Malcolm Owen On September 8, 2004 at 4:58 pm

All over the world, picky gamers look through shelf upon shelf of new releases, all ready to use every single spare cycle of their computer’s processor, to tease and tempt them in ways that only a Latin lover knows how… erm…
Of course, most people avoid the bargain bin, full of gaming classics that everyone could enjoy for a few hours, purely because people don’t think they are as good as the latest releases.

Well, I think they are all wrong. Budget games have a rightful place in our game stores, and I believe most people aren’t taking advantage of these gems at all. Here’s my top 5 reasons why you should.

5. Greatness is Earned
It may come as a surprise to you, but those budget games are just as good as most modern titles, sometimes even more so. You will almost certainly find any hit game from a few years ago in the bargain bin, still selling strongly, with the mediocre titles being removed from gaming circulation due to their pathetic sales.

Most budget game brands pick games based upon their previous success, so that the retailer can almost guarantee a few sales at least from them, compared to the hopeful nature of the latest releases. Stores have no guarantee that a game will sell well unless it is fantastic or hyped to high heaven, so a budget game that already has a track record is an attractive proposition to them

This survival of the fittest means only the best games of yesteryear continue to be sold today. Take for example Half-Life. Valve have sold many millions of copies of the game around the world, and even more so thanks to the budget ranges. Without the budget release that is available at the moment, it would be unlikely you would be able to play the original game around the time of playing the sequel, Half-Life 2. Thanks to the budget ranges, you can play through both parts of the story, and if something happens to your original CD, you can almost guarantee that you can get a budget game release to replace it and continue where you left off.

4. It’s an Education
I had a conversation with a friend of mine recently. They thought that Unreal Tournament 2004 was better than the original game. This in itself isn’t that unusual to think at all, until you consider that he thought Unreal Tournament 2003 was the original version. After a few moments of explaining to him the history of the whole Unreal thing, he understood the error of his ways, and sought out not only UT, but also Unreal, so he could have a complete experience.

Some gamers today, especially the younger ones, don’t understand the background to the stories in some sequels today.
Would they have got the treestump joke from Secret of Monkey Island and the Curse of Monkey Island if they just played the later game? Possibly, but it would have been much more rewarding if they played the first game and found the section that started the joke in the first place.
I can see that the newer gamers do not need to learn about the past successes of the industry, but some may feel that they are missing out on something good. Sure, I consider Sonic the Hedgehog 2 to be the best Sonic game created, but there are people out there that think I mean Sonic Adventure 2, not the Megadrive/Genesis game of quite a few years ago.

3. No Patching Required
New games are released with as much testing as possible to get all the bugs out before it is released to the baying public. Sadly, there is no guarantee that every single problem with every single combination of parts for a PC will work, and nothing to protect you against problems within the game, even if your system does make it function perfectly.
This is where patches come into play. The small, yet on occasion big, file contains extra replacement code that sorts out many problems that appear in your copy of the game, and could even improve gameplay for you too. There is still the pain of buying a new game and getting home to find that you have to install 27 updates to make it compatible with everyone else’s copy in multiplayer.

Many budget-release titles dispense with this problem completely. Since the game was originally released a long time ago, many patches have been released, and a lot of budget ranges include these patches on the CD, or in some cases actually update the installable program itself so that you don’t even have to update it. There may still be other patches available online, but the total number to download is reduced.
Some budget game releases even include add-on packs along with the original title. This may take the form of a few more levels, modifications, chapters, characters or items, but they are welcome none the less.

2. Play Them Well
Many gamers have tried playing through games they have completed in the past. Some stick with the same hardware that they used before, others upgrade first. As is almost always the case with upgrading, the games look better afterwards. With more and more modern games requiring faster processors and the latest graphics card from a well known manufacturer, the amount of computing grunt required increases. This has been happening over time, starting with the introduction of 3D cards and then moving towards the current crop of gaming perfection, and all this with a basic aim: make the programs run faster/better.

Upon their release on the market for the first time, many budget titles required high-speed components too. Since a lot of time has passed since then, you could play the same game on a machine that could be 4 or 5 times as fast as the highest system spec that the game asks for, let alone the minimum specifications it requires to play. These old games may look dated on your computer screen compared to the Far Cry and Doom 3 of now, but comparing it to what was available in terms of computer power before, it’s fantastic.

1. Cheaper by the Dozen
I have to admit it, I never bought Max Payne at full price. I found it for 7.99 in a second hand bargain bin in a shop, and thought that since it was a quarter of the price for the unopened new version on the shop shelves, it was a good buy to get. I still had the same amount of gameplay time and as much enjoyment as if I were to buy the new copy, it’s just that I paid a heck of a lot less for it.

This reasoning could be attached to budget games in general too. If you have about 25 hours of enjoyment from a new game, you may get the same amount of enjoyment from a budget one that is similar but at a lower price.
Let’s say that a new game comes out for £30, and you can play it for 20 hours before you need to get something to replace it. That represents a cost of £1.50 per hour. If a similar yet older game was on the budget shelf for £5, and you could play it for the same amount of time, that is only a cost of £0.25 per hour, which is six times cheaper than the more expensive, uber-new game.

At the same cost of a new game, you can get more than just one older game. At £5 per old game, you could get 6 budget titles compared to just 1 new game. 6 games at 6 times the length of 1 game for the same cost, it works out to make sense for once. Heck, even buying 3 older games works out at half the price, and still lasts 3 times the length, and it’s still a good deal!

Next time you go to the games store, think about getting something old instead of something new. You may surprise yourself.

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