As we make our way ever closer to 2020, it’s a little mind-boggling to think that some of our most beloved video games are at least two decades old. These were the games that sparked a passion for games in many of us. We sunk hours into them, getting lost in worlds that felt so fully-realized that it seemed they might honestly go on forever. However, time has a habit of slipping rose-tinted glasses onto us when we’re not looking – and it’s easy to imagine that some of our favorite old PC games sparkle a lot less upon re-examination. However, there are some games for which this is far from the case. Unweathered by the ravages of time, these PC games are still as incredible as ever, even with a few decades between their release and the current day.
The original ‘Fallout’, released in 1997, was one of the defining titles of PC gaming. A founding text of PC role playing games, it introduced players to a world of rich narrative, meaningful choices, and varied playing styles. The sequel, ‘Fallout 2’, did all that but bigger and better. In a world ravaged by nuclear destruction, you play as an inhabitant of the wasteland, confronted with the need to save your small town from a devastating drought. Sent off into the wastes with little more than a jumpsuit and some water, it’s up to you to navigate the world of ‘Fallout 2’ in whatever way you see fit. The player is capable of a wide range of actions as they make their way through the world – affecting the story and the lives of those around them in any number of ways. ‘Fallout 2’ mastered this kind of game – offering an even bigger world and wider range of characters to interact with than its predecessor. As such, it stands as a titan among PC RPGs – a fully-realized, complex tale of choice and survival in a ruined world.
1998 game ‘Thief’ is responsible for almost single-handedly building a genre. The first-person stealth game was the first of its kind in 3D, and has continued to influence stealth games ever since its release. ‘Thief’ takes place in a location known simply as ‘The City’ a medieval steampunk metropolis in which order and chaos are in constant conflict. The player takes the role of Garrett, a master thief who finds himself hired by a mysterious benefactor to steal several objects of great importance to The City. As Garrett progresses through his journey he finds himself drawn into more and more mysterious circumstances, eventually realizing that the web of intrigue he has found himself on stretches farther than he could have ever imagined. ‘Thief’s legacy is vast – having pioneered several game features such as non-player characters that react to unscripted phenomena, use of the environment for stealth, and complex use of sound to direct gameplay. To do all this while having a deeply engaging story makes ‘Thief’ a shining gem of PC gaming even 21 years after its release.
Baldur’s Gate 2
‘Baldur’s Gate 2’, a 2000 RPG and follow up to 1998 release ‘Baldur’s Gate’, was driven by the notion of improvement. ‘Baldur’s Gate’ had been a well-received PC RPG, recognized as a master of storytelling and varied playability, that set the standard for numerous RPGs to follow. ‘Baldur’s Gate 2’ was an attempt by its developers to go even further in creating a fully-realized experience, and they certainly delivered. Upon release, the game was lauded for its fantastic storyline, impeccable voice work, and huge range of ways that players could create their character and approach the game. The game involves the attempts of the main character, Gorion, to thwart the evil designs of dark mage Irenicus. With a world-class story and a huge degree of replayability, ‘Baldur’s Gate 2’ still stands as one of the greatest RPGs of all time.