PC Gamer recently released their list of top PC games of all time. I was quite a bit disappointed to see what made it into the Top 10. Modern Warfare 2? Oblivion? Great games in their own right, but this is a list of all time, not of the past 8 years.
So I said ‘Feh!’ to that list, and made my own. My criteria is of course, not objective, but rather based on the total number of hours I spent playing these games growing up, and how the memories of them have stayed so sweet in my mind. They come to you in no particular order.
Quest for Glory: So You Want To Be a Hero?
If you’ve never played any Sierra adventure games, you probably won’t get it. If you did, you know what I’m talking about. But the Quest for Glory games were a breed by themselves. They were funny, challenging, and heart-warming. I wish there were more games these days that shared the same sense of humor and adventure.
Yea, yea, so the gravity gun in HL2 was really sweet. But frankly, no game has required that my jaw be picked up off the floor nearly as much as the original Half-Life did when it came out. It made shooters feel smart for the first time.
Wing Commander: Privateer
Lest we forget that Mass Effect was not the first game to put you in the boots of an interstellar bad-ass jetting across the galaxy. Privateer took the awesome gameplay and presentation of the Wing Commander series, and let you be a total hard-ass by doing stuff like smuggling contraband and assassinating space pirates. And the more you did this, the more pimpin’ your spaceship got.
There’s nothing to say about Civ that hasn’t already been said. I picked Civ 2 because of all the versions I’ve played, it was the one that had me suddenly realizing it was three in the morning most often.
World of Warcraft
Yes, I’m sure there are all days we wished we’d never heard of it. But we’ve got to face up the facts: at times we all want to go questing in a fantasy game world with our friends. Let’s just be thankful we have a good game to do it in, as opposed to WoW’s predecessors which were either boring, sadistic, or required a telnet client.
Age of Empires II: Age of Kings
I’ve played my fair share of RTS games, but none have ever quite given me the same sense of satisfaction in building an expansive network of bases to form a veritable city as Age of Empires II did. On the flip side, nothing ever quite put me in such a bad mood as seeing it turned to dust by a small army of trebuchets (usually led by my college roommate).
Duke Nukem 3d
Doom? Yea, it was cool. Quake? Fantastic. But both games lacked one important aspect: boobs. Seriously. If you had your pick of three awesome first person shooters, wouldn’t you pick the one with boobs? I know my 13-year-old self did. But to be honest, it was a great game, too. Open level designs, interactive environments, creative weapons and great multiplayer (when it worked).
I ate, drank and dreamt Diablo I for the first few months after it was released. It was that good. But the second one was better in (almost) every way. I actually like to think of Diablo 2 as the predecessor to World of Warcraft, since so many of the now industry standard game mechanics first showed up in the Diablo series.
Baldur’s Gate II
In my mind, Bioware still has yet to out-do Baldur’s Gate 2. It did so many things so right. It struck the perfect balance between story and gameplay. It took full advantage of the D&D license and wove a very rich tapestry. It was challenging and rewarding. It was a game that made me feel proud and accomplished when I beat it.
Most of the games are on this list because they represent the best of breed within their genre, but Portal stands out because it has no peers to compare it to. I remember when games made the transition from 2d to 3d, both players and developers took quite a while to adjust to the new way of thinking. Portal screws it up even further. It is a game that forces you to bend your thinking about physics. Oh, and did I mention it’s funny, too?