Well here's some interesting timing. Just days after I finished playing Portal for the very first time (more on that in a bit), Steam is offering the game absolutely free.
Specifically, from now until September 20, you can download Portal (PC and Mac) absolutely free. Yesterday, it would have cost you $10.
Update: Many readers have reported difficulty signing up for a Steam account. My only suggestion is to keep trying, as I'm sure Steam's servers are overloaded. I'll update further if I learn anything more.
Update #2: Steam tech support just tweeted this fix: "Please install the Steam client and try creating the account that way." Reader Robert reports that this worked for him!
In case you're not familiar with it, Portal is regarded by many (myself included) to be one of the best games of all time. GameSpot awarded it a 9.0 and an Editors' Choice. IGN called it "quirky, clever, polished, and presented with a spark of a subtly evil humor."
It was originally part of Valve's The Orange Box bundle, then later a $20 standalone game. Now it's free, free, oh glorious free! And not just for PCs, but also for Macs. (Speaking of which, check out Rich Brown's interesting hands-on testing of Portal on four different Mac systems.)
The one and only string attached is that you'll need a free Steam account and Valve's Steam download client. Hardly a string at all, if you ask me.
This generous giveaway is probably a Steam-powered effort to drive Portal 2 sales. That blockbuster sequel currently sells for $29.99. Gotta say, I'm majorly tempted, but I know if I wait a while, it'll drop to $20, and then to $10. (Not sure I want to wait that long, though.)
As I mentioned just the other day, it took a couple tries before I could get my brain to work the way Portal needs it to work (i.e. without a machine-gun). Once the synapses locked into place, however, I got totally sucked into this ingenious, imaginative, and frequently funny game.
If you haven't had the pleasure, do yourself a favor and grab Portal while it's free. I guarantee that after you work through the first couple levels, you'll see what all the fuss is about.
Now, excuse me while I go enjoy some cake.
Bonus deal: More game goodness! For a limited time, you can download Defense Grid: The Awakening for just $2.49 when you use coupon code CAGDGRID75. This gorgeous tower-defense game is absolutely spectacular; I was seriously hooked a few months back.
Bonus deal No. 2: And while we're on the subject of awesome downloads, Giveaway of the Day has Aiseesoft Total Media Converter (PC) absolutely free--so long as you download and install it today. This program rips DVDs and converts just about any kind of media file to just about any kind of format.
Bonus deal No. 3: That's right, peeps--number three! Overstock has the "certified pre-owned" Barnes & Noble Nook Color for just
$159.95 $149, plus $1 for shipping--officially the lowest price I've seen yet. It comes with a one-year warranty, and based on a recent experience using one, I can report that B&N's customer service is excellent.