A seven-course meal at a fancy restaurant followed by a night at the opera is cool and all, but sometimes you just want to throw on your sweatpants, put on some old South Park episodes and settle in with a 10-piece bucket.
Games are like that too. Modern titles are pretty and challenging and interesting, but sometimes it’s worth kicking off those high heels, putting on your slippers and settling in to something familiar.
DOOM 1 & 2
Every year, a strange urge comes over me. A sort of nostalgic lust flushes through my body like a particularly brutal curry, and I find myself hankering after bad resolutions and linear game systems.
And there, like an old flame that never quite went out, sits DOOM. DOOM is my sure thing, my 3am booty call, my Wimpy breakfast after a night of bad decisions.
Now I know you’re rolling your eyes so hard you’re risking going blind right now, but bear with me. I’m not talking about firing up vanilla Knee Deep in the Dead and going at it (even though that’s still awesome).
There is a world, a whole world you guys, of DOOM mods out there. This goes from entire, massive campaigns in the style of the original game to total conversions that turn the game into some kind of weird hybrid between Leisure Suit Larry and Street Fighter.
This is one of the most dedicated and passionate modding communities on the planet, and it’s still going strong. Hell, even John frickin’ Romero released a new DOOM map, in 2016. They have awards for them even, every year. There is SO MUCH CONTENT, and it’s all free. I highly recommend going tumbling down the rabbit hole.
Do you want to play Mario Kart, but don’t want to buy a Nintendo console just for that? Never fear friends, because Re-Volt still exists and it’s still awesome.
A forgotten PC (and N64, and PlayStation) gem, Re-Volt has you race an RC car around elaborate tracks, with all the raw sexual energy and elite style that you’ve come to expect from RC car racing.
As you run through the tracks you can pick up power-ups which give you random bonuses like speed boosts, oil slicks, the ability to attack your competitors and stop me when this starts sounding familiar. Alright, so maybe this totally ripped off Mario Kart and used RC cars, but I think we can all agree RC cars are cool as shit. And so is this game.
Maaaaaan this game was GOOD. Do you remember how good this game was? Do you remember how bad-ass that story and dialogue was, as told through comic book-style cut-scenes?
Yeah, you may vaguely remember it, like you vaguely remember that Venga Boys concert you went to when you were 9, but that’s not the same as re-experiencing it. I’ll never again get to hear the Venga Boys tell me that Boom Boom, they want me in their room, but I’ll always be able to hear Max Payne call Jack Lupino a dirty asshole again.
Maybe that’s enough.
Diablo 2 is the free refill of games – you keep coming back even when you don’t want to anymore. Diablo 3 is new and shiny and pretty awesome, but Diablo 2 has aged like Jessica Alba in a bathtub of honey, and is as much worth your time today as it was then.
A much more unforgiving beast than Diablo 3, the second instalment has you commit to a particular path in terms of skills and stats, no reset button, no takesies-backsies. No free items. Drops are harder.
Besides the whole “crafting the perfect character” grind that Diablo 3 has become, Diablo 2 actually has a sweet campaign with a cool story – something its younger brother has always lacked. You don’t have to sink your life into this one, but it’s definitely worth playing through the story again.
Call of Duty 2
Listen to me bros – the LAN is not dead. I know we all have fibre internet and VOIP and have no need to be in the same room anymore, but it’s time to rediscover the simple pleasures of shooting each other in the face.
All of the multiplayer stuff we engage in today is semi-cooperative. Dota 2, Counter-Strike, League of Legends – these are the biggest esports titles in the world, and the most popular competitive multiplayer games out there. And all of them are team based. Boo.
I love those games (except League, which can die in a fire), but having a couple of friends lug their PCs over to your place is still awesome. And Call of Duty 2 is perfect for this. Perfect.
It’s now 12 years old, but it really doesn’t feel like it. It’s as smooth and pure as ever, it gives you that streamlined, iron-sights feel that we were all hankering after when Battlefield 1 came out, but in a much sleeker and simpler package. Seriously, you and two friends on the game’s Tunisia map will reward you with hours of skill-based entertainment.
Make the LAN cool again.