"I have a Thinkpad X200 or modern equivalent"
The "Medium System Requirements" category is reserved for games that require a certain standard of hardware but are still forgiving in performance requirements. This is a category meant for toasters like the Lenovo Thinkpad X200 (systems meant more for work than play but have more utility than a simple netbook) that can put out a surprising amount in terms of game performance but are still limited in overall power. These games will run on more modern toasters too, so if your toaster is able to run anything here or from "Low System Requirements", these should be a cinch to install and have fun with as well.
Another excellent title by Spiderweb Software, Avernum: Escape from the Pit controls much like Geneforge but puts the player in control of a 4-person dungoneering team, much like a traditional game of Dungeons & Dragons or other tabletop game of a similar nature. Avernum has some graphical flare, but it can be run at a minimal graphics setting to pour on the frames. It has an installation footprint of a whopping ~170mb and ran well on everything I put it on, outside of my netbook which ran it with noticable performance issues.
The legendary indie game, hand crafted by one man in Japan. Held high by an incredibly large community of loyal fans, Cave Story is a game worth anyone's time whatever their computer status might be, the low system requirements being the high point this guide is most interested in.
If Diablo 1 was a bit too ancient of a game for you, there's still Diablo 2 and its more modern relation, Torchlight, both built by Blizzard North (Runic Games is made up of a lot of the old members of Blizzard North). The former runs on a whole variety of systems because of its age, the latter runs on a variety of systems because of design; Torchlight 1 is equipped with a special "netbook" mode that attempts to bring as many settings down to their minimum level as possible.
One of the few Kickstarter successes, FTL puts a sci-fi spin on dungeon crawling, refusing to hold back on dice rolls but providing newer players with an "easy to learn, difficult to master" experience. It ran on everything except my netbook because of a major hardware specifications catch with FTL: the game doesn't run on any screen resolution smaller than 1280x720, which hurts its play value for people with small/old monitors or old netbooks. The Lenovo Thinkpad X200 just scratches the minimum resolution requirements with its 1280x800 screen resolution.
The Geneforge Saga consists of 5 games all made by the same man, Jeff Vogel of Spiderweb Software. Described by GoG user redraven as "one of the most original series [he knows]", there is an incredible amount of story and gameplay to be found in all 5 games of the Geneforge saga; user estimates clock the total playtime across all 5 games with one character at 85 hours. Performance-wise, the game asks for very little and honestly isn't a looker but in return offers a truly unique experience; there are very few games that allow the player to summon a cacaphony of different creatures to fight in place of the player..
The sci-fi themed grandpa of World in Conflict, this game needed a bit more than what my netbook could provide but ran flawlessly on the other computers I put it on. Time has been kind to Ground Control and none of the default controls feel archaic even with the unique camera.
Ground Control and Ground Control 2 are available on Good old Games.
A twin-stick hack & slash RPG. The player is tasked with navigating the traps and monsters of Castle Hammerwatch, defeating the bosses, and getting out alive. Hammerwatch has 4-player co-op, as well. Depending on how bad your toaster is, Hammerwatch may or may not have difficulty running. If the game launches and is playable but your framerate is chugging along, disable:
- Complex Particles
- Ambient Occlusion
- Any post processing effects
My framerate saw a drastic increase on my Thinkpad once all of the postproccessing effects were disabled.
Released in 2014 by a three-man Finnish development team, Hero Siege is an incredibly addictingtwin-stick hack & slash RPG made in GameMaker. Players can choose between several classes with a variety of abilities, pump their stats up, and try to 1CC (1 Credit Clear) the game from start to finish. On death, whatever powerups you collected are taken away, but your base stats, acquired gear, and abilities remain the same. You can play alone or play online with friends or strangers. Didn't run so well on my netbook, but ran with ease on my Thinkpad.
Hero Siege is available for purchase on Steam.
The definitive HoM&M game, it is much like Starcraft 1 and Age of Empires 2 in its ability to run on just about anything. No problems running it on my netbook or anything else I slapped it on. The GoG descripton of the game cites it as "addicting" and I personally couldn't agree more; the game has a large sphere of appeal to many even with its fantasy themes.
Heroes of Might and Magic III is available on Good old Games.
The first strategy game to introduce the concept of the z-axis in relation to space combat. Still home to some of the best ship v. ship RTS combat to date. Homeworld ran on my netbook and everything was fine until combat, and lockup began; my X200 handled it like a champion, though. I linked the "remaster" by Gearbox below since it comes with the original games but honestly it should be your very last option if for some reason you can't find a torrent or used copy to grab since Relic and Sierra don't get the money.
A raw game that found its way into the lovers of the 80s and later the gaming community at large, Hotline Miami is a crazy game with a distinct 80s vibe that keeps players coming back for more no matter how frustated they get. Hotline Miami was built in Unity and as a result has very favorable performance. However, don't expect any miracles when it comes to netbooks. Hotline Miami recently saw a well-received sequel in 2015.
A bitingly difficult game, La Mulana has cultivated a following of veteran Metroidvania fans, presenting raw challenge and offering zero hand holding to a point where the lack of assistance is often criticized. Runs on a lot but didn't run well on my old netbook. The "How to Buy" page on the La Mulana website has a "La-Mulana Checker" program that will perform a diagnostic to see if La Mulana can run on your machine, but the specifications are quite low regardless.
Legend of Grimrock is a bit like Avernum, in that the player is tasked with navigating through multiple floors of a labyrinth and escaping with their party. Legend of Grimrock, however, does all of this from the first person. Most certainly not the first of its kind, but it runs well on the X200 and is compatible across the three major operating systems.
Be anything, do anything, rule anything! Mount & Blade allows you to do just that. Be a lone wolf or lead an army, the world is your oyster and your adventure only ends when you want it to. Particularly low system requirements also leave you free to play on a wide variety of systems within reason - just don't except a netbook to cut it for large battles. Has several sequels that I have not tested for toaster compatability.
A rougelike with a twist: to escape the darkness, players must go nowhere but to the right. If the darkness catches them, it's game over! One Way Heroics offers a familiar but new take on the typical roguelike. Goes on sale for rock-bottom prices and runs on quite a few systems; my netbook was unfortunately unable to fulfill its low requirements, bizarrely enough.
Be aware that Smoking WOLF has released One Way Heroics PLUS in 2015, which adds "new shortcuts, a fast forward function, automatic positioning, as well as an enemy/NPC encounter triggered pause feature, making the game more convenient to play, while major balance changes have also been implemented for a more compelling gameplay experience". On top of this, "3 new classes, 260 new items, 30 new skills and powers, and 230 types of NPCs" were also added.
Painkiller is a bit more of a modern take on Quake 1, retaining the same player speed and combat pace but mixing up the weapons a little bit. Host to an entire series of expansions. Very low system requirements (Recommended: 2.4ghz processor, 1gb RAM, DirectX 9 compatible video card/chipset) allow it to run on a multitude of systems, just make sure you check your system specs first.
Journal updating was never so interesting: Planescape Torment is one of a very few elite group of games to achieve a balance between gameplay and legitimately well-written and engaging story. One of the few games where you can have a skeleton as an ally. Did not run well on my netbook, though, but should run just fine on any modern (as of 2015) low-end or office system or greater.
Planescape Torment can be purchaesed on Good old Games.
Nazi mowdown action with crisp idtech3 speed and movement. No shooter collection is complete without it. Home to a minor mod scene. People also tend to remember Wolfenstein Enemy Territory more for its multiplayer. Unfortunately, despite variations in level design, the gameplay can get pretty repetitive. Still worth your time if you're looking for something World War II themed.
Rise of Nations attempts to fuse 4x and Real-Time Strategy into one complete package and produces something incredible. Rise of Nations makes single-player skirmishes and campaigns mean something to players as they conquer region after region and bring entire landmasses under their rule as one of several races across several different periods of time.
Unfortunately, to get your hands on the original edition of Rise of Nations, you'll have to hunt around on Amazon or simply pirate it. Like Age of Empires 2 HD, Rise of Nations HD on Steam presses harder than usual for performance and I do not recommend grabbing RoN HD unless your toaster is stronger than average.
Seriously the best modern recreation of DOOM's crazy combat, arena design, and enemy variety. Runs on a whole mess of systems like Painkiller. The original versions of the First and Second Encounter are bundled with their HD counterparts on Steam. Good old Games sells the non-HD versions of Serious Sam TFE and TSE. Wasn't able to get it to launch on my netbook, for obvious reasons (KLEERS).
The first large-scale multiplayer Star Wars game where one felt like they were fighting "wars in the stars". Incredible balance between homogenous classes and faction-specific quirks. Incredibly low system requirements when looked at in 2015. Host to a beloved sequel.
Star Wars Battlefront is somewhat difficult to come by legally. Currently, Star Wars Battlefront is available for purchase off of Amazon.
Vode an! The often-praised squad-commanding Star Wars shooter runs on Unreal Engine 2.5; should be easy enough to play this on something made in 2015. Unfortunately, Republic Commando does not have any special engine remakes or community overhauls, so what you see is what you get.
There are a few mods floating around out there, though, mostly made by aspiring young 'uns so they're not that good. Fun fact: the Thinkpad X200 is old enough to correctly utilize the bumpmapping option that adds the sheen to trooper armor and have the power to still run the game at a good framerate.
A user-friendly true rougelike based on the Sword of the Stars game series. Choose one of three classes and begin your descent. Not a whole lot to say about The Pit that can't be said for rougelikes such as Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup, but it strikes a noticable balance between accessibility, hardware requirements, and challenge.