2K Finally Shows Up On GOG, X-COM Included

Very late to the party, yesterday 2K finally showed up on GOG.com with a selection of classic games. And what a selection. What on Earth were they waiting for? Anyway, at last you can now get DRM-free working-on-your-PC versions of Freedom Force and its sequel, all the classic X-COMs bundled together, three Railroad Tycoon games, and the awful Sid Meier’s Pirates remake. It also suggests the possibility that the GTA games could finally make their way to the store, although not yet.

In the olden days, I used to write a section for a magazine you won’t remember called “PC Gamer”. It was a strange thing, all papery, and to get to the next article you had to physically drag the pages across – very odd to think about now. The section was They’re Back, the awkwardly named budget section that hid at the back of the reviews, and I wrote the blessed thing for a decade. 148 of the blessed things. During that time I covered these games sooooooo many times that I feel like they’re old relatives I avoid meeting at Christmas. The idea of having to find a new way to write 280 words on Railroad Tycoon or Freedom Force Vs The Third Reich fills me with dread, hence this blustering anecdote.

But still, it’s a long time since I did any of that, and while all these games are already on Steam, the GOG releases are DRM free. The X-COM bundle is the most exciting, I think. There you’ve got UFO Defense, Terror From The Deep, Apocalypse, Interceptor and Enforcer, all for a teeny $7.45 at the moment. That’s £8.99 on Steam. Somewhat less generously, Railroad Tycoon 2 Platinum, Railroad Tycoon 3 and Sid Meier’s Railroads are currently $8.65. Both the Freedom Force games are but $3.98, which is about half the price they are on Steam (but when this sale is over looks likely to end up costing more). And then bloody Pirates is half-price at $4.99, but everyone is wrong and it’s just a collection of really shitty minigames. (The only time I met Meier was to go see this crap, but he was wearing a lovely jumper and seemed very nice.) Again, when it’s full price it’ll be the same as it is on Steam.

So yeah, slightly cheaper than Steam if you get them now, possibly about the same if you don’t. Still, there are far more of 2K’s games over on Valve’s shelves for the moment.

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  1. Optimaximal says:

    Pirates! wasn’t awful.

    • John Walker says:

      Yes it was.

      • Cinek says:

        No, it wasn’t.

      • idiotapocs says:

        I would love to hear about you elaborating this. I know it has faults, mostly the immersion breaking repetition, but Pirates has never been about the actual story anyway. The mechanics do actually work otherwise, and I always come up with it when someone mentions Assassins Creed as a good sandbox game.

        • Kefren says:

          There may be some confusion here. I don’t think John was saying Pirates is bad; only that the 2004 remake was bad. As I mention below, I loved the 1993 original, not the 2004 remake, but GOG has only released the remake.

          • idiotapocs says:

            No confusion on my side, I am thinking about the 2004 remake. While I did play with the original one on C64 and loved it, I hated the Gold version and its clunkiness, and, after all this, I fell in love with the latest version, and its beautiful, living map. It’s chock-full of character, methinks.

          • idiotapocs says:

            Talking about confusions, the “original one” is not the Gold edition, and it is on GOG(and it contains the “real” original ’87 PC version):
            link to gog.com

          • WMain00 says:

            The 2004 version is great fun! I have quite fond memories of playing it on a laptop on quiet days at work. It was a good fun game with a sense of humour and brightness. Sure, it wasn’t anything amazing, but it certainly wasn’t awful.

          • Kefren says:

            Apologies, I realised after I posted that there were even more versions than I listed, and none of them were the one I enjoyed – which turns out to have been the Amiga version! Doh! I don’t like the visuals of any of the three GOG versions. Luckily I have the Amiga version with my emulator. It’s obviously just a personal thing. In my case there’s something about the Amiga version that I adored. I had bad hayfever that summer, and played Pirates for the whole time on my Amiga, and loved it.

          • Lomaxx says:

            Wanted to reply to your last reply to this. But the “closest” reply-button i found was this one.

            Don’t worry. You are normal. As normal as I am. Of course the Amiga-version is the best one. ;)

            When i read your name, then i am having a Desert Dream.

          • Press X to Gary Busey says:

            It’s a gamebryo game. Therefore, by using extended internet gamer logics it’s Oblivion with gunboats.

      • Shadow says:

        The 2004 remake was pretty damn good, but I’d also like to hear why you think it’s awful.

      • Great Cthulhu says:

        Did you like Pirates Gold? Apart from the dancing, I think all the minigames from Pirates 2004 were present in that one too. (Not sure about the original. Never played that one as much as I did Gold.)

        • Ashabel says:

          The only things Gold added to the original one were some balancing tweaks under the hood, the governors occasionally assigning you missions and all those delicious colorful graphics. 2004 actually changed more than that – on top of changing up the details surrounding the wooing of El Governator’s Daughter, it added land combat and expanded on all the existing mini-games.

          Still, you’re right that Pirates! barely changed since its original version. Graphics aside, it never really needed to.

          • Great Cthulhu says:

            Ah, thanks for the info. And agreed that Pirates really doesn’t need much changing. If they updated the graphics for modern hardware and perhaps made the dancing a bit less tedious, then I’d happily purchase it again.

            You are wrong about one thing though. :-) Gold actually did include land combat. Took me a few games before I found that out, but it’s definitely there.

      • waltC says:

        Yes, Pirates was awful…;) I have tried many times to force it down like castor oil but have never been able to hold my nose and get through it. Including the Amiga version.

        I well remember PC Gamer…am sure I must have subscribed at one time! Then there was also Amiga World, my favorite for years.

        Interesting about GOG–the other day I was just doing a GOG-Steam comparison and was surprised to see how many titles (of games I like) were on GOG that are not on Steam. Steam also seemed to be full of a lot of “junk games”–or, games I likely would never buy. For my tastes in games Gog is much more compelling today.

      • JamesTheNumberless says:

        The original Pirates! is a game that was more enjoyable for where it took your imagination than how it actually played. First game I played where it was fun to lose, where I felt I was having a real influence on the gameworld and where I felt I could forge my own story and didn’t have to care what the rest of the world was doing. Were it released today you could almost guarantee people would be calling it an open-world rogue-like sandbox.

      • Hobbes says:

        It really wasn’t. It was a graphical overhaul of the original game with a few flourishes on top. Oddly if other remakes stuck to that concept I’d be rather -happy- with that outcome!

      • Nucas says:

        well, you’re wrong. but your opinion still serves an important function, by further highlighting the increasingly superior writing of philippa and alice.

    • Laurentius says:

      Sid Meier’s Pirates is still a delightful game. I love it and it holds up. It’s fun to play and to watch actual simiulation going on, which blows pathetic AC:Black Flag like a nimble sloop sinking spanich war galeon. Argh.

    • Jason Moyer says:

      Would also like to know why John thinks it’s awful. If someone could get non-4:3 resolutions working properly (talking mostly about the hud/interface) I’d probably still play it.

  2. pringles says:

    X-COM: UFO Defense / UFO: Enemy Unknown had a heap of notorious bugs that making it available on Steam didn’t fix. GOG X-COM, OpenXcom or bust?

    • BTAxis says:

      My vote goes to OpenXCOM, (which works with any old copy of X-COM, not necessarily the GOG verion). I fixes old bugs and introduces new features, and has great mods to boot.

      • Asurmen says:

        I would love the next version to come out. There’s still some features from XcomUtil and similar older mods than I’d like to see.

    • king0zymandias says:

      The universal problem with these XCOM games is that they aren’t, for lack of a better term, visceral enough. You tell your soldiers to shoot and they shoot, do they miss? Do they hit? Well, that’s not up to you, that’s up to RNG. This astonishing lack of agency is somewhat baffling considering the fact that there have been so many games that have showed us how to deal with this problem and make the combat feel more visceral and personal, ie- Doom, Wolfenstein, modern fallouts etc.

      • Asurmen says:

        There’s plenty of agency. It’s still your choice to take the shot, knowing the chances involved and the risks, it’s your tactical skill to mitigate those risks, and with OpenXcom if you use to install it, they’ve changed it so chances decrease with range depending on fire mode used and it shows you that chance., except aimed with never decreases.

        • king0zymandias says:

          Still doesn’t change the fact that you are beholden to the RNG completely. A skillful player should be given the opportunity to able to overcome overwhelming odds through sheer skill. Yeah I get it, it’s a difficult shot from a difficult situation, but you can’t just randomly tell me that I’ve missed without letting me actually take it. Had the crosshair been under my control then and only then, my successes and failures would feel meaningful and not just random and arbitrary.

          • Premium User Badge

            DrollRemark says:


            It’s a strategy game, not a skill game. The tension comes from weighing the percentages and deciding whether your soldier should take the shot, not from your own ability to take that shot for them.

            Comparing it to DOOM is missing the point of the game so much as to be worthless. I wouldn’t criticise Football Manager for not letting me play the matches like FIFA, because that’s the kind of game it’s designed to be.

          • king0zymandias says:

            Of course, not arguing that these weren’t conscious design decisions. Rather I’m criticizing the decisions themselves on their own merit. Because these conscious choices make the game feel more arbitrary and less visceral. If this isn’t legitimate grounds for criticism then I don’t know what is.

          • aepervius says:

            “Of course, not arguing that these weren’t conscious design decisions.” Yes the conscious decision was to make a strategy game. What you want is an action game, where it is not down to rng but your skill.

            really this is like faulting yatzee to not be basketball because in basketball at least it is down to your own skill.
            They are pretty damn utterly different game and your expectation are not matching reality.

            You should try “the bureau”, it will be up your wish.

          • Premium User Badge

            Mentalpygmy says:

            Are you of the opinion that Poker is a game largely dependent on luck and not skill? Games that factor in chance don’t remove agency, they reflect what actually happens in real life. Just as no amount of skill can change a bad beat. Good players will maximise their chances of winning and minimise the risks.

            So yes, that crack shot with a 98% chance to hit, might, as anyone miss. They might sneeze, the opponent might trip, the bullet might misfire. A swallow might intercept the bullet.

            Arbitrary? Far from it – compared to games which you never trip up over somebody else’s legs, grenades always go off etc. One accounts for life in an albeit simple way, the other doesn’t even consider large portions of it.

          • Asurmen says:

            Again, it’s tactics. The skill in the game is accounting for the risk on the dice roll, not in taking the shot yourself

            Your argument basically boils down to “I wish this was a different genre” and quite frankly, that’s a weird argument to make.

          • Press X to Gary Busey says:

            Important: Is the intercepting swallow an African swallow or a European Swallow!?

      • Kaeoschassis says:

        I’m sorry, are you honestly trying to make the argument “strategy games are inherently inferior to shooters” here? Because that’s what it sounds like, and that’s a little disturbing.

        • king0zymandias says:

          No, that’s not what I’m saying. Imagine something like Mount and Blade. That’s a strategy game. But would it be as engaging if the game was all about just telling your soldiers to attack and then just sit back and watch? The reason the game works is because you can jump into the fray yourself and change the course of the battle through your own skill or lack thereof.

          • Sin Vega says:

            “Strategy games are inferior to action games” is still pretty much what you’re saying, though. Which is a bit ridiculous. I mean, there’s a lot of room for nuance in what does and doesn’t work within strategy games (especially turn-based shooters – something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately as it happens), and agency is a huge deal. But the whole point of most strategy games is weighing up odds and arranging your resources so that things will come out in your favour. If you reject any stepping back at all, well, that rules out the vast majority of strategy games.

      • Themadcow says:

        Congratulations on posting the wrongest comment ever on RPS. I get where you’re coming from but what you perceive as a weakness is what millions of others appreciate as calculated risk. Losing one or two soldiers to such risk is the very essence of the game, losing an entire mission to such risk is just bad management.

    • Premium User Badge

      cpt_freakout says:

      Um, back to your original question: usually, GOG polishes the old games they release to be up to spec with new systems. If the bugs in question are unrelated to running on new systems, then no, they’ll probably still be there.

  3. Kefren says:

    I think the one I loved and played for a whole summer was Pirates Gold (1993). Later I tried the 2003 version (the one here?” and couldn’t get into it. So I can see where John is coming from. The 2004 version just didn’t have the charm of the old one for me.

  4. Neurotic says:

    They’re Back used to be my first port of call in the mag, followed by anything Tim Stone wrote, and then The Spy. I always wondered if there was one writer for that, or if you all took turns and so on.

    • Kaeoschassis says:

      The Spy is not a writer, The Spy is an idea, and you can’t kill ideas.

      Unfortunately for The Spy you also don’t legally have to pay ideas.

      Also reading that anecdote made me feel so gosh-darned old and I doubt I’m alone. Thanks John.

  5. LuckyLuigi says:

    Stopped reading halfway to immediately buy the Xcom bundle

  6. Snowyflaker says:

    Everyone seems to really dislike Interceptor but I really enjoyed the main idea of building starbases and upgrading them along with managing your pilots and researching new tech and ships. Shame that the simulator part of the game simply wasn’t very good.

    • Sin Vega says:

      The idea of Interceptor was fantastic, and it’s a real shame that there aren’t more games porting XCOM to other genres and settings. So much potential to it.

      • c-Row says:

        Yeah, who wouldn’t love to play a squad-based first person shooter set in the XCOM universe?

        • Sin Vega says:

          X-COM isn’t a “universe”, it’s a design concept, and one that could lend itself to all sorts of games. Even an FPS could conceivably be done right with it, especially now that the remakes have done the rounds and proven that the core concept still works.

          • c-Row says:

            You might have slightly missed the joke.

          • Sin Vega says:

            No, I get it. The reason The Bureau was crap was because it was a generic fps with shallow XCOM branding slapped on it, not a game inspired by the concepts behind XCOM. It doesn’t have to be that way though.

          • golochuk says:

            The part of X-COM outside the squad battles is essentially an elaborate pacing mechanism and negotiation over the terms of future battles, and many other games attempt something similar even if it’s less overwrought.

          • malkav11 says:

            Honestly, The Bureau isn’t crap. The decision to tie it into the X-Com franchise did it no favors in public perception, but it’s a solid enough squad shooter with surprisingly competent and widely distributed writing, lovely visuals, and just enough RPG elements and tactics to elevate it slightly above the average shooter without really rising to the level of, say, a later-series Mass Effect. And there’s a narrative beat that I did not see coming and thought was very clever. It’s just, y’know, not the X-Com remake everyone wanted at the time. Or quite as innovative and memorable as the original pitch promised.

          • Snowyflaker says:

            The Bureau would probably have worked far better if the developers had stuck with the original aliens designs and secured the rights to the Delta Green franchise instead of shoehorning the XCOM brand on the game.

    • Cinek says:

      You *have* to play the simulator, or is it purely optional? Cause the other parts of the game sound temping.

      • Great Cthulhu says:

        IIRC (it’s been many years) you really have to, though I think you can let your wingmen do a lot of the fighting.

        I honestly had fun with the game, though not enough to ever replay it after completing the campaign. And of course that was many years ago and games have generally gotten a lot better. :-)

  7. wombat191 says:

    glad they finally have freedom force. awesome game

  8. Sin Vega says:

    It’ll be interesting to see if the original Freedom Force actually works, unlike the Steam version. Definitely worth waiting a while on that one, I’d say, and reading around the forums and such.

    • PostieDoc says:

      It works fine, GOG are much better for getting old games to play nice with modern operating systems than Steam.

      • Kaeoschassis says:

        And on the *very* rare occasions when it doesn’t work out of the box, and they can’t get it working for you, their refunds are basically hassle-free. I’ve only ever had to use that once, mind, but still. It’s never really a risk to buy something on GOG.

  9. Raoul Duke says:

    The newest version of Pirates! it’s actually the best, and a very, very good game.

  10. Eightball says:

    Behead those who insult Pirates!

    It really only needs two things: a fix for getting modern resolutions working, and to make the “game gets harder as you get older” mechanic more forgiving (or remove it entirely). It’s an interesting idea but it makes it very hard to beat the game unless you skip all the interesting side stuff.

  11. Infinitron says:

    Release the Myth series NOW.

    • Chuckaluphagus says:

      Not 2K, Myth was by Bungie before they took Halo to the original Xbox.

      But yes, both Myth games on GoG and Steam would be fantastic. They hold up exceptionally well and are still a ton of fun to play.

      • Brigand says:

        I think he was saying that because Take-Two, who own 2k, hold the rights to the Myth series now.

        • Chuckaluphagus says:

          My error, then. I had thought that 2K only had the rights to Myth III, but a little research shows me that isn’t the case.

      • Replikant says:

        Great games. RTS without basebuilding, a grim story and amazing mods. Really hated the head-hurling mission though.

  12. Wednesday says:

    Oh man John I loved loved loved they’re back.

  13. jj2112 says:

    PC Gamer! I miss it.

    • Jay Load says:

      I do too. :(

      RPS was the soothing balm on that wound, back when Messrs Gillen and Rossignol were still around. Nowadays RPS feels like a Beatles reunion: I love Messrs Meer and Walker but it’s just not the same without the other two.

      • malkav11 says:

        Speaking as someone who still gets issues of PC Gamer once a month on my iPad, I’m a little confused as to why you folks are eulogizing it.

  14. Unsheep says:

    Already had the X-Com games but bought the Railroad Tycoon and Freedom Force games. The X-com games I bought from Direct2Drive worked fine, so maybe the Steam versions are lacking ? Just speculating. Besides, GOG tends to fix bugs before they release a game.

    I prefer the 1993 version of Pirates, the 2004 version is a bit “too Disney” for me, however its still a quality game.

    • Sin Vega says:

      I got mine from D2D too, glad I kept the installers as they went under ages ago and the generic business that took over tried installing all sorts of garbage. Having to pirate games you paid for, woo.

      Anyway, the bugs people have mention in XCOM were present in that version too I think (although the difficulty bug may have been fixed). Things like the 80-item limit, proximity grenade weirdness, stunned civilian traitors, and being charged for facilities even after you demolish them. None of them catastrophic, but big enough to matter. But OpenXCOM fixed most, if not all of them, so well worth a look.

  15. Premium User Badge

    Oakreef says:

    I’m playing XCOM EU for the first time and on the last mission and really loved it. Not sure if I want to jump into Long War, XCOM 2, Xenonauts or UFO EU next

    • Kaeoschassis says:

      I heartily recommend Xenonauts. Not necessarily “play it next” recommend, just making it clear that I love it to pieces and you should absolutely play it.

    • Unsheep says:

      Going straight into UFO EU from a Firaxis reboot would be very harsh and punishing. I highly recommend playing Xenonauts first; it is very much like a modern take on UFO EU, you will be surprised at how similar they are (minus the graphics obviously).

    • Premium User Badge

      DrollRemark says:

      You’re in luck, because they’re all excellent games. There’s pretty much no wrong choice.

  16. syllopsium says:

    Freedom Force vs The Third Reich is awesome, loved completing it. Haven’t finished the original, still decent, but with a few unwelcome difficulty spikes.

    Nevertheless, buy them, buy them now! I’ve got them both on CD, and I’m probably going to buy them again anyway.

  17. Sin Vega says:

    You would not BELIEVE how hard I had to bite my tongue all afternoon, reading an entire post and thread full of both “XCOM” and “Pirates” without mentioning X-Piratez until the article (here) went up. You bastards.

  18. Chillicothe says:

    They’ve already got some of my money from this. :O