!) price, making this a great value (especially because it’s currently on sale).
For Best Performance: This is the one game on the list that I haven’t been able to test first-hand, however, any Ultrabook with HD3000 graphics should fall well within the minimum recommended requirements!
- Metacritic Score: 86/100
- Buy it Here (includes soundtrack!): On sale until April 23rd for $5.99! [normal price is $7.99]
5. Bit.Trip Runner
This uniquely-styled rhythm game, featuring the character ‘CommanderVideo’, will have you jumping, sliding, and vaulting your way through a side-scrolling obstacle course; your every move contributes to the catchy beats that progress in complexity as you collect items across each level. The game begins simply enough, giving you only the ability to jump. Shortly thereafter you’ll be introduced to a number of new moves which make the game much more difficult. Bit.trip Runner can be punishingly challenging at times, even on easy, sending you all the way to the beginning of the level if you mess up — yet somehow its addictive nature will have you saying “just one more try!” every time you screw up a level. Think you’re an expert gamer? Try beating this game on hard, I dare you.
For Best Performance: I’m not sure exactly why, but you’ll need to go into Bit.Trip Runner’s settings menu and turn the full-screen resolution down to its lowest value (don’t forget to restart the game after making this change, otherwise the settings wont’ be applied). Oddly, this will not actually change the resolution that the game runs at (the splash screens will appear small but the game itself should run at full resolution), but will significantly increase the responsiveness — something very much needed for this game as it requires precise timing! Once you make this change, Bit.Trip Runner will run as smooth as butter with the HD3000 graphics.
- Metacritic Score: 76/100
- Buy it Here: $9.99
In Limbo you’ll wake up in a nondescript yet visually compelling world of black and white. Purposely, there’s almost no narrative and no tutorial (protip: ctrl is the ‘grab’ button, you’ll need it!). It’s just you and the strange world of Limbo. You’ll solve casual puzzles, narrowly dodge brutal traps, and encounter natives who may or may not be so friendly. This game is a great experience to play through, and you’ll find it hard not to appreciate the visual design and curiously abstract plot.
For Best Performance: On this one you don’t have to worry about a thing! In fact, there are no settings to configure, it should fit itself to your Ultrabook’s native resolution with no problem; this is another game that HD3000 runs silky smooth with no issues that I’ve found.
- 2010 Gameinformer Best Downloadable
- 2010 Gamespot Best Puzzle Game
- 2010 Kotaku The Best Indie Game
- 2010 GameReactor Digital Game of the Year
- 2010 Spike TV Best Independent Game
- 2010 X-Play Best Downloadable Game
- 2010 IGN Best Horror Game
- Metacritic Score: 88/100
- Play the Demo Here (verify performance before you buy!)
- Buy it Here: $9.99
I hope you enjoy these games that I’ve suggested, stay tuned for more Ultrabook gaming tips in the near future because we’re tracking it very closely indeed. 2nd-gen Ultrabooks could be a game-changer!