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Long Live the Classics
Netbooks may not be up in the power department, but don't worry. The retro trend which has made older games available on services like Steam and Good Old Games means that a mobile gamer will never be without games to play. Forget about the latest and greatest use your netbook to relive gaming history!
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Baldur's Gate II
Baldur's Gate II is easily one of the best role-playing games ever made. It offers a truly epic story which unfolds across not only the lengthy main plot but also numerous side-quests. The game's art is beautiful, its combat strategic and challenging, and its character customization is extremely well done. To this day, most RPGs hold no hope of besting this classic in any category.
All of that would not matter, however, if Baldur's Gate II did not run well on a netbook. But it does. This is little surprise, considering that the game is nearly a decade old. However, its age is not the only reason Baldur's Gate II is a great choice. The game's community, eager to keep the game playable on more modern systems, created an excellent resolution hack for use on wide-screen systems. Using this hack allows the game to run at either 1024x600 or 1024x576 with no distortion or stretching.
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It is easy to forget why Half-Life was a revolutionary first person shooter. Today's shooters are full of scripted sequences. Enemies leaping from shadows, airplanes crashing and exploding, and other such events are commonplace. But that wasn't the case until Half-Life came along and showed everyone how to use those sort of scripted events properly.
Half-Life is still a lot of fun to play. While Half-Life and Half-Life 2 contain many of the same characters, the original game is more of a survival-horror shooter than the follow-up, which does contain sections like Ravenholm but is otherwise oriented towards more conventional fighting. Half-Life is also available on Steam, which makes it easy to install on a netbook. Just make sure to download the original version, not the Source powered update.
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Released in 1998, Starcraft (15 bucks US with the Brood Wars Expansion, straight from Blizzard's Store) is undoubtedly the most popular real-time strategy game of all time. It contains a surprising amount of gameplay even by today's standards, with three full-fledged campaigns, an excellent multi-player component, a versatile map and scenario editor. The game thrived on the unique character of behind each faction, and that has not diminished over the years. Plus, Starcraft 2 is right around the corner, making it a good time to enjoy the original.
Starcraft's single-player campaigns remain great fun, but the game is also one of the few netbooks games which has a multi-player component that is still popular. This gives it an edge over many other strategy games which also work well on a netbook. Granted, public games are likely to result in quick death as many of today's players are extremely experienced. But it shouldn't be hard to convince a few friends to play - this is one of the best RTS games ever made, after all.