EA Dares To Question Holiness Of Old Games

By John Walker on March 25th, 2011 at 1:51 pm.

YES I HATED IT.

CVG have an interesting story from EA’s games chief, Frank Gibeau, discussing their history of games and the potential for reviving old IPs. It’s interesting because it’s Gibeau who points out that some of those classic games we all remember loving, well, he says, they might not actually be that good. Dare you admit the same?

Gosh, the sacrilege. This is all in the context of discussing whether older series might be worth bringing back for fresh versions. While series like Burnout and Need For Speed are still huge sellers for the publisher, what about Road Rash or Dungeon Keeper? Gibeau told them,

“We constantly look at ways to grow the recent category of titles like Burnout, Need for Speed, Road Rash are constantly things we think about. It’s the same thing with the old Bullfrog IPs like Dungeon Keeper, Populous, Powermonger, Magic Carpet, I can go on. So we do look at that stuff and are very cognisant of our past.”

Yay! Old games from our childhood! They were all brilliant, weren’t they? Possibly not says Gibeau.

“The key thing for us is, if we do bring [any of those] back, the game has got to be good. I don’t know about you but when I look back at GoldenEye, I think of it as this amazing game and the you go and play it and are like, ‘Oh. Really?’. From our perspective we have to manage that element which makes things look nicer in the rear view mirror compared to what you have to do now in the modern day.”

Heavens, he questioned GoldenEye. Which was perhaps a little cheeky, being a Rare/Nintendo game, and thus nothing to do with EA. Clearly he meant to say “Magic Carpet”, which was always rubbish, no matter what Billy off of Neighbours may have thought.

Another interesting aspect of this is the list of Bullfrog games he names. Not mentioned in there is Syndicate – a game that’s often been rumoured, though never confirmed, to be receiving a modern-day update. That may mean nothing at all, but it looks a little conspicuous in its absence.

So, what classic games do you love that you’re too terrified to return to in case they’re horrible? Or have you recently gone back and discovered that when you were young it turns out you also had no discerning skills or taste? Go on, confess. Say those names.

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280 Comments »

  1. MrThingy says:

    I remember (back in t’day) one of the main UK magazines (PC Zone, possibly?) gave Magic Carpet (or Magic Carpet II) a really bad review – all the others had been 90%+) and there was a huge furor from EA and Bullfrog, to the point of some rep at Bullfrog wanting a user vote vs the magazine.

    In retrospect, a lot of Bullfrog’s games were graphics engines with the ‘game’ later plopped in. In a lot of cases… it worked. =)

    I always wanted a blend of Powermonger and Black and White 2.

    No whiney micromanagement. Conquer and build cannons. And look after sheep. And eat them.

    • Mad Hamish says:

      Yeah I remember that. PC Zone gave Magic Carpet 2 a score in the 40s I think. I was a big Magic Carpet fan and I think that review stopped me from buying it. Still haven’t played it to this day. It looked pretty much like the first one. I was pretty stupid back then.

      Road Rash has deserved a new game for the past ten years. There was some development footage of a new one a few years ago, looked pretty cool. I would definitely go for another Magic Carpet game though.

    • Urthman says:

      Any studio that can’t take the basic gameplay ideas from Magic Carpet and modern graphics and physics technology and turn them into an amazing and fun game should just close their doors and give up. (And in ten years when computers can do Magic Carpet V with high-res voxels, it’ll be the greatest game ever.)

      What? It also has to be playable with a console controller? Oh. Never mind… :P

    • deejayem says:

      The Magic Carpet 2 review was by none other than the legendary Rev Stuart Campbell in PCG. He’s like some sort of god of the perpetually narked.

    • Dominic White says:

      “What? It also has to be playable with a console controller? Oh. Never mind… :P”

      Magic Carpet got a Playstation port. It worked pretty well, all things considered. So did Diablo. A lot of early PC-to-console ports worked out far better than most PC gamers would ever like to admit.

    • Baboonanza says:

      True story: When I played Magic Carpet many years ago I got so enraged that I calmly unplugged the mouse, took it down to the garden and beat it to pieces with a hammer.

    • Dominic White says:

      So.. err.. why/how can anyone hate the Magic Carpet series, anyway? They were really fun games. Making huge forts bristling with guardsmen, or fighting absurdly huge flocks of enemies with massively explosive spells was huge fun.

    • Urael says:

      I actually can’t believe what I’m reading! Where’s the defence of one of the greatest games ever invented??

      Magic Carpet was AWESOME. It played like nothing else out there at the time and still, through the magic of Dosbox, can have me playing for hours. It’s not nostalgia, it’s still a bloody brilliant piece of gaming history that is being criminally left to rot. A modern update of it could be glorious.

    • Dominic White says:

      Yeah, Magic Carpet (and MC2, which while being a bit more uneven was even more ambitious) was an absolute gem and years ahead of its time. It still looks quite pleasant to this day, too-close fog layer aside.

    • Red_Avatar says:

      Actually yes, it was PC Gamer UK and Stu “I hate PCs” Campbell reviewed it and actually criticized the game for things he said it lacked that it didn’t. Basically, he got a pre-release version without a manual and it seems Stu is not that good at finding his way WITHOUT a manual so he slammed the game for missing certain stuff like (off the top of my head so may be inaccurate) a key to come to full stop when the game had just that. So a Bullfrog rep wrote a letter explaining how the review was misleading and inaccurate, and how it was selling loads and received great feedback. (note: it wasn’t the only reason for his low score, he just didn’t like the game, but the review was still misleading in parts)

      Reminds me of the whole Worms thing, where Stu slammed it as well while everyone else in the PCG office loved it (he even admitted as much). Makes you wonder why on earth he was ever allowed to review it if he was such a minority (maybe because he had been complaining that he never got to review A titles -which mentioned in one of his reviews- no wonder if you trash them like that). I loved the hell out of Worms and the editors meant custom maps leading to some of the best gaming times with my friends ever.

      About Magic Carpet: I never played it until several years after its release in 2000. By then, the hype had calmed down and I could appreciate it and I DID enjoy it a great deal. I think it’s one of those games you either love or just feel neutral about – and the game was especially made for good mutliplayer.

    • Mman says:

      Does DOSBox (or some sort of fan patch?) allow you to play Magic Carpet in “pentium mode” (or whatever it is)? I remember I bought MC ages ago but stopped a little in because I had a computer way stronger than a pentium, yet I couldn’t choose that mode so it looked and ran much worse than it’s supposed to, so I stopped and decided to wait for some sort of fan patch or similar for it and kind of forgot about it. If I can play it at the better settings now I might dig it out again when I get the chance.

  2. Inigo says:

    It’s the same thing with the old Bullfrog IPs like Dungeon Keeper, Populous, Powermonger, Magic Carpet, I can go on. So we do look at that stuff and are very cognisant of our past.”

    “And then we sell them to the Chinese.”

    • LionsPhil says:

      Yeah. Given:

      This is all in the context of discussing whether older series might be worth bringing back for fresh versions.

      I am very welcome for EA execs to continue to be under the misapprehension that they’re all rubbish.

      Go play C&C1. Runs nicely under DOSBox, freely available, and is still on the right side of the UI threshold to be managable. Observe how slow harvesting rate actually makes tank rush a pretty lousy tactic compared to mixing up forces a bit and giving those tanks some infantry support. Compare with later, frenetic C&C games. Weep.

    • jeremypeel says:

      If I was in the business of picking an example of a franchise EA has upturned, I don’t think I’d choose C&C!

      Easier to say before the C&C 4, granted, but EA have done some lovely and varied things for that old timer since Red Alert 2.

    • Lord Byte says:

      While I loved the First C&C to bits, the best thing they ever did was still C&C Generals (NOT Zero Hour). With the last patch it was perfectly balanced, and incredibly fun to play! Zero Hour went back to RA’s over-the-top-ness and left every idea of balance far behind itself… 3 was okay but it never really re-lit the spark, the main reason being bad balance and the ridiculous alien race… 4 was the first C&C I didn’t buy…

    • Barnaby says:

      I couldn’t disagree with you more. C&C Generals is exactly when the franchise turned to shit in my opinion. This being a game I played every installment of with Generals being the last one I purchased until RA3. Isn’t this the concensus, that when Westwood stopped being involved it just wasn’t the same?

      I played Road Rash on an emulator not long ago and that game is STILL incredible. I would eat like 800 babies to have a $10-20 remake of Road Rash with multiplayer. I played some other PC knock off a while ago but it wasn’t the same.

    • wererogue says:

      Yeah – having replayed the original Dungeon Keeper within the last six months, I’m confident in saying that the only thing that suffers badly now is the graphics. Some of the controls could be a little smoother – but not a lot.

  3. dryg says:

    While old games can be good, usually when I play old games that I loved I really hate them

    • enobayram says:

      I can name 2 games which brilliantly stand the test of time:
      1.XCom Apocalypse
      2.Masters of Magic
      I still go back and play those games from time to time for their own sake, not out of nostalgia! There are claimed spiritual successors to both, but neither has captured the essence.

  4. shoptroll says:

    Here’s a thought for EA: how about you put your older games up on Good Old Games and let everyone decide which ones have withstood the test of time?

    It’s a crying shame the back catalogs of Maxis, Bullfrog, Origin and EA itself are locked away in some underground bunker vault thingy.

  5. Jim Rossignol says:

    The original System Shock is unpossibly awkward without the mouselook mod. But actually SO good.

    • Subject 706 says:

      If any game is worthy of a HD-remake (and UI remake), this is it.

    • LionsPhil says:

      It’s entirely possibly awkward, and I love that. It fixes the longstanding FPS issue where MIT physicists have perfect aim without resorting to random-dice fuzz-cursors.

      Every time you move or reload you foul your aim. As a pathetic creature of flesh and bone (hacker, not ninja), you scramble about awkwardly and terrified. As it should be.

      (The mouselook mod is still an impressive achievement, mind.)

    • Big Murray says:

      This reminds me … is there a mouse-look mod for the Ultima Underworld games?

    • Muzman says:

      And putting a new interface on it is as simple as copying the one from System Shock 2, which is basically the best of that sort of thing there is (or near to it)

    • faelnor says:

      I love the clunky and encumbered interface of System Shock. Over at TTLG I have been thinking about writing a long post explaining why the experience would have been quite different and inferior for me with a different control scheme, but have yet to find the courage to gather my thoughts.

      And no, those are not “rose-tinted glasses” (I hate how people get so dismissive with that stupid argument). I played System Shock for the first time only three or four years ago. It is my favourite game of all time.

    • Nick says:

      Totally agree, the control system takes a lot of getting used to (but it did allow you to do unheard of things back then like lean and crouch and crawl etc) but the game is still standout brilliant.

    • Jebediah Adder says:

      One of my fondest gaming memories is co-opping through System Shock with a friend of mine; me in charge of looking and him providing the moves. Had to skip school to get the sucker finished.

    • Nick says:

      Thats System Shock 2, just so you know =)

    • jeremypeel says:

      I still haven’t made it all the way through System Shock sans mouse look mod, but since discovering that I’m biting at the bit to start again.

      Need this damn dissertation finished – I’m biting at so many gaming bits right now my teeth have been worn down to smooth pegs! Handy for carrying the lady’s coat, mind.

  6. AndrewC says:

    All Of Them.

    But a lot contain mechanics or, more accurately, bizarre combinations of mechanics, that we don’t get these days due to the increased expense and, for better or worse, sensibleness of the modern industry.

    Less sensibleness and more Sensible-ness, amirite! Woo

    I reckon all the good shit we got back then is available through indie wierdness today, anyways.

  7. MrMud says:

    What, what, what!!!
    How dare you say magic carpet was rubbish? O.o

    • Giant, fussy whingebag says:

      Because it’s the truth, Billy off of Neighbours. The truth!

    • somnolentsurfer says:

      I remember actually lusting after Magic Carpet when it came out. I even got my parents to buy me a persian rug so I could sit on it and fantasise about flying round the town singing ‘A Whole New World’. Some short-lived PC gaming magazine I was reading at the time that I now can’t remember the name of opened their review with a double page spread picture of the dragon from the gorgeous intro sequence. I just used to leave it open on that page round the house in the hope that someone would see it and buy me the game.

      I think I eventually played about 10 of the 50 odd levels. My computer could barely run it, and I couldn’t cope with the three dimensional movement. As soon as I started coming up against enemy wizards I just got totally stuck.

    • fearian says:

      Yup, I loved and still love magic carpet. :(

      Mr Walker, sir – Fuck you and good day sir!

      (<3 you)

  8. pkt-zer0 says:

    Hey, Magic Carpet was pretty good (the second one, anyway, haven’t played the first one). GoldenEye is rubbish, though.

    Hmm, can’t really think of old games that are only bad in retrospect, actually. Weird.

  9. boar_amour says:

    I suspect what he means is that it’s difficult to turn some older games into 3rd person shooters with a cover mechanic.

    James “Horny” Horn, elite special forces commando and his crack team of mercenaries Greg “Imp” Jackson, Paul “Salamander” Bradshaw and Jessica “Mistress” Fredericks blah blah blah infiltrate blah secret terrorist dungeons in Afghanistan blah. Dungeon Keeper, coming to Xbox 360, PS3 and PC Fall 2012. Oo-rah!

    • pakoito says:

      No it isn’t. Look at X-Com.

    • Inigo says:

      The good news: There is another Dungeon Keeper title being worked on and it’s not a Third Person Shooter.
      This is the bad news.

    • FriendlyFire says:

      What? NO! This is not the way it should’ve been!

      Where’s my DK3 now… *cries*

    • Grape Flavor says:

      @pakoito
      You know, take the silly “u ruined r franchise!!!” butthurt out of it, and XCOM is actually an original and interesting looking FPS. If it were named anything else it would certainly be getting positive feedback around here.

      You guys sometimes dismiss promising games for the most arbitrary and childish of reasons.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      My only response to that video:

    • Danorz says:

      @grape

      no it isn’t, it’s a bad norman rockwell painting, visually derivative of bioshock and the pre-apocalypse world of fallout, and mechanically a rehash of bioshock 2 even down to the camera. the tar effect monsters looked like country-fried arsehole, the animation looked like mocap of michael j fox and the BIG SCARY OTHER alien laser death bastard ship looked like literally 30 seconds and 2 button presses in 3DSMAX. you got the tar monsters off your AI squadmates by shooting them in the face with a shotgun

      and all that’s before i get into how utterly tone-deaf it is. you say “we wouldn’t be mad if it wasn’t called x-com” as though that somehow dismisses and invalidates that they called that hot mess xcom and we got mad about it. also, if it wasn’t called x-com it wouldn’t look anything more than big-studio-average, which is all big studios have to do to secure a >85% review nowadays.

  10. Heliocentric says:

    Here’s the thing EA. Dungeon keeper is still better than half of the games you release yearly. And syndicate while hamstrung by technical limitations managed to produce crowds only recently beaten by io in the hitman and kane and lynch games. Here’s a factoid. Realistically behaving crowds make almost any combat more exciting.

  11. Vinraith says:

    It all depends on the genre. Old RPG’s and strategy games tend to hold up much better than old action games, FPS’s, or anything whose appeal is significantly dependent on graphics.

    It also helps that when it comes to RPG’s, “they don’t make them like they used to.” For many of the old subgenres there’s no modern equivalent to even compare them to.

    • One Pigeon says:

      Now you say it, come to think of it all the Old games that I have played recently have generally incorporated some form of strategy.
      Jagged Alliance 2
      UFO EU
      Civilization 1/2
      DK 1 & 2

      In fact the only one that sticks out in my mind as not being a strategy would be SWOS.

      If we’re talking consoles now, that’s another matter entirely…

    • Risingson says:

      Strategy games maybe, but RPGs… try now to play any Ultima 1-6 (or even 7-8 now), any Might & Magic (actually 3-5 hold up quite well), the Bard’s Tale trilogy, Wasteland, the Magic Candle trilogy, Dragon Wars, the gold box games… Or better, try the first Baldur’s Gate. Try it.

    • DrGonzo says:

      I agree and disagree at the same time. A lot of the old RPGs have great writing, Planescape is still one of my favourite games.

      However, RPGs and old strategy games have the most dated interfaces and such which often make them unplayable if you didn’t play them the first time round. Whereas Doom and Quake are still great fun.

    • SanguineAngel says:

      For the record I played Baldur’s Gate (1) unmodded last year and it beat the socks off of Any neverwinter title as well as, to my mind, Dragon age. I would say Mass Effect and Witcher pipped it to the post though.

      And by that I mean it was not only a better game but it also controlled better, held up better graphical in retrospect (compared to looking back now at any of the neverwinter games for example), and the UI was largely far more intuitive.

      So there :P

    • Subject 706 says:

      @Risingson
      Actually, the Infinity Engine games have all these nice HD-mods, so they are very playable these days. For the older RPGs you mention though, yeah some aren’t that great to return to.

    • Vinraith says:

      Which raises another point: 2d games usually age better than 3d games. Early 3d tends to look pretty awful to modern eyes, but I, at least, am almost totally unbothered by the vast bulk of 2d art. Some of the early motion capture stuff is the only exception that springs to mind.

    • SanguineAngel says:

      Totally with you there Vinraith.. as you probably gathered already from the above. Interesting to note the number of 2d indie games as well. I mean, certainly it’s techinically easier to produce a 2d game I am sure but it’s also easier to produce genuinely pleasing visuals.

      I am a little saddened that big developers don’t experiment with 2d anymore outside of the handheld market. It can be very pleasing and will probably still hold up well years down the line when other games look relatively ropey.

    • trooperdx3117 says:

      Not sure all old 3d games look horrible, last year I played Thief the dark project for the first time and I thought it held up remarkably well and thoroughly enjoyed myself despite all the guards being made of origami

    • Vinraith says:

      @trooper

      The nature of generalizing is that there are always exceptions. I’d say that, in general, stylized old 3d holds up better than attempts at realism. Sacrifice, for example, looks a lot better than its contemporaries to me these days.

    • Dervish says:

      If you think the appeal of action and FPS games is “significantly dependent on graphics,” that says more about you than it does the games. Nothing wrong with it, but maybe you just don’t like those types of games that much? There’s a reason why people are still playing Quake’s earlier incarnations.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Dervish

      I would argue that any game that relies more on twitch reflex than on slow, careful thought is inevitably going to be more graphics dependent. The reason is simple: you need to be able to quickly understand what you’re looking at and be able to react to it. Things that (to a modern gamer’s eye) look like a blur of pixels are very difficult to react to. Try going back and playing the original Ghost Recon, which was brilliant in my opinion. I can’t distinguish anything from anything, personally, which makes me genuinely sad.

      Maybe other people don’t have that problem, and if not then good for them.

    • Mman says:

      Beyond the default terrible image quality of most older games (which can generally be fixed easily today) I don’t really see much visual clarity difference in the gameplay sense; if anything, a lot of newer games are worse due to being so visually cluttered. Something like Doom with a sourceport is visually cleaner (in a pure gameplay sense) than most newer FPS games. Ghost Recon seems a bit of an odd example as, from what I recall, enemies being tricky to pick out as times was intentional as it’s a slower-paced game and frequently takes place in areas where enemies are camouflaged and similar.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Mman

      The default terrible image quality is exactly what I’m talking about, though. Obviously if you port the game to a better graphics engine the issue goes away. I’m not complaining about design here (which, you’re entirely right, was often much clearer than that of modern games).

    • Mman says:

      I definitely agree about the default image quality; like I said elsewhere here image quality is the main thing that makes unedited shots/footage of old games look completely horrendous to me, and the thing I go out of my way to fix when I’m playing one (which I’ve found can thankfully be done the vast majority of the time).

    • Archonsod says:

      “For the record I played Baldur’s Gate (1) unmodded last year and it beat the socks off of Any neverwinter title as well as, to my mind, Dragon age. I would say Mass Effect and Witcher pipped it to the post though.”

      Really? I remember thinking BG1 was crap when I went back to it after BG II, let alone something further down the line. BG II still holds it’s own, particularly in the writing and general construction. A couple of elements are starting to show their age and it lacks one or two useability niceties but still playable.

      “It also helps that when it comes to RPG’s, “they don’t make them like they used to.” For many of the old subgenres there’s no modern equivalent to even compare them to.”

      In the same vein, I still find Might & Magic 7 & 8 to be as fun as I remembered. Daggerfall suffers, but I think that’s because the TES games tend to be more iterative than most. Wizards & Warriors is still wonderful, but I think that’s due in part to the failures of it’s successor (Dungeon Lords).

      I don’t think it’s the case that there’s a lack of modern alternatives, in fact I’d argue there’s plenty of games which suffer precisely because they try and mimic the older RPG’s, but have this weird tendency of the devs not seeming to understand what made those games good in the first place.

      I don’t think it’s the graphics. The thing with RPG’s is they tend to rely on writing first and foremost, and good writing tends to be good writing no matter how old it is (cf Chaucer, Shakespeare). Really, the only mistake such a game could make is if the gameplay somehow impeded enjoyment of the story, but then I’d suggest games in which this is the case that were considered good on release are few and far between.

      Although saying that I’m not sure about the aRPG. Most of the Diablo clones have been surpassed by later Diablo clones. Saying that the only one I really fell in love with was Sacred, and the sequel was pretty much more of the same.

  12. Freud says:

    I didn’t play Magic Carpet but I did love the sequel.

    But I pretty much never return to older games anymore. The graphics, bad AI and horrible UI generally makes it a disappointing experience.

    Last old classic I replayed was Fallout 2. It looks crap even with the high res patch. The combat is mind numbingly boring (and those that argue it has depth are wrong) and pretty much the only thing that made me going was the writing. The one possible exception to this is X-Com, because of how well designed the combat is in that game.

    Where I disagree with EA Guy(tm) is that there has to be some correlation between my experience of these games now and the point of making new games in the series. That’s obviously stupid. Basically you take the ideas that worked back then and use them in a way that works now. Of course you could make a great Ultima Underworld 3 today if you took the best parts of it and modernize it. Even if UU2 is horribly short and cumbersome by todays standards.

  13. Rinox says:

    I recently replayed DK and it was every bit as good as it was 15 (+-) years ago. The only thing holding it back was the resolution. So I call BS on that one. Maybe for games that are really linear and part of a series that’s constantly being upgraded (NFS series etc) it applies, but not for quirky and unique games like DK.

    If I think about it, there’s really barely any games I used to play back in the days that I’m afraid to go back to…maybe Quake and Quake 2, for their grey-ish settings, but other games from the same era like Duke Nukem 3D or Shadow Warrior (or Redneck Rampage) are still more than fun enough to enjoy. Again, probably because of their uniqueness.

    • Rinox says:

      As an addendum…I just remembered the original Hitman (Codename 47). Way too hard for me to get into again now, with that insane savepoint system.

    • Dworgi says:

      What what. Quake 1 & 2 are still incredibly fun. The controls are a bit awkward and some of the level design is a bit boring, but both work incredibly well in multiplayer.

      Obviously, QuakeWorld is head and shoulders above Quake 2, but they both have their selling points.

    • misterk says:

      The original hitman put me off hitman for good. i’m told the sequels are amazing, but I just remember the original being extremely frustrating.

    • MikoSquiz says:

      It’s hard to believe now that Quake 1′s single-player campaign was actually a game people were expected to pay money for, back in the day. It feels like a substandard hobbyist project now.

      Doom holds up much better, weirdly.

    • Muzman says:

      Quake1′s single player campaign has its fans though. I’ve seen people argue that it’s more coherent and imaginative that Quake 2. Which, even if you hate Quake 2, is completely bonkers. Q2 was id’s first genuine crack at a proper narrative driven fps. Still there’s probably Q1 fanfic around somewhere

    • faelnor says:

      Is it that bonkers to think that, by allowing the player – instead of a briefing – to fill in the gaps between the thematically coherent levels, the first game gave more freedom for immersion?

      Suspending disbelief is easier when you’re thrown into an universe over which you have no control and no precise description, especially when the actions you’re required to lead are as far from your real world experience as they can be. Narration through outlandish levels set in highly iconic places is just as much narration as basing level design around a storyline.

      Personally, I know I prefer the former, hence my loving S.T.A.L.K.E.R, Quake and Half-Life more than Metro 2033, Quake 2, 4 and Half-Life 2. Still today, I can remember very specific levels of Q1 while I can’t even remember the general story of Q2.

    • Mman says:

      I’d agree with Faelnor (the general point at least, as I don’t fully agree with the examples) in that I played Quake 1 many years after Quake 2 yet found it a lot more evocative despite it having “no story” (though it was the SP mods that really got me into it).

    • Urthman says:

      Have my eyes gone insane?

      People are trying to decide if single-player Quake and Quake 2 are still fun by talking about the backstory? Are you people also campaigning to add FMV cutscenes to Robotron?!

      I like a game that’s beautiful to look at and has depth and a decent story and I wouldn’t want a diet of nothing but brown murky Quake, but Quake SP is still fast fun action gameplay and the level designs are still great today. You can jump in and start running and shooting instantly, without any lame story or cutscenes or conversation trees holding you up.

    • Dervish says:

      That is why EA and modern gamers don’t see the value in older franchises–they don’t even know what they’re supposed to be looking for. I played Quake for the first time a few months ago and had a blast. The movement is blazingly fast, with great encounter design that deviously drops tough combinations of monsters on you at the right time. That was back when FPS designers knew the meaning of “challenge” and “balance.” Some of the level architecture is also pretty damn creative for being an early 3D game–E3M5 (The Wind Tunnels) and E4M2 (Tower of Despair) come to mind.

    • Muzman says:

      Is it that bonkers to think that, by allowing the player – instead of a briefing – to fill in the gaps between the thematically coherent levels, the first game gave more freedom for immersion?

      In a word, yes. Although perhaps not so harsh. This argument is barely removed from saying switching TV stations quickly and piecing together a story out of the bits in your head reveals the great art inherent in all TV. The fact that you can find these things in something that amuses you says nothing about the work itself. Good eliptical and evocative stories and scenarios might trade on this effect, but there is more there if you look and the details support your imagination (Half Life is one of the more crafted games around in this respect). What immerses people about Quake isn’t the plot. One kind of immersion just sometimes begats another. It’s still a gonzo grab bag of almost random nonsense from the margins of Romero’s high school notebooks and they were lucky to have Sandy Petersen’s atmospheric levels to help it along.

      Suspending disbelief is easier when you’re thrown into an universe over which you have no control and no precise description, especially when the actions you’re required to lead are as far from your real world experience as they can be. Narration through outlandish levels set in highly iconic places is just as much narration as basing level design around a storyline.

      I don’t think you could be more wrong in both these points. The first one is the precise opposite of the way suspension of disbelief works.
      Anyway, as mentioned, not much point going on about the fiction of either game. I do think Quake 1 is pretty atmospheric (particularly towards the end) and evocative at times. I kinda like Quake2 though, still. Better than people remember it (or forgot it, as the case may be). As a big sci-fi adventure it does kinda get badly left in the shade by the likes of Unreal soon after.

  14. CMaster says:

    The thing is, some of these old games just haven’t been done better since.
    Yeah, some things you go back to and think “huh, pretty meh” – Goldeneye is in some ways one of them. Of course, one of the things about goldeneye was it was so damn easy to play – the same can’t be said for modern twin-stick FPSes given to new players.

    • Rinox says:

      Having never played Goldeneye and not being aware if it was ever available on the PC, what was its appeal specifically? I always thought that Goldeneye was sort of the proto-holy grail of console shooters, much like Wolfenstein or Doom are on the PC, and that it got its name mostly from that.

      Fully prepared to stand corrected obviously!

    • Vinraith says:

      4 player split screen FPS with spy gadgets. It did what consoles are best at, provided something incredibly entertaining to play in the same room with other people. I’ve no idea what the point of consoles is anymore, now that so few games even include a split screen option (despite TV’s having gotten so much larger and clearer that they’d be far better able to accommodate it.)

    • AndrewC says:

      It did stealth, it did open levels in which you could approach objectives in many different orders, its difficulty-slider changed or added objectives to your mission, it did ‘realism’ (relative to when it was released) – all of which were fairly special or innovative back then. It also did FPS on console and Deathmatch on console and a whole bunch of other things that were pretty big for consoles, if not games as a whole.

      Also it was a licence that was good.

    • CMaster says:

      Yes, Goldeneye basically provided an (up to) 4 player FPS on the same console, that anybody who could wrap their heads around the first person perspective could sit down and play straaight away, making it a brilliant party game.

      It also had a fantastic approach to difficulty in single player, but never owning an N64 I didn’t really experience much of that.

    • karry says:

      “I always thought that Goldeneye was sort of the proto-holy grail of console shooters, much like Wolfenstein or Doom are on the PC, and that it got its name mostly from that.”
      That is indeed the case. Except that there was Doom on N64 as well. And it was a better game than Golden Eye.

    • choconutjoe says:

      I always thought that Goldeneye was sort of the proto-holy grail of console shooters, much like Wolfenstein or Doom are on the PC, and that it got its name mostly from that.

      It could be argued that Goldeneye foreshadowed games like Thief and Deus Ex more than Halo (or any other console shooter), despite being a console game.

    • Mr Chug says:

      Goldeneye was groundbreaking at the time, but playing it recently it’s kind of slow. It doesn’t help that Perfect Dark (on the same console) and Timesplitters 2 in the next generation did the same thing, but better. Yeah, it’s a vital part of FPS history, but when I’ve been around mates’ houses for a nostalgia gaming session, we always end up frustrated with Goldeneye and crack out the Gamecube.

      Still, 4 player split screen multiplayer on consoles is a dying breed, so treasure every game like that before the concept itself becomes nostalgia fodder.

    • Tatourmi says:

      @ choconutjoe: I know it is kind of fancy to hit on Halo on every occasion, and sometimes it might be right, but in my opinion you are doing it wrong. Why? Because what made Goldeneye unique was its split-screen multiplayer and it’s “gamy” stuff. Namely gadgets, sort of powerups and map-related tricks. Halo was massively inspired by that and is maybe the most “old school” shooter you will find on a console nowadays. It has powerups, it has game customisation, it has split-screen, it has meaningless gamemodes and non-balanced weapons. It does not seek realism but fun. One could argue that it does it badly, but Halo is maybe the only faithfull spiritual successor to Goldeneye we have.

    • NunianVonFuch says:

      Don’t forget the multiple paths and adding on objectives for the different difficulty levels. Plus having to speedrum the level to unlock special cheat modes. First game to include these features afaik. It had the added “advantage” of being low-res too, which ment you could be extremely accurate with the thumbstick when aiming unlike modern HD console games.
      Also Halo:Reach is where it’s at now for splitscreen 4-player on a console. I still have a few mates over for midweek beers and it’s always played.

      Reading that back I’m pretty sure they must have been generous with the hitboxes or something as I’ve never felt like I’d get a better score by switching a game to SD. Must be nostalgia at work!

    • Dervish says:

      Aside from successors like Perfect Dark and TimeSplitters, GoldenEye did things that few FPS games have done since. Some of the aesthetic touches, like the large number of death animations and hit reactions, are still notable.

      And then there are all the mechanical things, some of which were already mentioned: stealth, nonlinear missions, level variety, lots of guns and a few neat gadgets, and above all a challenge that came from having to pay attention throughout an entire mission instead of bashing your head against the next checkpoint until you break through.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      I was always sad they never brought TimeSplitters: Future Perfect to PC. The infection game mode was the BEST.

  15. MrMud says:

    I replayed Freespace 2 a few months back (with the texture and model packs released through the freespace source code project) and its shocking how great it still is. Granted there hasnt been much development in the genre, being dead and all, but its still one of the best games I have ever played.

    • Atomosk says:

      Freespace 2 is amazing but any sort of flight simulator is considered a niche market and Volition Games has resorted to 3rd person $hooters. Maybe some day one of these smaller companies making WW2 flight sims will stop it and make something cool like freespace.

  16. Atic Atac says:

    I’m just waiting for EA to come to gog.com. If anyone in charge of getting that through at EA here’s a message to that person. I would personally buy the following games from gog.com if they became available:

    - Magic Carpet 1&2
    - Syndicate+Syndicate Wars
    - Dungeon Keeper 1&2
    - System Shock 1&2
    - Lands of Lore, Eye of the Beholder series
    - Bards Tale series
    - Blade Runner
    - Wing Commander (all of them!.. I’d pay good money for 3 and 4)

    …and more. make it happen!

    ..and on topic…for the last month or so my xbox, fancy new steam games and others have been waiting for me to finish Might and Magic World of Xeen. Old games are great!

    • Vinraith says:

      I’d skip the Magic Carpets and Wing Commanders, personally, but I’d pay good money for the rest of that list.

    • shoptroll says:

      They would make fistfuls of money just on Simcity 2000 and The Sims Complete alone.

      Although if GOG were to port the Windows 95 build of SC2K they’ll need to update the source files. The save as… dialog breaks the game on anything newer than Windows XP.

    • somnolentsurfer says:

      Also Hidden Worlds, the expansion to Magic Carpet 1, that I never owned at the time.

      Actually, what I’d really like to see is a retrospective of Creation, the game which, IIRC, the Magic Carpet engine was actually created for. I remember reading many previews and developer diaries and the like back in the day, and massively anticipating the game, before it was eventually cancelled.

    • Fwiffo says:

      Preach. I’d love to see that on GoG or Steam since I accidentally chucked out my box copy. Just to see how badly it’s aged.

    • Rinox says:

      @ Lewie

      Really? I go back to it at least once every year and it’s still solid as ever. If you can get over the fact that the diplomacy screens are static rather than nicely animated, it’s a much better game still than the newer Civs on almost every level (I’ll agree that combat is clunky though).

    • Simon Hawthorne says:

      I have to agree with Rinox. AC is still fantastic (and Alien Crossfire which I found in a charity shop for £1! Go Big Society!) and I enjoy it more than the Civs.

      There’s something about lifting terrain or building weird units that can terraform but can gravdrop or having in hiding a few sea colony pods in a rag tag fleet a la Battlestar Galactica JUST IN CASE.

      I like the fact as well that the factions are so extreme. For all that Civilisation has been called racist because of its depictions of various races, it can’t be seriously extreme because it’s dealing with real life. In AC, there are some real wackos.

      A new Alpha Centurai is one of the few games that I would pay full price for – which is ironic because you, Lewie, have meant that I very rarely do that. (PS-Thanks)

    • Lewie Procter says:

      Obviously it is still fantastic, but I’d very much like to see what a faithful sequel would look like.

    • Rinox says:

      @ Simon Hawthorne:

      I have fond memories of sending in a fleet of choppers with nerve gas pods to commit unspeakable atrocities to my opponents during a brief window where I ‘convinced’ (ie bribed) the council to dismiss the UN charter for 20 years. I like to imagine they were playing ride of the Valkyries as they attacked.

      I have less fond memories of Brother Lal (in a different game) thumping his UN charter Bible and constantly telling me off for having planet busting weapons, only to use a planet buster himself on my capital the next turn. That goddamned two-faced snake. :P

      But I guess karma’s a bitch huh?

    • J-snukk says:

      Having not played alpha centauri (or indeed civ2) at its release, I found it impossible to get into. This was mainly due to the interface, which I found less helpful than a blind guide dog with narcolepsy.

    • drewski says:

      I picked it AC in a re-release sale box, finished it once, and haven’t touched it since. Think it felt too much like a wonkier Civ II for me.

    • LionsPhil says:

      AC suffers a bit from sci-fi naming. If you haven’t played before or for a while, it can be hard to determine which technologies do what and lead to what others; what it really needed there was some better indication you could right-click to go to the datalinks and look all this up.

      I can only assume that Firaxis hate money, since they’ve yet to pick all the excellent parts of AC (that terrain engine!) for a Civ, what with its more immediately-understandable setting.

    • drewski says:

      The datalinks are a complete rabbit hole, though – you wonder what tech to research, jump into them, and emerge half an hour later planning your city development in 40 turns time, and have completely forgotten when tech you were wondering about in the first place.

      Or perhaps that’s just me.

    • Tei says:

      Obligatory

    • Simon Hawthorne says:

      That’s part of what I love though. With Civ I’m generally frustrated by my simpleton archers who traipse through the wilderness, stopping to glance at each beauty the forest gives them. I want the highly elite assault rifle wielding troops of now.

      With AC I’m already in the future. My troops are already firing lasers or laser like weapons almost from the get-go. I’m stumbling blindly through knowledge rather than picking specific technologies which lead to the stealth bomber. I think this works particularly well with the build-your-own-units; you have no idea what ‘Ecological Consciousness’ does, but maybe it means your troops have a higher Psi so can resist the mindworms. It’s less counter-factual history and more boldly going where no Turn Based Strategist has gone before!

    • Rinox says:

      @ Tei:

      You can also find all the quotes of the game techs online.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hou-Iwv1GvM&feature=related

      My personal favourite was this one:

      Man’s unfailing capacity to believe what he prefers to be true rather than what the evidence shows to be likely and possible has always astounded me. We long for a caring Universe which will save us from our childish mistakes, and in the face of mountains of evidence to the contrary we will pin all our hopes on the slimmest of doubts. God has not been proven not to exist, therefore he must exist.

      Academician Prokhor Zakharov “For I have tasted the fruit”

    • Tei says:

      Hummm…. a lot of it seems inspired in a movie called “BARAKA”

    • daphne says:

      That game is strangely transporting. The technological progression, the clearly distinguishable factions and personalities (but less so in its expansion, admittedly), and the philosophical undertones have consistently compelled me like no strategy game has so far managed. Not to mention the sense of a truly alien world which the game conveys so incredibly well.

      I guess I feel it is very much a designer’s, an auteur‘s game (in this case Brian Reynolds) so to say. It’s just one coherent, competent offering. I can’t say that about most games.

    • marach says:

      it’s still for sale “sold out” still publish alot of the EA back catalogue and ship internationally from the UK

  17. Schadenfreude says:

    It wasn’t from EA but I’d kill for another Darklands game. Love me some Darklands.

    The knockers in the mines always made a mess of me though.

    • Bullwinkle says:

      Oh, God, if there was ever a game in desperate need of a resolution upgrade, it’s Darklands.

    • sinister agent says:

      Darklands is one of those rare gems that really is screaming out to be imitated. And I only played it via abandonware, in the mid 2000s. Brilliant game, and it’s aged relatively well in a lot of ways.

    • Kaira- says:

      Actually, there’s a Darklands remake going on by a pal of mine.

    • Bullwinkle says:

      @Kaira

      I love your friend’s vision, but it looks like we won’t be seeing that game for years.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      Developing a spiritual successor to Darklands is my ultimate ambition. There have been a lot of attempts by various people, but I’m quite serious about it, and have been for several years now. I’ve got the programming chops, I’ve got a goddamn library of medieval history books. And I’m going to release my first serious game fairly soon, to get some experience and hopefully make a bit of money.

      I’m also a firm believer in the “release early, release often” model of game development, as pioneered by the likes of Mount&Blade and Minecraft. So who knows, in a year or so you might hear about an alpha version of an RPG set in 15th century Germany.

  18. Justin Keverne says:

    I’ve come to the conclusion that Gibeau’s entire career consists of him making statements designed to illicit news posts.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      I don’t think his posts are designed just to elicit responses. I think they’re also designed for HEY REMEMBER THIS NAME, FRANK GIBEAU. YEAH THAT IS ME.

      Subtly.

  19. misterk says:

    Deus Ex? No I’m not going to get away with that one, am I? Sacrifice is a game that rps bigged up but when I tried to play it I found the control scheme goddamn awful, and the camera being attached to me incredibly frustrating.

    One discovery I did make a while back was that while I am fairly forthright in my defence of “graphics don’t matter”, sometimes they really do. I played an emulated version of populous 2 recently, and the graphics are so shitty its actually hard to tell what the bloody hell is going on. Battle Chess is a game I adored, but when I picked it up on GoG I discovered that it runs so slooooooowly, as the AI has to think for approximately a decade before the incredibly slow moving animation occurs.

    • CMaster says:

      Graphical fidelity doesn’t matter. (well, good graphics add to a game, but they don’t make the game.

      Graphical clarity does. Dwarf Fortress is better with a tileset than with the default “ASCII” display, because with a tileset you simply see whatever is there, rather than having to look up just was a # or a ` is. With animation, it would improve still, as you’d be able to see what your Dorfs were doing just by looking at them. But provided that the information is conveyed clearly enough, then the game can be great regardless of how crude the graphics are.

      That’s my take on it anyway.

    • Mman says:

      “Graphical fidelity doesn’t matter. (well, good graphics add to a game, but they don’t make the game.

      Graphical clarity does.”

      This. I’ve realised the main problem I have with the graphics of a lot of older games by default is image quality (with stuff like massively pixellated or/and blurry textures combined with terrible resolution and tons of aliasing). Thankfully, I’ve found the majority of games where this is an issue have some way to fix it nowadays.

    • drewski says:

      Sacrifice is a game where I can see *why* it’s lauded – but I couldn’t get into it.

    • LionsPhil says:

      I’ve realised the main problem I have with the graphics of a lot of older games by default is image quality

      I find that a problem with newer games. Unless they’re designed specifically with graphical readability in mind (e.g. TF2), everything becomes such a grey-brown mess that they then need to add a mess of object highlights on top and suddenly you’re playing something as abstract and ugly as an Atari 2600 game but using many more shaders.

      The 2D art era, conversely, is crisp and clear and beautiful. Early 3D varied, but those with good texturework, combined with the need for simple lighting, can end up quite well. Compare a screenshot of a battle in C&C1 with C&C:Generals (not that that’s particularly early) and C&C4. The more particles and “subtle” lighting and stuff, the harder it is to pick out the actual tanks. SupComm2 is a appalling offender in this regard; compare with Total Annihilation.

    • Nick says:

      Very true, as long as you know what everything is, graphics don’t matter hugely. Even ASCII is fine if you are familiar with it in a roguelike.

    • Dozer says:

      I always look at it encoded. Well you have to. The image translators work for the construct program. But there’s way too much information to decode Dwarf Fortress. You get used to it. I…I don’t even see the code. All I see is axedwarf, kitten, elephant. Hey, you uh… want a drink?

  20. dr.castle says:

    I always thought GoldenEye was a bit dull. But then I’ve never been able to play FPS with a controller. It’s like trying to drive a car with a joystick.

    But realistically: some old games are still interesting, some aren’t. The ones that aren’t are those with gameplay mechanics that have been repeated and refined over the years–I’d bet there’s a lot more people going back to play Elite or X-Com than there are to play Quake or Need for Speed.

    Although to be fair, I would say “not interesting anymore” instead of “not good anymore” to refer to such games.

  21. Tei says:

    Magic Carpet is one of my 5 favorite games ever, and I think can’t be compared to anything modern, because there is nothing like that. Magic Carpet is like Minecraft, If Minecraft where arcadey and RTS-y, and where a real game, and not a sandbox.

    Then you have games like Beyong Good and Evil, that is full of charm.

  22. noobnob says:

    Why not re-release old games on their own digital store, or 3rd party ones such as GOG.com? Lots of people will buy it for the nostalgia factor, but others will buy based on recommendations/deals and by community feedback you can make a good assessment on whether the game has aged well or not.

    In other words, I want my System Shock 2 on GOG already god damn it (game that hasn’t aged well in terms of UI, sadly).

    • LionsPhil says:

      Having to manually unload the broken shotguns mutants drop to desperately and vulnerably scavenge for ammo before loading it into your own barely-working one was one of the best bits of survival horror I’ve played and far better for the tone than the walk-over-and-magically-scoop-up ammo gathering of the action end of the FPS spectrum.

  23. Gundato says:

    I actually fully agree.

    As a non-gaming example: Burton’s Batman. Everyone called that Dark and amazing. Then, after Batman Begins came out, people suddenly remembered that Burton had Prince signing at random and Vicki Vale get escorted into the Batcave by Alfred. Does it make it a bad movie? Not at all. But it also makes it not something that you do a 1:1 remake of.

    Same with games. A lot of the ones we love just wouldn’t map all that well to the modern day. Maybe they would do great as niche games, but, unfortunately, it isn’t indie developers that own them.

    And someone mentioned Freespace: that is a perfect example. I LOVE Freespace 1 and 2 (replay them every few months). And they age great. Why? Because the genre is basically dead, so nobody has done better yet.
    But, when I was a whee lad, I loved a game called Star Crusader (yay, Roman Alexander!). Replaying that, after experiencing Freespace, it is a bit lacking. Still a fun game, but definitely aged.
    So, if there is ever a resurgence in space-based combat flight-sims (and there damned well better be…), we’ll probably get to the point that Freespace 2 stops aging so well.

    And my friends, THAT is a good thing.

    • Rinox says:

      I’m not entirely sure I agree. Simply because games are different from (to take your example) film in that they do not only rely on aestheticism or graphics, but also on gameplay systems. I believe it perfectly possible to have a 15-year old gameplay system that is as good or better than anything modern, as creating those is almost entirely independent of technological advancements.

      Honestly, most of the AAA titles these days, do you really see that much difference between them and the games they sprung from a long time ago, gameplay-wise? If you take (for example) Oblivion and compare it to Daggerfall, you’ll see that Oblivion’s improvements over its predecessor lie exclusively in graphics and conversations. All the rest was more intricate or more expansive in the older game. Skill systems, character modification, world size, world contents, lore. It’s quite sad in some ways really.

    • arccos says:

      And they age great. Why? Because the genre is basically dead, so nobody has done better yet.

      I think you’re spot-on with this. The interface for them doesn’t feel out-of-date because no one has refined it past that point.

      Think of Diablo-like action RPGs before they started using the number keys as quick-use inventory. Diablo 2 felt natural at the time, but it seems silly now you have to change spells with the function keys, and then cast them with a right click. Why can’t I just do a 1-2-3 combo? Same with Dungeon Siege 2, which I just tried to go back to. The interface just feels like a joke compared to more modern games. If Diablo 2 was the last of its kind, it would still feel pretty good as an interface.

    • Gundato says:

      Arccos: Exactly.

      Rinox: No doubt there, but wouldn’t you rather the gameplay get BETTER? I loved System Shock and CyClones. Both of them viewed mouselook as “optional” at best. Does that mean that all future games should not use mouselook, since those didn’t? I mean, they were great, and clearly those designs aged well, right :p

      As for Oblivion VS Daggerfall: You play Daggerfall any time recently? I like it, but it is downright clunky compared to Oblivion in terms of combat. Not to mention constantly having broken dungeons, a largely lifeless overworld (okay, THAT didn’t change :p), and a skill-system for swimming that just drowns everybody who ever plays it :p

      Maybe you don’t like everything about Oblivion (I don’t either). But there is no denying it has made progress.

      Hell, let’s look at System Shock 2. If you haven’t played it, skip ahead past this paragraph. Skipped yet? Good. During one of the best scenes in the game, you stumble upon the corpse of Polito. And then Shodan magically appears on the wall and talks to you for a few minutes. That was an AWESOME scene at the time. Now? it would be mocked for reeking of “exposition fairies” and leaving the player to do nothing but twiddle his thumbs. And not letting the player talk back? For shame! That is another bit of internet griping!

      JKJoker: I agree, a lot of those games are great (I hate NOLF. There, I said it :p. Jedi Knight is amazing though). But you notice how most of them are rather “niche” by today’s standards? Almost as if there haven’t really been many games in those genres for a while.
      Maybe that is what I meant by “And they age great. Why? Because the genre is basically dead, so nobody has done better yet.”. If nobody ever does anything better, a game will forever age perfectly. But the moment a better system has popped up, it starts to show. But if the genre HAS been advanced, the old game stops aging well. And any attempt at a remake just won’t end well. Either it will be faithful, and it will be a niche game (so not something EA should be making, from a money viewpoint), or it will be the XCOM remake and the entire internet will instinctively scream their hatred.

      And also, a lot of what you described has nothing to do with the game itself. JK’s massive levels? How is that any different from the “open world” games? Or even what Crysis and Far Cry kept claiming to do? You don’t need to do a remake of Jedi Knight to have a big level.

      Take Wolf3D vs DOOM. Wolf3D was great. Then we suddenly got guns that were DIFFERENT. And now, if someone tried to remake Wolf3D, they would need to add rocket launchers and shotguns and the like. Sort of like they did :p

    • Archonsod says:

      “All the rest was more intricate or more expansive in the older game.”

      I think you mean “bloated and unnecessary”. I couldn’t go back to Daggerfall after Morrowind, can’t go back to Morrowind after Oblivion. Although it’s often the small improvements like being able to cast without having to switch from weapon to hand, actually using physics rather than a die roll system to determine attacks, much better fast travel system and so on. Although the Morrowind to Daggerfall gap was a lot more major; largely the hand crafted dungeons which didn’t involve you randomly plummeting through the floor every fifteen feet.

  24. Ertard says:

    I agree.

    I don’t really care much for pre-2000s games when I play them today. Since I was too young back then I’ve been trying to get in to a few classics such as Fallout 1, 2 and Baldurs Gate 2, but they’re just too damn old. Since I don’t have a nostalgic link to them I just can’t do it.

    I do believe I could withstand a few hours of Half-Life still though, but that’s because that game was quite ahead of it’s time as well.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Nostalgia is not a requirement. I managed to miss the System Shocks and Fallouts the first time around and have only played them for the first time within the last decade, after Deus Ex and Bioshock and Oblivion.

    • Urael says:

      Right, for once – just once – let’s have a discussion about old games without some…person….bringing up the word “Nostalgia” or the phrase “Rose-tinted glasses”. I absolutely hate how these have become some kind of shorthand for how we’re all misguided, mis-remembering sentiment-monkeys. We KNOW which games were good and which were shit. We KNOW which games we still enjoy playing and we KNOW why, and it’s nothing to do with us going all doe-eyed and pink-minded about things!

      Some of the best gaming experiences I’ve had in recent years have been through trying games I overlooked however many years ago. Obviously age doesn’t naturally make a game great but some were masterpieces – I still play The Sentinel on the ZX Spectrum (emulated, naturally) despite there being modern remakes on better, whizzier 3D engines. They all miss the point; the claustrophobia of not being able to move freely was half the damned game! I can make the same kind of argument about a hundred other titles, and that’s just the ones off the top of my head.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      Nostalgia makes Super Metroid my favorite game of all time.

      It’d still be one of my favorites if I didn’t have rose tinted glasses for it, though, as it’s a terrific game. In that vein, I’d probably not love Populus or Command and Conquer as much without them, but they’re still stand up games, even after all this time.

  25. Jake says:

    I won’t lie, I’ve bought quite a few games from gog.com and while I love their idea, some of those games well…stink. Red Baron 1 & 2 are ehh, Age of Wonders blech, and Jagged Alliance is just marginal.

    On the other side, Cannon Fodder is still a great game as are both MOO 1 & 2. I think the only way to learn whether old games aren’t as good as we remember is to play them again. I’m all in favor of old games but I concur with the EA man (eek, I can’t believe I said that), that many of those “great old games” are not what we remember.

  26. Wahngrok says:

    I liked Magic Carpet at the time it came out. But it was Magic Carpet 2 that I really loved (and would spend money on a remake with better graphics). Besides combat It had puzzles, destructible landscape, base-buidling, underground and hidden levels. OK, the final boss was way too easy to destroy, but otherwise a really great game.

  27. Alaric says:

    Most games, old or new, are crap. In that sense they are very much like film, literature, music, and all other forms of art. Surely nobody would argue that most things ever written are a tragic waste of paper. The percentage of good books is miniscule, and there is nothing wrong with that. Games may appear to be different because they are brand new. Most people who ever played or created games are alive today, and the very amount of games is negligible when compared to older art-forms. This is why the general perception is skewed, there is still nostalgia at play, while nobody is now nostalgic for the bad music of 571 BC.

  28. Qris says:

    Another World had an Anniversary Edition as it was as awesome as 15 years ago. Two miracles of gaming that immediately come to mind are System Shock 2 and Dungeon Keeper 2.

    • BooleanBob says:

      Here’s one sacred cow I’m actually more than happy to blaspheme against (like so: ‘up yours, sacred cow!’). Another World is pointlessly, hatefully hard – it’s difficult to care for the breathtaking cinematic direction that effortlessly shames what most releases today can muster, or the cold brilliant beauty of those austere vector graphics, when every level combined the very worst aspects of Tomb Raider death, obtuse point and click puzzling and a brutal regimen of checkpoint placement.

      That other people will have stomached the bad to savour the good I have no doubt, but I haven’t been so keyboard-chewingly annoyed by any game since Abe’s Odyssey (although something funny may be going on with my memory, because Blackthorne was agonising too and they all belong in the same puzzle-platforming subgenre against which I am seemingly prejudiced).

      Goldeneye was the shit, though.

    • Pantsman says:

      I’m afraid I must agree with BooleanBob. I only played Another World for the first time a few years ago, and I managed to force myself all the way through it, but dear lord was the gameplay atrocious. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. Same with Abe’s Oddysee.

      What the hell were those designers thinking? Was there really a time when reflex-dependent trial and error was considered anything other than an exercise in keyboard-hurling frustration?

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      Dragon’s Lair did pretty well, guys.

    • arghstupid says:

      Every time Another World is brought up somebody mentions the difficulty and the random deaths. I finally got around to buying the Anniversary edition from GOG the other day having not played this game for years and I really can’t understand where these criticisms come from. Yes there are arbitrary, unpredictable deaths, but the combination of this randomness and the utter brutality often involved had me laughing out loud several times. It’s just comically harsh. Having died, you’re back in the game a few paces back from your untimely demise within seconds. As in VVVVVV, this means death isn’t that big a deal and pretty much eliminated the frustration element for me. There are a couple of tricky platformy bits, but these are much easier then the equivalent feats you’d be expected to perform in other games of that era (Dizzy anyone?) or even more recent titles such as the Tomb Raider series. The puzzles are challenging, but they’re also logical – I only got completely stuck once and when I eventually resorted to a walkthru I just felt a bit silly rather then cheated – The solution to the problem that had snagged me made perfect sense.
      The only critisicm I’d level against the game is that it is short. It only took me a few evenings of play to get through the game in its entirety. If I went back through having solved all the puzzles I’d imagine it’d only take an hour or so.
      Having said all that I do agree a lot of old titles are overrated. Monkey Island is the one I always think of – puzzles really are obtuse, and it was never particuarly funny. The sequel is an improvement but it’s still not worthy of the praise almost univesally heaped on it.

  29. Oozo says:

    Hawk The Slayer was rubbish.

  30. Ian says:

    I still return to Panzer Dragoon Saga and Guardian Heroes every often and I still think they’re both splendid.

  31. kyrieee says:

    I just started replaying Deus Ex (I haven’t really played it since it came out, played TNM though) and graphics, AI and all that crap aside I’ve been surprised again and again by how ahead of its time it feels. So yes, old games were and are good.

  32. Aero says:

    I want a remake of SimCopter/Streets of Sim City.

  33. Daniel Klein says:

    Returning to old games is WEIRD. Memories are seriously fucked. I was sure Monkey Island 1 and 2 were the funniest, most amazing games ever. I bought the Special Editions. Could not finish either. Mind-numbingly boring, jokes falling flat, puzzles totally retarded etc. God, what was 12 year old me thinking when he loved those games?

    And Warcraft 2! Really, Blizzard? Completely identical races? How very dull! And the pathing! Oh dear god! How could I tolerate this stuff?

    The only game from my childhood I’ve ever returned to and loved was DooM II, but let’s be honest here: that game is just special. And it turns out I can still play the first 7 levels with my eyes closed pretty much. It’s astonishing when you go back to the birthplace of FPSes and wonder what could have been had we not decided that this genre needs more burly men, cover mechanics, and military “realism”. Not even Serious Sam scratches my DooM itch. The way you glide butter-soft through the levels, the way monsters died instantly if you knew what you were doing, the way you could dodge most attacks if you anticipated them. Absolutely brilliant.

    So yeah, what I guess I’m saying is, make another DooM, id, and pretend like 2 was the last one you made.

  34. Sarlix says:

    I think some games can never ‘date’ or become too old to play. The infinity engine games are a good example. Even in 30 years Baldur’s Gate will still look and play good. I’ve been playing Star Control 2 recently and that doesn’t feel dated to me.

    I played a game of dune2 through DosBox the other day and that felt Very dated and awkward. No drag and select or unit queuing, unable to hot key units etc….I wouldn’t say it isn’t as good as a remember, just very dated control-wise…Dune2000 however is still fine to play. Same as Red alert2 etc…Early 3D RTS’s like Emperor: Battle for Dune would be more difficult to enjoy.

    I think It’s mostly games with early 3D graphics that I find it hard to go back to.

  35. Corrupt_Tiki says:

    Yes, EA (re)making old games; Just look at what they did to C&C, and RA; yeah, EA, I’m going to hate on you for the rest of your miserable life for doing that to my favorite universe(s) Fuck you guys, seriously, Westwood built it up to such a pinnacle, and to see it so brutally raped was just disgusting. Burn in Hell.
    /ragequit.

  36. Navagon says:

    I don’t think that after their two most recent Dragon Age offerings they’re in any position to talk about the inherent superiority of new games.

    Yes games like Syndicate suffered from problems like almost non-existent path finding, but they’re still a lot more fun to play today than a ludicrously expensive browser grind-a-thon. While there certainly is a fair bit of a rose tint when it comes to old games (and Goldeneye is definitely the best example there is of that), when the core gameplay remains unmatched today simply because the industry is reliant on the tried and tested.

  37. Jorum says:

    GoldenEye is a strange example for Gibeau to choose.

    Of course a 14 year old FPS is going to seem dated now – FPS is a genre very much technology and graphics related that has seen hundreds of title releases and massive technological advancement over the last 15 years.

    Not to mention GoldenEye wasn’t spectacular in the first place. I think it’s reputation is based on being the first 3D FPS on consoles so was a big thing to them (PC had already had Duke 3D and Quake by then) .

    If you look at DK what’s been comparable since? Evil Genius is only thing that comes to mind really.
    There’s been nothing remotely like Syndicate since things like Abomination and they were also back in the old days anyway.

  38. Gabbo says:

    To me, that reads more like he wants to use old IP’s for new games, but to do so would have to change a lot of what people remember/liked about those games. He fears the wraith of rose tinted glasses.
    It’s a good thing we just want the old games to work on new hardware, not new games with an old IP slapped on them or he may have some kind of problem on his hands. He must have seen the reaction 2K got with XCOM and started sweating.

    Drop the reworked games on various portals (even the terrible EA Store), and we’ll tell you which IP’s you can squander on shit ‘sequels’, with our moneys. Less work for EA, more games for us.

  39. Dominic White says:

    Nostalgia is a bitch, no question about it, but the old games that I replay are the ones that HAVE endured the ravages of time. Doom is still as good (if not outright better) than most FPS’s released these days, and has gotten even better over time due to engine upgrades and a billion new levels.

    Some games are very awkard to play nowadays. The Battle Isle pack on Good Old Games presents us with BI1 (barely-playable due to a single-button joystick-based control scheme) and Battle Isle 2 (a little more mouse-oriented, but not hugely better), which clearly haven’t held up too well. In the same pack is Battle Isle 3 with a modular multi-window based UI which works remarkably well, and Incubation, which is basically Space Hulk + XCom, and aside from looking a bit low-res, it performs fine.

    Not many games hold up after 15+ years. The ones that do should be held as examples of brilliance for all to follow.

  40. liquidsoap89 says:

    GoldenEye… You can’t play that game now without wanting to slap somebody.

    • Dominic White says:

      Goldeneye had a very awkward proto-FPS control system, but the port of Perfect Dark (basically Goldeneye IN THE FUTURE) on the 360 offers modern-style controls, and it works pretty well.

    • NunianVonFuch says:

      @Dominic White: Goldeneye and Perfect Dark had the exact same controls on the N64 :-S Did you not change the style from 1.1 Honey to 1.2 Solitaire? Thumbstick was look and the yellow pad was strafe.
      The controls hold up so well because pads haven’t changed, just added a thumbstick in place of the digital yellow pad.
      http://goldeneye.wikia.com/wiki/Control_style

    • Dervish says:

      1.2 Solitaire (aka “Turok controls” as we called it) is the closest I have ever felt to WASD+mouse on a console.

  41. Bugste81 says:

    Replayed X-Wing Alliance with the old trusty Microsoft Force Feedback 2 Joystick. Much better than most of the new games I’ve Played recently, Even Bulletstorm.

  42. satsui says:

    I would have to disagree in some cases. The only reason re-makes fail is because they’re always trying to add or remove features that ruins the balance.

    For example, I still play SC2000. It’s still fun and easy. SC4, while still kind of fun, isn’t better than SC2000 outside of graphics. Another good example is FF7. I still love that game. I doubt there will be a remake, but if there is, just improve the graphics. DON’T CHANGE ANYTHING ELSE.

  43. cjlr says:

    Starflight

    What more needs to be said? Not that it would ever happen. Not that we even need it to happen, since we have Star Control II. But still.

    Let’s hold off on Syndicate for a few years, though. I really, really don’t want that one to turn into a stupid six hour series of chest high walls. It deserves better.

    • Megagun says:

      I could never really get into starflight, despite loving Star Control 2. I think it had to do with the graphics, clunky UI, and way less hand-holding. Perhaps if there was a modern remake with neat graphics, I could end up playing it.

    • Hendo says:

      A new StarControl 2 would be awesome. A new Starflight would be awesomer.

      Space exploration, exploitation, combat, puzzles. They had it all.

    • darjeeling says:

      I’ve been getting my Star Control II fix from Space Rangers 2: Reboot. Steam! The planetary exploration is there, and so is a surprisingly thriving economy, where you can freely trade between planets, or jack cargo from ships, while staving off the encroaching forces of three variants of self-replicating killer robots. Some of the missions are also really interesting text adventures, too (purely optional, btw, in case that’s not your thing).

  44. drewski says:

    Most of the old games I play are on console, and I could give some examples there, but I’ll save my criticisms for PC games.

    GTA2 is needlessly messy and the gang mechanic is nothing more than an arbitrary bar on game progress. It’s awful design. Warcraft 2 has one of the worst interfaces imaginable, whilst C&C’s building mechanics are laughable. When I saw a screenshot of the original Baldur’s Gate a week or so ago, I actually laughed at how bad it was. MoO2 is just obscure and impenetrable. And Railroad Tycoon is a completely infuriating little cheat.

    I loved all of those games when they game out, apart from MoO2, which I came too a little later. Yet now…eugh.

    It’s mostly interface stuff though so I’m going to grit my teeth and get through at least Baldur’s Gate again. Don’t think I can face C&C or WC2 after modern RTS games, though.

    • Acosta says:

      Master of Orion II, impenetrable? holly molly…

      And Baldur’s Gate II is really beautiful.

    • choconutjoe says:

      “And Baldur’s Gate II is really beautiful.”

      Especially with the high-res patch. It’s like walking around on a beautiful painting.

    • LionsPhil says:

      C&C’s lack of order or build queueing hurts a lot less than you’d think because it’s a much slower game. Otherwise the UI hasn’t really changed that much since.

      Now, Dune 2 on the other hand, is like trying to control your units with chopsticks.

    • Mman says:

      “And Baldur’s Gate II is really beautiful.”

      I could see someone finding Baldur’s Gate 1 pretty ugly with its original settings as it ran at 640×480 and couldn’t go higher, which is going to look pretty bad on most newer systems, and, while BG2 has better resolution options it doesn’t support widescreen by default. But yeah, with resolution mods if anything the graphics of Baldur’s Gate series (and Infinity Engine games in general) get better over time, as the hardware at the time couldn’t really bring out the full beauty of the 2D artwork.

    • drewski says:

      @ Acosta – yes, MoO2 is impenetrable. If you’ve never played it before, it’s about as easy to pick up as juggling on a unicycle. Baldur’s Gate 2 indeed does still look lovely, but the original is ugly, and the interface is absolutely terrible. Even the BG2 interface isn’t exactly streamlined. I’ll put up with things with those two games because they’re good enough, but let’s not pretend they are what they’re not.

      @LionsPhil – it obviously bugs me a lot more than it bugs you. Then again, I never particularly liked the C&C games, the bombast of Red Alert was always more my style. I can still play RA2 to this day.

    • Bhazor says:

      I’m currently replaying BG2 (thanks GOG sale, kiss kiss) and looks wise it’s a mixed bag. Some of the backgrounds are gorgeous yes and on a big enough monitor it can look truly “epic”. A word I use sparingly.
      What is less good is just about everything else. Character sprites, some effects and all the animations all look like complete guff now and even at the time the animations looked stilted and unconnected with what was happening. Some of the strict adherences to dice rolls are also annoying, Yoshimoto wasting his uber powerful special traps because he failed a skill being especially grating*.
      All that said it is still one of the best games of all time and probably still the best non turnbased tactical rpg.
      *I know a lot of people hate the memorising spells mechanic but I really like the planning and imagining all the upcoming scenarios. Makes plunging into a dungeon much more tense when theres always a chance I’ll run into vampires and not have any Restoration spells on hand.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      “yes, MoO2 is impenetrable. If you’ve never played it before, it’s about as easy to pick up as juggling on a unicycle.”

      Wh…what? If you compare it to, say, GalCiv II, MOO2 is much much MUCH much easier to learn. It’s just about the friendliest 4X game around.

      Unless you hate the genre and don’t enjoy poking around and learning things yourself, I can’t imagine how it could be described as “impenetrable”.

    • Jimbo says:

      BG1 looks alright with that mod (BGT?), but I still don’t think it’s a great game. I’ve owned it since it came out and in truth it’s always been something I feel like I should like rather than something I actually do like. The early level combat is ridiculous – it’s about 90% luck.

    • drewski says:

      @ TillEulenspiegel – isn’t that a bit like saying staring blankly at a wall is easier than riding a bike up Mt. Everest?

      I find the Civ games remarkable easy to get into; even Alpha Centauri can be managed with a basic idea of the concepts. I just couldn’t get access to MoO2. Had no idea what my priorities should be; none of the technology seemed to indicate the order they should be researched; I had no idea what any improvements did or what they meant.

      I like 4X games in general, but there was nothing about MoO2 that gave me a frame of reference for *how* to get into it.

    • Cirno says:

      About half a year ago I’ve decided to play Baldurs Gate again. I spent 2-3 weeks playing and ENJOYING BGT. I spend less than a day (on the weekend) to complete any modern game, sometimes its just a few hours. As for the enjoyment part, well, its rare to see a good game nowadays, hoping for an excellent game like from the golden age of PC gaming is useless.

      I can easily name a few excellent old games: BG, Deus Ex, Planescape, Fallout, Half-Life, Mech Warrior etc etc. Naming some modern is harder (Chronicles of Riddick: EfBB, Half-Life 2, Portal, Dawn of War +some moar), it takes time to rember, while names of old games comes to mind without even thinking. Too bad, console is only one of the reasons behind all of that, second being big companies making pile-o-crap AAA games.

      Like EA games, personally, I prefer to skip most of them – from my experience nothing worthy can ever be done by company like EA. But thats my personal opinion, through shared by almost all of my friends.

  45. Acosta says:

    Dungeon Keeper is better than everything released by EA in the last years, combined. It´s probably a good thing they don’t touch it (just make a deal with GoG already and let them release it please, I want to have a digital copy.)

  46. Megagun says:

    I think replaying old games can sometimes be annoying for the following few reasons:

    -Hardware/Software improvements: some games tend to not work well on modern hardware at all. Think timing issues, incompatible OSes, and that newfangled 16:10 or 16:9 aspect ratio that stretches your GUI up to a point where it’s starting to annoy you. DosBOX tends to fix many of these issues for old DOS games. Old games having their source code released tend to not have this issue either (Star Control 2 plays really well, as do the Quakes and Dooms. Freespace plays exceptionally well, and even has an amazing graphical boost because of it). The worst offenders here are early 3D games on the older Windows platforms. If you get them working on your shiny new modern OS, you’ll probably find yoursel getting annoyed at the ugly stretches GUIs…

    -Advances in GUI designs (and gameplay changes): old GUIs are annoying. Old games didn’t do the ‘character diary’ thing at all, which means that you’ll have to replicate a modern GUI by using a pen and notepad in games like Star Control 2. Sure, this might be part of the charm if you’ve played these games in their original time period (nostalgia!), but in this day and age of hit tab to review a recent conversation, it feels annoying.

    -Graphics resolution: old games were running on low resolutions. New games aren’t. We’re used to having large monitors with high-resolution games playing on them. In the old days, having a 15 inch monitor running fancy 640×480 games was common. Old games play like poop on a large monitor. Related: GUIs being way too large and obnoxious on high-resolution, large monitors.

    -Advances in sound: I’m often amazed at how little this gets mentioned. Sound design has improved a lot, up to the point where if you listen carefully you may hear the background sounds (gunfire, ‘city activity’ type sounds, etc.) in a game. Usually, you won’t notice these kind of sounds unless they’re actually missing, and a lot of old games didn’t have the capability of having these sounds together with the ‘important’ sounds actual like enemy gunfire, or that kick-ass game music playing in the background.

    -Lack of voice acting: with every game being voice-acted-to-the-core nowadays, reading feels like a chore. If I wanted to read, I’d pick up something from my way too large stack of Sci-fi lit I still have to read; mission briefings should be spoken out loud!

    As far as playing old games (for me) goes: almost all games that have their source code released play rather well on modern systems, and compare extremely well with their closed-source counterparts from the same era. DOS games play fairly well on a technical side thanks to DOSBox, but usually suffer from an annoying pixelated look.

    Interestingly, I sometimes find older FPSes to play nicer than modern ones. For some reason, modern FPSes like to have a lot of ‘graphics noise’ in them (excessive flora, way too much greeble, excessive use of destroyed scenery to break up scenes, etc). This noise makes it hard for me to notice enemy positions, especially on my older hardware at lower resolutions.

    EDIT: added in lack of voice acting. That really annoys me nowadays. :)

    EDIT 2: God, I hate this edit system. Seriously, the insanely small size of the edit window is annoying (thank god Chrome allows me to resize the edit box) and the way it kills all my line breaks is bad. Almost makes me feel like editing comments is like playing an old game from the mid 90′s!

    • Nick says:

      reading is hard

    • Klaus says:

      Voice acting is tricky because if it isn’t done to your liking, and no voice is palatable to all, you’ll have to mute the game or hope for a voice/subtitle option in the menu.

      Reading is fine for me unless everything is written needlessly descriptive.

  47. LionsPhil says:

    Oh, hey, I bet I can win the “oldest Electronic Arts game that’s awesome and hasn’t really been surpassed” race:
    M.U.L.E.

    And while it’s not EA (unless Rainbird ended up swallowed by them), while talking of early 3D FPS hybrid things, Midwinter needs more love. I guess you could kind of call Boiling Point a spirital successor? Only with way more bugs.

  48. adonf says:

    EA made their own Goldeneye in 2003 or so. Maybe that’s the one he’s talking about, not the one from Rare/Nintendo

  49. Alfius says:

    I always liked The World is Not Enough better than Goldeneye … clearly the better game but does anyone else think so? Hell no.

    • NunianVonFuch says:

      It wasn’t a terrible game, just next to no replayability, blocky graphics and levels, awful sound design for the weapons, rubbish stealth mechanics, frustrating difficulty at higher settings rather than challenging, static enemies that pop-up to shoot you from windows, clunky controls, multiplayer maps that favoured massive open spaces (which is daft for a max of 4 players) and slow framerates even when things aren’t exploding.

      It was okay with 4 people on the airplane map but other than that I completely agree with you, nobody else thinks The World Is Not Enough is the better game. =D

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