Pixel Boost

Pixel Boost: Clive Barker's Undying at 2560x1440

Wes Fenlon at

Twice a month, Pixel Boost guides you through the hacks, tricks, and mods you'll need to run a classic PC game on Windows 7/8. Each guide comes with a free side of hi-res screenshots from the LPC celebrating the graphics of PC gaming's past. This week: inside the twisted mind of Clive Barker.

If you consult horror master Clive Barker on a video game story, it turns out you get something very, very Lovecraft—but with first-person shooting and spellcasting. Clive Barker's Undying hit the PC in 2001 with a weird mix of occult psychological horror (reminiscent of the GameCube's Eternal Darkness, released the next year) and first-person combat. Barker cited Lovecraft and Poe as inspirations for the game, and that macabre fantasy atmosphere is apparent within the first five minutes of the game. Like Resident Evil, Undying begins in a mansion, but it mixes in spellcasting and an involved occult story. It still feels fresh nearly 15 years later, and you can run it on modern Windows at a high resolution thanks to GOG.

Pixel Boost: Tachyon: The Fringe at 2560x1440

Wes Fenlon at

Twice a month, Pixel Boost guides you through the hacks, tricks, and mods you'll need to run a classic PC game on Windows 7/8. Each guide comes with a free side of hi-res screenshots from the LPC celebrating the graphics of PC gaming's past. This week: Cracking wise on the outskirts of space.

Elite Dangerous, Star Citizen. While space sim diehards are fighting over which modern sim is the one true king, Pixel Boost turns its eyes back to one of the greats of the past: Novalogic’s Tachyon: The Fringe. Bruce Campbell stars as sassy pilot Jake Logan, hanging out on the fringes of space and getting in all kinds of interstellar dogfights. Tachyon showed up on PC in 2000, right as the space sim genre peaked and started drifting into a black hole of obscurity, with a branching storyline and multiplayer that still lives today. The game is also easy to play at high resolutions on modern Windows. If you bought a flight stick for modern space sims, time to put it to use with a classic.

Pixel Boost: Deus Ex at 5K

Wes Fenlon at

Twice a month, Pixel Boost guides you through the hacks, tricks, and mods you'll need to run a classic PC game on Windows 7/8. Each guide comes with a free side of hi-res screenshots from the LPC celebrating the graphics of PC gaming's past. This week: Looking sharp, JC Denton. Real sharp.

It's one of the best RPGs ever made. It's one of the best games ever made, period. Deus Ex needs little introduction—since 2000, Ion Storm's first-person shooter/RPG has been the benchmark for open-ended game design. There's always a secret vent to crawl through, or a door to hack, or an NPC to persuade. Deus Ex's popularity endures to this day, and modders are still working to make the game look better every year. We decided to pay ol' JC Denton a visit on modern Windows and snap 33 5K screenshots. Here are the tools you can use to do the same.

Pixel Boost: Sid Meier's Pirates!

Wes Fenlon at

Twice a month, Pixel Boost guides you through the hacks, tricks, and mods you'll need to run a classic PC game on Windows 7/8. Each guide comes with a free side of hi-res screenshots from the LPC celebrating the graphics of PC gaming's past. This week: Yarr!.

First, there were pirates, the sea dogs of the the 17th century Caribbean. Then there were Pirates!, who were very similar, except they lived inside computers like the Commodore 64 and Apple II and were created by Sid Meier in 1987. Finally, there are 2004's Pirates!, who sail the Caribbean as salty 3D scalawags instead of tiny blocky pixel sprites. Pirates, Pirates! and 3D Pirates! all do mostly the same things--plunder booty, trade stolen goods, and swordfight with Spanish sailors. 2013's Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag may have the more exciting swordfighting, but the greatest piracy simulation of them all is still 2004's Sid Meier's Pirates!. Meier's classic blend of fun minigames and strategy hasn't been replicated in a pirate game since, but that's okay—Pirates! still runs just fine on modern Windows, and at high resolution, too.

Pixel Boost: No One Lives Forever 2 at 1440p

Wes Fenlon at

Twice a month, Pixel Boost guides you through the hacks, tricks, and mods you'll need to run a classic PC game on Windows 7/8. Each guide comes with a free side of 4K screenshots from the LPC celebrating the graphics of PC gaming's past. This week: Cate Archer lives forever (in our hearts).

It's been 12 years since the PC hosted the adventures of 1960s superspy Cate Archer. Twelve years too long. If you've played NOLF or its sequel, No One Lives Forever 2: A Spy in H.A.R.M.'s Way, you know why they're some of the best shooters of all time: smart AI, inventive weaponry, and an endlessly witty script. They were also some of the best-looking games of the early 2000s, which means they hold up remarkably well today--with a little tinkering to add widescreen support and higher resolutions. While the rights to the NOLF games have been lost to legal limbo for years, a trademark filing back in May could hint that they'll finally show up on Steam or GOG in the future. For now, the only way to play them is to load up a trusty old CD copy. If you've got one, it's time to Pixel Boost.

Pixel Boost: Planescape: Torment at 1440p

Wes Fenlon at

Twice a month, Pixel Boost guides you through the hacks, tricks, and mods you'll need to run a classic PC game on Windows 7/8. Each guide comes with a free side of 4K screenshots from the LPC celebrating the graphics of PC gaming's past. This week: the Nameless One lives (and dies) again.

Obsidian Entertainment's Pillars of Eternity is, essentially, the reincarnation of late-90s Infinity Engine RPGs. Obsidian has captured the look of isometric cRPGs of the early 2000s as we remember them, and nothing drives that point home like playing Planescape: Torment today. It's as well-written and immense as you remember, but you may have to squint to read the UI or find your way around the environment. It takes some work to run Infinity Engine games on modern PCs, but thanks to the amazing fan community, there are great resources for these games more than a decade alter. If you have a hankering to return to the world of Planescape before Torment: Tides of Numenera, though, it can be done. Here's how.

Pixel Boost: Halo: Combat Evolved at 5120x2880

Wes Fenlon at

Twice a month, Pixel Boost guides you through the hacks, tricks, and mods you'll need to run a classic PC game on Windows 7/8. Each guide comes with a free side of 4K screenshots from the LPC celebrating the graphics of PC gaming's past. This week: Halo PC survives the death of Gamespy.

I lost the entire summer of 2004 to Halo on the PC. While my family PC was still an aging Pentium 4, my best friend (who lived a convenient five minutes away) scored a beastly gaming rig powered by a 2.8GHz AMD CPU and a 128MB ATI 9600. It could play anything, and in the summer of 2004, our game of choice was Halo on the PC. We'd take turns playing multiplayer for days straight, honing our pistol skills to get those crucial three-shot kills. Servers hosted CTF matches that lasted for hours. Today, Halo: Custom Edition still has a small but active playerbase thanks to a Bungie patch (11 years after release!) that replaced Gamespy with new master servers. The patch also added support for resolutions up to 4800x3600. You know what that means—it's time to Pixel Boost.

Pixel Boost: Command and Conquer Red Alert 2

Wes Fenlon at

Twice a month Wes guides you through the hacks, tricks, and mods you'll need to run a classic PC game on Windows 7/8. Each Pixel Boost guide comes with a free side of high-res screenshots from the LPC celebrating the graphics of PC gaming's past. This week: eternal classic Red Alert 2.

Red Alert 2 is not the most balanced Command & Conquer. It's not the most stable—multiplayer matches ended in crashes more often than not. It's not the most serious (that's probably Generals) and it's not the goofiest (that's probably Red Alert 3). But it's my favorite, because it includes a little bit of what made every C&C game special. Westwood upped the production value if its FMV cutscenes without sacrificing the camp and built a huge range of creative units without straying from C&C's messy large-scale battles. Until the Minecraft era, Westwood was also one of the only developers to make smart use of voxels, and Red Alert 2's colorful world and soldiers still look cool 14 years later. RA2 isn't the easiest game to find these days, but if you have a copy, it's still possible to run the game at high-res in modern Windows.

Pixel Boost: Hitman: Codename 47 at 4K

Wes Fenlon at

Twice a month Wes guides you through the hacks, tricks, and mods you'll need to run a classic PC game on Windows 7/8. Each Pixel Boost guide comes with a free side of 4K screenshots from the LPC celebrating the graphics of PC gaming's past. This week: our favorite bald assassin's first outing in Hitman: Codename 47.

2012's Hitman: Absolution brought Agent 47 back into the assassination business, though not in the way we hoped. Gone were the sprawling levels that made up Blood Money's brilliantly intricate murder simulator. Six years before IO Interactive perfected the Hitman formula, though, it tapped into that first spark of brilliance with Hitman: Codename 47. The first Hitman introduced the series staples that its sequels would build on: disguises, hiding bodies, observing guard patterns. Codename 47 doesn't love modern Windows, but with a few simple setting changes (thanks OpenGL!) it runs like a champ, even at 4K.

Pixel Boost: Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines at 4K

Wes Fenlon at

Twice a month Wes guides you through the hacks, tricks, and mods you'll need to run a classic PC game on Windows 7/8. Each Pixel Boost guide comes with a free side of 4K screenshots from the LPC celebrating the graphics of PC gaming's past. This week: the enduring Legacy of Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines.

It's incredible that Vampire the Masquerade is 10 years old, and the fan community is still patching it to make it a better game. That's dedication. And Bloodlines is a game worth being dedicated to—the writing is up there with other RPG masterpieces like Planescape Torment. And there's vampire politics! Insane Malkavians! Unfortunately, Bloodlines was a buggy mess 10 years ago, and even after a decade of fan patches and fixes, it can be a challenging, intimidating game to run on modern Windows. But it can be done, and I've compiled the most helpful instructions and mods to make Vampire: the Masquerade Bloodlines run, even in 4K.

Pixel Boost: Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast

Wes Fenlon at

Twice a month Wes guides you through the hacks, tricks, and mods you'll need to run a classic PC game on Windows 7/8. Each Pixel Boost guide comes with a free side of 4K screenshots from the LPC celebrating the graphics of PC gaming's past. This week: Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast.

When it comes to Star Wars games, they don't make 'em like they used to. In the late 90s and early 2000s, the Dark Forces and Jedi Knight series married fun first-person action—full of iconic weapons and sound effects—with stories and characters from a larger fictional world. Kyle Katarn! Mara Jade! Luke Skywalker! They were all there, and the games they were in were good. After the first two Dark Forces, LucasArts handed the reigns to Raven Software, who amped up the lightsaber combat and multiplayer. All of the Jedi Knight games are available on Steam, so I relived my childhood Star Wars fandom with Jedi Outcast and took 25 4K screenshots in the process.

Pixel Boost: Unreal Tournament 2004 at 4K

Wes Fenlon at

Twice a month Wes guides you through the hacks, tricks, and mods you'll need to run a classic PC game on Windows 7/8. Each Pixel Boost guide comes with a free side of 4K screenshots from the LPC celebrating the graphics of PC gaming's past. This week: Unreal Tournament 2004 turns 10.

Unreal Tournament 2004 turned a decade old in March. There's still nothing as thrillingly tense as an Instagib match on Facing Worlds, nothing as smooth and satisfying as snatching up a Flak Cannon and instantly turning someone into flying giblets with a spread of molten shrapnel. It's just as much fun as you remember, and the online scene still has active servers hosting fast-paced multiplayer matches today. Even better, Unreal Tournament 2004 installs and runs like a champion on modern Windows, and I've got 34 4K screenshots to prove it.