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Will it work?

November 25th, 2006 by Troy Goodfellow · 6 Comments · Uncategorized

My friend asked me for another game last week. After his experience with Pirates! (which he eventually got working), the first thing he asks me is whether any game I recommend will run on his laptop.

He picked up Medieval II on his own. He loved Rome and was really looking forward to Medieval II. No go.

He asked about CivCity: Rome. I told him that Caesar IV was a better game in almost every way, so he downloaded the demo. No go.

He asked what the best game I’d played in the last month was, and I quickly answered Company of Heroes. Not a chance it will run on his machine.

Integrated graphics for the loss.

So, he came to the only reasonable conclusion for a casual gamer who wants to play cool stuff but thinks it should run on the computer he bought from Dell only three years ago. “I’m going back to my Playstation.” So I recommended Bully based purely on word of mouth. He’s a teacher; he’ll appreciate it.

And those of us with new, higher end systems designed for gaming aren’t off scot-free. Neverwinter Nights II runs like a lame horse even when not turned up to its shiniest. I was playing an indie game for my latest column that kept crashing my IRC program running in the background.

Meanwhile, HPS wargames have minimum requirements stuck sometime in 1992. 500 MHz processor, DirectX 7, 128 MB of RAM. I know that these will run on my friend’s computer, and he might even like them. But as I age, I know that I want more immediate gratification in games I stumble upon, so I doubt that Defending the Reich will do it for him.

So my friend is giving Civilization IV another try – he couldn’t get into it the first time – but I’d like to turn him on to something new and exciting. Fill the comments with a recommendation or two.


6 Comments so far ↓

  • Bruce

    Dominions 3 runs great on everything, including Macintosh.

  • Krupo

    Of course, that’s the problem with laptops: poor upgradeability and generally poor gaming components, even for brand-new systems.

    The key, IMHO, isn’t to recommend a 2006 title – there are a few that might have promise, but only if they have especially low system-requirements.

    The challenge shifts to remember what were your favourite titles of 2002-2004, and finding one of them in stores.

    Sid Meier’s Railroads, for example, would be a fun game to try had your friend a newer system (and if Firaxis had done more extensive QA work on it!!!), but the Railroad Tycoon 2 or 3 titles were nevertheless very fun and worth checking out.

    As long as your friend can find one of the older titles available for purchase somewhere, there’s a double benefit: Gaming Goodness that’ll actually run well on said laptop, *plus* it’ll be next to free (guess that’s not an issue for older folks, but doesn’t everyone love getting a deal?). :)

    Playing with the same genre, Rollercoaster Tycoon 2 was really well polished and should run nicely on an older system (actually, I know that from firsthand experience).

    I don’t recall the sys req’s for Return to Castle Wolfenstein, but it was a stable title in my experience and would be worth checking out to try something from the shooter genre.

    Or, to try some more military-themed strategy, consider Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri (still a classic worth playing – and perhaps more appealing than Civ 4?), or just about anything under than Tiberian Sun from the C&C series (although i just got C&C: TS for $2 so I’ll see if it’s better than I remember it looking back in the day).

    I could go on and on, but hopefully one of those ideas sticks…

  • MikeO

    No idea what he likes, but Dom 3 is the greatest game evar, if it’s not too complex for him. And I could not recommend Combat Mission: Barbarossa to Berlin any more highly, if he sort of likes wargames, and he hasn’t played it. Titan Quest may run, not sure.

  • Tom

    Just buy him a proper computer already :)

    I reckon Sim City 4 might work well, or he could try the Homeworlds or something. Surely something like Supreme Ruler would run if he’s into his nanomanagement. But yeah, there’s not much good he can play without a good computer. Sucks, eh?

  • baby arm

    Take Command: 2nd Manassas = might remind him of TW’s tactical battles

    Freedom Force vs The 3rd Reich = superheroes + real-time tactical combat + campy humor

    GalCiv2 = if he’s interested in Civ IV but just can’t get excited by animal husbandry and pottery

    Avernum 4 or any of the Geneforge games = simple graphics but very solid RPGs, with lengthy demos and cheap prices

    Space Rangers 2 = never played it but all the kids seem to love it, combines a little something from nearly every genre, get it through TotalGaming to avoid Starforce hassles

  • Ken Wootton

    Another vote for GalCiv 2. It’s pretty friendly with respect to requirements and what I played a good bit of while I was attempting to get Civ 4 to work.