Top 3 Games For Long Winters: Oblivion

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Games To Keep You Warm

Winter is here. Temperatures are dropping, snow is falling, and even folks in Florida may have to put on a jacket now and then. Unless you’re a surgeon with a pair of skis, chances are you’re spending more time indoors these days. And more times indoors tends to mean you’re going to have more time to spend playing games.

This is great, except for one small problem - today’s games are notoriously short. Dropping sixty dollars on Mirror’s Edge is only going to get you a few nights worth of entertainment at most. Even games that are relatively long by many standards - such as Mass Effect or Bioshock - have very limited re-playability. You could make up for that by purchasing the next big thing after you beat every game, but why do that when you can simply buy a game that lasts far longer?

The games listed here are all perfect examples of what a gamer needs to get through a long, cold winter. The weather outside may be frightful, but the heat generated by a fully decked-out gaming rig is so delightful.

Oblivion: Game of the Year Edition

I first played Oblivion on the Xbox 360. At the time of its release I was a student, and the 360 was the most expensive piece of gaming hardware I could possibly afford. This meant I missed out on all the fun that was to be had with mods, and I also never bothered to pay for the over-priced downloadable expansions. Despite that, I still played that game for over 100 hours over the course of several months.

Now, almost two years later Oblivion is far from a new game. That means you can bag yourself the Game of the Year Edition for only $19.99. For that you get not only the regular game, but all of the extra content delivered since release. If you’d like to by a game where exploring is more or less the point, then you’re almost guaranteed to get at least sixty hours of gameplay from Oblivion. And even when you’re done with the regular game, there are also mods to download, which include new items, locations, and quests.

Baldur’s Gate 2

Now eight years old, Baldur’s Gate 2 is a true classic. But when paired with its expansion, The Throne of Bhaal, it remains a must-have for anyone looking to spend some time. Baldur’s Gate 2 has a legendary story, focusing on your character’s connection with your father Bhaal, the God of Murder. The epic quest which spans Baldur’s Gate 2 and its expansion will take you across oceans, pitch you into the Underdark, and force you into battle with demons.

And of course, no epic game would be right without an epic amount of play-time. Assuming everything goes well, Baldur’s Gate 2 will probably give you eighty hours of playtime. But the game is very challenging, so expect to die often. As a result, it will probably be more realistic to expect over 100 hours of gameplay. That would be impressive for any game, but what is more impressive about Baldur’s Gate II is that all of that gameplay is part of one story arch. This is not a game where you wander aimlessly; something amazing is constantly happening, and those events almost always lead to more trouble.

Baldur’s Gate 2 may be very old, but the community has made it perfectly playable on modern PCs. I play my version on a Vista 64-bit operating system at 1650x1080 resolution for example, and it remains a beautiful game.

Galactic Civilizations II

Galactic Civilizations II was hailed as the best turn-based strategy game in years at its release. Now, two expansions later, Galactic Civilizations II is a quite possibly the best 4x strategy game of all time, well worth mention in the same breath as games like Civilization 2 and Masters of Orion 2. At its core the game features one of the best economic models to ever be seen in a turn-based game. Macro-management fans, who prefer to create massive strategies rather than micro-managing units or factories, will fall in love with this game. The artificial intelligence is also a strong point, as it is quite capable of keeping even an experienced strategy gamer at bay.

The two expansions, Dark Avatar and Twilight of the Arnor, add to those core elements by including more victory conditions, more technologies, and more strategies. Anyone who has previously found themselves devoted to a turn-based strategy game is probably familiar with the just-one-more-turn addictiveness of them. Suddenly a one hour play-session turns into three hours, and three hours into five. Galactic Civlizations II captures that magic perfectly; before you know it, you’ll be playing on large-size galaxy maps, which can take over forty hours to complete.