The usage of VPN (Virtual Private Network) applications has been on the rise. People of all ‘sizes’ and professions use it. From Corporates to kids at home, use VPN for several purposes. VPN has really good uses. You can read about it here. But were are gonna concentrate on multiplayer gaming via a VPN.
Games nowadays have generally have two multiplayer modes. One requires you to connect to the game’s servers and play and the other uses a LAN to play with your local friends. Pirated versions of games generally dont have access to the genuine game servers. Hence gamers resort to using VPN applications to establish a network connecting their friends in a virtual LAN and using the LAN mode of the game to play games. I have been using various VPN software over the years for playing a variety of games. My first experience with VPNs was with Log me in’s Hamachi which I used to use to play FIFA with my friends in school notably with @abi1ity. Ive used several VPNs but the three VPNs that stood out for me was Hamachi, Tunngle and Game Ranger as far as gaming is concerned. These three applications also had a massive user base that provided competition all the time. Lets see about each VPN, their pros and cons.
Out of the three VPNs that we are reviewing here, Hamachi is probably the most professional app and its the only one that wasnt built for gaming! :D Hamachi still managed to become really popular. Once you register and install Hamachi you will be allocated an IP address which has the net id as 126.96.36.199. Hamachi used ‘networks’ to organize VPNs. If you want to create a VPN you need to create a new network and assign a password to it. Now you need to pass the network id and password over to your peers so that they can join the network. Now a VPN is established among the people who belong to the network. The greatest strength of hamachi is the ability to form unlimited groups. So instead of connecting to all your peers. You can organize them into networks and you can choose which networks must be active and which must be inactive. But the free non commercial version of Hamachi allows only a limited no. of peers in a network. The UI improved with each version of Hamachi.
But there were certain issues with Hamachi. Often there was network lag which causes massive problems while gaming. Often certain peers would be relayed via the Hamachi servers due to problems establishing direct p2p connections. But these occurred occasionally. But as years passed by, the gamer community moved on to VPN apps that were custom made for gaming (like Game Ranger, Tunngle, etc) and Hamachi slowly reduced in popularity. And also, you need to search a lot for getting networks where you can play. But it still offers a reliable VPN solution for a variety of purposes and not just gaming. You can download hamachi from here.
Tunngle was developed by a German group. And it was custom tailored for gaming purpose. When it came out it was widely spoken about by many people. But the user count of Tunngle did not rise very rapidly. This was one of the reasons why it did not become a very widely used VPN except for some games that had very good support in Tunngle. But they made some advances, provided better language support and a much more reliable system later. Tunngle’s UI has a tabbed interface with each tab providing different services, like news browser, settings, game browser etc. Tunngle used a system that has a list of games supported available in the Game Browser tab. Once you select a game you will be shown a list of Game rooms and the number of peers in each room. You can join any room you want and you will be connected to all the peers in that network. Now you can start the game and start an in game lobby or join an already existing lobby and start playing!
The only problem here is that you dont get private networks as in Hamachi. But still its good and has support for most of the popular games. The games are organized into various genres. It also supports Friends List which is not available in Hamachi. You can download tunngle from here.
3. Game Ranger
You can call Game Ranger or GR as it is popularly referred to by gamers, as the “Mother of all Gaming VPNs” ! It has some really good features that has attracted a major proportion of the gaming community towards it. Ill list its major features. First of all, it has a very user friendly UI and it uses game rooms to create VPNs. You need to create a game room in GR, select which game to play and an optional password to the r0om. Now you can wait for others to join it or invite you friends (peers in your friends list) to your room. Game Ranger provides the best of both worlds (both Privacy and Competition). That is, you get to see the various rooms available and you can also create a private room for you and your friends. So it has both the features of Hamachi and Tunngle. Game Ranger has one more awesome feature! GR takes care of in-game lobby creation for some games. i.e once you start the game from the room, GR will launch the game, take you through the menus automatically and create a new game lobby and put you in it. And if you are joining some one else’s game, then it will wait for the hoster to create a lobby and it will connect you with that lobby automatically. Although this is a very handy and innovative feature, its little buggy. GR’s UI also displays latency of the game rooms from your PC.
But I have faced some problems with GR while playing FIFA 11. The connectivity and speed often sucks and often you dont get connected. But its down to the interface between GR and the game rather than GR being faulty. But still GR offers a very good experience for gamers. It also has a friends list and messaging system. You can get GR from here.
I recommend using GameRanger. It offers support for most of the games you can think of. Its got a very good UI too. Im currently using GR to play my multiplayer games! Hope this review has been useful for you!