User’s Guide: Gaming on a Tablet PC

by Reads (16,245)

Gaming on a Tablet PC isn’t as far fetched as most people think, you just have to be creative with the way you do it. Most Tablet PC’s only offer integrated graphics, with only one or two models that offer a low-end dedicated card as an option.

This means that new and modern games are out of the question, but it’s not like you are limited to just playing solitaire in a classroom. This Tablet PC gaming guide will go over a few older fun games that work very well on most tablets, as well as some tips on making more advanced games work too.

This guide will work for most current tablets and notebooks running on integrated graphics. Most of these games will operate on computers as slow as an Asus Eee PC 701 with a 900MHz Intel Celeron M processor with GMA900 integrated graphics. Since many of these games were officially released many years ago, their prices have dropped substantially, most in the 10 to 20 dollar range.

Users should also note that first person shooters are nearly impossible to play using pen input. You really should be playing with a keyboard and external mouse.

Half-Life http://www.steampowered.com/v/index.php?area=app&AppId=70


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  • Pentium 133MHz
  • 24MB RAM
  • Windows 95/98/NT4
  • 400MB hard-disk space.
  • Average online price: $10

This game came out in the age of 100-300 MHz desktops with graphics cards that any modern integrated graphics could easily beat. Even though this game isn’t too stressful on a computer, it is very fun to play and still looks good by today’s standards. For graphics, you can max out each setting while running at the native resolution of your tablet and still get great frame rates. On an older 1.7GHz Celeron M notebook, I was pushing 45-60 frames per second.

Half-Life 2 http://www.steampowered.com/v/index.php?area=app&AppId=220&cc=US


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  • 1.2GHz Processor
  • 256MB RAM
  • 4.5GB hard disk space
  • Windows 2000/XP/ME/98
  • Average online price: $20

Half-Life 2 is a bit more stressful on computers without a dedicated graphics card, but it is not completely out of the realm of possibility. I have personally played this game on an Apple MacBook Air (at a low resolution no less) but it was playable. For this game to work, expect to scale down to a lower resolution, and tweak the video settings. Turn textures and details down, reflections to minimum, and most other settings as low as they go. You might find yourself playing at 640×480 or 800×600, but that is still better than pinball or solitaire.

To try this out before buying, install “Steam” on your computer and download the free demo.

Halo http://www.microsoft.com/games/halo/


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  • Microsoft Windows 98SE/Me/XP/2000
  • PC with 733MHz equivalent or higher processor
  • 128MB of system RAM
  • 1.2GB available hard disk space
  • Average online price: $20

Halo is also another fun game, which most people first played with it came out on the original Xbox. I have personally seen someone running this on an Eee PC in the office, and was very playable. This game falls between HL1 and HL2 for system load and should get decent game play on current tablets with minimal tweaking.

Trial Version http://www.microsoft.com/games/halo/downloads.aspx

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City http://www.rockstargames.com/vicecity/


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  • Win98/Me/2000/XP
  • 800MHz CPU
  • 128MB RAM
  • Average online price: $10

This is another classic game that is at the same level as Halo for system requirements. Current tablets should have no problem playing this game as long as some detail settings are toned down. For killing time I don’t think any other game works as well as Grand Theft Auto. Tired of the boring lecture? Well just load up GTA, steal a car, and run over some pedestrians.

Grand Theft Auto 2 http://www.rockstargames.com/classics/


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  • Pentium 200MHz or above
  • 32MB of RAM
  • 65MB of hard disk space
  • Windows 95/98

This older version of Grand Theft Auto is at the same level as the first Half Life, and very easy for your system to run. The makers have even released this game for free in their classic game section.

Free for download http://www.rockstargames.com/classics/

Freelancer http://www.microsoft.com/games/freelancer/


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  • Microsoft Windows 98/Me/XP/2000
  • PC with 600 MHz equivalent or higher processor
  • 128MB of system RAM
  • 900MB available hard disk space

A highly rated space action/adventure game that is old enough to run quite well on machines with integrated graphics. This game should run well on default settings with minimal tweaking.

Conclusion

Even though many tablet computers are limited with only integrated graphics, they aren’t excluded from playing games entirely. While brand new games that are graphics intensive are out of the question, if you step back 2-4 years you can find plenty of games that work very well, and still look visually pleasing. The added benefit to these games is they are almost all in classic collections and listed at bargain prices at many retail locations. Many games which used to sell for fifty bucks can now be had for ten or twenty dollars. Most of the games I listed also offer free downloadable demos, which should give you a pretty good idea of what the game looks like and how it will perform on your Tablet PC.

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