One of the really fun things about writing for RPS is we don’t have to look at each and every game – we can just focus on what’s interesting and gibber away about it until we get bored. This does cause a sort of tunnel vision, though, in that I’ve been so wrapped up in certain games that I’ve very little idea what’s going on in the PC games market at large. What are people actually buying? Why? Is it wrong to murder them as they sleep for it?
So, I thought I’d have a little look at the current UK top 10 PC games (according to ELSPA), and make some completely irrelevant comments about ‘em. Unfortunately I’m hungover again – drinking on Monday nights is a bad idea even for shiftless freelancers like me – so my joke glands aren’t working properly, I’m afraid. Make up your own gags and pretend I wrote ‘em, if you like. Then maybe we’ll both feel better about this post.
1. Enemy Territory: Quake Wars
A surprise chartopper, given a lot of people have pre-emptively whined about it and made unfair Team Fortress 2 comparisons. It’s an excellent if wobbly-UIed team shooter, and it thoroughly deserves its success. This doesn’t include Steam sales of the game of course, which added to this may well make it one of the most successful id-related games in quite some time. Expect it to be thoroughly humbled by the Orange Box’s physical release on Friday, though.
2. The Sims 2: Bon Voyage
Where there was, for all their cynicism, something vaguely iconic and memorable about most of the Sims 1 expansion packs (I could, for instance, still name pretty much all of them off the top of my head), the Sims 2’s raft of addons just confuses me utterly. I don’t know how many there have been, I don’t know when this one came out and I have zero curiosity for what it does. Also, ‘Bon Voyage’ suggests bidding farewell to the Sims 2, which is tragically not the case. But I suspect history will soon repeat itself – my loathing for the original Sims had just about reached critical mass around the time of the ‘Makin’ Magic’ (Witches! Quests! Needlessly missing Gs!) expansion, and then the rather sublime Sims 2 hit soon afterwards. I hope the fact I can’t think about that game without grimacing now means the Sims 3 (and, surely surely surely, some really interesting online community stuff) is right around the corner.
3. Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts
Glad to see this doing so well, as I worried it might be a bit inaccessible to mainstream players. It really is an excellent expandalone for one of the finest RTSes ever made, and we should have written more about it on RPS. We got distracted, I fear.
4. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Hard Evidence
I’ve never played a CSI game, but I believe this is the 89th this year. I do, however, suffer my girlfriend watching CSI on a near-constant basis, so this being so high in the charts fills me with fear, in case she becomes aware of its existence and I duly find I can’t use my PC anymore.
Seriously though, I’d be fascinated to hear why so many people buy this. Is it purely because of the familiarity of the name, or is it truly satisfying a latent desire in thousands of people to investigate crime scenes? Are people playing it to roleplay, or just because they want to spend more time with characters off the TV?
5. World in Conflict
Ack, pangs of guilt. I own a still-shrinkwrapped copy of this, and I know I should play it. No time to (apart from all the hours I spend in Team Fortress 2, but those are important), and I fear I’m going to hit a nasty situation like last year, when I hadn’t gotten around to playing Company of Heroes yet and thus didn’t vote for it in the annual Eurogamer games o’ the year feature. The game didn’t place particularly highly in the resulting list, and when I did finally turn my tired eyes to its lovely form, I was absolutely horrified at myself for neglecting it. I’m given to understand WiC is nowhere near the game CoH is, but sometimes an 8/10 title is exactly what the doctor ordered. My RPS comrades have great enthusiasm for it, so expect it to appear in however we decide to handle our own year-end list feature.
6. FIFA 08
Apparently being able to say “Pro Evo’s still the king” is all I need to successfully bluff that I understand foot-to-ball games.
7. Medal Of Honor: Airborne
My review of this in PCFormat is in the shops now, I believe. It’s actually a pretty good big-silly-action thingy (don’t believe for one second that it’s anything like a believable soldier sim), though the ridiculous Nazi super-soldiers towards the end really screw up the atmosphere.
8. The Settlers: Rise of an Empire
The best Settlers since 2. I say why in the next issue of PC Gamer and, if they’re super-kind, for no-money on their website.
Did we ever mention this game on RPS? I can’t recall. Anyway. My fondness for it seems to subside a little with each passing day. The revelation that the harshly binary multiple endings weren’t the developers’ idea heavily reinforced my problems with the telling of the narrative. What it has definitely done, though, is add characters and quotes to the gaming lexicon, and there’s not many games that achieve that these days. Glad it’s still selling well.
10. Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer
I’ll pass you over to Kieron for this one, but hopefully we’ll chronicle some cackhanded NWN2 co-op on RPS soon.
So, that’s only 3 EA games in the top ten, which must be some sort of record. Thoughts? Agree, disagree, can’t believe Monkey Toucher 5000 isn’t in there?