Or, as the case may be, to boot up a game demo. Tony Hawk's Warehouse level is ready and waiting for us, but we wanted to hear from you: In your opinion, what's the best game demo you've ever played?
I'm going to cheat and say Final Fantasy 14. Currently, with the free trial and a brand-new account, you can enjoy the entirety of A Realm Reborn, the base game. This week, Square Enix expanded that offering, letting you dive into Heavensward, the game's first expansion as well. That's a hefty total experience, letting you enjoy most of Eorzea, a vast, vibrant land full of interesting characters and monsters to overcome.
Square Enix also cleaned up the main story campaign for A Realm Reborn this week, streamlining it and making it much shorter for those tackling it the first time. Many quests have been made optional; they're still there, but aren't needed to proceed. One of the issues in regards to recommending the fantastic Final Fantasy 14 is the long preamble before you really get to the "good stuff". Now, that preamble is much shorter. So get in there.
There are so many good demos from the early PlayStation days, but I don't think there's a better demo, ever, than the Halo: Combat Evolved demo for PC. It was fairly simple: it supported multiplayer on a single map, Blood Gulch, and had one single-player level: The Silent Cartographer.
It just so happens that it was an encapsulation of the absolute best of both worlds for Halo; the best multiplayer map, and the best single-player map, all in one free package. I played countless hours of Halo thanks to that demo, which might have found its way onto some flash drives and subsequently onto school computers. And when I was bored of Blood Gulch? Time for another Cartographer run. If I had to somehow preserve all that Halo is for some sort of time capsule, I would just put that demo in the box and call it a day.
It would be inaccurate to say I wanted an Xbox 360 just to play the Dead Rising demo, but it's almost true. Between when I got the console and when the full game came out, I messed around in Paradise Plaza almost as much as I played Geometry Wars.
Really, Paradise Plaza was probably the best area in the whole game, and being turned loose in it with no objectives whatsoever still made for hours and hours of fun. I also just remember being in awe of what I was seeing; the leap in visual quality and the sheer number of enemies on screen was wild, but it also felt like a plausible mall. That was my first taste of the sort of big-budget verisimilitude that really only became possible once hardware got to that level and team sizes started to balloon.