Let’s go Shopping for Games

By Shamus
on Sep 24, 2007
Filed under:
Video Games

It’s the weekend and I’m browsing around EB Games, looking for some new software to aid me in my never-ending quest to amuse myself for a few hours. I’ve got a hundred bucks I’m willing to spend, so if I shop carefully I should be able to get at least two games.

The PC section of the store is now three “racks”. Not those huge, floor-to ceiling racks that the consoles use, but ones so short that they are unable to hold anything at eye level. One of these three racks – or dividers if you will – has a bunch of exotic PC hardware like steering wheels, $80 mice, and various console controllers adapted for the PC. So what we really have here are two racks of diminutive shelving units for me to search, in hopes of finding a new game. Let’s see how well these few titles can compete for my gaming dollars.

Here we go:

Hmph. Another version of Civilization is out. Geeze. Looks… just like the old one. Which I have. I also have a couple of other games that use the same formula. The older version(s) are fairly complete. Plus, these system requirements look a little absurd for what this game does. Pass.

Almost a full shelf is consumed by The Sims, The Sims 2, and enough expansion packs to make me worry that perhaps Will Wright may have died an early and tragic death, crushed to death under a mountain of money. Is there any aspect of human behavior they have left unsimulated? It’s possible. I didn’t see “The Sims: Goin’ to the Bathroom ’til Their Legs Fall Asleep.” So, while I suppose there is still some open territory for further expansion packs, I’m pretty sure we’re well past the point of diminishing returns. Nothing against The Sims franchise, but a little of that goes a long way. I played the original and I think I’m still good for another decade or so at least. Pass.

Oh look. Here is the expansion for Oblivion. Looks like they increased the minimum system requirements. Since the original system requirements on the game were a lie, it’s tough to know if this increase is to bring the stated requirements in line with the actual requirements, or if they added new ways to tax your graphics hardware. It doesn’t matter. Oblivion was riddled with bugs which they refused to patch, and I don’t see any reason to believe they’ve repented. I can’t bring myself to reward them for this sort of behavior. Pass.

Here I see the final (no, really this time) episode of the venerable Myst franchise. Looks good. Oh wait. Here on the back it says the game has copy protection restriction that makes it incompatible with “some” DVD burners or drives. So… I could buy this, find out I have a forbidden sort of drive, and be unable to play (or return!) the game. Pass.

I see Neverwinter Nights 2. I pause for a moment to rue the $50 I wasted on this title, and move on.

I see STALKER. Looks interesting… Oh wait. I hear the game is a morass of bugs and brain-dead AI, and suffers from poor performance even on a high-end system. (Which I do not have.) Plus more bugs. And annoying interface issues. Sigh. Too bad. Pass.

Pffft. BioShock. Yeah, I could buy this, but it won’t run on my machine, as I have both a kernel debugger (Developer Studio 6.0 ohhh! spooky!) and process explorer, both of which are software packages that obviously have no legitimate use outside of hacking and pirating software. Plus, I’ve seen the cries from the people in the 2kGames Forums who can’t get the game to run, despite meeting the system requirements. Plus the activation is a stupid and pointless pain in the ass. Plus the people at 2kGames eat babies. Pass.

Here is a whole shelf dominated by old Blizzard titles. Warcraft Battle Chest. Starcraft Battle Chest. Diablo Collecters’ Somethingorother. These are A-list games from a previous millennium. It says something that these games are still selling eight years later. I’m betting the rest of this stuff won’t be around just two years from now. At any rate, these are great games but I already own multiple copies of all of them. Pass.

I reach the end of the rack and wander out of the store, my $100 still in my pocket. Gosh, I can’t imagine why the once-dominant PC platform is relegated to a shrinking island of shelf space. Must be those dang pirates.

Just keep doing what you’re doing, publishers. I’m sure this will all blow over soon.

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  1. Matt` says:

    I had similar things happen when Gamecube was slowly dying – it went from a couple of floor to ceiling racks, down to 1 such rack, down to a half-height rack in the middle of the shop floor as opposed to against the well, then only one side of that mini-rack had games on (other side was peripherals)

    Finally it went down the the level of one of those wire racks they use as bargain bins, with all the games spine-up instead of being upright.

    Got goddamn annoying trying to find games for the damn thing.

  2. Bogan The Mighty says:

    Ok I realize that you might have been actually out shopping before it came out since I know how you get around to writing things, but I must remind you that World in Conflict is out and just needs to be played.

  3. Aelyn says:

    Nice post. This trend has been going on for a long time now. I was a pretty hard-core PC gamer for many years, but the amount of interesting new material is declining. Or I could be getting older.

    Regardless, a trip to EB Games tells you all you need to know. MMO gaming is still the province of PC’s, but outside of that you’ll be looking to consoles for your gaming “goodness” in the very near future. As soon as interfaces for communication in MMO’s get better, they’ll move that way, too.

    Sadness.

  4. MintSkittle says:

    You’re not the only one to notice this. The EB (now Gamestop) near my home used to have the whole back of the shop, floor to ceiling plus a portion of the side wall, for PC games. Now it’s down to three or four of those little standing racks that just get in the way. Similar things are happening at the Bestbuy. What was once three isles is now one isle for everything, new and old.

    If you can, try to find the nearest Fry’s Electronics. They still have whole isles dedicated to PC games.

  5. Ryan says:

    Shamus, Shamus, Shamus – I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been through the same scenario you described. I’ve actually given up on new games. In fact (with the exception of the Warhammer 20K and Battle for Middle Earth strategy games), I don’t think I own a single title that has been released since 2002.

    I just finished replaying the Baldur’s Gate series, and I’m working on Icewind Dale. I’ve also downloaded some highly regarded custom scenarios for Age of Empires II that I’ll be trying out soon.

    I wish you luck in finding a (new) game worth playing.

  6. John says:

    Hmm. Not a big video game buyer anymore, but is it fair to say that the games shrinkwrapped on a shelf are decreasing percentage of the market? Are the games sold online (even if then delivered in physical media) squeezing out the last life of the game store shelves?

    I’m thinking of the comparison to RPG game stores, which continue to face serious problems competing with what you buy online from Amazon, Borders, or direct from the publisher.

  7. Daemian_Lucifer says:

    Actually that doesnt mean that PC gaming is dying out.Most games are being sold via intratubes now.People simply have less need to walk to the store to buy a game,when they can buy it online and either have it delivered or downloaded.

    Also,you are wrong to dismiss civ because previous parts “pretty much did everything”.Especially with the new BtS expansion(which is probably what you saw),which is the best expansion done for any game ever(its like buying 4 new games rather than just some bonus material for a game you own).This is one of the rare games that shows respect to the fans,so thats another good reason to buy it and support further development.

  8. lplimac says:

    I was in the same situation a few weeks ago, money to spend on games. Stopped by the EB Games in the big mall… one rack (two sides) of PC Games, none even remotely interesting. Same for the one in the strip mall. Now Best Buy and Fry’s, both of them had rows and rows of games, some even worth getting (all older games… none of the new ones looked to be worth the cash). I’ve given up on EB Games/Gamestop for anything except the DS games for my kids.

    And if as Aelyn says MMO’s move to consoles I’ll need to find another hobby if the ones I play now shutdown. I can justify a computer that among other things plays games but a console is something the wife would frown on big time.

  9. Issachar says:

    I’m with Ryan. I finally bought Half-Life 2 this year, and that’s the most recently published game I own.

    Instead of buying new games, I’m happily discovering older, classic titles that I somehow never got around to back when they were originally released. Right now I’m almost done playing through Deus Ex, and I want to turn right around and play it again as soon as I’m done.

    The really great thing is that these older games can be bought for between $10 and $20 nowadays. And my hardware, despite being about three years out of date, runs a game like Deus Ex just beautifully. :-)

  10. Gary says:

    You know I’ve read a bit about the doom and gloom of PC gaming being dead but never really understood it since the game retailers I visit have a really good stock of PC games (though I often buy from Steam now). Then I went on holiday to Florida (I live in the UK) and I get exactly what people are talking about. US game retailers seem to dedicate virtually no space to the PC market. I can totally see why people are saying it’s an issue.

    Hope you find a game that satisfies your needs.

  11. The Gneech says:

    It just warms my heart to find somebody talking sense about NWN2 for a change.

    re: shopping for games, tho, I feel your pain. I suspect LOTRO may be the last PC game I buy, not because it’s so good, but because there just aren’t any more.

    *sigh* Remember the days of Wing Commander, Monkey Island, et al.? How did this drought come to pass?

    -The Gneech

  12. Adam says:

    Simple analogy

    EB Games/Gamestop is to games as MTV is to music.

    It’s there, sometimes, and hidden behind the pop culture fluff.

  13. I’m so there.

    Yeah, I remember when EB Games was pretty much a PC Game shop… the console games were frequently sold in toy stores.

    But it’s the wave of the future. Not that console games are taking over, necessarily… but it’s all going online. Retailers haven’t figured it out, yet. The major publishers are only now figuring it out. Have you noticed where all the brick-and-mortar music stores (I mean the stores that a couple of decades ago used to be called “record stores”) went?

    That’s where the brick-and-mortar software stores are going tomorrow.

    And the console games won’t save them. Now that the console world has gotten a taste of downloadable content delivery, I don’t think it’s going to go away. It’ll only get “worse” (from the brick-and-mortar stores’ perspective) with the next generation of consoles.

    The vanishing PC game in the stores isn’t a sign of the end of the world (for PC gamers). I believe its a sign that the dinosaurs are getting stuck in the tar pits.

  14. Maddyanne says:

    Please do pick up Neverwinter Nights 1, though you’ll likely have to order it. You can get the Platinum and Diamond editions very inexpensively.
    The official campaigns are nothing especially glorious, but some of the community created stuff is really worth playing.

  15. Rich G. says:

    I couldn’t agree more. I don’t usually do “Me too!” posts, but I’ve been trying for weeks to buy a game locally in a real store to play and for the life of me I can’t spend my money in real life any more. Sure, Blizzard’s complete line-up can be gotten in two purchases but I’ve got family younger than those games.
    Every store I go to has the same 12 games. I’m dying to spend money and there’s no where to do it.
    *sigh* Remember when the problem was choosing WHICH game to get?

  16. Sharpe says:

    Wow, this sounds familiar. I make myself feel better by telling myself that I am getting picky with my games, not that the quality of games is dropping.

    Besides I foung a great cheap (20$) game to keep me occupied, Blockland. It’s been doing it longer than any 60$ game I have bought recently. Meh.

  17. Gabriel says:

    While I share the lament for the fall of the PC game, I do claim there are still remaining bastions of goodness.

    I have to disagree with your assessment of what I can only assume to be Civilization IV. I have been a fan of the series, it is true, but I can say without any reservation that Civ IV is the best of the series, and what’s more, has achieved a place as one of my favorite games of all time. Where it truly wins out — it is by far the most replayable game I have ever encountered. I look forward to breaking into the Beyond the Sword expansion, as I have been told that it expands the gameplay extensively and I am eager to see by how much.

  18. Inane Fedaykin says:

    I’m still playing D2 and SC/BW. I’m happy with them but I do spend a little time with JK2 or Doom 1&2 when I’m in a FPS sort of mood. I’ve given up on W3 though, Blizzard really dropped the ball for online play there.

  19. Nilus says:

    Part of your problem is shopping at EB games(or gamestop). Those places have been slowly cutting back there PC game line up since I worked at Babbages 8 years ago. Your best bet is to find a more PC dedicated store. If you have a Frys in your area then you are golden. But alas there are not many of these great Mecca’s of all thing electronic in the US. Comp USA use to be pretty good, but I think those all closed. Depending on your Area Best Buy and Circuit City can sometimes have good selections. Even the bad ones tend to have more stuff then you average EB games does now.

    There are a lot less computer games coming out but there are more then EB or gamestop would lead you to believe

  20. Tola says:

    Odd.

    HMV still does a decent selection of PC games, as does Game. Maybe things are….different in the US?

    Though I HAVE noted what you say concerning lack of interesting choices. Quite apart from the fact that I can’t run many games(Bad processor-1.6, where the games are asking 2 gig+. It’s quite embarassing, considering I’ve basically replaced everything ELSE in the thing), there’s very few I actually WANT, apart from the re-releases of old games.(For instance, Settlers 2. Someday, I hope they do Tie Fighter.)

    They’re having to raid their old titles for new sales. I’m not sure whether this is a GOOD thing(A new generation gets to see great games of the past) or a BAD thing(What, you’ve run out of ideas for fun, imaginative games?)

  21. Daemian_Lucifer says:

    @Maddyanne

    I disagree about the official campaigns in NWN.True,the original was quite bad,but the two expansions(especially the second one)were quite excelent.And it had excelent NPC/henchmen interaction(Id dare putting them right behind baldurs gate/planescape/fallout).Actually its those interactions and side stories that made me play the original campaign even though I hated it on the first try.

  22. Vegedus says:

    As a console gamer at heart, I have a hard time getting upset about this. Pass.

  23. Lee from Sheboygan says:

    Yeah, I don’t even bother looking at the PC games in EB anymore. They never have anything at all worth getting.

    It’s especially weird when you consider that the quality of games hasn’t gotten worse. PC games just keep getting better and better. It’s just that there’s no stores (at least in my area) that reflect this quality.

    Overlord is supposed to be pretty good.

  24. Peter Falk says:

    When I was your age, video games were called books!

    But if you’re not going to read, you could always write up some more LOTR screen cap comics for your fans who have no way to express their enjoyment of said comics besides posting in your blog.

    Just sayin. . .

  25. Takkelmaggot says:

    In reading the other comments, I came to realize that I’ve purchased, perhaps, two games from brick-and-mortar stores in the last year. (Warhammer 40K, and- I think?- Oblivion.) To be sure, the amount of spare time I have to dedicate to my beloved PC gaming addiction has shrunk, but most of the games I’ve been playing are either old- Baldur’s Gate, Rise of Nations, Combat Mission- or were obtained online. I bought one or two games from Amazon, and downloaded the rest. Once I’ve played through a backlog of games I bought years ago and never got around to, it’ll be time to play Company of Heroes, FEAR, and World In Conflict- which will be nicely affordable. It still pains me to see the tiny PC section at EB and Gamestop but, frankly, I haven’t patronized them in ages.

  26. Morgue says:

    If you want a great PC game, try Psychonauts. It’s about two and a half years old, so it shouldn’t tax your system. You can get it in bargain bins from time to time, or just get it from Steam for $19.99.

    Best PC game I’ve played. Ever.

    It really defies description how crazy the game is. Basically, you are a kid who runs _away_ from the circus to attend a summer camp for psychics and learn how to become a psychic secret agent. It’s by the guy who created Grim Fandango, which detail alone is enough to get some people to buy it.

  27. Mordaedil says:

    Echo said sentiment on Neverwinter Nights 1 here. I’m still playing it, even though I still buy a ton of new games.

    PS: If you want a different recommendation, give the new Tomb Raider games (and the remake) a go. I was actually having fun playing them, even if the control scheme for certain jumps made me want to tear the designers a new one, it works much more flawlessly on the PC.

    Of course, I’m not saying it may be exactly what you’re looking for. It just might be worth taking in a breath of something that is different from a second job once in a while.

  28. Woot Spitum says:

    I don’t know if you’re an RTS guy, but a game I picked up recently that I would highly reccomend is Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War. I picked up a copy of the gold edition recently and had a lot of fun with it. Another good PC game I was impressed with recently is Titan Quest. Diablo clones are usually hit-and-miss, but Titan quest mostly hits the mark. Both of these games have system requirements lower than either Jade Empire or Oblivion.

  29. BarGamer says:

    Ah, Guild Wars. You are still as fun as the day I bought the first game, Prophesies. Granted, I am biased, seeing as I did write a build guide that’s still live and kicking… ^_^;

  30. Nilus says:

    Titans Quest has SecureROM though its an older version. Still an intrusive piece of crap though

  31. Luke says:

    LOL. I had very similar experience not so long ago. You forgot to add the ubiquitous World War II based FPS games. Mostly it’s Call of Duty and Medal of Honor sequels along with 5 or 6 expansion packs for each of them.

    Oh, and the ever present, prominently displayed slew of World of Warcraft boxes, flanked by bunch of $2 WoW trials and few boxes of Guild Wars.

  32. Wait … did you pass on Civilization IV and still *claim* to have an interest in PC gaming?!?! Sorry, you lose.

  33. Shamus says:

    “Wait … did you pass on Civilization IV and still *claim* to have an interest in PC gaming?!?! Sorry, you lose.”

    Riiiight. Because the fact that I’ve played Civ 2, Civ: CtP, and Alpha Centauri, and all those games still work, couldn’t possibly fill my need for this title.

    And you know, some people can claim to be fans of PC Games even if they have no interest whatsoever in turn-based strategy.

    PC Gaming IS indeed getting smaller, but it’s still large enough to accomodate people besides you.

  34. Daemian_Lucifer says:

    “Riiiight. Because the fact that I’ve played Civ 2, Civ: CtP, and Alpha Centauri, and all those games still work, couldn’t possibly fill my need for this title.”

    Bad comparison.Unlike many other games,civ 4 actually does offer a lot of new and quite interesting stuff.Plus it has really enhanced AI.

  35. Shamus says:

    Hmm. I passed Civ IV BECAUSE I felt like I’d been buying the same game over and over. I’m glad to hear the latest iteration brings something fresh to the table. Maybe I’ll check it out after all.

  36. Bimble says:

    Heh. Civ 4 still has the same playstyle as the older versions, indeed. The latest expansion to Civ 4 is actually noteworthy for the mods and scenarios it includes more than anything else – one mod is a star system conqueror that has an Alpha Centauri feel, for example, and a full backstory that unfolds in the flavor text of researched technologies. So they are finding ways to milk the franchise and add just enough to keep things interesting at the same time.

    Worlds in Conflict is definitely worth recommending. The narration and tactical gameplay make it feel like the old Myth games from Bungie, but in a World War 3 setting. The story presentation is fantastic.

  37. Ian says:

    Civ 4 also has ridiculous system requirements for what it is. My laptop is a fairly decent system (Pentium M 1.73GHz, RADEON X300 with 64MB of dedicated VRAM…I daresay it’s an above average compared to the average person interested in such a game, especially at the time the game came out) and it runs horribly even after cranking down the detail (and it winds up looking like crap).

    FEAR and Doom 3 run much more smoothly on this system — it should be the opposite way around. Thanks, but I’ll stick with the older Civ games just because they actually run well.

  38. Ryan says:

    Yep, I’ve got many, many, many mods for Civ 3, and they’re all working quite well. There’s even a mod in the works to add some Civ IV functionality to the Civ III engine.

  39. Luke says:

    Btw, I’m with Shamus on this – Civilization game is a still a Civilization game even if you add all kinds of new features and fun enhancements. The gameplay for the most part (in the overall sense) the same, because if it wasn’t then… Well, it wouldn’t be Civilization anymore, would it?

    This is the thing about the sequels – their primary aim is usually to incrementally improve on the old design – not to drastically redesign the game and provide new unique experience.

    Really, there is nothing wrong with passing on the n’th sequel in a series of games.

    Oh, and just for the record – I’m a PC gamer (don’t own any consoles) but I’m not a big fan of RTS games, or turn based strategy. I did play Dawn of War but that’s mostly because I actually play the tabletop version of the game as well.

    When given a choice I usually go for RPG’s or FPS games (including GTA like stuff).

  40. Shawn says:

    They make games besides WoW? Huh, learn something new every day…

  41. Takkelmaggot says:

    As far as I can tell, areas where PC remains strong are the ones that take advantage of the platforms greatest advantage over consoles, the keyboard and mouse. Hence the games which take the greatest advantage of this- RTSs, sims, top-down RPGs, strategy titles- continue to sell well. FPS and action/arcade titles can make the jump to a controller without losing too much depth (it seems) and only a little dumbing down.
    Hence we still see plenty of strategy and RTS titles, plus RPGs. (Shooters, I’m finding, are increasingly dumbed-down to be console-friendly.) World In Conflict, by the way, is a breath of fresh air- I got in on both of the betas and loved nearly everything about it. Unfortunately it pays homage to the hardware gods and enforces the biggest problem in the industry, namely, hardware creep.

  42. Gothmog says:

    Ooh, ooh! *excited hopping in place*

    Buy ‘DOMINIONS 3’!!!

    So, so GOOD! I just started a 10 player game, but I’d certainly be willing to guide you through a game as well.

    Go read up on it here: http://jaguarusf.blogspot.com/2006/11/dominions-3-awakening-review.html

    Whaddaya say, Shamus?

  43. evilmrhenry says:

    You may want to take another look at STALKER. The system requirements are a bit too high for me to care about it too much, but the game seems to be right up your alley.

  44. Dev Null says:

    I wouldn’t even mind the race to platforms so much if they had taken over the market of games I like to play, but it seems more like they’ve just pushed it out of the way. 7,492 platform fighting games which appear to be identical to the games I played in video parlors 25 years ago… 3,983 driving games… 2,308 sports titles… and for RPGs Pokemon and a “version” of Baldur’s Gate that reminds me distinctly of playing Pac Man. Admittedly its been a year or two since I did the rounds, but have they gotten any better? (Serious question; I really haven’t been paying attention.) Can you play anything like System Shock 2, or Thief, or Privateer, or Ground Control, or (_actually_ like) Baldurs Gate 2, or Myst, or Alpha Centauri yet, to name just a few old faves?

  45. Aaron says:

    This might sound silly, but this is why I prefer tabletop RPG games. I use my comp for RTS’s (Warhammer 40k rocks, but Mark of Chaos just bogs me down so bad as to be unplayable), MMO’s (yup i’m a WoW dork), and … well that’s about it really. I just purchased a PS3 and the 3 games I purchased were Virtua Fighter 5 (i was digging hard at this point), Armored Core (whichever new one is out), and Ninja Gaiden Sigma. The only one I really play is Ninja Gaiden (i mean c’mon … ninja wizards!), so the other two are on the chopping block for trades.

    Give me a table full of dice, rulebooks, pencils, paper, and imagination. I’d much prefer that over any video game.

  46. wrg says:

    Luke, are you just providing generalities about sequels, or speaking from some knowledge about Civ 4 in particular? I could almost make your remarks about genres rather than series. In any given type of game, even different titles can be pretty similar with me-too releases. I’ve bought a number of games which play similarly because A) the variations are interesting and B) more of the same isn’t bad either. Someone less enthusiastic about the genre may find these less compelling motives, which is perfectly understandable.

    That said, Michael J. Anderson is definitely over-the-top here. We’re trying to convince Shamus to try Civ 4, not put him off with snark! (Well, I am anyway.) The extra graphical detail and surprisingly hefty system requirements can be a pain for systems like mine, and can lead a person to suspect that it’s just a graphical rehaul of the same concepts, but as others have pointed out that’s not really the case. I didn’t really appreciate the significance of the changes made until I read the manual, read what others had written about the game, and tried it.

    (I may be incorrect in the following, as I haven’t played in a while. I live in dread of losing a night to one more turn.) I could go on for a while, but what initially struck me was the new way of computing maintenance. Now it’s assessed on each city, rather than each improvement, making it more feasible to improve smaller towns. Furthermore, after a certain number of cities (depending on difficulty and map size), this cost tends to increase quickly, discouraging Infinite City Sprawl. One may reasonably debate whether that’s a good idea, but I do have some fondness for the aesthetic of a world that’s not completely paved.

    There’s more happening with specialists, too. Each still has its own role, but also serves to increase the city’s chances of producing a Great Person of a particular type, which can then either be settled in a city as a sort of superspecialist or consumed for immediate effect. Great Scientists give tech completion, Great Artists spike culture, etc. Oh, and then there are units which gain experience with which they can purchase upgrades, some of which boost overall effectiveness while others are specific to a particular role or certain terrain.

    So, although it’s still “a Civilization game” and is in some respects the same as 1, 2, and 3, there are a number of differences.

    Guess I’ve hijacked this into the Civ 4 thread long enough. I took a moment to consider what I’d acquired or been playing lately for PC, when it occurred to me that I heard about most of it here.

  47. Shinjin says:

    “So what we really have here are two racks of diminutive shelving units”

    You don’t know how good you have it. My local one only hase one of these racks for PC games…

  48. Chris says:

    Stalker is great. Just get the patches. It’s much better than FEAR (which I did like) and I might have even liked it better than HL2. Not sure what you read about the AI – I thought it was pretty darn good. What got me about Stalker is the atmosphere. I loved the graphics and the wide-open areas. It has a really dark feel as well and it’s quite unnerving in some spots.

  49. Daemian_Lucifer says:

    @Ian

    Thats because CIV requires much more RAM than doom and fear.Plus,I think there was a memory leak in the 1.0 version,but dont hold my word for it because I bought it after a few patches came out.

  50. Wood says:

    My most played game for the PC has to be Baldur’s Gate II (and ToB) followed by Black and White, Heroes of Might and Magic III, and sometimes Warcraft III.

    Games for the PC that have come out lately just don’t seem to interest me much, and the ones that do I cannot run.

  51. Mistwraithe says:

    Civ 4 is very good BUT it is still quite samesy with the previous games. Having said that I haven’t tried the latest expansion pack for it which people appear to be raving about.

    Dominions 2 (and presumably 3) is good addictive fun if you like turn based strategy and can get past the very weak graphics and moderately appalling interface.

    On the RTS side the best (and pretty much only true RTS vs RTT (Real Time Tactics)) is Kohan: Ahriman’s Gift which came out back in 2001. Kohan 2 which came out in 2004 is decent but not quite as strategic. Dawn of War is OK but gets tired fairly quickly. I had high hopes for Supreme Commander (I used to love Total Annihilation) but either I have been spoilt by Kohan or they failed to nail the strategic gameplay in SupCom.

    In terms of RPGs obviously Baldur’s Gate 1+2 are great but in the same line if you haven’t played Planescape Torment (old game now… try to get past the graphics) then you probably owe it to yourself.

  52. Barron says:

    I would second Dawn of War. I never played either Warhammer, but I greatly enjoyed DoW. Or you could look into Company of Heroes, by the same company.

    Battlefield 2 might also work for you. BF 1942 came out in the fall of my junior year, and it became my roommate’s and my favorite GPA-sink by far for the next two years. Unfortunately, DICE patched out all the fun quirks, (wing walking, jeep jumping, anyone?) so BF2 might not be quite the classic.

    I’ve had pretty good luck with Oblivion. Yes, I have seen it crash a couple times, but I’ve put in many hours, and it doesn’t strike me as unstable at all. A system-hog, sure, but if you’ve got it…

    Civ has been beaten to death, but I thought 4 was worthwhile.

    I have VS2005 installed, and the Bioshock demo ran fine. I can’t say I’m feeling the urge to go out and support it though.

    If you’re a fan of 4X, Galactic Civilizations 2 is pretty good. And as a bonus, it has no DRM at all

  53. Pester says:

    Dude, forget about EB games if you’re looking for PC games. The same goes for Gamestop. I can still find plenty of games that both interest me and have decent system requirements at Circuit City, Best Buy, or even Target.

  54. Dean says:

    “I reach the end of the rack and wander out of the store, my $100 still in my pocket.” Spot on!

    I enjoy playing the open-ended RPG / FPS games, (Morrowind, Dues Ex and its sequel, Oblivion etc,(don’t bother with Shivering Isles expansion but Knights of the Nine was good)) For what it is worth, if you like those kind of games, try STALKER. Yes, it is buggy and you will have to turn it way down but I have played through it twice and loved it. Far Cry is very good too but linear (but in a stalk through huge jungle sense rather than wander through dark hallways sense).

    Also try the Gothic series. Gothic 3 is GREAT. Better, than Morrowind or Oblivion for that open ended feeling. (but a bit demanding PC wise). Gothic 2 is almost as good and VERY forgiving of your PC as it has very old graphics now.

    Just some ideas, if you haven’t already tried them.

  55. Mike R. says:

    If you’re looking for a post 2002-game, might I recommend Sid Meir’s Pirates? It’s a remake, but unlike the Civ games, there is a _huge_ lead between Pirates Gold, and Pirates! It’s lots of fun.

  56. Carra says:

    Finished replaying Starcraft.
    Replaying Warcraft 3 now.

    Aah, now those are games. And don’t need to upgrade my pc!

  57. Johan says:

    I think you need to find a new store. My local store’s electronics aisle is half PC and half allencompassingother (which includes everything from Gameboys to PS3s to that crazy dancing game).

    Also, I too disagree with your assessment of Civilization IV, it’s kind of like saying “but I have an old Model T, what would I need a new car for???” I’ve played all the Civilization games and I can say that it has added more than any other in the series has. Yes, you can make a case that it’s still the same experience (as the case can be made for Model T vs new car), but the older ones are now clunky, and of less depth.

  58. Paul says:

    You are definitely missing out by going to EB Games.

    As has been said above and better, strategy games is where PCs will always have an advantage over consoles.

    Civilization IV and Galactic Civilizations II get most of my time. Europa Universalis III has its good and bad points, too.

    And then there are the Total War games…

  59. Mik says:

    I will also throw my mental hat behind Psychonauts – I can’t remember the last time I found myself literally (and actually) laughing out loud thanks to a game. It was challenging, sometimes frustrating… I’m shaking my fist at you, interminable last level, but it was fun. Fun! I smiled, I chuckled, I hammered away at deft feats of keycrobatics, and as an older dude (older than you, Shamus), I still got to the end level without a cheat.

    Mind you, I was glad to be able to quickly scan gamefaqs when I got stuck, because I have a poor memory for inventory.

    (for those who’ve played)
    “For Freedom!”
    “Freedom!”
    “Freee-duhhhm!”

  60. Tuck says:

    Tried Far Cry? Clever AI, very good level design.

    On top of that, there’s Matto4, a fan-made MOD which is a complete and very very good game in itself.

  61. guy says:

    I suggest the total war games. I’ve grown disapointed in local store’s game setup, so i order them.

  62. Zaghadka says:

    Here’s the lowdown regarding senior management of all the top-level developers and their publishers.

    They have a choice:

    They can make a respectable amount of money from PC game releases, catering to a market that (for the most part) knows and demands quality, won’t accept stoploss measures like oppressive DRM without at least grumbling, and plays on an almost infinitely variable set of platforms that gets harder and harder to code for as the hardware calls fork, and DirectX fails at providing a truly unified API.

    …OR they can make much much more money selling console releases to an audience that (for the most part) purchases games like hamsters hit the pellet bar on their feeder apparatus, largely doesn’t understand the meaning of DRM, down to literally not knowing what those letters stand for, and plays on a nice uniform platform.

    This is not to say all console gamers are dumb, as I’m a console gamer, but that there is a large portion of the market that is somewhat less than intelligent enough to install a PC game in the first place. I’ve seen it: folks who can power up a PS2 but couldn’t do a default install on a PC.

    Which would you choose, as a senior manager? To make lots of money from chumps and force the more discriminating to buy because its the only game in town, or just market to the more discriminating, and alienate a legion of chumps that they could otherwise fleece?

    They’ve already made their choice, and the results are on that tiny shelf.

    The other thing you are seeing is the fact that PC gamers get their games in the mail, or over services like STEAM, because it is CHEAPER, and the brick-and-mortar model is collapsing for the PC games market.

    The PC games market because is doomed because it is both smaller and more discriminating, and therefore, LESS PROFITABLE.

    RANT OVER.

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