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old video games

Gaming classics are often remembered fondly, but rarely played. The advance of computer technology can make a game that’s just five or ten years old feel almost unplayable. Graphics that were once stunning become intolerably ugly, interfaces that felt responsive seem archaic and complex, and gameplay mechanics that were fresh begin to feel worn out.

Most gamers give up and move on, but some re-invent older titles, adding new features and graphics. Let’s look at four titles that have been given a new lease on life thanks to ambitious mods.

Homeworld 2 Complex

old video games

You probably forgot about Homeworld 2. The original was one of the most inventive strategy games released for the PC 3 Free Sci-Fi Strategy Games For PC [Gaming] 3 Free Sci-Fi Strategy Games For PC [Gaming] Read More , and the sequel simply couldn’t live up to the expectations of fans. It wasn’t a bad game – in fact, the core engine was good – but the story felt stale and the gameplay made no great leap forward.

Not everyone gave up on the game easily, however. Graphically it was stunning, retaining the style of the original while upping detail. There was also heavier use of capital ships with multiple and more complex weapons. These ideas have been heavily revised and expanded and then released as the Homeworld 2 Complex Mod.

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As the name implies, Homeworld 2 Complex is…complex. There’s a ton of ships, new rules for ship crews and officers, an expanded resource model and much, much more. You may have some trouble getting into the game, but it’s all worthwhile when you engage in combat and enjoy the spectacle of watching two flotillas engage in combat. The developers of the mod are obviously huge nerds – the attention to detail is staggering. Even if you lose (and in your first few games, you probably will) the fireworks are worth your time.

Fallout 3: Wanderer’s Edition

old games

Fallout 3 is a game that, in my opinion, hasn’t aged well despite being just few years old. I enjoyed it when I first played it, but even back then it felt a bit hollow, as if Bethesda had simply modded Fallout 3 into Oblivion. There was none of the intensity and desperation of the first two games.

The Wanderer’s Edition mod helps to change that. It is far from the only survivalist mode developed for Fallout 3, but it’s the best out of the buffet of options. The pace of leveling has been changed, overall skill points have been reduced and balance adjustments have been made to tone-down some overpowered skills. Combat has been heavily revised to offer a more FPS-like experience.

My favorite additions, however, are those directly relating to survival. Ammo is less common and has weight, so you can’t turn yourself into a mobile arms depot. Taking heavy damage now has long-term effects, giving combat more consequence. There are new survival needs like food, and radiation is far deadlier.

All of this does make the game more difficult, but it’s not unapproachable. Instead, the main effect is to give the game a slower and more dreadful feel. Installing the Wanderer’s Edition forces players to give the Wasteland the respect it deserves.

Fall From Heaven

old games

Often times a mod that heavily or fully converts a game does so because of issues with the original. It’s rare for a mod to not only build on an already excellent game but also manage to (arguably) improve on it.

That’s what Fall From Heaven manages to do with Civilization 4. This is a conversion of that already excellent title into a fantasy-based strategy game. Think Disciples or Heros of Might And Magic with a focus on macro-management.

Everything has been thought of. There’s a full complement of new civilizations, units, building and scenarios. But it doesn’t stop there. Gameplay mechanics have also been revised to fit the setting. The game revolves around an “Armageddon Counter” which is raised by negative events (warfare, evil wonders) and lowered by good events (meeting certain goals, good wonders). Each step up the chain towards Armageddon causes the land to become darker and more corrupt.

The developers attempted to make Fall From Heaven a stand-alone game, but the project never gained firm financial footing. But don’t worry. The mod is in healthy state and essentially “finished.” There’s a word not often used to describe a mod!

Freespace 2 Source Code Project

old video games

Freespace 2 is one of my favorite games of all time. I spent many a night in front of my computer, Sidewinder joystick in hand, headphones at maximum volume. The game managed a sense of immersion that few games have ever provided.

Unfortunately it wasn’t a sales hit, so the series was left at two games despite a cult following. The developer, Volition, wasn’t deaf to its fans. Since the developer couldn’t fund another title in the franchise they instead released the source code. It was a surprising development – the game had been on store shelves for only three years.

This means you can play Freespace 2 for free. But wait, there’s more! Downloading the game from the Source Code Project grants you access to a slew of graphical enhancements as well as a host of mods with additional campaign missions, most of them based of popular sci-fi shows like Battlestar Galactica and Star Trek Relive Star Trek & Explore Space In Vega Trek [MUO Gaming] Relive Star Trek & Explore Space In Vega Trek [MUO Gaming] I remember when I was a kid, I used to close the door to my room, fire up the old DOS-based computer that booted up off a floppy disk, and then pretend that I was... Read More .

Space combat games aren’t exactly common these days. Despite its age, Freespace 2 is still the best title in the genre that runs on a modern computer. If you haven’t played it, you should – and if you did play it back in 1999, you should give it another go.

Conclusion

Obviously, all of the great mods 4 Free Online Multiplayer Source Engine Mods For Half-Life 2 4 Free Online Multiplayer Source Engine Mods For Half-Life 2 Read More that have given games a second life can’t be condensed into a single article. There are a lot of them out there. Others that come to mind are Balanced Annihilation (now based off the Spring game engine The Spring Project - An Open Source Strategy Game Engine With An Impressive Selection of Free Games The Spring Project - An Open Source Strategy Game Engine With An Impressive Selection of Free Games Read More , so arguably no longer a mod), Desert Combat and Multi Theft Auto.

What about you? Was one of your old favorites revitalized thanks to a mod that updated, improved or completely changed the gameplay? Sound off in the comments!

  1. TangFiend
    April 19, 2012 at 3:27 am

    Battlefield 2: Project Reality mod. True squad based teamplay and ultra realistic assets/weapons and vehicles on maps that are up to 16km sq. Over a dozen factions. It won moddb mod of the year back in 2008 and has been getting better and larger every year since. Once you play a good round with some good squads you can never play other wargames again they seem so arcadey and silly. Great community too, some nights servers even host up to 200 player games.

  2. Chris Hoffman
    March 7, 2012 at 12:08 am

    The Nameless Mod for the original Deus Ex was pretty awesome, if you can get past the alienating introduction full of inside jokes about a forum: http://thenamelessmod.com

    It's just more Deus Ex -- the original Deus Ex perhaps being the best game ever released.

  3. shantinath1000
    March 3, 2012 at 5:01 pm

    I downloaded the free space 2 installer but am having trouble running the game- any idea where the exe file is?

    • Matt Smith
      March 28, 2012 at 12:13 am

      They have an installation article available on their Wiki: http://www.hard-light.net/wiki/index.php/Installing_fs2_open

      • Levi
        May 8, 2012 at 4:17 am

        Not feeling it today poop. Anyway, I just siengd up for the regionals. I can't join the team though? It said it would send an email and then it said emailed failed and now I can't click to join any more?

  4. JerryBerry
    March 2, 2012 at 7:49 pm

    Descent 1 & 2 has been revamped as "Rebirth" - Been loving them ~

  5. Duy Bui
    March 2, 2012 at 5:24 pm

    How can you not include Heroes III - Wake of God?

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