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10 Interesting Mods To Bring Your Old Computer Games Alive

Thursday, 22 March 2012



Game Mods or so called "modifications", are independent projects created by fans for the original games. They may vary largely from changing minor things in game mechanics to complete game overhauls. I feel that most of the mods are not very professional, but it's cool that people make them for fun. Then of course we have those more ambitious mod projects for real, that aim high. Majority of them fall in their progress state for reasons like "no time", or development team just loses the interest at some point. Minority of ambitious game mods turn out to be legends though.

When I've been browsing "My top 10 mods" style of lists, I usually encounter the most obvious mods such as Counter-Strike (used to me a Half Life Mod at first), Team Fortress and countless Quake mods. Along those are of course (and justly) several Elder Scrolls Oblivion, Skyrim, and Morrowind mods, such as Oscuro's Oblivion Overhaul / Nehrim mods. Bethesda surely knows their fan modding community. Instead of the most obvious ones, let's take a look into ten slightly less obvious mods that are very good, and may bring your old favorite games to life again!


  • Take a note that while installing mod, it may screw up your old savegames, or at least make them useless before new clean install of the game! These games require you to buy the original game to work.



1) "Jagged Alliance 2 v1.13" - Jagged Alliance 2

Jagged Alliance 2 ($9.99 Download in Amazon.com and GoG.com) is one of the best top-down party based strategy games ever released, with fantastic turn-based combat and great characters. This mod is probably one of the best mods ever released for free. Jagged Alliance 2 is so great game on it's own right, that you may worry a mod to mess things just up. Well I encourage you to try this one out! 1.13 mod was meant to fix bugs only at first, but the project took a turn to do much more later on - doing very large overhaul for the game - especially to it's "game engine". 1.13 does leave old quests and maps intact.

It features major additions, or should I say enhancements to the original game while keeping the basis and originality to the roots. The mod not only fixes loads of bugs and balances gameplay, but it adds new character creation with some new portraits, adds new "skill traits" to existing mercs and tweaks them around a bit, and brings several new mercs into the game. Higher resolutions are supported. Expect tons of new weapons (like several sniper rifles and heavy machine guns), armors, items, larger battles, improved backpack system, and even better combat with some great tweaks added. AI is also largely improved. This mod is major overall enchantment and battles feel better than ever. For all of you who ever thought that "man I wish I could play Jagged Alliance with friends", 1.13 also features multiplayer mode!

  • Go to the mod Website and read more 


(Just a small portion of the new guns that JA 1.13 offers)

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2) "Circle Of Eight" - Temple of Elemental Evil

Temple of Elemental Evil ($14,95 Boxed Amazon.com or $5,99 Download GoG.com) was one of the most bugged cRPGs released up to date. It's party based top-down classic cRPG with D&D 3.5 ruleset. Even when fully patched with official updates, the game has still lost of troubles. Also the story and content did feel bit bland at the places. Well unofficial Circle Of Eight mod is about to fix major of the issues and add quite a bit of new content as well!

Basically the mod is mixture of major bug fixes and large additions of new content in terms of items, spells, monsters and full quest-lines, and areas. City of Verbobonc acts as a "hub" for new quests, such as gladiator-like arena battles, or investigating mysterious cults. The mod is ever in progress and current version includes 6 different "New content" additions to explore and experience: Welkwood Bog, Hickory Branch, Arena of Heroes, Moathouse Respawn, Verbobonch, and War Of The Golden Skull.

This mod is remarkable, because the original game had huge potential, but was released as unfinished. Circle of Eight doesn't only fix the bugs, it adds much more stuff far beyond making Temple Of Elemental Evil totally worth playing again, and the lands of it more interesting place to explore. Comes with "Standard" and "New Content" versions, so you can choose whether to stick with original content, with bug fixes, or to have new areas and quests included also.



(Verbobonc, one of the new content additions)




3) "The Nameless Mod" - Deus Ex

Deus Ex (Boxed $5,49 Amazon.com or Download GOTY $9,99 GoG.com) was sort of an (seemingly) open world first-person action-adventure game in sci-fi setting, that would bring movies like Matrix to your mind. The game included some rather clever mini-games such as hacking computers, and usage of skills which you could eventually raise for your liking by spending skill points.

Released finally after 7 years in making, this Deus Ex mod boats as huge total single-player conversion mod for Deus Ex. It has nearly 200 000 lines of fully voice acted dialogue, and two different approx. fifteen hour campaigns, including multiple branching storylines. The mod's story has a lot of humor in it, but it's made with style.

"In Forum City, the Internet is serious business. As its name implies, the city is the physical embodiment of Internet forums and bulletin boards. It's more like The Matrix or Tron than Second Life, however, as the troubles of the city are no laughing matter. Embracing the style of Deus Ex, Forum City has as much crime and conspiracy as the world of JC Denton — but most citizens would have it no other way.

The balance of power has been upset. Unthinkably, a Moderator has disappeared, and panic is gripping the city. With the remaining Moderators spread far too thin, the lawless have found themselves with the freedom to prey upon others, and formerly suppressed rivalries threaten to explode into open conflict. You are called upon to silence the discord."





(a whole new lengthy story awaits along The Nameless mod)





    4) "In The Wake of Gods" - Heroes of Might & Magic III: Shadow Of Death

    HOMM III (/w HOMM IV $9,49 Amazon.com or Download $9,99 GoG.com) was a great fantasy based strategy game, in addition with some rpg elements (like hero stats and leveling), and had it's pace going one single mission at the time. Basically you'd start with a one town, which to build to acquire buildings that produce better troops for you to use in battles.

    Wake Of Gods represents many different things for different players, and works as addon to the original game content - but is first and foremost "highly customizable toolbox for map makers and players". It features new monsters, new artifacts, and new objects - which are very well balanced in my opinion. It adds for example monsters of level 8 compared to maximum level 7 of the original version, to boost up end game on maps. The mod is mainly used to play existing maps, or generate random maps. Player gets then an option to "WoG:ify" existing map, which changes the map by changing/adding new WoG monsters, items etc. to the old map and spicing it up. It's a nice way to boost maps if you like playing single scenarios.

    WoG also expands game customizability by adding additional game settings menu you can modify pre-entering the new scenario. You can modify game rules, for example disabling all teleport and fly spells, in case you felt they made HOMM III unbalanced. I like this mod, since it's mainly done very well and the new additions don't feel like seperate from the original game concept.

    Attention: requires Shadow Of Death Expansion!



    (One of the few creature updates presented by WoG)



    5) "Complex Mod" - Homeworld 2

    Homeworld 2 and especially it's predecessor HW 1 are one of the most respected rts-based space strategy games of all time released on pc. Complex Mod is totally free and advanced game mod based on Homeworld 2's game engine. It's aimed for more experienced and hardcore RTS (Real-Time Strategy) gamers, who love the genre.

    It adds around 30 new units for Hiigarans, 10 for Vaygr, and boasts several new maps. The "research tree" has been expanded, physics modified and AI enchanced. Graphics and user interface have been overhauled more up to date. New parameters such as crew, rank, experience system, or game year are also now included within the game.

    • Go to Complex Mod Website and read more 


    (Complex mod makes, well, Homeworld 2 much more complex)



    6) "Crossfire" - Freelancer

    Freelancer is open world space simulator in veins of something like Privateer franchise. While it has it's main questline and several missions, in addition it has many smaller missions offered at the planets around the galaxy. Buy a ship of your liking and equip it as you will, and start making money by hunting outlaws or by transporting raw materials. Explore the huge galaxy freely, or stop for a beer at a space station bar.

    Crossfire is probably the most graphically advanced mod out there for Freelancer boosting visuals of the game, and sound as well. However it also features over 60 additional systems to explore with more than 100 of dockable stations and planets. In addition phenomenal 190 new ship models, 20 new clansystems and more. The mod works both in singleplayer and multiplayer mode. Multiplayer servers also use Anti-cheat software to prevent cheating.

    • Go to Crossfire Mod Website and read more 


    (Crossfire 1.9 boost game graphics and galaxy size, 2.0 coming out in half year)




    7) Median XL - Diablo II: Lords of Destruction

    Diablo franchise if forefather to the hack'n'slash style cRPGs by Blizzard. Median XL is most likely the most popular, and biggest mod made for Diablo II. It gives a big overhaul for original Diablo II while keeping basis of gameplay mechanics the same. The mod replaces some character skills, improves items, monsters, and quests.

    It features whole new skill trees with brand total of 30 brand new skills per character class. It improves monster AI, and also presents new "elite" and "heroic" monsters. 30 new "uberquests" are presented for the very high level characters to give some end-game challenge. New items, rares, runes and gems are to be found over the land. Items now have six tiers.  And much more.



    (If it's been a while since you last time played Diablo II, maybe it's time for re-run?)




    8) "Tropical Mod" - Master Of Orion 3


    Master Of Orion franchise is similar to Galactic Civilizations. It's basically Sid Meyer's Civilization in space. A turn based strategy game where you control certain race, explore the space and conquer planets. Also diplomacy with other races is important factor along the space combat itself. Master Of Orion 1 was a classic, and Master of Orion 2 took the game even beyond that. Master of Orion 3 (Boxed $9,99 Amazon.com or Download $5,99 GoG.com) was a major disappointment.

    The game came out quite unfihisned, unpolished and while some of the graphics were allright, stat heavy menu interface never looked too appealing or practical either (at least in my opinion), AI was inconsistent and battles looked terrible. But I know some people learned to like that game after learning it's tricks after some time. Moo 3 is sort of a game that at least I, want to love, but it just keeps pushing me back for it's big faults.

    "Tropical Mod" for Moo3 is sequel for "Strawberry Mod". Basically it's combination of essential mods and fan made bug fixes, with some additions on it's own. It's large overhaul and fixes several issues with Master Of Orion 3. It also changes the core gameplay a bit, to make the game less broken. The game should be more balanced and few additional weapons are added also. The major factor is in rebalancing and fixing the broken game.

    If you ever thought that Master of Orion 3 had any potential at all, but ditched it for it's huge problems, maybe it's time to take another glance with this mod installed.

    • Go to Atari Forums and read more about how to install the mod, and it's full features. 


    (Master of Orion isn't the prettiest chi.. game around, but with balance fixed it may be worth a try)



    9) "Fall From Heaven II" - Civilization IV

    Civilization, well you all know it, it's turn based strategy game about managing your tribe, nation, or kingdom and it's relations, as well as conquering other worlds. The story take place on Earth, starting from times long before Christ after Ice Age, and ending in near future. How you run your kingdom and how you play your game, is heavily tied to your research choices, do you research war technology or perhaps laws and production?

    Fall From Heaven II mod takes Civilization IV to another level. It's a dark fantasy mod (total conversion) that sets totally different tone from original Civilization, when you start the game after the Ice Age. The world is not empty, it has inhabitants that are like ripped from a fantasy novel - vampires, undead and demonic creatures - even dragons. It presents over 20 new civs, 30 new leaders, hundreds of new units with over 40 more powerful "hero units".

    Some other major changes include Magic and Spellcasting, units that can gather experience and become stronger, and be upgraded. Heroes, which are world units and can be only build once. And new technology trees. Fall From Heaven II has quite classical good / evil fantasy theme in it.

    Attention: requires Civ IV: Beyond the Sword patched up to 3.17


    (Fall From Heaven changes Civilization 4 tone quite totally)




    10) "Aliens TC" - Doom

    Doom, the forefather of first person shooters, well perhaps after Wolfenstein 3D. One of the first and most memorable at least to say.

    Aliens TC was almost fully made by a man named Justin Fisher, who had an idea to make a total conversion mod for Doom, turning the game into Aliens setting (known from the movies also). This mod became very well known and highly rated due it's great (technical and looks) level design and suspenseful atmosphere. One guy did hell of a job! Many sounds were extracted from the film and used in the game.

    Want to kill aliens with pulse gun Doom style? Here's a game for you, with about ten levels to wet your pants.

    • Go and get the Aliens TC v2.0 here  


    (Dare to look behind?)





    Other interesting mods in development that you may not have heard of:



    DaggerXL - The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall

    In progress currently. Graphics conversion to make Daggerfall environments look way better. Hopefully the guy making this gets the job done at some point, since the mod  looks quite appealing. Check mod website here and forums that are better up to date here.

    (Spiced up Daggerfall - I'd love to give final version a run)



    Horn of The Abyss (HoTA) - Heroes of Might & Magic III

    A mod that will change several things to HOMM III adding several new towns and re-aligning existing units a bit to fit along with new towns. New units, artifacts, items, graphics and art etc. So far this mod looks very professionally made to my eyes, great graphics, exiting choices with new Towns. Looks like a mod of very dedicated fan community! Looking forward to this. Read more about the mod at Heroes community forums here.

    (One of the new towns in Horn Of The Abyss Mod)




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