Since a new sequel was briefly spotted at the 2010 E3 video game trade show, it's worth a look back at the original Deus Ex game, currently available on Steam for a $10 (and sometimes discounted to $5). Despite the dated graphics, this 2000 action/stealth/RPG hybrid is still considered one of the greatest PC games ever made.
Frogware's ongoing collection of Sherlock Holmes games manages to (mostly) nail the writing and voice acting, and the most recent episodes let you jump between first-person and third-person views on the fly. It's normally $20 on Steam, but we found it on sale recently for $10.
Note that this is one of a handful of games on this list that are meant for premium Netbooks with upgraded graphics, such as the Nvidia Ion or ATI Radeon HD 4225.
Want to play current A-list PC games, such as Borderlands or Splinter Cell: Conviction on a Netbook? We got the new OnLive streaming game service up and running on an entry level Netbook, even though the system reqs suggest a dual-core CPU.
A classic point-and-click adventure game, Syberia set the standard for PC mysteries for years. The original still looks great, and plays well on Netbooks. It's available as a DRM-free download for $10 from GoG.com.
Federal agent Nelson Tethers runs the US Department of Puzzle Research, and is often sent on Professor-Layton-style quests to decipher puzzles and solve mysteries. This new game, from the makers of the Sam & Max series, runs a bit slow on a standard Netbook (although the deliberately lo-res animation hides that most of the time), but works great on Premium Netbooks with Nvidia's Ion GPU. The downloadable PC version of Puzzle Agent is $10, available directly from the publisher.
Browser-based games are always good for Netbook players on the go. Finding a good one in this very crowded field is always tough, but we've been enjoying the heck out of this free physics-based game, where you use a catapult to knock down increasingly complex castles. Also available as an iPhone app.
The first entry in the classic adventure game series about a detective-turned-paranormal-investigator. Best known for its sharp writing, New Orleans flavor, and over-the-top turn by Tim Curry as the title character, Sins of the Fathers is a great example of a game that benefits from the small screens and low resolutions of Netbooks (on a big HD monitor, it just turns into a pixelated mess). One of the new Activision/Sierra games available DRM-free from GoG.com for $5.99.
A steampunk RPG from 2001, Arcanum is a cult favorite, thanks to its gigantic open-ended world. Like many of the classic games here, it looks a bit dated by today's standards, but it perfectly suited for low-power Netbook gaming. Available as a DRM-free download from GoG.com for $5.99.
Sega has a new AvP game about to hit store shelves, but it's tough to beat the original creepy classic from a decade ago. Play as a human, an alien, and as a Predator in this new version that's been tweaked to run on modern PCs. The original's multiplayer mode is currently missing, but on the plus side, it's only $4.99 via Steam.
The world's most popular MMO isn't exactly a natural fit for Netbooks, but it does run if all the graphics settings are turned down. The full client is available as a download, which is great for systems like Netbooks without an optical drive. Recommended for Nvidia Ion Netbooks.
Years ago, hardly a day would go by without enterprising office drones jumping into an intra-office Quake III match in the middle of the day. This free, browser-based version of the game is an amazing simulation, and works on nearly any PC. Play it online at QuakeLive.com.
With more than 70 million active players, this might be the biggest online game of all time, and it has helped legitimize Facebook as a gaming platform. Check it out here. (Coincidentally, my better half has some FarmVille tips and tricks here.)
This long-running PC game series has managed to stay popular, despite not making many changes to its graphics or interface over the past decade. In fact, these games are expressly designed to appeal to non-gamers, by running on almost any hardware. These are $14.99-$19.99 on Steam.
This indie-game favorite is available for PCs and also for the Xbox 360. Besides being a new game, as opposed to a re-released classic, it's also an interesting, dark take on the classic platform game genre. Get it for $9.99 on Steam.
Crazy monkeys and balloon-popping -- what more could you ask for in a tower defense game? There are a ton of these games available online, but this Web-based one is an off-kilter favorite. Play it online at developer Ninja Kiwi's site.
An early 3D classic that still provides tons of great one-liners and pop culture in-jokes. Sure, your Netbook can run even new shooters, but this is a great excuse to go back and relive this classic. Get it for $5.99 at Good Old Games.