Where are all the good PC games?
November 17, 2007 2:00 PM   Subscribe

I am becoming increasingly frustrated with the PC games market. Help me find something that's not another damn FPS!

All I seem to be able to find are FPS games, and to be honest I can't stand that genre any more (since about Quake 3 to be honest).

Games that I enjoy, for example, are Sam & Max, Crayon Physics, Moment of Silence, Portal, Beneath a Steel Sky, Black & White, Spore (at least in principle), and so on. I realise some of these fit into certain broad categories, for example RTS or adventure game, but most of them are just too cookie-cutter to keep my interest. I looking for a game with something special about it.

Help me find other games I might enjoy, or maybe just point me in the right direction as to where to look. I find the usual sites of 1up, Gamespot etc so saturated with FPS games that I can't see the wood for the trees :)
posted by jon4009 to Computers & Internet (34 answers total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
Have you tried the Myst series?
posted by grumblebee at 2:08 PM on November 17, 2007

I'm told that the 4th episode of Sam & Max is free. You have to "buy" it, but the price is $0.00.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 2:09 PM on November 17, 2007

If you haven't played The Longest Journey you're in for a treat.
posted by ludwig_van at 2:20 PM on November 17, 2007

Neverwinter Nights + 2 expansions
Neverwinter Nights 2 + 1 expansion

KoTOR 1 & 2

Civ 4

The Sims 2

Whatever the latest Theme Park incarnation is

The Movies

You might enjoy Hospital Tycoon (IMO it sucks but I played Theme Hosptial too much as a kid)

Rise & Fall

Empire Earth 3 just came out I think

Theres a huge spectrum of non-fps games on the market - theres just too many to mention and thats not even getting started on online games.
posted by missmagenta at 2:32 PM on November 17, 2007

Planescape: Torment
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:56 PM on November 17, 2007

You should probably keep your eye on these blogs for lots of little games to keep yourself tided over:
The Independent Gaming Source

For more lo-fi gaming:
Check out things like Cave Story, Knytt, the wide variety of Shoot-em-ups, and of course emulators for all the old systems.

For new games, of course, FPSes are in vogue (and best on PCs) but there's also FPSes and RPGs as mentioned above, and I'd like to add Overlord to that list. And while I don't really trust their reviews, IGN is at least comprehensive and you can sort recent reviews by category, so go wild in the Action-RPG, Racing, or Platforming sections.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 3:05 PM on November 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

"Fahrenheit" (or "Indigo Prophecy" in the US and Canada) is an intriguing adventure game that, while deeply flawed, is worth playing if you find it in the bargain bin.

"Planescape: Torment" is quite simply the best-written game I've ever played.

Or go totally old skool and play "Out of this World"/"Another World".....came out in 1991 and is probably now available for your cellphone....

"Oblivion" will suck 200 hours out of your life, if you like stuff like that.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 3:10 PM on November 17, 2007

If you like role-playing games, I highly recommend Fallout (very open-ended post post-apocalyptic games) and Baldur's Gate II (a huge, nearly perfect AD&D game). Both have well-written characters and have great battles that can offer a lot of strategic challenge.
posted by ignignokt at 3:12 PM on November 17, 2007

I recommend Play This Thing. Reviews that help you get a pretty good feel for the game, before you even play.
posted by birdsquared at 3:17 PM on November 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

Seconding Planescape: Torment, Neverwinter Nights (first one and the first expansion, I've never played NWN2 and the second expansion was terrible) and The Longest Journey. They are all games that I will remember.

I'm not a big fan of FPSs, but I found Bioshock to be a lot of fun.
posted by Ctrl_Alt_ep at 3:18 PM on November 17, 2007

Given what you like, you won't like a lot of the suggestions above. You will, however LOVE, The Longest Journey. Massive second on that.
posted by The Bellman at 3:19 PM on November 17, 2007

My suggestions are on the free vein as I am more of a console gamer. This said, I've played several of the following extensively, and they are all good.

Grid Wars (Geometry Wars clone) - free and freaking awesome (not FPS).

Old, old, old school, but still played a lot - NetTrek (free).

Free abandonware - http://www.the-underdogs.info/ - Star Trek Fleet Command III (heard it is awesome though I couldnt get it to work - used copies command $75+). Magic Carpet II, Syndicate, etc.
posted by gnash at 3:40 PM on November 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

I still play Master of Orion 2 every once in a while. It's old but it's a classic and far better than Master of Orion 3.

I'll now rattle off some of my favorite PC games ever.

RPG: Baldurs Gate, Baldurs Gate 2, Neverwinter Nights 1 & 2, Icewind Dale, Titan Quest.

Strategy: Alpha Centauri, Civ 3 & 4.

Space: Freespace 2, X2, X3.

Action/Adventure: Grim Fandango, The Monkey Island Games, Sam & Max and the new Sam & Max game.
posted by Effigy2000 at 4:46 PM on November 17, 2007

Oh, man, if you ever see a copy of Oblivion, buy it. It's fabulous. Unfortunately, I think it came out in the late nineties...
posted by leahwrenn at 5:11 PM on November 17, 2007

Psychonauts is a platformed-adventure game that is hands down one of the best crafted, most under-rated games of the past ten years!
posted by wfrgms at 5:30 PM on November 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

And please avoid Neverwinter Nights 2 and its expansions... they are truly awful and mostly unplayable.
posted by wfrgms at 5:38 PM on November 17, 2007

These are mostly nthing other people recommendations:

Planescape Torment
Baldur's Gate 2
Fallout 2
Knights of the Old Republic 1

The Longest Journey
Grim Fandango

Civ 4

I don't think anyone else mentioned KOTOR yet. It gets a bit hack & slash at the end, but I like it a lot, regardless.
posted by juv3nal at 6:02 PM on November 17, 2007

Armadillo Run
Bridge Construction Set
posted by hjo3 at 6:05 PM on November 17, 2007

Darwinia. You're welcome.
posted by Diskeater at 6:09 PM on November 17, 2007

Secondig Psychonauts and adding Beyond Good and evil, both great adventure games if a little bit consoley. Plus, you can get them for peanuts these days.

If you have the patience for (space) flight simulators, definitely try Freespace II. There are some hi-res texture packs available on the Internet that have helped it age very racefully.

On the Role-Playing side, I would second the Fallout series and Knights of the Old Republic (the first, at least - haven't played the second).

And finally, I would heartily recommend Jagged Alliance 2 if you're looking for a strategy game with a great story and can deal with it being liited to 640×480. I finaly got to play t a couple years ago and it was a blast.
posted by doctorpiorno at 6:43 PM on November 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

The PC version of Assassin's Creed comes out in early 2008.
posted by mattbucher at 7:02 PM on November 17, 2007

GameTap might be a good deal for you: it has about half the games mentioned here (Planescape: Torment, BG1&2, Icewind Dale 1&2, Psychonauts, Beyond Good and Evil, Civ IV, etc.)

Selling points for me were that the price is now down to $60/year if you pay for a year in advance, and you can now cancel online instead of having to call someone.

(No, I'm not affiliated with them--just happened to resubscribe in the past couple weeks.)
posted by dixie flatline at 7:09 PM on November 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

I know you said no FPS games but I've been playing Crysis for a few days now and I must say if you have relatively recent hardware it is truly mind blowing. You might want to make an exception..
posted by jockc at 7:24 PM on November 17, 2007

All Introversion games are great (Uplink, Darwinia and Defcon).
posted by zouhair at 8:53 PM on November 17, 2007

If clever and unique are what you want, then I would pick the following:

Beyond Good and Evil
Uplink *
Darwinia *
Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind + expansions
Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion + expansions
Psychonauts *
Overlord *
Armed and Dangerous
Fahrenheit If you get it off of the link I listed (IGN's Direct2Drive service) it is the Adults Only version for the US, which is the uncut version released in countries outside of North America (known as Indigo Prophecy.)
Prince of Persia: Sands of Time

(* Available through Valve's Steam service. Don't know how to link to those sites though.)

Those are just the ones that I know of as easier to get which also have something that I consider "special" about them. Civ IV is an incredible game and probably better than a few of these, but I would not say there is something that makes it different than the others in its category, other than being the best in the category. The ones above do give me that feeling of uniqueness that I think you are looking for.

BTW- I only listed links for Direct2Drive because I don't know how to link to any of the other direct purchase site besides that and Steam.
posted by slavlin at 9:50 PM on November 17, 2007

Seconding Defcon. Great game and it's inexpensive.
posted by aerotive at 12:32 AM on November 18, 2007

posted by Gooberoo at 11:27 AM on November 18, 2007

I also would recommend Freespace II.
Download the easy installer (it's free now) and be amazed at how gorgeous an older engine can still look. There's some learning curve, (and without a joystick, I found it impossibly steep), but once you're in it, you're hooked. The story's pretty good, and the missions absolutely engrossing.

Personally I'm desperately waiting for the full Battlestar Galactica Mod to come out. The demo's available now, and it looks/is fantastic.

One game that's really enveloped absurd hours of my life is Medieval II: Total War. There's a map-level game that's damned detailed and rewarding, not as in depth as Civ, but equally fun in my opinion. There's also a macro-RTS game where you can control units you've built (you can autorun these battles if you prefer. as a beginner, the CPU does better than you do, but as you get more familiar with the game and how units behave/handle, you can pull off some amazing fights by assembling a diverse force).

Since Team Fortress 2 came out, that's been about all I've played, but I hear you as far as complaining about FPS after FPS...
posted by Busithoth at 11:48 AM on November 18, 2007

Psychonauts is a platformed-adventure game that is hands down one of the best crafted, most under-rated games of the past ten years!

I would say it's actually over rated, since every single person I've ever seen online writing about it thinks it's the Second Coming of Videogame Jesus, yet when I played it, it just wasn't that fun-- the core platformer mechanics just aren't there. It had a lot of really cool story stuff (I guess that's the 'adventure' part,) and is worth playing for that alone if you're into that, but I think the creators underestimated just how high the gameplay bar for platformers has become nowadays (c.f., Mario, Jak&Daxter, Ratchet&Clank, Sly Cooper, etc.)

Anyway, still worth picking up on the cheap if you like Adventure games (it's pretty much unplayable on PC without a gamepad, though.)
posted by blenderfish at 12:51 PM on November 18, 2007

Gnash, I found Starfleet Command III to be an abomination compared to I and II. They completely changed almost all of the mechanics of the game. By the developers' own admission they were trying to make it "more accessable to everyone", and you know what happens when you try and please everyone, no one's happy. Most of the hardpoints on the ship designs were not that well thought out (example being the Sovereign class Enterprise has most of its hardpoint arcs facing side/rear so it's most effecting when it's running away from something it tries to engage?!), shield arcs were dropped from 6 to 4, power management, ecm, boarding parties all simplifed or eliminated, just terrible.

That being said, I did find Starfleet Command II, and the standalone Orion Pirates expansions to be very excellent games for just futzing around with ship battles. Note that there's an awful lot of depth to the games so you can play for quite a while before getting bored. And they won't break the bank either. I found my copy of Orion Pirates in a bargain bin a couple years ago for $10, but if that doesn't work I see that Amazon's got them for about $20-$25.

And thirding Defcon. It can take good amount of time to play an online match though (if you're into the online thing), so be warned on that.
posted by barc0001 at 3:03 PM on November 18, 2007

Hey barc0001,

Thanks for letting me know re: SFC III - I was obsessed with trying to get it to work, but I am happy to know that I shouldn't bother. I'll give SFC II a shot!

Thanks to the people that thumbed up Defcon I will be giving that a shot as well!
posted by gnash at 4:10 PM on November 18, 2007

Thirding Darwinia.
posted by Korou at 8:54 PM on November 18, 2007

3rding Defcon
posted by craven_morhead at 6:59 AM on November 19, 2007

I'm a driving game geek.
DiRT is the latest in the Colin McCrae rally series.
GTR2 is amazingly realisting in the driving dynamics. If you don't want to spend hours tweaking your cars, though, you can just race.
rFactor is another serious simulator.
The Trackmania games are terrible in terms of actual driving, but can be fun.
posted by wzcx at 9:00 AM on November 19, 2007

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