Ouch, low system limits your choices, so many great games with a little more power.. all I got to recommend is c&c3, which uses a modified Generals engine (I prefer the old style c&c to generals).
* Windows XP, Windows Vista (32-bit)
2.0 GHz or AMD equivalent / Windows Vista 2.2 GHz
512 MB RAM / Windows Vista 1 GB RAM
8x DVD drive
6.0 GB free space
GeForce 4 Ti, ATI Radeon 8500 video card, Intel GMA 900
DirectX 9.0c compatible sound card
56 Kbp/s Internet connection for online play
A little more background. We are getting together for a once or twice a year (maybe more in the future) type frequency. We don't mind playing an "old" game, but would like it to be high quality from a gameplay standpoint. Equipment crushing graphics are not our thing. We want a game that plays well, will support 5-10 players on a LAN without much lag (preferably none). Our preferences are for fanstasy based games, but that is negotiable amonst the group.
I have not played any of the C&C games, so I would defer to others and thier experiences.
it sounds like exactly what me and my friends used to do all through out the year, we had our huge lan party over new years and our staple has long been a good RTS to keep us occupied for 4-5 hours at a time.
we have since moved apart and dont get together anymore so i can't comment on newer RTS's (Supreme Commander, Dawn of War, C&C 3 etc) but our staple for a long time was rise of nations. rise of legends is pretty, it plays well but might be more of a strain than you are looking for...again, it all depends on how much you turn down as with all games. Age of Empires 3 was a riot for us but it takes some time to get your 'home city' (as they are called) built up to take advantage of the cool add-ons (its kind of a cross between a traditional RTS and something like BF2 that tracks your progress across multiple sessions)
my vote would probably have to be rise of legends, it was really fun to play and i know it can be played on a 6600gt or a 6800gt as that is what i used to play it on.
oh and on the lag thing...that is all dependant on who is hosting the game, if the host only has 512MB of RAM you will lag when you get more units needing to be rendered...especially if you are rendering your game and the entire server. easy way around it is just install it on another computer an either run a dedicated server or join as an observer or even a player and just let them die / be conquered etc.
My mates and I play these and we lan every month or so. Soon to be moving into the same house so much more lanning time. But the older games always seem to be the best.
Although we are going to be playing Rainbow 6 Vegas Co-op. That is a sweet game but limited to 4 players.
Personally I love playing the tower maps of Warcraft. They keep you going for hours. AoE2 is great but playing against the computer can be hard. Especially when trying to get the right difficulty level so that simply entering their town with a peasant doesnt cause them to pack up and quit
Thanks a bunch for your inputs. Lots of good suggestions and a couple games I hadn't considered. I usually host the games on my computer that is a P4 2.8 GHz with 2 Gig of Ram and a AIW X850XT. Both of my computers are identical except the other one is a P4 2.6 GHz. Perhaps we will give the sacrificial lamb or observer mode trick a try next time too. Still love AoM gameplay!
you'd be surprised how many people are not brave enough to play their friends (particularly if they know they will lose), oh and also I recommend battle for middle earth 2 if you want a gimmick (the heroes are funny because you just end up trying to level them up all the time), but for actual game play... I suppose COH is good, it scales down pretty well (it will run on integrated graphics smoothly at native res on my laptop)
Wow all these excellent choices, but no one thought to mention Homeworld!?! I’ve played a lot of RTS games and back in the day when I had those kinds of comp spects, Homeworld, Homeworld 2 and Command and Conquer Generals where the games to play during a lan parties. Honestly, C&C3 will not run well with those systems. So, if you want a game that runs well on any system try Homeworld or C&C Generals. I used to play them on our old 56k connection without any problems, so ether should run very well on any lan network no problem.
Also lag is not associated with how well a computer can run a game, but rather how good a connection you can achieve across several systems. When a system is having trouble running a game on its own you get low frame rates. Although I have heard the term system lag time and again referring to low frame rate.
I payed WarCraft III back in the days and I think it's one of the best RTS' out there... even now I am considering playing it! AoM rocked too... I too was looking for the kind of game you are looking for, so Kohan II, Rise of Legends and Dawn of War 2 have been taken into account.
I agree with a poster above who called Battle for Middle Earth 2 a gimmick (of EALA's), I actually played it A LOT, too much for my own taste, I became kind of addicted to it, although I don't know if you can call it an addiction if I started to hate the game... I would like to know if anything similar has happened to any of you.
Anyways, it is a very simple game, very straight forward, the only new stuff would be battalions for the time it was released (2006). Heroes are nice, but all skirmishes are reduced to the same "build a simple base, train simple troops and heroes, send a simple attack, have a simple victory"...