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Retro Pc Exclusives


tenrou
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I'm on a bit of a PC retro kick just now, installing win98, getting out the old games etc.  

 

What are the best late 90s to early 2000s PC games that everyone remembers as there maybe some i don't know and haven't played?

 

I've noticed some things haven't aged quite as well as I remember.

 

I've found i still love xcom apocalypse and freelancer but i remember loving conflict freespace and it's struggled more with age.  The controls are really quite loose and it's hard to direct yourself exactly to the point you want.  It's also early 3d and it looks pretty blocky.

 

I've found i can emulate a pretty decent pentium 2 with PCEM and a voodoo 3 for graphics so I don't even need the old hardware which is good.

 

System shock 2 is also pretty good but it had a remaster not that long ago so it's fairly easy to get now i think.

 

I'll update when i try some more stuff.

 

 

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I played Phantasmagoria all the way through for the first time recently, think that was a PC exclusive. I had a good time with it but YMMV depending on whether you like FMV and creepy haunted house adventure games. 

 

I've also had a bit of a zip though some of the non-Ultima Origin RPGs from around this time, as I thought they had been pretty overlooked. Times of Lore and Bad Blood are quite interesting as they are far less remembered and covered by today's retro gamers than the more well-known franchise. Times of Lore wasn't PC exclusive though. There's also one called Escape from Hell where you have to do exactly what it says in the title which I quite enjoyed having a mess around with for a while. 

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Enjoyed LucasArts point 'n clickers. The Dig was one of my favourites. Great music and story. 

 

Also some of the old flight sim games were good, Strike Commander, Comanche, Wing Commander series. Frontier Elite 2 another I pumped a bit of time into.

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Dark Forces 2: Jedi Knight has some incredible level design for the time.

 

Total Annihilation is a classic as well.

 

I have a soft spot for Carmageddon 2 and Virtual Pool even though they've been obsolete for years.

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Unreal Tournament 2004UT99 is still ace, and I know there was an Xbox port of 2003, but for me 2004 was the peak of the series. It introduced Onslaught and the vehicle stuff, and I personally found that the action was more enjoyable as a result. Even the bot matches could be entertaining.

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I played a fair bit of total annihilation back in the day.  I seem to remember it advertising all these units but in true rts style half a dozen were actually of use so you spam those.  

 

I played unreal tournament but not much beyond that.  I might break that out and it's my first real sniper rifle memory although it's probably bleeding awful now.  

 

Freelancer which I like a lot I believe is from the original wing commander designer?  Try that if you haven't given it a bash previously.

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14 hours ago, Qazimod said:

Unreal Tournament 2004UT99 is still ace, and I know there was an Xbox port of 2003, but for me 2004 was the peak of the series. It introduced Onslaught and the vehicle stuff, and I personally found that the action was more enjoyable as a result. Even the bot matches could be entertaining.

I still love ut99. Mainly for instagib matches. Just checked my gog library, I have it 2004! Really as good as 99?

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The infinity engine CRPGs still hold up today (and have modern enhanced editions):

 

Baldurs Gate I and II

Icewind Dale I and II

Planescape Torment

 

Also, in no particular order:

 

Star Wars KOTOR 1 and 2

Elder Scrolls: Morrowind

Fallout 1 and 2 (and maybe Tactics)

Mechwarrior 2, 3, and 4 (+ expansions)

Mechcommander 1 and 2

Counter Strike

Max Payne 1 and 2

Age of Empires 2

Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines

Broken Sword 1 and 2

Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura

Civ 2

 

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5 hours ago, bplus said:

Really as good as 99?

 

Personal opinion and all, so take what I say with a grain of salt. IMO most of them are fine, but the series felt very iterative. To me, 2003 is just more of 99, and 2004 is more of 2003.

 

I guess some people might find 2004 a bit too cluttered with new stuff - 99 is pleasingly economical in comparison. There's no harm in trying it if you have it though. :) 

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22 hours ago, spatular said:

Sure some of those are on other formats too, deus ex is on ps2?

 

Technically, but it's significantly different. Not a bad effort at all for the console, but much reduced in scope (even before considering control/visual/musical inferiority); definitely worth considering as a PC game, even if it wasn't truly 'exclusive'. Little Big Adventure 2 from your list is also something I'd highly recommend, especially since it got a light 'remaster' this year which helped tidy up the controls and camera a little.

 

I'm also going to second Thief and Thief II from @bplus's list as being worth playing; they're still the best stealth games ever made.

 

Other than those, and sticking to games which still hold up and play well, split into two of the PC's strongest genres:

 

Strategy:

  • Homeworlds 1 and 2 remain incredible, and unbelievably good looking (the first is still the best 3D RTS ever made! Though hopefully Homeworld 3 will soon rectify that). They also have the benefit of a remaster a few years back which makes them easy to get a hold of and play; but honestly the original of 1 is actually a bit better, if you can get it working.
  • Myth: The Fallen Lords and Myth II: Soulblighter. They've aged a little more than the Homeworld games (visually and in terms of controls), but they remain brutally satisfying little tactics games. More games need to offer unreliable molotov-cocktail-lobbing dwarves as a key component of your army. A pain in the arse to find, but easy to play on modern systems thanks to the work of Project Magma; see https://rpgcodex.net/forums/threads/myth-the-fallen-lords-on-a-modern-pc.119358

Adventure games:

  • Blade Runner. This had a terrible remake recently, but no worries, you can just play the original in ScummVM. The best non-comedy point and click adventure? Maybe not, but definitely one of the best.
  • The Curse of Monkey Island. A real shame that this never got ported to consoles, while the dramatically inferior 3D sequels did. Ah well. Still holds up (and you can then play this year's Return to Monkey Island to enjoy the series' final hurrah)
  • The Last Express. Jordan Mechner (of Prince of Persia fame) tried his hand at a Murder On The Orient Express-em-up, and knocked it out of the park! A shame nobody bought it. Brilliant game, though.
  • The Longest Journey. No remake that I'm aware of here, but it's another of the best point and click adventures ever made. And the story even concludes now, thanks to the gradual release of the later Dreamfall games. Bonus!

There are other good games from that broad period, of course, but those are the biggest highlights of the PC exclusives that spring to mind.

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I briefly dipped back into Deus Ex 1 about a month or so ago. It shows its age in a lot of ways - the models, animation and voice acting are a bit ridiculous, and you can feel the sense that Unreal Engine is sticking small FPS maps together to deliver the spectacle of something more grandiose. But the skill upgrades and opportunities available in the maps provide a lot of scope for improvisation and fun.

 

(I even liked Human Revolution - after I had equipped myself to defeat bosses how the game wanted me to :rolleyes: - but it felt like it reined the player in more than the original.)

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The PC had some fine space games.

 

Homeworld has already been mentioned, that was a beautiful RTS for sure. But you also had Wing Commander 3 & 4, I-War (not the same as the Atari Jaguar game!) and Freespace 2. 
 

Also, CD Rom adventure games were getting a bit silly with FMV etc providing some of the worst (or perhaps most entertaining) acting this side of a Steven Segal movie…. Phantasmagoria 1 & 2, Harvester, the Tex Murphy series, Zork Nemesis (extremely dark and atmospheric compared to the other Zork titles), Zork Grand Inquisitor (Featuring Dirk Benedict!), Starship Titanic (Douglas Adams) and Noctropolis are all worth checking out IMO. They’re not all brilliant games, but they’re worth checking out on a cold damp Sunday afternoon! Some of them also get very weird… VERY weird 😂

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9 hours ago, Wiper said:

Technically, but it's significantly different. Not a bad effort at all for the console, but much reduced in scope (even before considering control/visual/musical inferiority); definitely worth considering as a PC game, even if it wasn't truly 'exclusive'.

 

that's interesting, i didn't know it was different. (although a pad would be better controls for me!)

 

yeah thief is a great shout.

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