As a result of this new way of selling PC games we are seeing PC game titles that have been released for years that are still selling copies via download. Just a few years ago, publishers released PC games to retail stores and if they didn't immediately catch on in unit sales, well, that would be it. You might be able to find some older PC games in online auction web sites but in many cases the years of hard work by a development team would be over.
However we think that there are a number of older but still great PC games that should be made available for download yet again that are not yet on the library of titles for Steam, Direct2Drive or GoG.com. We suspect that the main reason for this is publishing rights issues. In any case, in the spirit of the upcoming Halloween holiday, here are 10 PC games that we think should come back from the dead of the retail box coffin and rise up to be added to legal download sites (hopefully without the games biting anyone along the way).
No One Lives Forever
It's an absolute crime that this 2000 first person shooter from developer Monolith hasn't been made available for a new generation of PC gamers to check out. This salute-parody of 1960's spy movies is still one of the best PC games ever made. The 20020 sequel, No One Lives Forever 2 also should be made available. The publisher of both titles, Vivendi Universal Games, merged with Activation in 2008 but there's no word on the status of this game franchise's ownership.
Another Monolith developed first person action game, released in 2003, gave PC gamers a continuation of the 1980's movie with some great looking visual effects and some deep gameplay. Disney Interactive owns the rights to Tron 2.0 and we thing it would be great if the publisher would re-release the title via download as a promotion of both the upcoming film Tron Legacy as well as their own game Tron Evolution.
Released in 2003 by Microsoft, this very ambitious space trading-combat game represents the last game made under the supervision of Chris Roberts, the creator of the Wing Commander series. While it has its flaws and many of its planned MMO features were taken out before the game was released it was still a solid game of its genre and one which would be appreciated by gamers today. Hopefully Microsoft will add this game to its list of PC game titles for its new web-based Games For Windows Marketplace in November.
Here's a game that even long time PC gamers may have forgotten about. Developed by Relic Entertainment and released by Microsoft in 2002 this game allowed players to mix and match new animals from a base set using a 1930's pulp setting. It uses some of the game features that were eventually expanded upon by Will Wright for Spore. In many ways this game was ahead of its time which is perhaps why it didn't sell as anticipated. We think Impossible Creatures could find a possible new audience if Microsoft re-releases the title via download.
Why is one of the most ground-breaking and finest PC games of all time not available for anyone to purchase and play via download? Relic Entertainment's debut title, first released in 1999 by Sierra Entertainment, took the RTS genre in a completely new direction with an epic space saga and true 360 degree gameplay as massive space fleets battles each other. This game, the 2000 stand alone expansion Homeworld: Cataclysm and the 2002 sequel Homeworld 2 should all be made available to digital download sites. We understand that THQ, who purchased Relic in 2004, currently holds the rights to this game franchise. We hope that they make the decision to re-release all these games sooner rather than later.
Star Trek Voyager Elite Force
One of the best, if not the best, Star Trek-based games ever made, this 2000 released first person shooter from developer Raven Software and publisher Activision showed that not all Trek-based games have to be typical license-based money grabs. Great gameplay, cool twists in the storyline (we loved the Mirror Universe reference) and (at the time) solid graphics made this title great. While CBS/Paramount owns the Star Trek franchise, we think the problem with this and indeed all the other Trek games released before 2009 is that multiple publishers were involved (Interplay, Simon And Schuster Interactive, Microprose, Activision and Bethesda Softworks) which may make re-releasing those games difficult but hopefully not impossible.
Here's another game series from Raven Software and Activision that deserves to get a new lease on life. The first game in the series, released in 2000, was a globe-trotting title that had your character taking out terrorists in some pretty bloody and limb-separating ways. In 2002 the sequel, Soldier of Fortune II: Double Helix, was released by Raven that had upgraded graphics and even more violent encounters. These two games were quite controversial for their day but were also big sales and critical hits. Perhaps Activision, with its successful Call of Duty: Modern Warfare franchise, would see fit to re-release these precursors to download sites.
Star Wars X-Wing/Star Wars TIE Fighter
While LucasArts has released a number of their older games via Steam and other outlets. However those games don't include perhaps two of the best PC games ever made. Developed by a team headed up by Larry Holland the 1993 release of X-Wing and the 1994 release of TIE Fighter are still some of the most engaging space combat titles ever made. Perhaps LucasArts believes these games to be too old to re-release via download but if that's the case it would be a shame.
Released in 1999 by Electronic Arts, this game was the first to be made by Irrational Games. This sci-fi first person action-RPG still has gameplay elements that have been enhanced by Irrational's later titles, particularly the first BioShock. It's still an entertaining and deep game experience and we think EA would be remiss if they didn't re-release this title on at least its EA Store (hey, you can get the crappy Need For Speed Undercover from them).
This 1999 game was both developed and published by Sierra Entertainment and still is one of the best games in the tactical shooter genre, particularly for its AI of its enemies and for the more realistic gameplay elements as opposed to the more action oriented Counter-Strike. Ironically the last game in the series, SWAT 4, is available to download via Direct2Drive. We wish whomever owns the rights to this series (we presume Activision) will finally offer SWAT 3 via download as well.
Of course these are just 10 PC games that we think are worthy of a new life if they are offered from legit PC game download site. There are a ton of other titles that are just as worthy. If you have any suggestions feel free to add them in the comments.