Eee PC: Classic gaming platform

Now that I’m the owner of a shiny new Eee 1000H I did what any new laptop owner should do…clutter my hard drive with tons of distracting materials.  Last week really spurred things into overdrive with the release of the original X-Com: UFO Defense on Valve’s Steam service.  Once Steam was installed and X-Com purchased I ended up spending a solid portion of the weekend playing the game while making almost no kind of actual progress.  I had almost forgotten how painfully difficult the game could be, particularly when taking on the game’s Terror Sites (when aliens attack a populated area).  I’m only on my second terror site and, thankfully, have yet to come across any Chrysallids (they attack civilians and turn them into zombies which after a certain amount of time, or when they are killed, turn into Chrysallids themselves).  Regardless, the current level is bitch with my squad of mostly rookies struggling to hit the broad sides of barns.

The whole rookie thing would be less of a problem if my casualty rate weren’t somewhere well above 50%.  Maybe I should be playing on easy.  X-Com’s gameplay has held up surprisingly well over the years with game play as excrutiatingly tense as it ever was.  Given how hard this game is I’d almost be afraid to see what current AI would do to my poor squad.  It’s a shame that the sequels never quite lived up to the original (Terror from the Deep was pretty cool, but it was downhill after that) and I blame that lackluster sequels (and mediocre clones in more recent years) for the reasoning behind X-Com’s lack of a modern successor.  I hope that the Steam version sells well enough that current license holders 2k Games (if the Steam “My Games” page is to be believed) take notice.  Rumors abound that something was/is/has been in the works but there has never been anything concrete announced.

Playing X-Com has also got me interested in more “classic” PC games for my Eee PC.  I tracked down a copy of System Shock 2, a game I have fond memories of playing but never completed.  I played through the training levels and it runs extremely good on the feisty little Eee but I was struck by the undeniable similarites to Ken Levine’s latest game Bioshock.  Everything from the Psi powers (plasmids) and hypos for healing (both psi points and health), to the audio recordings, to the hacking game, to the vending machine for ammo and items everything in System Shock 2 is a template for Bioshock.

To add fuel to my classic PC gaming fire I got my beta key for GOG.com (which looking today isn’t even necessary since it seems you can create an account w/o a beta key) regardless the guys at Good Old Games have a nice little service that offers old PC game for around $5 or $6 each.  You get to download the full game, DRM Free, plus frequent bonus materials as well.  The developers have gone out of their way to provide links to relevent mods for the games as well.  To clincher is that the games are vetted to run on various operating systems including Vista (the bane of old games!).  The Eee’s lack of an optical drive means that I may end up blowing some extra cash on games I already own (looking at you Fallout) but it’s a slick site that I certainly hope suceed.  My life will be complete if they end up adding Interstate ’76.  Between that and X-Com I might never have to play a new game again.

Ok that was hyperbole, but still.

Anyhoo, needless to say I am much pleased with Asus’ little netbook with its lengthy battery life and capable Atom processor and look forward to future classic gaming when the current industry inevitably fails to meet any of my expectation.

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