Here’s my list of the definitive games to play at a LAN session. We have played all the listed games during one session, but I recommend concentrating on just few of these. Also, many of the games listed are quite old and have by now worthy successors; we just stuck with what we liked back in the days.

Unreal Tournament 2004

The FPS of Gods. It’s really hard to list out the things that make UT2k4 the FPS of choice for us, even with the stock maps. UT3 is a worthy upgrade, if you require bells and whistles. Unreal Tournament 3 is quite cheap these days and, strangely enough, you’ll probably find it for less than UT2k4.. Players: The more the merrier.

Unreal Tournament 2004
Screw the team games, pure deathmatch is where it's at.

SWAT 4

Surprisingly fun co-op and team based modes, if you got the expansion pack (or the Gold version). I really recommend the expansion pack for better LAN gaming. Because the game tries to be quite serious, nothing is more fun than using the tazer on the guys on your side. The rhythm is completely different from Unreal, so SWAT4 does bring nice contrast against other trigger-happy FPS games. Co-op: 3+ players, Team-based: 3+ per side.

SWAT 4
As much fun as any procedural drama on TV!

Medal of Honor: Allied Assault

Sure, it’s pretty dated and any MoH game would work. Has good maps. The game does reduce into “snipers vs. RPG with an odd submachine gun guy after the others” match. Average time between deaths is somewhat longer than in UT2k4. 4+ players.

MoH: AA
Everyone loves to camp in this game.

Left for Dead

Co-op or team. One of the few modern games on the list. Also, unlike many of the games listed, has pretty good copy protection.1 Also, one of the few that requires an exact amount of people to work. Co-op: 4, the others need to figure something else to do. Team Vs. 3+ per side.

Left 4 Dead
I try to get the screenshots from official sources, because I cant be bothered to make my own - like here. Other times I just use Google Image Search.

FlatOut

Pretty much the most fun racing game at a LAN. Beware that GOG copies are for some reason unable to find retail copies, or that’s our experience. FlatOut 2 is worthy upgrade as it adds more cars and more tracks. As for other racing games, NFS has traditionally had really sucky multiplayer, but the new Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit might change this.

FlatOut
This screenshot was taken from some poor sap using the Google Image Search.

Postal 2: Share The Pain

This game works when everyone is really tired. The levels are way too big, but nothing’s stopping you just peeing around. There is no coming back to more serious games after a couple of rounds of Postal’s CTF. The multiplayer portion of the game is available for free.2

Postal 2
Stealing the bitches is fun at 2 AM.

Other games

  • Soldat sounds fun on paper.
  • Team Fortress 2 has same problems as L4D and requires quite a lot of people3.
  • Dawn of War or Dawn of War 2 should have both pretty good multiplayer (ie. more traditional RTS) but I haven’t tested them yet.
  • Of course, Relic has also released a bit limited, multiplayer-only version of Company of Heroes for free.
  • America’s Army 3, it’s free but requires a lot of people and patience.

It’s quite surprising how many worthy multiplayer/LAN games are available for free these days. Also, many of the old classics are finally available as legal, purchasable downloads at sites like Good Old Games. Then again, the price of these games is and has been quite small compared to the money that has been spent on hardware and accessories.

This post was originally posted on Business Analyst Playing Games.

  1. Pirates? At my LAN party? It’s just as likely as you think.

  2. Why anyone above 15 would like to play the single player is beyond me.

  3. It gets boring if everyone’s a Pyro. Or a Spyro.