Shall We Play A Game?
September 4, 2005 2:52 AM   Subscribe

I need some new games.

There are 4 major computer game categories that I can think of: (1) FPS or First Person Shooters, like Unreal Tournament or Battlefield 1942, (2) RTS or Real Time Strategy games like Warcraft, (3) Civilization-type empire-building games and (4) simulations for driving or flying.

That's pretty much it, and (1) I'm sick of the first two, (2) don't like the third one and (3) don't have the gear to make number four at all satisfying. Plus, I'm in Iraq right now, so gear acquisition is not a viable option quite yet.

Watching the news about the Gulf Coast makes me sick with impotent rage, so to distract myself (when I'm not on duty) I need some new games, from genres that break out of those molds. Can you help?

(Oh, yeah, I have a Windows XP laptop with a 1.4 GHz Centrino chipset, gig of ram, 64 MB video card and plenty of hard drive space.)
posted by ZakDaddy to Computers & Internet (30 answers total)
I'm very partial to the Thief series. The games look like first-person shooters, but the focus is on sneaking around and avoiding direct confrontation with the enemy—an innovative concept when the first Thief game hit the shelves. Despite the unimpressive graphics, it packs a well-above-average story and the setting is hugely immersive, with gameplay getting pretty tense at times. It could be just me, but I fail to get the same adrenaline rush from regular FPSs that I get from Thief.
posted by Goblindegook at 3:09 AM on September 4, 2005

I play games constantly, and I know what it feels like to get burnt out on the games you have. I would reccomend, for a laptop, something like The Sims. Simple and fun. Also try online poker somewhere like TruePoker (3-D, free chips) for a change of pace from normal games.

But those aren't real games I hear you say. So then the one category you fail to mention is the Massively Multiplayer genre. GuildWars, World of Warcraft, etc? Also, GTA series is even better for PC than for PS2, and something many PC gamers overlook. Darwinia is a new game that is quite genre defying, published independantly. Or Dungeon Seige, another great game that plays well on a laptop and blends a few genres. I think I need to stop now.
posted by sophist at 3:26 AM on September 4, 2005

There are always puzzle games like everything on, Super Puzzle Fighter, or Yohoho Puzzle Pirates.
If you don't mind older stuff there is turn-based Strategy like X-Com. Adventure games like Grim Fandango, Sam and Max, Full Throttle, Day of the Tentacle. RPG games like the Fallout Series or Planescape. Or just get an Emulator so you can replay old arcade or console games.
posted by arruns at 3:46 AM on September 4, 2005

any interest in freeware vertical scrolling shooters? warning forever and rrootage might be worth checking out if you like dodging ludicrous bullet patterns.

cave story is excellent if you're at all nostalgic for the glory days of the nes. difficulty of some of the boss fights can get frustrating though.
posted by juv3nal at 3:55 AM on September 4, 2005

The Silent Hill series is really, really great. It combines puzzle-solving, some action, and horror. It's actually genuinely scary, there's something truly artistic about the game atmosphere. I honestly can't recommend Silent Hill enough (except SH 4 'the room', which is too Resident Evil-like for my taste-ie, too much action, a stupid chest for your inventory instead of the convenient fiction that you can carry infinite supplies of all kinds, and not enough puzzle solving and exploration).
posted by evariste at 4:08 AM on September 4, 2005

You can find some great free games over at SourceForge that may keep you distracted for a bit. I second the recommendation of an emulator along the lines of MAME.

Because I believe you can't hear it too much let me also add, thanks for serving. Your efforts are appreciated. Be safe.
posted by geekyguy at 4:10 AM on September 4, 2005

Check your email, too.
posted by evariste at 4:16 AM on September 4, 2005

(What geekyguy said.)
posted by evariste at 4:18 AM on September 4, 2005

You can try Fate out to see if you like dungeon crawlers (and if you do, you gotta get Diablo II). The Fate demo's free (and is WildTangent software really spyware?), and if you like the game, it's 20 bucks well spent.

Even though you may not like empire building/grand strategy games, Rise of Nations manages to take you from Stone Age to "let's nuke everyone else out of existence" in half an hour or less in a way that's totally fun. Conversely, Rome: Total War will take you about 40 or more hours to run through its imperial campaign, but it's amazing to play, gorgeous to look at and a whole lot of fun.
posted by WolfDaddy at 4:30 AM on September 4, 2005

What about (5) Dungeon Crawlers/Roguelikes? Try Nethack!
posted by jozxyqk at 4:45 AM on September 4, 2005

I have your laptop, with half the RAM. That said...

I'll add Morrowind to the list, with the caveat that it needs a little time played before it becomes really engrossing.

As far as MMORPGs go, World of Warcraft should look and play all right. Based on that, I can tell you that Guild Wars is probably fine. If City of Heroes hasn't had any dramatic graphic upgrades in the last year, that should be okay as well.
posted by gnomeloaf at 6:59 AM on September 4, 2005

If/when you do try (5) Nethack, give it a decent chance before dismissing it. It took me a while to get into it, but I sunk 100+ hours into it when I did.
posted by agropyron at 7:01 AM on September 4, 2005

Nethack: ideally, be in constant contact with someone who knows and loves the game when you first try it. The conceptual learning curve is much easier to climb that way if you find yourself frustrated.

And it's really worth the effort, because Nethack is one of the finest games ever written.
posted by cortex at 8:37 AM on September 4, 2005

And if you like(d) Diablo II, Dungeon Siege: Legends of Aranna (an expansion pack that includes the original game) and Dungeon Siege II are playable imitations.
posted by xyzzy at 8:46 AM on September 4, 2005

I've found Bontãgo maddingly addictive.
posted by Loser at 9:28 AM on September 4, 2005

Have you played Moonbase Commander? It's not exactly RTS, and it's got a fantastically fun play mechanic.
posted by ulotrichous at 9:32 AM on September 4, 2005

SimCity is another option, and doesn't fit into any of your categories. It can be quite addictive. Go visit Simtropolis to see what people are doing with the game.
posted by evening at 9:34 AM on September 4, 2005

try Psychonauts.

It's basically a console game for PC, but it plays well and has kept me entertained for a while. On a similar note, maybe you need to try some console games... Ratchet & Clank, Jak, Metroid Prime. They have significantly different gameplay than PC games, which can be a nice diversion.
posted by devilsbrigade at 9:49 AM on September 4, 2005

Sanitarium and Take No Prisoners are both pretty good.
posted by cmonkey at 11:38 AM on September 4, 2005

I seem to end up giving this answer to all "What computer game should I play?" questions, but - the Myst series is a separate genre, and, in my opinion, excellent.
posted by Lotto at 12:58 PM on September 4, 2005

There are a ton of great older games over at Home of the Underdogs.

I've actually spent a fair amount of time in the past couple of weeks playing my favorite game of all time. Master of Magic (using DOSBox on winxp).

Its a turn based strategy game, much like civilization. Except based in a fantasy world with magic and mythological creatures.

There are a ton of other great games on HotU.
posted by freshgroundpepper at 1:43 PM on September 4, 2005

Second Life is one of the strangest games I've ever played. It's basically a digital arts communtiy where the only goal for some is to make money by creating and selling in-world content. Very few have translated this into a six-figure salary. Most simply socialize and create. There's a $10 one time fee.
posted by prodevel at 6:22 PM on September 4, 2005

Oh and there's a free 7 day trial. Please credit "chris byrne" if you do play. Thanks.
posted by prodevel at 6:24 PM on September 4, 2005

Max Payne 2. Best game I ever played.
posted by tomble at 7:23 PM on September 4, 2005

For older games, Thief (as mentioned) and Deus Ex are both very excellent. They use a first-person perspective, but they're not at all "shooter" games (Deus Ex can be played like a shooter if you choose, but it's much more satisfying to choose the stealthier route). Both have thoroughly engrossing storylines and atmosphere, as well as unique play mechanics.

If you don't mind being nerdy, I would also highly recommend Nethack, which will run on damn near anything.
posted by neckro23 at 9:02 PM on September 4, 2005

Yeah, get some stuff from Home of the Underdogs. In the old days they had more than 4 game categories -- more like 400.
posted by johngoren at 9:46 PM on September 4, 2005

I played second life for a session or two, and all I kept asking was "Why?"
posted by knave at 10:00 PM on September 4, 2005

Response by poster: Just got a chance to check in and see what results I might have, and all I can say is "wow." You are all great; thanks for the recommendations!

posted by ZakDaddy at 10:09 PM on September 4, 2005

Turn-based strategy games: Master Of Orion 2, Hearoes of Might and Magic
Role playing games (Wasteland, Fallout, Fallout 2)
How about a combo of both: X-Com, X-Com 2: TFtD
or Role playing + shooter: Star Control, Star Control 2

There are many more in the categories I listed first.
posted by Four Flavors at 1:55 PM on September 6, 2005

How about emulation? There's a whole raft of cool old stuff that's around, which you may remember fondly (depending on your age!)... take a look at Amiga Forever for an awesome package that will enable you to emulate virtually every Amiga machine ever... then check out Back To The Roots for a stackload of classic old games which still hold up well, and ooze more playability than most stuff released nowadays...
Specific recommendations are: Cannon Fodder, Sensible Soccer, Project X, Flashback, Chaos Engine, Speedball 2...and loads more! Just ask!

/Amiga fan-boy mode off

Other emulation options are things like the Sega Megadrive, or virtually any arcade machine (using MAME) - but I'm not too familiar with the intricacies of these two...

I also notice a few categories of games which you've missed, which is a sorry reflection on the state of the games market:
Rogue-like (Nethack has been mentioned; ADOM is fun too - lots of humour and longevity)
Point-and-click Advenures (a la Myst, or via emulation, the Monkey Island series)
Role-Playing games (RPGs; maybe like the Rogue-like games, but also Morrowind as mentioned, or Baldur's Gate, Fable, etc.)

If you're *really* desperate, you could try Bill Gates' masterpiece: DONKEY.BAS - woo! :-)

Alternatively, have you thought about getting hold of a game-creation package (not familiar with what's available nowadays, though) and start creating things yourself - you may find it more interesting and long-lived than just consuming games created by others. Of course, you may not have too much time available for it, but I figure that it's worth a mention...
posted by Chunder at 2:47 PM on September 6, 2005

« Older IMF, World bank book rec.   |   GeForce 6600 or a Radeon X700? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.