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Five Essential PC LAN Games

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Published February 17th 2013
Throwing a local area network party? Not sure whether your friends' PCs meet the minimum requirements for the latest games? Check out these awesome classics for a good time.

StarCraft (1998)

Up for some traditional base building and unit spamming? This real-time strategy has been tweaked over the years and the final product is balanced and satisfying. Up to eight players can fight among themselves or as a team against AI opponents as space marines (Terran), a monstrous swarm (Zerg) or an elite cadre of exotic aliens (Protoss).

If standard map types begin to bore you, and you would like to try something different, the StarCraft community has a vast archive of free custom multiplayer maps available for download. The best of these include variations of tower defense where you build fortifications with friends to fight waves of enemies as they follow a predictable route to the opposite end of the map that you are protecting.

Counter-Strike (2000)

Remember the Half-Life mod? CS 1.6 is arguably the greatest CS of them all. Valve bought the concept from the modders and developed their own official multiplayer spinoff where a squad of counter-terrorists fight terrorists in a range of scenarios from bomb defusal to hostage rescue.

One of the more exciting ways to play CS is to organise a team of your friends to fight a team of bots. Try several rounds with knives only for a terrifying version of cat and mouse. Watch helplessly as a fellow operative is surrounded and gutted by bunny-hopping bots. Lob a flashbang to frustrate your mates.

Armagetron Advanced (2001)

Remember the movie Tron (1982), where there were light cycles that raced on a lined grid and their bikes trailed a permanent coloured wall? If a light cycle collided with one of those walls, game over.

Armagetron Advanced is a simulation of that light cycle competition. The more players you have, the more hectic it gets. You can turn on 90 degree angles and the closer you are to a wall, the faster you accelerate. Games usually last a few minutes at the most. Victory, or defeat, is short and sweet.

Call of Duty: United Offensive (2004)

Before Modern Warfare and Black Ops, the Call of Duty franchise populated multiplayer maps with driveable tanks and Jeeps with mounted machineguns. The openGL graphics still look great and makes for fluid gameplay.

After a few rounds we decide to play a special house rule called 'Jeep joust', which works best in team deathmatch. Each team needs a Jeep (or Horch) as well as a driver, an MG gunner and someone riding shotgun with a bazooka. The two vehicles will line up at opposite ends of the map and then drive head-on so that they pass each other. Everybody agrees to hold fire until the Jeeps pass. The players who get the first shot are the bazooka players. Hilarity ensues.

Soldat (2002)

Soldat is an action side-scroller game. Think Worms only you play as an individual soldier with jet boots who has an arsenal of weaponry inspired by popular culture and CS.

Pick off enemies with a sniper rifle or stand your ground with a minigun. Soldat is controversial for balance issues but those who play this whacky title do so out of fun and not for competition.
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