Have you ever reached that “dry season" of gaming, a time where either you've played all the new releases or the basic cost of living and an up-to-date PC prevents you from indulging in the latest games? Then this list is for you. Here are ten classic old school games that’ll keep the gamer inside you satisfied until that dreaded “dry season’” has passed.
1.) Age of Empires II: Age of Kings (1999, Microsoft)
The Age of Empires series has played a huge and influential role in the Real Time Strategy genre of gaming. AOE 2: Age of Kings is probably my favorite of them all. In the campaigns you can become part of some of history’s most epic battles and play with historic figures such as Genghis Kahn and William Wallace. An HD version of AOE 2 was released earlier this year that looks amazing but unfortunately is has no multi-player capability, something that used to be a popular aspect of the game. But I recently played the HD version and I must say I never felt bored. If you've played this game before you will enter a world of nostalgia and if not, I can promise you it makes the hours melt away.
2.) Age of Pirates (1996, Play logic)
This is one of the first Role Playing Games (RPG) I ever played. Since then I've replayed it a great number of times and it just never seems to get old. You play as either Blaze or Beatrice Sharp, which ever you choose you your ultimate goal is to save the other. As in most RPG’s there is a main story line and a bunch of side-missions. You start with basically nothing but before you know it you've assembled a crew and obtained a ship and you’re well on your way to becoming a full-fledged, rum dependent Pirate Captain. The game play takes place over a huge map and has two distinct areas of play, land and sea. Land battles aren't much more than button mashing sword fights. The naval battles on the other hand are great fun and involve some strategy. Your cannons can be loaded with various ammunition, each used to target a specific area of an enemy ship. Wind also plays a big role in naval battle as it can drastically speed up or slow down your ship. I've had so much fun with this game that I've actually put off playing my new games.
3.) Counter Strike: Source (2004, Valve Corporation)
You can’t consider yourself a gamer if you haven’t ever played Counter-Strike: Source. Even today, it is one of the best known first-person shooters of all time. Unlike the Call of Duty games, in this game you actually die after being shot. This makes for a thrilling FPS, where strategy and team work is key. It is strictly a multi-player team-based game with no campaign but you also have the option to play against rather skillful bots. The game is played in rounds. The team with the most winning rounds win the overall match. When a player dies he only respawns once the next round has begun, a frustrating aspect but one that makes this game all the more challenging. This game makes for endless hours of gaming, perfect for when that “dry season” strikes.
4.) Future Cop: L.A.P.D. (1998, Electronic Arts)
If you are looking for something unique then Future Cop is probably your best bet. As you’ve guessed this game takes place in the future and you’re a cop. You play as a police issued Mech-Warrior keeping the justice with a terrifying arsenal of weapons that includes missiles and mortar bombs. You have the option to switch between Mech- and hover car-mode, the latter being a faster but much less stable form. In the campaign mode you mostly face crowds of infantry or turrets. In the multiplayer (only two people at a time), both players play with a Mech-Warrior and can commission tanks and aircraft to assist in the battle. There are very few games that I regard as highly as Future Cop: L.A.P.D, another superbly addictive game.
5.) Mafia (2002, Gathering of Developers)
Mafia is one the most epic third-person shooters ever developed. It has a captivating narrative and vivid characters combined with a massive playable area. You play as Tommy Angelo, a taxi driver who eventually finds his way into the Salieri Mafia family after helping some of the “made-men” out of a tight spot. All though at its core it is a TPS, Mafia also involves a lot of driving and car chases, even a race. There are some very realistic element to this game such as getting fined or arrested for speeding, jumping red lights and being seen with a weapon. You can play story mode where you are sucked into an excellent and lengthy story line Then there is a free ride mode where you can earn cash and actually buy weapons, unlike in story mode where you either receive weapons from the Family or steal them off enemies. If you've missed this title make sure to check it out.
6.) Oblivion (2006, 2K Games)
The legendary Oblivion was, and in some way probably still is, the benchmark against which all other RPG’s were judged. The massive map, ability to create a custom character and the depth of the virtual world was astounding. You play as a hero who must save Cyrodiil from the threat of the Oblivion Gates, portals leading to the world of Oblivion a.k.a. Hell. You will be completing hundreds of mission to improve your hero. You can join one of four guilds (Fighters, Thieves, Mages, Dark Brotherhood) that leads to unique traits and abilities, meaning you can effectively play the game four times and have a very distinct experience each time. If you’re looking for something to kill the time, Oblivion is perfect. Just be careful that it doesn't actually starts stealing time away from your real world responsibilities.
7.) Pharaoh (1999, Sierra Entertainment)
Pharaoh is a historic city-builder that takes place in Ancient Egypt. Its main focus is building cities from scratch and making them thrive, with very little emphasis put on battles. The extensive campaign starts with the rise of the Egyptian empire and goes right through the height of its power. Pharaoh is extremely addictive and very demanding, especially at the harder difficulty levels. You will be producing and providing food and water, appeasing Egyptian gods, trading with other cities, fulfilling requests for Pharaoh and much more… all at once. But in the end you will become the greatest Pharaoh of Ancient Egypt.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (1992, Sega)
This is one of the most successful installments of the Sonic saga. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was the first to feature Sonic’s sidekick , Tails the Fox, allowing for co-op play and the Spin-Dash, a manoeuvre where Sonic or Tails build up momentum while spinning in a ball and eventually rockets forward at an immense speed, clearing all minor enemies in his path. In this side-scroller adventure you play as Sonic, a cocky blue hedgehog, while the computer or your co-op partner takes control of Tails, the friendly fox. This might be the one of the oldest games on the list but it certainly holds its own. Sonic’s game play is easy to grasp yet the game itself becomes extremely tough as it progresses. If you want to lose a few hours while taking a trip down memory lane, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 might just be what you’re looking for.
9.) Star Wars Episode 1: Racer (1999, Lucas Entertainment)
This game is based on the epic “Pod races” seen in Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace. You can take control of a variety of movie-based racers, each with their own unique attributes and Podracer. These attributes are upgraded as you buy new parts for you Pod Racer. This was, and still is a fantastic game. The graphics are a bit outdated and you might have to go through a little effort to get it working on newer systems as it’s a 16-bit game. But the fact that this is still one of the most fun and challenging racers I’ve ever played and it’s sure to keep you busy.
10.) Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater (1999, Activision)
This title set the definitive standard for skateboarding games and will probably have an influence on them for a long time to come. THPS was released in the glory days of skateboarding and the same year Tony Hawk landed the first 900 in competition. You can play as many of the pro skaters from the 90’s including Bob Burnquist, Rodney Mullen and the legend himself, Tony Hawk. Even though the game mechanics isn't as good as recent versions of the series, it gave the birth of the greatest skateboarding games to date and is still loads of fun to play. This is one old school game I would gladly play again.
What game have you played lately that helped you overcome that "dry season" of gaming?
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