A popular criticism of gaming on the PC is the cost of upgrading your machine to meet the specifications for all the latest games. What people who say this tend to forget, though, is there are plenty of games you can play on your PC without needing a hulking beast of a computer to run.
In an attempt at converting more people to PC gaming, I’ve compiled a few of my favourite games that virtually any computer from the last ten years will be able to run without too much trouble. You’re not going to be running Crysis on your old hunk o’ junk, so why bother? Try one of these fantastic games instead. Chances are, they’re better than Crysis anyway.
I’m sure you’re not surprised to see this here. Fallout (and to a lesser extent, Fallout 2) was, ironically, a haven in a wasteland of linear games. Fallout is famous for being incredibly flexible to the player; most notable is the ability to play through without even using combat, just by interacting with the huge cast of characters. So open was Fallout that people are able to play through the game and see almost nothing that another player might have seen. Sure, there are modern games that use the “open world” dynamic, but Fallout still stands up as one of the biggest and most expansive worlds open to players today.
DOS: Pentium-90, 32 megs of RAM, 2x CD-ROM drive, SVGA (VESA-compliant), SoundBlaster-compatible.
Win95: Pentium-90, 16 megs of RAM, DirectX 3.0a or 5.0, 2x CD-ROM drive, SVGA, DirectSound compatible sound card.
Mac: PowerMac with 16000k free memory, CD-ROM, System 7.1.2 or higher.
All versions require 10+ megs of hard drive space and a mouse.
It’s not only old games that run on old PCs. Peggle is only two years old, but it has already reached the unofficial title of “most addictive puzzle game ever created”. The game consists of firing a ball at pegs in the hope of clearing all of the orange ones using just ten balls. Simple formula, but the result is an incredibly addicting and absorbing puzzle game. Well, I say puzzle game, but when you really break it down, there’s not much you can control directly other than the first few bounces of the ball. Even so, Peggle has eaten so many hours of my life that it just has to go on the list.
Win 98/ME/2000/XP/Vista: Pentium III, 700 MHz or faster, 256 MB RAM, DirectX 7.0.
Mac OS 10.3.9 and later: G4,G5 or Intel Core Duo, 256 MB RAM.
15Mb disk space and an Internet connection is required to register both the download and CD-ROM versions of the game.
Tim Scafer’s masterpiece Grim Fandango was an obvious choice for this list. The game is undoubtedly one of the wittiest and best written games ever made, and features a cast who, ironically enough, are brought to life with excellent voice acting and a fantastic story. Okay, I might be laying on the praise a bit heavily, but this game really deserves your attention. The adventure genre, often considered a dead art nowadays, reached a peak in Grim Fandango. There’s only one excuse not to play this game: illiteracy. If you’re reading this, you need to play Grim Fandango.
Windows: 133 MHz processor, 32 MB RAM, 30 MB hard disk space, 4 MB video card.
Command and Conquer: Red Alert 2
Perhaps not the most critically acclaimed game on this list, but certainly one of the best in terms of sheer fun. Command and Conquer: Red Alert 2 is a full-on real time strategy game full of preposterous and brilliant units, topped with a helping of self-parody and real-time FMV silliness. In the universe of Red Alert 2, tanks that can become trees face off against soldiers that can mind-control other units, and it makes sense. The expansion pack even added flying saucers. A fine example of an RTS that is pure entertainment from start to finish.
Windows: 266 MHz Processor, 64 MB RAM, 350 MB HDD space, 4x CD-ROM Drive, 2 MB video card, DirectSound-compatible soundcard.