So as someone that isn’t that keen on modern games, Steam is a platform that I have to pick and choose good games for. It’s sad that Steam doesn’t really have nearly as many classic games as I wish it did; GOG.com has quite a few more, but there is no way to purchase anything from GOG without a credit card, which I don’t use; meanwhile I can buy cards with cash at retail stores for Steam with no issues. Advantage: Steam.
But Steam does have some very good old games on its store, and here’s a list of what I recommend (in no particular order). I realize that I have talked about many of these games in the past on this site, but hey, it’s time to talk about them again.
- X-Com: UFO Defense
The precursor to the modern X-Com games that, to me, don’t quite have the complexity and gameplay of this one. There is even a modern engine port called OpenXCom that addresses some of the small issues of the original game engine and is highly recommended.
- Wolfenstein 3D
One of the original first person shooters, Wolfenstein 3D might not have the near-flawless execution of its successor Doom, but it’s a hell of a ride and a fun time. There are modern sourceports of this game as well, and I highly recommend you take advantage of them.
- Sonic CD
A sadly underappreciated classic Sonic game, this one has Sonic running through time itself to once again stop Eggman from doing whatever evilness he does. While this is a modern engine adaptation of the original game, it is extremely faithful to the original game minus a few odd movement glitches here and there, but definitly worth picking up. Also, the USA soundtrack is better. Don’t argue, you know it’s true. /s
What can you say about one of the greatest shooters of all time? Well, besides the fact that id derailed the brilliant first game by making it into a boring techno-shooter with the second game. At least it had one final great gasp with Arena before 4 ruined it again and id decided to mess with Arena’s perfection.
- Heretic / HeXen
Yeah, more first person shooters, but these are special. Take the minimal yet effective Doom engine and put it in a magical world full of crazy magical weapons and insane enemies mixed with superb level design, and you have two games that nearly rival Doom. Nearly.
- Archon Classic
It’s chess but with a combat motif — but if you’re thinking Battle Chess where you just get pre-determined animations for capturing, you’re way off. You get to control your piece as it actually goes into combat against the other piece, with the victor gaining the square instead of just the captor as in chess. It’s a brilliant game I originally played on the Commodore 64, and this version is a very good adaptation.
- Wizardry 6: Bane of the Cosmic Forge
If there is one thing Steam needs more of, it’s classic RPGs. Modern computer RPGs seem to take their cue from Japanese RPGs as they are more story-heavy and linear instead of letting a character or group of characters loose wherever they want to go in a world ready to kill him or them at every turn. Wizardry 7 and 8 are also on Steam, but honestly, I feel that 6 was the pinnacle of the series, and if you play only one, make this one it.
- Sid Meier’s Pirates! Gold Plus (Classic)
Honestly, anything from the Classic series of Sid Meier’s game is worth getting (check out Colonization and Covert Action), but come on — Pirates is absolutely iconic and has very addicting gameplay that will keep you playing longer than you might have wanted.
- Sid Meier’s Civilization III Complete
And speaking of Sid Meier, it wouldn’t be proper to list at least one of his Civilization games on its own. Honestly, any of the Civilization games (including Beyond Earth) are worth getting and playing, but my personal favorite of the ones available on Steam is the third game, which seems to be more straightforward and satisfying than the others, though if Civilization II were an option on Steam, I would have opted for that one…
- Master of Orion II
Speaking of games that will have you losing sleep (and mealtimes, and work/school, and your social life…), Master of Orion is one of those “just a little more” games that will suddenly make you wonder how you have been playing for ten hours. While the first game is great as well, MOO2 perfected the gameplay and is my recommended choice.
- Commander Keen
The PC platformer game of choice, Commander Keen from the same company that would go on to unleash Doom on the world is an immensely satisfying and fun experience.
- Atari Vault
Seriously, how can you not own this huge collection of Atari 2600 and Atari arcade games? It will make you respect the Atari 2600 era a bit more, at least.
- Bionic Commando: Rearmed
As a near-perfect modern treatment of the NES classic Bionic Commando, there’s no reason to miss this one. You may think that the limiting movement and controls in this game is a negative, but playing it long enough will hopefully convince you that it is for the best.
- Unreal Gold
As the last gasp of the old style of FPS that aren’t painfully story-based and has several exploration-focused levels, Unreal is absolutely brilliant. You can probably ignore the included Return to Na Pali, though. And please, for goodness sake, don’t even try Unreal 2. Just pretend it didn’t exist.
- And finally: Crysis…
Bet you saw that coming a mile away. The entire classic Doom collection is an essential part of everyone’s Steam collection, and the new “Doom” and Doom 3 just doesn’t measure up to the near-perfection — oh, who am I kidding, the absolute perfection — of the original games. Grab a sourceport like zdoom and kill some demons today.
And just so I get this in there: do not purchase Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary World Tour. While I would love to recommend that you get and play Duke Nukem 3d, this terrible cashgrab version by Duke’s new owners pales in comparison to the original version that was on Steam that included several extra episodes, a better overall experience, and was less expensive than this obvious attempt at grabbing as much money for a bare amount of poor extra content over the core game. Demand that the Megaton Edition be brought back to Steam and purchase that. (Fortunately, I purchased Megaton Edition when it was available, and still have access to that version because of that, but there is no way to get that version any more, which is terrible and a serious blow to anyone wanting the game that didn’t already own it.)