You might want desperately to play the new release in the Witcher franchise (which is receiving rave reviews and is slated to win all sorts of awards for graphics and storyline) but your old laptop just doesn’t have the specs. Too often, the best games are too demanding of resources to run properly on anything but the newest, fastest computers. Fortunately, owning an inexpensive or aged computer doesn’t mean you have to miss out on all the fun. Here are thoroughly enjoyable games that most PCs can comfortably handle.
Shooting, stealth, and roleplaying — Deus Ex combines the three most sought-after gaming elements into one, and it does so flawlessly. The plot of the game is filled with intrigue, and the seemingly endless narrative paths make the replay value of Deus Ex superb.
Like many games on this list, Deus Ex has a more recent sequel — Deus Ex: Human Revolution — but the superior graphics of the newer version makes play on older machines impossible. Fortunately, the original game has aged well and remains a blast to play.
A combination first-person shooter and elaborate puzzle game in one — with a heaping dose of intricate plot and clever humor for good measure — Portal requires players to work their way through a maze of testing rooms using only a “handheld portal device.” Portal remains one of the most highly lauded video games in history, not least because Portal’s creator, Valve, developed the game to run well even on especially older machines.
Far outside the realm of typical video games, Syberia is a puzzle-based adventure based nearly entirely in real life. Instead of shooting undead or stealing government secrets, players follow protagonist Kate Walker around what should be a regular day in her life — until it isn’t so regular any more. Going on 13 years old, Syberia’s graphics hold up well even on small, weak machines like netbooks.
Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
The Elder Scrolls Saga takes place in an enormous, complex world, and in the third volume of the tales, players journey through Morrowind, the land of the dark elves. The massive open world allows endless possibilities to explore. Unlike other volumes of this series, Morrowind is notably slow, but players who persevere will advance into intense storylines that reveal much more of Tamriel than any of the other Elder Scrolls games.
Minecraft isn’t a game — it is a new world brimming with opportunity. In Minecraft, players create their own goals: killing zombies, building wonders, crafting new items, and more. On the one hand, Minecraft’s simplistic graphics make it possible to play on older, feebler machines — as long as players stick to single player or use Minecraft servers with limited mods and territory (the graphics can be boosted a lot and not all computers may handle that well). Though even the most limited versions of Minecraft can offer hours of fun, it is worthwhile to see the extent of the Minecraft universe with an upgraded machine.
Another hugely influential video game from Valve, Half-Life remains one of the most rewarding first-person shooters of all time. With a deeply troubling plot and innovative story-telling sequences, Half-Life has layers unlike most shooting games before or since. Fortunately, the somewhat basic graphics make the game fast and seamless even on old devices.
Roleplaying as a fantasy hero (or heroine), players of Torchlight explore the caverns and dungeons around the game’s eponymous town, killing monsters and collecting loot. Reminiscent of the much-beloved Diablo series, Torchlight is simple and fun, and easy to play over and over. Small screens and slow machines can usually handle Torchlight’s simple gameplay, but players should try to avoid allowing too many enemies to battle at once — if not for the fate of their characters than for the quality of the graphics and your frame rate.
Plants vs. Zombies
The name of this game sounds ridiculous — but the game itself is absurdly fun. Playing as a crafty gardener in a post-zombie world, players must keep the hoards at bay using an arsenal of deadly plants. Like most tower defense games, the graphics in the original Plants vs. Zombies are uncomplicated; as long as a computer has color, players can load up this game.
Fallout and Fallout 2
While fans eagerly await the release of Fallout 4, most have never encountered the first two volumes of the post-apocalyptic world. In truth, the first two Fallout games are just as humorous and exciting as those more recent, and their 2D graphics — perhaps clunky by today’s standards — make the games among top picks for games on outdated machines.
Minecraft Screenshots image by kenming_wang from flickr.com