Mark from Nutter’s Mark has just posted up his "Top 5 PC-Games You Probably Didn’t Play". While I really love playing an older game, it pains me to see the games that gave me so much enjoyment in such dire condition. I usually opt not to play them on this basis and just remember them fondly but there are some exceptions and here are my choices for older (but not ancient) games that you may have missed at the time which really deserve a play… Albeit at least once.
Freelancer — Addiction3
Freelancer is one of the finest games to leave Microsoft Game Studios. It’s a massively single offline RPG and by that right instantly in the same category as Oblivion.
It wouldn’t be going too far to say that Freelancer is just Oblivion in space without most of the silly creatures. The difference is that Freelancer has a much stronger main plot-line but as a downside the side-missions are a lot more linear.
The graphics aren’t yet faded so you won’t be squinting at pixels wondering what it is and the controls are mostly obvious.
The idea behind Freelancer is you’re a captain of a little ship and you can jet around the universe doing as you like. You can pick up jobs in the form of collection bounties, smuggling goods, pirating or just doing honest trade. There are multiple factions and your actions change your alliances.
You can upgrade your ship and even buy a new one so that gives you a good few hours of playing around. Different ships allow you to do different things but that’s not to say a whacking great freighter can’t fight… I certainly have in my time.
It’s just an awesome game that you have to play once in your life… Chances are if you’re like me, your first sitting will last about 20 hours. It’s addictive as crack. Go. Play. Enjoy… Then come back tomorrow and read the rest of this list.
Darwinia — Geek-factor 11
Even more recent than Freelancer, Darwinia is one of the coolest real time strategy games I’ve ever played. Because of its unmistakable uniqueness I think this even beats the CnC collective.
The premise is you’re a system admin that’s trying to beat a special kind of virus in a virtual world. I can’t remember why but say that alone and you’ll have 99% of nerds hooked, as I was.
The game takes you through lots of very challenging tasks and you eventually overcome things and you restore normality.
In this respect, Darwinia is quite linear but there is some user-chosen progression. You can upgrade the units of your choice every so often so you can make your preferred units better to match your playing style. This also makes you care about the units that you’re putting on the line.
One funny thing about the CD the game comes on is the size. 120megs and of that the game only takes up 40. Just amazing.
Codename: Eagle — Multiplayer mayhem
Here we go… Now we’re talking… This is, by far, one of the shittiest single-player games in the world… Ever. So why is Codename: Eagle on this list?
As any C:E veteran will tell you, the great part about Codename: Eagle is the multiplayer aspect. The original game didn’t include great multiplayer but modders hacked that functionality right in and it really made the game worth installing.
Imagine, if you will, telling your mate on the computer next to you to keep the blimp he’s piloting still so you can reverse your motorbike into it. Not strange enough for you? Well imagine taking off in this monstrous contraption, switching to the side-car seat of your motorbike and shooting rockets out the back of the blimp at your other friend who’s shooting at you in his plane. Still not strange enough? Well imagine you’re in the take on the ground and you’ve just shot the plane out the sky.
Codename: Eagle really is the precursor the Battlefield 1942 for stunt craziness. If you could think about doing it and had enough patience, you could have endless fun with this gem… The only prerequisite is you have some friends to play it with.
Cannon Fodder 2 — Quick, simple but fun
Way before C:E was even a wink in the milkman’s eye and we hit MSDOS. For many this conjures memories of trying epic battles with HiMem and extended memory settings so you could play games. Sadly I’m sure there are equal quantities of people wondering what the hell I’m talking about. Anyway…
Cannon Fodder 2 is a WWII game from Sensible Software back in 1994 where you direct a squad of people around a map to complete a mission. Lives count in this game so it serves you well to keep your elite veteran units safe so they can get their kill on.
By today’s standards it’s a very little quaint game but I implore you to bung DosBox on and get this to play with… It’s a great little time filler for those looking for alternatives to minesweeper or solitaire.
Baldur’s Gate 2 — Immense immersion
Now this doesn’t immediately fall into the relatively unknown genre as Mark’s selections do but I’m sure there are a ton of people who have played games like Neverwinter Nights who haven’t seen Baldur’s Gate 2.
BG2 is a story-driven RPG, played out over a massive landscape. It does follow quite a linear story but when the story you’re following is of this quality, that’s only a good thing.
The way this differs from *most* RPGs like Diablo or Neverwinter Nights is you’re really controlling a party. You’re responsible for levelling and equipping a multitude of skillsets so you do get a lot of diversity.
Unfortunately the graphics haven’t aged that well. Things are blocky but that’s all you can really expect from something that’s getting on in years. Again, unfortunately the beautiful landscapes are bitmap so there’s no real scope for upscaling well… Perhaps one day Bioware will release a graphics update but I won’t hold my breath.
The addon: Throne of Bhaal adds more massive chunks of meaty story that ends the game in the best way I’ve ever known. I won’t spoil things by saying any more on the subject. You can get this game for a fiver off ebay so I really suggest you spend it and enjoy this behemoth.
So there you are. Five games that you really should have played in your lifetime… If you haven’t, you really should take a peek and see what you missed out on.
Anyone think something else should be on this list? Use the comment box.
About Oli: I’m a Django and Python programmer, occasional designer, Ubuntu member, Ask Ubuntu moderator and technical blogger. I occasionally like to rant about subjects I should probably learn more about but I usually mean well.