12 great games that run on a Windows netbook

The QuakeLive beta runs happily in a netbook's web browser

The unusual thing about netbooks is that unlike almost any other piece of technology created, those involved in their manufacture and marketing try their best to downplay their abilities. The reason is vested interest: if folks start using their netbooks as gaming or media machines, it could significantly hurt sales of full fat laptops.

It's quite astounding how many games will run on the current generation of 1.6GHz Atom netbooks, though. You don't need a supercharged PC to make games look good on their low res screens.

Getting games to run on a Windows netbook with a USB CD drive is a cinch - simply install it like you would on any other machine. Getting them to run off the hard drive while you're on the move is slightly trickier: we wouldn't recommend Googling for an unofficial no-CD patch as these can contain spyware, and artificially mounting a CD's contents using something like Alcohol will interfere with copy protection and cost valuable system resources.

The point is, though, that there's a huge catalogue of titles old and new that run perfectly well on netbook hardware. Owning one is a great excuse to revisit games from years ago that you loved or classics that you never got round to playing.

Here's a list of twelve of the best - from hundreds of potentials - that you should try out.

1. World of Warcaft
£19.99 - www.worldofwarcraft.com
Yep, believe it or not WoW runs on a netbook, although you should avoid CPU heavy areas like Ironforge. Still, great for hardcore addicts who want to log on to check their auctions from the train.

2. Half-Life
£5.99 - store.steampowered.com
The Source engine behind Half-Life 2-based games is about as complex as a netbook can handle. You can play HL2, but it's a choppy experience you won't want to repeat. Try classic Half-Life instead - both are easily installed through Steam.

3. Strong Bad's Cool Game for Popular People
$34 - www.telltalegames.com/strongbad
Contrary to popular belief, good point-and-click adventure games are still being made, and they're lightweight enough to run on an Eee. If you enjoy this, you should try the latest Sam & Max games too.

4. Robokill
£from free - www.rocksolidarcade.com
There are literally thousands of free Flash games out there, and some of them are nuggets of pure arcade game gold. The business model is similar to shareware - play a large chunk of the game for nowt, and if you like it, pay to unlock the rest.

5. Anything on SCUMM
£various - wiki.scummvm.org
Many groundbreaking canonical Lucasarts games from the early 90s, like The Secret of Monkey Island and Day of the Tentacle can be played without the disc thanks to an app called SCUMMVM.

6. Medieval: Total War
£5 - www.totalwar.com
Unbelievable, huh? The stunning 3D battles of Medieval run incredibly smoothly on a netbook, bringing some of the best strategy ever to the small screen. Curiously, it is the seemingly simpler campaign map that refuses to run at all. Still, half of an old Total War is still a better game than most new full releases.

7. QuakeLive
£free - www.quakelive.com
If you've never heard of id Software's Quake series, you probably don't play many games. The definitive first-person shooter now runs from a web browser, and the beta even works on netbooks.

8. Baldur's Gate 1&2
£10 - www.bioware.com/bgate
RPGs aren't as big as they used to be. There's hundreds of hours of playtime in the Baldur's Gate games, which are available as a single pack for just a tenner. Other RPGs on the same engine also run well, like Planescape: Torment and Fallout 1&2.

9. Grim Fandago
£5 - www.lucasarts.com
Finishing off the adventure games in this list is Grim Fandango - possibly the funniest and most infuriatingly difficult game of all time. Brilliantly written, everyone should play it at least once.

10. Sins of a Solar Empire
£20 - www.sinsofasolarempire.com
One of last year's best games really doesn't need an ultra-modern PC to run. SOSE is an independently developed space strategy - the vast 3D environments look brilliant on a netbook, but ironically some of the menus are too big for the screen.

11. Peggle
£from free - www.popcap.com
Kings of the casual games world, Popcap has loads of brilliant puzzle games like Bookworm Adventures which run from within a browser. Peggle remains one of its best, though.

12. World of Goo
£17- 2dboy.com
There's a bias towards puzzle games because they suit the fun simplicity of netbooks best, and last year's multi-award winning World of Goo is a sticky physics challenge which will run without even needing a disc, if you install from Steam.


Now read Supercharge your netbook

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