PC strategies/role-playing games for a teenager?
October 20, 2009 5:59 AM   Subscribe

Could anyone please help me come up with a list of PC games?

Some time ago I presented my niece with Battle for Wesnoth. She loved it. Some time earlier she used to be a devout fan of SimCity and the Neverhood. I'm also guessing she's not a Civilization-type.

Now I'm looking for something else. These strictly need to run on a fairly unimpressive Windows XP PC and they need to be playable without Internet (in other words, World of Warcraft is thereby disqualified). I've shown her Warcraft III and she was unimpressed.

So far, I've come up with: Neverwinter Nights (not the online one), Baldur's Gate (although I am hesitant about this one since it relies on dialogue so heavily) and Icewind Dale. Maybe one of the versions of Settlers.

Any thoughts will be much appreciated.
posted by noztran to Computers & Internet (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Master of Orion II is an absolute strategy classic.
posted by Zarkonnen at 6:03 AM on October 20, 2009

If she's into SimCity, how about SimEarth?

Are you sure she's not into Civilization? Maybe Civ 2 or 3 instead of Civ4?

Neverwinter Nights and Neverwinter Nights 2 are both good, and I played both of them without internet--they have multiplayer, but as I recall, only for user-created scenarios. I don't know of what that requires internet. Baldur's Gate is inferior, IMO.
posted by Netzapper at 6:06 AM on October 20, 2009

Baldurs Gate would be good but Icewind Dale can be abit too hardcore and intensive. Railroad Tycoon 2, Theme Hospital and Fallout 2 would be something to look into. If all else fails, everyone always likes Sims.
posted by the_ancient_mariner at 6:08 AM on October 20, 2009

Several classic adventure games like things from the Monkey Island series and a bunch of King's Quest games are available on CD now -- these might feel old but they're great games (especially King's Quest IV: Perils of Rosella, but that's just one woman's opinion) and if she liked the Neverhood she might be up for something like that.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 6:09 AM on October 20, 2009

PC games of this vintage (unimpressive Windows XP PC vintage, I mean) are about five dollars to the dozen so just get her a bunch. As a teen I loved Theme Park, Theme Hospital and the like. The Diablo games are pretty sweet. Dungeon Keeper. The first two Fallouts because they're turn-based like Wesnoth. UFO: Enemy Unknown. The Sims. There's so much out there. Have a little squiz here and here, old bean.
posted by turgid dahlia at 6:09 AM on October 20, 2009

Second Railroad Tycoon and would bring up Roller Coaster Tycoon, all of them and their expansions.

Dungeon Master 1&2 is also quirky strategy that can run on sub par computers. In that vein the old Diablo is pretty good hack and slash with minimal story. It might get her excited for the new one.
posted by teabag at 6:12 AM on October 20, 2009

Whoops, meant Dungeon Keeper, not Master
posted by teabag at 6:12 AM on October 20, 2009

Neverwinter Nights and Neverwinter Nights 2 are both good, and I played both of them without internet--they have multiplayer, but as I recall, only for user-created scenarios. I don't know of what that requires internet. Baldur's Gate is inferior, IMO.

Heresy. Baldur's Gate I and II are amazing games with great stories and memorable characters. Neverwinter Nights is good, but a pale imitation of the better games. There is a lot of dialogue and if that's a concern, they might not be great choices. On the other hand, I have seldom felt so much like I was simultaneously playing a video game and reading a book as I did playing Baldur's Gate. Icewind Dale on the other hand is much more action focused, good, but not as deep.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 6:23 AM on October 20, 2009 [2 favorites]

Lateral thinking:

If you want to give her something that you can put in a box and wrap with a bow, this isn't a great suggestion, but otherwise, giving her credit (either "real" credit, or if that's not possible, just tell her you'll buy her X dollars in games) at GOG.

Most, if not all, of their catalogue is for older systems, all of it is XP-friendly, and it's all cheap. Lots and lots of strat/sim games for people that like them. Let her browse and choose two or three for herself.
posted by Shepherd at 6:26 AM on October 20, 2009

NWN is my favorite game of all time!!! Good choice.

If she likes SimCity, I think she might enjoy Spore.

Empire Earth is also super fun, and involves you having to build a city/country, but in real time like SimCity, not turn-based like Civ.
posted by sickinthehead at 6:44 AM on October 20, 2009

How is having a lot of dialogue in a CRPG a bad thing? I remember learning new vocabulary words as a kid growing up on those ready, terrible-graphics early games. "Chitinous" comes to mind; good luck finding another kid at that time and age who knew what that meant. IMO, all the other combat-only games are far inferior. :) I'm sorely disappointed when I hear and see kids say outright "i dont like reading, i just wanna kill stuff." But anyway.

It's hard to say what a kid will like without trying it, and it never hurts to try to expand horizons. Seriously. You presented a game to your niece and she happened to like it, so it's nice to find other games like that one, but why just stick with that? (How is she not a Civ type? I'm a hardcore old school single-player CRPG fan but ended up enjoying some MMOs!) Variety is great, and with older games, they can be found at very low prices. No harm done.

Myst was great for its time and runs on much older hardware; it's pure exploration without much dialogue either and requires observation skills. Baldur's Gate does have dialogue, but it has substantial tactical combat as well (I'd say 50/50--it's got nothing on Planescape: Torment in terms of dialogue, which IMO is the best game ever made). NWN was okay, but its strength really is in the multiplayer, so I'd avoid the single-player mode if I were you. IWD has more tactical combat than BG. And honestly, hack-n-slash can get boring pretty quickly despite new dungeons and new tactical fights, but that's just my opinion. If she liked The Neverhood, which had more discovery, having a different hack-n-slash on the menu could work if she needs to vent or something. What about Heroes of Might and Magic?

Hm, well. There are actually a lot of games from the '90s era that might fit the bill and run on older hardware. You can check out quite a lot of smaller games here.
posted by Ky at 6:49 AM on October 20, 2009

That's "read-y." And on post-view, what Bulgaroktonos and Shepherd said.

Avoid Spore. I think its DRM requires online activation and it may not run well on older hardware anyway.
posted by Ky at 6:51 AM on October 20, 2009

Avoid Spore. Four fifths of the game is boring as shit, and it's terrible at representing evolution. It's practically Sim IntelligentDesign.

I also want to second the recommendation of Fallout 1 and 2. Oh LORD, those are outstanding games.
posted by Netzapper at 7:03 AM on October 20, 2009

I would have to give a vote to Diablo and it's far superior older sibling Diablo 2: Lord of Destruction. (Diablo 2 is one of my ALL-TIME favourite games.) You should be able to find all 3 games for pretty cheep in a bundle from Blizzard. (Diablo 1&2 plus the Lord Of Destruction Expansion for D2.) Both are playable right out of the box without internet, and if you are so inclined you can connect to Battle.net once to get the updates for the games. (But it is not essential)

Some other's I would recommend would include: Plants vs. Zombies by Popcap games. A great funny little game in the tower defense mold. Also Peggle is a great low impact game also by Popcap. There is also always the original Half-Life by Valve if she wants to try something more actiony.
posted by theButterFly at 7:37 AM on October 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

If she likes Wesnoth, she might like Fantasy General.

Other suggestions would be Heroes of Might and Magic (I-V)
Master of Magic (Civ + Heroes in one package)

And I would have to second Baldur's gate. It's not *that* heavy in dialogue and it's still one of the best RPGs out there.

If she likes RPG, you can introduce her to japanese style RPG, like the Final Fantasy series
posted by 7life at 9:09 AM on October 20, 2009

My youngest sister is not a gamer but there are two she has always liked -- Age of Empires II and the Need for Speed series. AoE II will play on any computer made within the last ten years; it's also easy to find at retail. There are old NFS games (esp. 4 and Porsche Unleashed) that look good and run well on older systems.

I second Baldur's Gate 1 & 2 (2 is the better game but more rewarding if you're familiar with the first game) and Fallout 1 & 2, with the caveat that Fallout is 'mature' and more guy-friendly. In the same vein I suggest Arcanum, one of my favorite overlooked CRPGs.
posted by Wyrmspace at 1:28 PM on October 20, 2009

Wow. Thank you MeFits for all the suggestions!

When I implied that heavy reliance on dialogue is a bad thing I meant it is a bad thing from her perspective. Sorry, I should have been more specific. It's just that when she was playing BfW she used to click-through the dialogue as quickly as possible and get down to moving units and fighting. On the other hand, I too have picked up a lot of weird vocabulary from say, Mega-Lo-Mania, Civilization 1, Utopia so I perfectly understand you PoV. This, in particular, has taught me patience.

When I said she may not be a Civilization-type I meant that when she sees me playing FreeCiv she gives me this look that says "are you really that old?". :)

And I was expecting one, maybe two titles...
Thanks again!!
posted by noztran at 8:20 AM on October 21, 2009

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