What computer games work without any internet connection?
May 19, 2011 9:08 AM   Subscribe

My friend is currently out serving somewhere in the middle east for the next six months and would like some new computer games to play. The problem is that he has absolutely no internet connection so anything that needs to go online (eg. multiplayer or - more annoyingly - DRM) won't work. What good games can you recommend I buy and post to him?

His Windows laptop was built for gaming, runs Windows XP and is less than 2 years old. He seems to like FPS (especially with a fantasy twist) but, to be honest, I think he'll play anything if it is good. Games that require Steam are out - which is a shame as he hasn't played The Orange Box.

Games which can be downloaded, burnt onto a DVD and then posted to him with the licence key are probably fine as long as it doesn't need the internet to validate itself. However I'd ideally like to avoid doing that because a package containing a burnt DVD (with handwriting on it) could be misconstrued to be piracy and I don't want to put him into that position.

He won't ever have access to the internet out there, so he can't even jump online for 30 seconds to get his game validated.

What can you recommend?
posted by mr_silver to Computers & Internet (24 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
The Penumbra series? I had a little trouble adjusting to the mechanics of gameplay in Overture and have not yet had time to move on to the next in the series, but I enjoyed it. I bought it from Amazon as disks, although it is available as download. It's stand-alone play (at least the first is; I haven't played the others). Gamespot liked the first one, with reservations. Realgamer was slightly less positive about the whole series; and Gamezone calls the series simple, satisfying and scary.
posted by crush-onastick at 9:17 AM on May 19, 2011

All the games at Good Old Games are DRM free, I believe.
posted by Comrade_robot at 9:20 AM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Good Old Games provides their entire catalog DRM-free, and there's a lot of gems in there. I'd say take a crack at The Witcher for $5 or Painkiller: Black Edition (the original game plus the first expansion) for $10.
posted by Oktober at 9:20 AM on May 19, 2011

posted by jozxyqk at 9:26 AM on May 19, 2011

The Witcher 2
posted by empath at 9:32 AM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you want something that will keep him entertained for months, you may want to consider strategy games such as Civilization V (or Civ IV, honestly, which is better and a good bit cheaper).
posted by tau_ceti at 9:47 AM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Isn't Civ V distributed via Steam? That would not be an option for the OP's friend....
posted by dfriedman at 9:59 AM on May 19, 2011

I think Civ V requires internet authentication. But I was opening the thread to recommend Civ4 complete, which is un-DRMed and requires no net connection and is a heck of a lot of game.

For free things you could burn yourself, I'd ditto nethack, and throw in Windows Frotz, Windows Git and a a bazillion interactive fiction games.
posted by Zed at 10:03 AM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Need for Speed - Paradise City

With a xbox 360 controller hooked up to the laptop, it's a really fun fast paced game with good music.

It's a good game for when you just don't want to think and race around and wreck stuff....great way to unwind.
posted by MeatFilter at 10:04 AM on May 19, 2011

For tthe last few months I've been hooked on Master of Magic, which I got from GOG.

The biggest benefit of GOG for you is that the games are very cheap, and are DRM-free, so you could buy a bunch of them without breaking the bank, in hopes of lucking into at least one he likes.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:04 AM on May 19, 2011

You could make a whole thumb drive of just Roguelikes... Nethack and the variant Slash'EM, Angband (there are almost 60 Angband variants!), etc. A really good friend, though, would also include copies of the various spoiler wikis, e.g. Wikihack (a download of this will be Quite Large).
posted by anaelith at 10:06 AM on May 19, 2011

I'd do the DVD route with a bunch of GOG stuff. Just don't write on it if you're worried about that.
posted by valkyryn at 10:08 AM on May 19, 2011

Dragon Age 2 is fantastic.
posted by lettuchi at 10:12 AM on May 19, 2011

Why not enclose the burnt DVD with a copy of the receipt for the game (+ activation code if necessary)? If he has proof of purchase for the game, that should set aside questions of piracy.
posted by bonehead at 10:14 AM on May 19, 2011

Nethack! Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup

posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 10:16 AM on May 19, 2011

Dragon Age and Dragon Age 2 both require internet verification, afaik. Which is a shame, as otherwise they're fantastic games.
posted by saveyoursanity at 1:14 PM on May 19, 2011

It's a little off the beaten path, but take a look at Gratuitous Space Battles.

It's more of a "plan/design and then sit back and watch the fight" type game, and it's mostly oriented towards single player.

However it has a "multiplayer" mode that's kind of play-by-mail. You and your friend could separately design your own fleets, then you send yours over on a cd or a flash drive, he loads your fleet designs onto his PC and then - BATTLE!
posted by de void at 1:38 PM on May 19, 2011

whoops, neglected to include the description from the FAQ:

Is this an RTS game like Homeworld?

Not really. It looks like an RTS in some screenshots, but the game is much more like a 'tower defense' game, in that you are not directly controlling your units, but placing them pre-battle and issuing orders. Imagine tower-defense, but with moving towers that you can design from scratch, in space, with cool laser effects. That is a fair approximation of GSB. You do not have control of individual ships during battle. The battle phase of the game is for visual feedback of how your fleet did. You can speed up and slow down and pause the battle to see what happens in some detail, and there are post-battle statistics showing who shot and killed who.
posted by de void at 1:40 PM on May 19, 2011

I was hugely entertained by dungeon-crawling RPG Torchlight, it's one of those games you dip into for a five minute session and emerge from about six hours later. According to the website, the boxed copy doesn't need an internet connection for activation.
posted by hnnrs at 2:16 PM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

If he likes old-school adventure games, the King's Quest and Space Quest games are cheap and don't need internet. You can buy the Space Quest ones for about $10 on Amazon. King's Quest is slightly more. Each comes with 5-7 different games. If I play them straight through (not that I do that ...) it still takes me about 4 days to finish one.
posted by mrfuga0 at 2:39 PM on May 19, 2011

There are a lot of Steam games that you CAN play without an internet connection, once you've logged into Steam once. (There can be minor snafus if Steam suddenly forgets your password, but I managed to play Mass Effect for an hour and a half at 35 000 feet in an airplane, so there you go. Paragon FemShep, for the curious.) This is mentioned as merely a datapoint for the future.

Diablo 2 and Lord of Destruction can be played offline easily; if you patch it up to current, you don't need the CDs either (thank you, Blizzard, it's about damn time) -- and you can download all the patches and include them on a CD, so he can make use of those patches. Mass Effect and ME2, which are sci-fi based third-person shooters with some amazing RPG elements, can be played offline if you have the CDs and don't buy them through Steam. ME2's DLC can be downloaded and installed locally (I keep my DLC install files on CDs), though I can't remember if you need access to the Cerberus Network (net validation) for that so don't quote me.

Torchlight is another amazing game much like Diablo; I bought it on Steam, though, so I can't speak much to its offline capability.
posted by Heretical at 2:51 PM on May 19, 2011

I travel for a living and run into this problem all the time. It's especially infuriating when you get a glimmer of internet, and it's just enough for Steam to find out all your games have patches lined up and then you can't play Offline until you can download the updates. Which can be months away.

I get by with some old disc-based standbys: Civilization (4 is still really great), Simcity 4, Fallout 1 & 2, Baldur's Gate II, the Elder Scrolls series, etc. Check Amazon or the bargain bin at electronics stores- amazing deals like this are really common.

nthing Good Old Games. Definitely load up the next time a Humble Indie Bundle hits. Spelunky is a free, procedurally-generated game that has destroyed many otherwise boring hours for me.
posted by t_dubs at 3:41 PM on May 19, 2011

Nthing either of the recent games from the Civilization series. Civ IV is great.

It's of questionable legality, but you might look into downloading an emulator and a bunch of ROMs. You could fit years of entertainment on a single DVD-R that way.
posted by gerryblog at 4:14 PM on May 19, 2011

I'm not 100% sure, but I'm pretty sure that Metafilter favourite, Minecraft, runs fine in single-player mode when it can't connect to the internet. It's first person, fantasy... sort of, and you can gleefully sink an unlimited amount of time into it...
posted by -harlequin- at 5:43 PM on May 19, 2011

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