Eight More Oldies Packing a Punch

The Secret of Monkey Island 1 & 2: Special Edition PC

Click on image for gameplay video
  • Works: Yes
  • Source: Steam ($10)
  • Genre: Point and click
  • Similar: Gabriel Knight, Sam and Max, Broken Age
  • Graphics: Gorgeous artwork
  • Gameplay: Click & select dialogue

Another recently-revived old game, this is a classic point-and click adventure, following the exploits of wannabe pirate Guybrush Threepwood. The game is set in the Caribbean, during the 17th century pirate boom, although various anachronistic objects are present.

The dialogue and plotline are good, and the game doesn’t take itself too seriously, adding to the entertainment value greatly.

The remaster adds gorgeous high-definition art, while leaving the gameplay and dialogue untouched. There’s even an option to ‘go retro’, allowing a player to switch the graphics back to their original state.

Planescape: Torment

Click on image for gameplay video
  • Works: Yes (tweaks)
  • Source: GOG ($10)
  • Workarounds: Run as admin, disable desktop composition and/or end explorer.exe from task manager, launch.
  • Genre: RPG, isometric
  • Similar: Fallout 1,2 , Arcanum
  • Graphics: Passable
  • Gameplay: Classic CRPG, fantasy
  • Difficulty: Challenging

Planescape follows the journey of the ‘Nameless One’, an immortal with amnesia, looking to recover memories of his past. The gameplay is classic CRPG – plenty of rich dialogue, and colorful characters, and a driving story, slowly discovered, with the running themes of self-discovery and redemption – unusually philosophical for a game, regardless of age and genre.

Half-Life / Black Mesa

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  • Works: Yes
  • Source: Steam ($10)/Free
  • Genre: FPS, puzzle elements, Sci-Fi
  • Similar: Wolfenstein, Red Faction
  • Graphics: Decent
  • Gameplay: Varied and rich; Shooting, environmental puzzles
  • Difficulty: Selectable

To be clear, Half-Life and Black Mesa are separate, yet similar games. Half-Life is the original game, with Black Mesa being the free fan-made remake, editing out some parts of the original and altering others, but maintaining the ‘feel’ of the game nonetheless.

Half-Life places the player in the shoes of the verbally challenged Dr. Gordon Freeman, theoretical physicist, newly assigned to a top secret research facility in the New Mexico desert.

The gameplay is largely FPS, with some puzzle elements, with new enemies, environmental challenges, and environments at every turn.

Fallout 1 & 2

Click on image for gameplay video
  • Works: Yes (Tweaks needed)
  • Source: Steam ($10 each)
  • Workarounds: Run as admin, disable desktop composition and/or end explorer.exe from task manager, launch
  • Third Party Patches: Various
  • Genre: CRPG
  • Similar: Planescape:Torment, Arcanum
  • Graphics: Low resolution, good art
  • Gameplay: Turn based tactical, isometric. Plenty of dialogue, rich descriptions.
  • Difficulty: Unforgiving

Fallout probably needs no introduction – it is a series set in a post-nuclear wasteland in various American states. The player takes control of a character tasked with saving their people (a theme shared by most Fallout games), exploring a world resettled by the descendants of the few survivors of nuclear devastation, who have founded fledgling cities and towns, and ramshackle, often brutal communities based on whatever balance of power they happened to settle into.

The game is as much about the what-ifs of such societies as it is about the player’s progression through them. As with RPGs, the player gains experience and skills, meets various characters and influences the fate of the wasteland and its inhabitants as they choose various courses of action or inaction.

Fallout is another family of games that don’t take themselves altogether too seriously, often breaking the ‘fourth wall’ for the sake of jokes or references to pop culture.

A special point of note regarding the early Fallout games is the rich, vivid and sometimes amusingly flat descriptions of various objects in the environment and inventory items ‘examined’ by the player. These contribute a good deal to the sense of personality attached to the player, being one of the only means of communication between the character themselves and the player controlling them – an internal monologue of sorts.

Command and Conquer Generals: Zero Hour

Click on image for gameplay video
  • Works: Yes
  • Source: Origin, as Command & Conquer The Ultimate Collection ($7.50)
  • Third Party Patches: GenTool
  • Genre: RTS
  • Similar: Starcraft 2
  • Graphics: Passable, upgradeable to decent
  • Gameplay: RTS, many and varied missions
  • Difficulty: Selectable

An excellent strategy game, set in the near future, with three distinct factions vying for power in a global war. Players can take on the roles of the USA (conventional warfare), China (nuclear, swarm), or the GLA (ambush, guerilla) through three separate campaigns, with excellent gameplay throughout.

Being set in the near future, it features conventional weapons such as tanks and footsoldiers, as well as more futuristic weapons like microwave tanks, and lasers. The world the game sells is believable, yet larger-than-life enough to be great fun.

The game includes several innovations in strategic gameplay, including offscreen strikes, and a full-blown aerial dimension to strategy, implemented more gracefully than most other strategy games featuring aircraft.

Gothic 1 & 2

Click on image for gameplay video
  • Works - Yes
  • Source - GOG ($10)
  • Workarounds: Edit INI for HD resolution, script to rewrite (see description)
  • Third Party Patches: Ironkeep Community patch, Thielhater’s texture patch (YMMV)
  • Genre: RPG, fantasy
  • Similar: Elder Scrolls series
  • Graphics: Decent, upgradeable with patches
  • Gameplay: Varied, rich quests, interesting dialogue, colorful characters

This is a fully open world 3d RPG set in a low fantasy world. The player takes on the role of a hero with no information, other than to deliver a letter. This is a refreshing departure from games that task a player with saving the world right off the bat, and allows for a much more organic discovery of story – in pieces, from various sources, and sometimes incomplete, to be filled in by discovery, cajoling, and exploration. Like Fallout, Gothic looks at a lawless land, and the societies that emerge.

The combat system is - initially - intentionally terrible – the player character doesn’t know how to handle weapons, and this shows in their fighting style. That said, the control scheme is not exactly intuitive, and without a tutorial, is difficult to understand for the first time. It’s worth learning though, and handles better as the player character gets better at handling weapons.

This one’s a must-play for RPG fans.

Workaround - Edit the video resolution in Gothic.ini using notepad. Create a copy of gothic.ini and name it gothic_1.ini. Create a .txt file and put the following in there:

"cd [path to folder containing gothic.ini]
Del gothic.ini
Copy gothic_1.ini gothic.ini

Save the .txt file with a .bat extension (save as.... <Whatever>.bat). Create a shortcut to this BAT file on the desktop, and use it to launch Gothic. Optional – change the icon of the shortcut to the gothic icon by right-clicking and editing its properties.

MechCommander 1 & 2

Click on image for gameplay video
  • Works: Yes
  • Source: mechcommander.co.uk (Free)
  • Genre: Squad based tactical command
  • Graphics: Decent
  • Gameplay: Interesting missions, customizable mech loadouts, pilot careers, support powers.

Mechcommander is based on the idea of mech warfare – giant walking robots that carry sizeable armaments.

The game is fairly straightforward – you have command of your fleet of mechs. You can customize this fleet based on mechs you buy, or salvage during missions.

You start out with a handful of pilots, whose skills and specializations develop over the course of the game, depending on how you choose to deploy them.

The mechs themselves have a great degree of customizability – you could load a mech to only carry long range missiles, and pilot it with a long-range weapons specialist, to make for an effective artillery piece, for instance.

The story is mildly interesting, with extremely cheesy cutscenes, and some interesting events taking place.

The main selling point though, is outstandingly executed mech combat in a squad-based tactical setting.

Age of Empires 2 HD

Click on image for gameplay video
  • Works: Yes
  • Source: Steam ($20)
  • Genre: Strategy
  • Similar: Rise of Nations
  • Graphics: Passable
  • Gameplay: Classic Real-Time Strategy, medieval

Age of Empires is a classic strategy game – you start out with a village, and build your empire from there, building structures, researching upgrades, doing battle and progressing through the ages.

The campaigns are fun, but where this game really shines is in multiplayer, where you can customize a ruleset for play with friends.

The revamp adds some minor content, and more importantly, support for HD displays, opening up a whole lot more visible map than the original.

Game Over

This list represents some of the best games that were released ten or more years ago. Go ahead and try them out! Not every game that deserves to be on this list has been included, likely because we weren’t aware of them. If you know of something we’ve missed, feel free to share it in the comments.