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10 awesome PC Games you can play on your shitty laptop

Ok, so you went mobile and got yourself (or got yourself stuck with) a laptop/netbook/ultrabook or sleazybook. Your reasons are your own. Probably, as time passed, you actually needed to get a job or do some real work and working people tend to have these devices called laptops. While you may be one of the few lucky gamers who just bought a gaming-laptop - this if you still believe such a device even exists :) - this article is for people who got their laptop for other motives but now, while they're stuck with 'em, a little good ole PC gaming wouldn't hurt a bit. Or byte.

The specifications your cheap laptop should meet at the bare minimum are :

  • AMD dual core CPU @ 1.3 Ghz (E-300 APU) / any dual core CPU above 1 Ghz will do but occasionally you can get by even with something worse.
  • Any Intel X series will do but you would be on the safer side with ATI or Nvidia
  • 2 Gb RAM will work

Pretty standard stuff for work -  not the fastest CPU, some 2 Gb of memory and a decent integrated video card (that meaning anything but not Intel 9xx or earlier). Obviously, games like Skyrim or Diablo or the lastest Call of Dooty will have a hard time running even on low details on such a laptop, especially because of the puny CPU compared to the quad cores that even casual gamers now have in their living room computer.

But there's still hope !

Fear not slackers with laptops, especially those of you who got a laptop manufactured in the last 2 years, for your opportunities for time wasting are many. And while the latest graphics are not going to be our strong attacking point, what's going to end up on our list are games that probably look a little dated by your big SLI gaming rig standards, but are definitely games that shine on gameplay, addictivenes and fun and well... basically every other aspect besides the latest shaders. Not to say that some of them are not impressive in that respect too, but as any self respecting gamer knows, graphics is only secondary to the overall experience.

So here we go:

Civilization IV

  • About: Civ 4 must be the king of laptop games without a doubt. It's still the most well done Civilization game to date, with beautiful visuals and a streamlined user interaction and of course the addictive gameplay that made the series the turn based strategy best games. Think of it like the Starcraft of turn base strategy games if you wish. With games taking over 6 hours from start to finish, Civilization 4 is without a doubt the best time-waster there is on a laptop. Boring day at the office? Not a  problem anymore :).
  • Support: Just make sure you have a screen width of at least 768 or the game will be unplayable. If that is something you have (and you should), the game runs without a glitch with the latest patch, even with the graphics on maximum detail.
  • Tips: The game has a built in alarm for waking you to reality after x too many straight game hours. Use it if you play at the office, don't make the mistake to underestimate this game ;)

The Elder Scrolls Morrowind

  • About: Doesn't really matter if you played it or not - although I admit your amazement will be bigger if you haven't - The Elder Scrolls III Morrowind will impress you again and again. With its big scope and huge gameworld, 2 full official addons - Tribunal and Bloodmoon - and countless mods, Morrowind shall keep you interested for extended periods of time, while you discover wonderous new places and gear and and while you are driving your time-waste-o-meter to the max  (re)exploring probably the biggest gameworld in a modern game. The slow pace of the game adapts very well for playing on the laptop, even using the touchpad for what is basically a first person game.
  • Support: The game will run well on any laptop basically, especially if you have one of those with a Nvidia, ATI or some new Intel video card. The inspired and fresh artstyle and general atmosphere of the game make this game good looking while not being at all Skyrim. One piece of software you will absolutely want to use is the Morrowind FPS Optimizer which is a nifty little tool that has been in use ever since either for tweaking the visuals of the game (like setting a 16:9 aspect ration for your laptop) or for improving the performance by automatically adjusting in-game draw distance to maintain a steady FPS ratio. A fast processor will always help, as is the case with Bethesdas' all big CRPGS so if you bought your laptop recently, will almost surely have something like 1.5 Gz probably a dual core CPU which should be more than enough to enjoy the game.
  • Tips: There's so many mods for this game it's almost ridiculous. There's got to be something for you. Ranging from visual tweaks that bring the game up to date with Skyrim standards, to fully voice acted quests and all sorts of new content, mods keep this game alive after such a long time.

Knights Of The Old Republic

  • About: A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away... Bioware was making fun games :evilgrin: Seriously, A Star Wars fan or not, KOTOR is a game that will suck you in and give you the Star Wars brainwash like in the good old days. The space faring light saber wielding RPG compares not to the Elder Scrolls in freedom of movement and play styles and such, but holds its own through splendid voice acting, evoking atmosphere and inspired game design from then a Bioware that was adressing hardcore gamers, not a crowd of soap opera viewers. Be a Jedi or join the dark side in this Lucasarts-Bioware game and enjoy the nerd cake.
  • Support: Be sure to install the latest patch. The game used to be pretty buggy when it was released, but with the 1.03 patch I had no major issues except mabe that it doesn't do widescreen but at least stays in 4:3 1027x768. Well, if you are the persistent one, there is actually a way to hack the game exe to get whatever resolution you like HERE. Download also mirrored below.
  • Tips: I conjecture that the chances to have a better time with KOTOR that with Dragon Age 2 or Mass Effect 3 are quite high... 

The Dig

  • About: Some of you may have played this game but I know a lot of people have not. I used to read a lot of science fiction and Orson Scott Card was one of my favorite authors (with his Ender's Game series). So a scifi adventure game by LucasArts, fully voice acted with cinematics and with a screenplay by Orson Scott Card sounds pretty interesting don't you agree? And interesting is the defining word for this game as it is one of the better science fiction epic stories told in a computer game at least.
  • Support: This game was pulled some years ago from the abandonware basement by LucasArts and now it is being sold repackaged for current Windows operating systems by the likes of Steam. So expect it to work flawlessly.
  • Tips: I swear the scene when the guy cuts his hand off freaked me out like nothing else. I was just a boy! :)

Ultima 9 Ascension

  • About: Ultima 9 Ascension was the last game in the Ultima series and had a very rough birth. Origin - Garriots' company was brought by Electronic Arts prior to the release of Ultima 9 and so the scope was to make the last chapter of the saga the biggest, the preetiest and the most immersive Ultima video game ever - with the large budget that the aquisition provided. Unfortunately things did not turn out as planned and the game was rushed to market containing a simplified plot and loooots of bugs. But still, even after it was butchered at birth Ascension turned out to be a wonderful game. This is a game that was very ahead of its time, with a seamlessly blending big 3D world, had basic physics at a time when physics in games was only a rumour, was fully voice acted and featured a musical score that can haunt you for years. They don't make'em like that these days anymore. Maybe just one or two.
  • Support: At release time this game was a nightmare of bugs and no one had a computer that could run it at maximum detail. Luckily it was patched good after a couple of years and then some more by the Ultima community and so you can play it safe now. Just apply the latest two patches

Mortal Kombat Arcade Kollection

  • About: Oh yes. Mortal Kombat is the one fighting game to rule them all. People who disagree with me now, should just take a look at what's happening with MK9 - as it's THE most popular fighting game of the day. And what makes it so ? - the return to the game mechanics that made us sleepless when we were kids in MK1, MK2 and MK3. So here they are! Re-released for modern Windows operating systems in all their arkade gory glory.
  • Support: They run without a hitch
  • Downloads: Just buy the game
  • Tips: Take it easy dude, it's just a game :)

Gothic 2 Gold

  • About: No game comes as close in creating the suspension of disbelief and the feeling that you are interacting with a living world like the Gothic games. Period. The 3 game saga  was started in 1997 by a then unknown german studio called Piranha Bytes. Gothic 2 Gold is the second game in the series and includes the Night of the Raven addon and is the most representative of the 3 games for the atmosphere and game-pace that they introduced. It's a long game, an adventure RPG where you'll constantly feel that you're improving as you get acess to new areas and kill vicious monsters at later times when at first you would run even from a lizard. The engaging combat system, game progression and epic finale will make you feel like you achieved something big-time, a feeling that no other game gave to you before.
  • Support: Just apply the 2.7 patch for the Gold edition of the game and you'll be bug free. The game runs very well on a laptop.
  • Tips: Don't resist learning the awkward seeming fighting system. It will grow on you as you learn the timing and the necessary combos, making it the most lovable in the end.

Arx Fatalis

  • About: Arx Fatalis was supposed to be Ultima Underword but legal issues prevented Arkane Studio from using the name so it got this one. But anyone familiar with the 1st person dungeon crawling adventure genre introduced by yet another of the Ultima games should know what to expect. And more. Arx Fatalis ended up being a game with its own personality and a unique style. Very interactive, puzzle-ish and with a mouse gesture based magic system Arx Fatalis is a very unique experience that will make you even more curious what Dishonored, the next game from Arkane will be like (Arx Fatalis is even given for free if you preorder Dishonored).
  • Support: Just install the latest patch below
  • Tips: Mouse gestures! This has been a gimmick for many years in computer games and interfaces in general. It mostly just doesn't work. Here it works :)

Quake Live / Counterstrike 1.6

  • About: I've included both these games because they scratch the same itch in two different ways. Quake Live is Quake 3 Arena in a browser, with ladder and matchmaking, achievements and stuff. There just isn't anything like Quake 3's fragging with your friends, 60 frames per second shooting everything that moves in the competitive multiplayer shooter that started it all (like 3D shooting in general, competitive multiplayer in particular) and is still going incrediblly strong. Counterstrike 1.6 is the original Half Life mod that is so popular that even today is perhaps the most played multiplayer game on the web. Tacticised team based first person shooter, Counterstrike introduced a game style, a special case of Quake if you like, that has been copied by practically every other shooter since in their compulsory multiplayer component, but no one quite matched its qualities.
  • Support: None. Quake Live probably runs at 120 FPS on anything that has a processor by now, and Counterstrike 1.6 is no different. Both are patched by their developers and communities to the point where you are more than safe.
  • Tips: Get a real mouse. Your toutchpad won't cut it for this sort of games. Drink a coffee.


  • About: Trine came when no one expected a platformer game anymore. And it was done so masterfully, then I sometimes wonder why I don't hear more people talking about it. If you ever played The Lost Vikings, you are aquainted to the concept of three heroes, each with his own special ability, while you must piece together the solution of going through the level using each hero at the right time and place. The game is beautiful and the formula works like a charm. You'll be transposed in this fairy tale continously narrated by a grandfather voice while you control a mage, a fighter and of course a thief. Very funny game recommended by Vladimir Putin :)
  • Support: Patch it or not, it runs like bread and butter.
  • Tips: If you also own a console you can consider buying Trine 2 which has couch coop. And good coop games a sooo hard to find for consoles. Trine 2 is one of them.

The looong list of point and click adventure remakes

  • About: A few years back people were saying adventure games are dead. And until someone cared to make adventure games again, lots and lots of old classics were remade with updated visuals and voice acting and made to run on current computers. If you didn't get the chance to play them or you are still a teenager and didn't know about them, now it's your chance to see the classics in stunning HD :).

Maniac Mansion Deluxe, Monkey Island 1 SE, Monkey Island 2 SE, Quest for Glory 2 Remake, Kings' Quest 3 Redux, Kings' Quest 2 Remake, Kings' Quest 1 Remake, Broken Sword Shadow Of The Templars Remastered, Broken Sword 2 The Smoking Mirror Remastered, Space Quest 2, King's Quest 3 yet again, and the list could go on and on.

These are all games that are so good, people are redoing them never being able to do something even comparable...

  • Support: They are re-re-mastered. They should just run.
  • Downloads: You can download some of them full games below as well as the DosBox and ScummVm emulators.

Maniac Mansion Deluxe full game downloadSpace Quest 2 RemakeQuest for Glory 2 RemakeKings' Quest 3 ReduxKings' Quest 3 v 2.0Kings' Quest 2 RemakeKings' Quest 1 Remake will work on Windows with no hassle.

For more trips to the past feel free to install ScummVM and DOSBox and fire away many other classics.

  • Tips: You can get even more deep into old adventure games like the ones from Sierra - the Larry and Space Quest series (not that they aren't being re-made as we speak) by installing DosBox and ScummVM and thus making these old games run like a charm on a laptop.

Got something to add to the list? Add it in the comments !

Posted by newman [Monday, 13 August 2012 - 12:45]

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