Monday, January 14, 2008

A Treasure!

While rummaging about in some storage bins at my mother's house this weekend, I happened across a cd spindle of old games. Sitting between Jeopardy and Monty Python's Complete Waste of Time (aptly named) were several games that I had not seen in years: Warcraft II, Mechwarrior 2, Quake, Crusader: No Remorse, Command and Conquer Red Alert, Daggerfall and X-Com. With the exception of X-Com and a brief foray back into the original Daggerfall demo, I had not played a single one of these games in close to ten years (though not for lack of trying). It was quite the find for me. All together in a dark closet were the games that made me a gamer. Each game would play a pivotal role in placing the pc in the forefront of gaming innovation for the next ten years. It has slipped from the front in many respects, but it will always be the primary site for technical advancement as with graphics and physics. The consoles are undeniably the current center of gameplay innovations, mainly due to the Wii and Guitar Hero, which fundamentally changed the way the player interacts with the game. The release of Portal and the previews of Spore, however, show that the pc will never stagnate into purely derivative gameplay dynamics. But we'll leave that for now.

Of the games found, the only one I have been able to get running is Crusader: No Remorse. I had been searching for a freeware version for years, but it never occurred to me to run it in DosBox. The game is just as fun as I remembered, which is amazing considering its age. There is simply endless amusement to be had entering into a company's breakroom:

and reducing it to rubble:

The destructibility of the environments is fantastic, even the potted plants explode in a fiery puff of sparks and smoke. It's really a ridiculous game, but we'll forgive it for the hollow AI and the cliche story on account of the amount of fun it is regardless of these shortcomings.

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