Reinstall

Reinstall: Leisure Suit Larry: Love For Sail

Richard Cobbett at

Poor Larry Laffer. Few characters have ever been so misunderstood or unfairly looked down on than Al Lowe's perpetual but loveable loser, thanks to a couple of basic misconceptions about the series—that the Leisure Suit Larry games are sex games rather than comedy games about sex, and that Larry himself is some kind of sex monster, rather than a guy who spent at least his first trilogy specifically looking for love. Really. No fewer than three times is he happy to settle down after finding Miss Right. The whole 'ultimate pervert' thing comes far more from marketing than the action in the actual games.


Reinstall: Brothers in Arms

Ben Griffin at

Reinstall invites you to join us in revisiting classics of PC gaming days gone by. This week, Ben relearns World War 2 tactics in Brothers in Arms.

Find, fix, flank and finish. Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30 calls them The Four F’s, and almost ten years since its release, I haven’t forgotten. But this is more than a catchy slogan. This authentic military manoeuvre is the game’s backbone, the reason it stands tall among a mid-naughties glut of brain-dead war shooters. Whenever I think about Gearbox’s squad-based FPS, I find myself repeating it like a mantra.

Reinstall: Mafia: City Of Lost Heaven

Samuel Roberts at

Reinstall invites you to join us in revisiting classics of PC gaming days gone by. This week, editor Sam Roberts revisits Mafia: City Of Lost Heaven.

Both Mafia games share one thing that I’d totally forgotten until I reinstalled the original: they both challenge you with mundane tasks before the fun kicks in. In Mafia II, you stack crates in a van for as long as you can stand it. In City of Lost Heaven, you go through five horrendous taxi fares in Tommy Angelo’s pathetically slow car before you sack it off and enter a world of organised crime.

Reinstall: Star Wars Battlefront II

Samuel Roberts at

Reinstall invites you to join us in revisiting classics of PC gaming days gone by. This week, editor Sam Roberts revisits the massively popular multiplayer shooter Star Wars: Battlefront II.

There’s been some serious money left on the table with Star Wars: Battlefront III's ongoing non-existence in the last nine years. Lucasarts’ changes in management, Free Radical’s collapse and EA’s purchase of Pandemic probably didn’t help matters, even if DICE's version is at least early into production now. What it means is that 2005’s Battlefront II is still somehow the best way of having large-scale Star Wars multiplayer battles on land (not so much in space), but despite that merit it’s been outstripped by most modern class-based multiplayer shooters.

Reinstall: Silent Hunter 2

Andy Mahood at

Reinstall invites you to join us in revisiting classics of PC gaming days gone by. This week, we dive beneath the waves and try to keep our voices down in Silent Hunter II.

Slicing through the frigid North Atlantic waters, my wounded Type VII-C U-boat is one well-placed depth charge away from bursting open like a cheap German piñata and sinking rock-like to the ocean floor. Those British destroyers circling manically overhead show no signs of bugging off and leaving me to lick my wounds. Probably because I sunk two of the fattest ships in their convoy 15 minutes ago with a perfectly-aimed torpedo spread. But the sense of elation I felt is transforming into terror. After my fish made contact and turned the freighters into flaming steel coffins, the convoy’s three destroyer escorts descended on me, peppering my crash-diving sub with hull-ripping depth charges.

Reinstall: Silent Hill 2

Andy Kelly at

Reinstall invites you to join us in revisiting classics of PC gaming days gone by. This week, Andy returns to the foggy streets of Silent Hill 2.

Having finished Silent Hill 2 more times than I can remember, I know what lies around every corner, but the atmosphere is so thick and oppressive I still can’t play it for more than an hour at a time. This is partly down to the filthy, flyblown grime of its hospital corridors and fogbound streets, which seems to seep through your monitor. But mostly it’s because of how it sounds.

The audio design is rarely talked about with the same adoration as the wonderfully dark story and surreal, twisted art style, but it’s just as important. Audio director Akira Yamaoka used sound and music in interesting, unusual ways to create an air of both low-key melancholy and gnawing terror – whether it’s a lonely, solemn piano playing after a particularly harrowing moment in the story, or the sound of some unfathomable horror lurking in the shadows. If you haven’t played Silent Hill 2 – and I don’t blame you, because the PC version is difficult to track down – the game stars James Sunderland, who receives a letter from his wife, Mary, who died three years earlier. She says she’s in the town of Silent Hill, in their ‘special place’, and James travels there to meet her, only to discover that the town is abandoned and crawling with bizarre creatures. It’s one of the best videogame stories ever told, with unforgettable twists and turns that I wouldn’t dream of spoiling. It sidelines the series’ bloated mythology of cults and magic to tell a tragic, human and oddly romantic tale.

Reinstall: Grand Theft Auto 2

Marsh Davies at

PC gamers needn’t wait to sample Rockstar’s vision of current day America. GTA 2, released in 1999 by the developers then called DMA Design, was set in 2013 – although not a 2013 you’d necessarily recognise. In fact, it’s not even a GTA you’d necessarily recognise.


Reinstall: Jagged Alliance 2

Evan Lahti at

Reinstall invites you to join us in revisiting classics of PC gaming days gone by. This week, we roll into tactical RPG history with our soldiers of fortune in Jagged Alliance 2.

The Hamburglar has fatally misjudged the blast range of TNT. Wayne Gretzky is dead, too—his blood all leaked out on an airport runway through a sniper hole between the lungs. I can’t keep my team of fantasy mercenaries alive.

Naming a party of characters is one of the game-given rights of X-COM-like turn-based tactical RPGs. It’s instantly gratifying to take a commando named after your cat into combat. And when permanent death is a possibility, it’s a way of emotionally investing yourself in the animated sprites you’re sending into harm’s way.

Reinstall: MechCommander

Evan Lahti at

Reinstall invites you to join us in revisiting classics of PC gaming days gone by. This week, we take to the battlefield with not just one, but A FEW mechs in MechCommander.

Time to roll the dice. I’m replaying the third mission of MechCommander, a few giant robot steps away from a big moment: my first run-in with a MadCat. If I play things right, I can bag it. One problem: I’m totally outmatched. My four-man rookie squad is piloting wiry light mechs (Commandos and Firestarters); essentially, I’m about to send a gaggle of Chevy Cavaliers against a Ferrari.

The MadCat’s iconic frame emerges from the fog of war, its egg-shaped cockpit perched atop raptor legs, shouldering twin blocks of long-range missile racks. I’ve got to make a call: do I sprint to the extraction point and attempt to complete the mission without a fight? Do I use the nuclear option and zap the rows of gas tanks near the MadCat for a sure kill—but with no chance of salvaging it? Or do I fight it head-on, and maybe—if I range correctly, kite it away from my damaged scout mech, and find enough finesse—knock the beast down without killing it, adding it to my squad and taking it into mission four as a playable prize?

Reinstall: System Shock 2

Cory Banks at

Reinstall invites you to join us in revisiting classics of PC gaming days gone by. This week, Cory takes a deep breath, braces himself, and journeys back into the hellish depths of the Von Braun in System Shock 2.

It’s still out there. I can hear it through the door, wandering around the hallway. I lean around the corner quickly to look, catching the back of its head as it turns the corner. “Is... someone... there?” I hear it ask, dragging a shotgun along and searching for the intruder – me. I have no ammo, and I’m out of psi-hypos. My only chance is to bludgeon it with a wrench before its friends show up. Seizing my chance, I rush out, holding the mouse button down in order to prep my wrench swing. But it sees me, shoves its shotgun out and shouts, “Kill... me!”

Reinstall: RollerCoaster Tycoon 3

PC Gamer at

Reinstall invites you to join us in revisiting classics of PC gaming days gone by. This week, Jon constructs some fine vomit comets and manages the mess in RollerCoaster Tycoon 3.

I am one very contented hour into Box Office, the fourth career-based scenario in RollerCoaster Tycoon 3, and my park rating is falling. I can see no immediate reason why until I zoom into a corner I’ve been neglecting for a while and see that it’s slick with vomit.

The Rotor I’ve placed there is obviously a bit too exciting for the ‘peeps’, as the game calls its park patrons, and many have lost their lunch. I locate and pick up one of my janitors, then drop him nearby where he dutifully starts to mop up, sending my park rating off in the right direction again. It’s this simple type of tinkering and troubleshooting that makes a construction and management sim like RCT3 such a satisfying alternative to games that are twitch-based or time-critical. So the peeps have had to wade through some puke for a little while; no biggie.

Reinstall - Wing Commander: Privateer

Richard Cobbett at

Reinstall invites you to join us in revisiting classics of PC gaming days gone by. This week, we take a spin through the rich, interplanetary world of Wing Commander: Privateer. And blow significant portions of it up, of course.

Confession time: I don’t like Elite. Never did. It’s a huge, empty, boring universe, existing solely for you to fly tedious trade routes from A to B, and occasionally be blown up in rubbish fights with other ships. Where’s the action? Where’s the adventure? Where’s the excitement of being a space smuggler type?

I’ll tell you. It’s in Privateer. At least, it was. Like the other early Wing Commander games, its use of sprites instead of primitively shaded polygons made for gloriously cinematic space battles back in the early ’90s. Their 320x200 pixel graphics blown up on a modern LCD mean much more squinting. See those huge cockpits? You can’t hide them. For your first few missions, the biggest challenge is working out if you’re meant to use your viewscreen or post a letter through it. Some games successfully hide their age. Privateer is not one of them.

Reinstall: Strife, merging shooter and RPG elements years before Deus Ex

PC Gamer at

Reinstall invites you to join us in revisiting classics of PC gaming days gone by. This week, Paul returns to the ambitious Doom-era FPS/RPG hybrid, Strife.

Article by Paul Dean

Strife did Deus Ex before Deus Ex – sort of. Released in 1996 and powered by id’s Doom engine, it didn’t manage to pull off that same fusion of roleplaying elements, stealth and freedom of choice that made Deus Ex great a few years later, but it certainly took one of the first stabs at it, and 17 years after its release it still does a pretty fine job.

Strife was one of the first games to take an engine used by first- person shooters and to bolt all kinds of extras onto it, showing that it could be used for far more than just blasting away at monsters. It’s a Doom-a-like set in a hub-based persistent world where you can talk to just about anyone, albeit through terrible, cheesy voice acting. It’s an ambitious last hurrah for the Doom engine, following more simplistic games such as Heretic and Hexen, and it wears that heritage proudly: you get to do a lot of shooting with a lot of novel weaponry. And people explode.

Reinstall - Stalker: Shadow of Chernobyl

Christopher Livingston at

Reinstall invites you to join us in revisiting classics of PC gaming days gone by. This week, Chris returns to the haunted, irradiated wastes of Stalker: Shadow of Chernobyl.

It’s one thing to feel an overwhelming sense of dread while crouching in the darkened sub-basement of an abandoned lab at the stroke of midnight. It’s quite another to feel just as uneasy in the middle of an empty field with the sun directly overhead.

Stalker: Shadow of Chernobyl certainly has its share of jump- scares and oh-shit monster moments, but what makes the game so memorable is that the neck-tightening tension never evaporates, even in broad daylight, far from claustrophobic chambers full of mutants. The sense of dread is like white noise: pervasive and constant. It begins with the sombre tones of the menu music and doesn’t end until long after the quit to desktop.

Reinstall: Black & White

Chris Thursten at

Black & White’s high concept could have been an @petermolydeux tweet: ‘You’re an all-seeing deity who’s followed around by a devoted chimp that shares all of your powers but none of your reasoning or judgement.’

The popularity of the Peter Molyneux parody account is down to the developer’s penchant for ‘imagine if’ statements like this one. In the years prior to its release, Black & White was sold as a revolutionary new kind of game: a world that doubles as a personality test, a measure of character that would reflect you personally.


Reinstall: Myst

Richard Cobbett at

Reinstall invites you to join us in revisiting classics of PC gaming days gone by. This week, we explore the eerily deserted, ethereal landscape of Myst.

With six million copies sold, making it the best-selling game of all time until The Sims came along, there’s absolutely no arguing Myst’s place in PC gaming history. It set a new benchmark for multimedia and 3D rendering. It inspired many people who would never have touched a game to give it a try, sucking them into our world. It gave printer manufacturers something to bundle with their products.

Myst, in a word, is a legend.

I hate it. I hate it so much.

Let's Reboot... No One Lives Forever

Tim Stone at

“Let’s Reboot” takes a look back at a classic in need of a new outing or a beloved series gone stale and asks how it might be best redesigned or given a kick up the backside for today’s gaming audience. The Rules: Assume a free hand, and a decent budget, but realistic technology and expectations. This week’s sacred cow – an FPS with jokes by Mel Brooks and Mike Myers, gadgets by Q, and bulletproof vests by Mary Quant."

Confusion over the ownership of stealthy Sixties shooter No One Lives Forever might be bad for budget release prospects, but it's great for those of us who spend our time pacing around inside hollowed-out volcanoes, fondling fluffy felines and planning the fourth instalment.

Reinstall: Black and White

Chris Thursten at

Black & White’s high concept could have been an @petermolydeux tweet: ‘You’re an all-seeing deity who’s followed around by a devoted chimp that shares all of your powers but none of your reasoning or judgement.’

The popularity of the Peter Molyneux parody account is down to the developer’s penchant for ‘imagine if’ statements like this one. In the years prior to its release, Black & White was sold as a revolutionary new kind of game: a world that doubles as a personality test, a measure of character that would reflect you personally.


Reinstall: Transport Tycoon

Duncan Geere at

Eighteen years after release, I’m still captivated by the patchwork landscapes of Transport Tycoon. The neat fenceposts of the game’s cottages, the chugging steam locomotives and the tranquillity of a tiny seaside hamlet are still as arresting as ever.

I’ve been playing OpenTTD – a free, open-source remake of Chris Sawyer’s classic 1994 management game. It’s one of those rare things: a facsimile of a well-loved title that improves greatly on the original.


Reinstall: Hitman: Blood Money

Tom Francis at

This all started in Chiu Dai park, Hong Kong, twelve years ago. The first mission of the first Hitman game. You’re given a target, a pistol and a disassembled sniper rifle in a briefcase. And something is very odd.

You’re just a guy, in a street. No one’s shooting at you. No one’s hunting for you. The challenge isn’t to survive, or to get to the exit, or to solve a puzzle. You can just explore, observe, and understand this space, then decide how to make one man dead.