Outcast Not At 57 Scandal: PC Gamer Top 100

By Kieron Gillen on December 17th, 2009 at 1:35 pm.

And don't get me started with Thief 2.

The yearly PC Gamer Top 100 has gone live! To actually get any real explanation behind it, you’ll have to buy the new issue, but it’s available here in a just-the-facts-format. It breaks with tradition in a three key ways. Firstly, it was the first in living memory to be comprised not by going down the pub and arguing until everyone hates each other more than usual. Instead, it was done by cold vote-casting democracy. Or, at least, the closest simulacra to cold-vote-casting democracy the ever-mendacious Tom Francis could manage. Secondly, it involved votes from the PC Gamer writers of many nations (i.e. if there’s anything obviously mental, blame the yanks). Thirdly, and most audaciously, the fifthy-seventh greatest game of all time Outcast isn’t at fifty-seven. I’m shocked, shocked I say. Anyway, the readers vote is now open so do go in and RIGHT WRONGS. I admit, it’s the sort of thing which makes me wonder what a RPS readers’ top 100 may look like. Top 100s are odd ones, conceptually speaking. I wrote a little about it over on my workblog a few years ago, which I republish here…

*****
Yesterday I spent in the beer garden of the Boater locked in mortal (er) discussion with the usual suspects. We were trying to compile one of Gamer’s yearly traditions, the Top 100 Best Games Of All Time. It’s always problematic, with the same debates with different spins emerging to be quashed. Do you count a game’s mods when including it? (A: No, because it’s not the developers works. That’s like saying Windows XP is the best game ever as it allows playing everyone else’s games). Can you include mods themselves? (A: Yes, if they’re good enough). Can I include X: Beyond the Frontier? (A: No, don’t be fucking stupid).

A lot of the arguments revolve around how intellectually vague the remit of the exercise is. To this day, I’m not exactly sure what the Top 100 actually *means*.

You see, there’s lots of more coherent approaches to Top 100 games. In terms of magazines who only have done it as a very occasional article, the approach usually taken is “the Greatest games of all time”. In other words, you include not only how good the game is to play, but how innovative and important it is in terms of the development of the form. For example, when Edge did theirs it was very much this model. The problem with that is that if you do one more regularly than once every five years or so, the list calcifies. In terms of overall importance and greatness, that list doesn’t change significantly in a twelve month period. And if it does, it really does undermine the article.

The alternative is “our favourite games” model, which simply selects the Top 100 games which the writers like *right now*. Historical import doesn’t really matter, just your current love. If you were going to play something now, what would it be? This tends towards the gloriously pop mafly nature of games, with lots of turn around as the latest Slightly-better-than-last genre game appears. And that’s not even considering the shifting population of the magazine writers. This is the model Amiga Power seemed to use. Its problem is that if it’s being completely honest, it’s also going to be cheerfully dismissive of a minority of writers (and readers) tastes. You also end up with quirks like Gravity Power at number 2, just because all the writers love it, when in the world outside the magazine’s bounds most gamers couldn’t even name it.

There’s a third method which is a logical extension of the second one. Rather than a Top 100 which is argued for by the staff as a whole, the Top 100 is produced by a opinionated single writer. Only magazine I know who ever did this was Your Sinclair, where Stuart Campbell wrote his gleefully personal take on the history of the Speccy. That it was one man’s work meant that it tended not to be confused with the editorial opinion of the magazine as a whole (despite being labelled the offical YS Top 100) and stressed that it was the start of a dialogue. That is, if Stuart could have his own, then so can everyone else. It’s second strength is that it removes the chance of bland list created by simple compromise. Problem with this is that it too can’t be repeated to often, meaning that Gamer couldn’t use it. Equally, the PC is such a wide and long-existing form, the number of writers who have been around long enough and have expansive enough tastes to perform the role are strictly limited. Of the current Brit game press, only Richard Cobbet comes to mind as someone who mixes both absolutely encyclopedic knowledge with the voliciferous beliefs required to make an entertaining list.

Gamer is quieter, less explicitly controversial and self-indulgent, magazine than Amiga Power, so while the list features a fairly hefty subjective component, it also tends to make tokenistic gestures to genres not many writers like but we consider important. While this is done for the best reasons, it does tend to make Gamer’s lists fall between the two poles. Its number one position will never be held by Doom (as it would if we did a pure List #1 style) or the modern equivalent of GravityPower (if we did it as a pure List #2 style). Afterwards, people seemed more pleased with this list than last one. A better reflection of the PC, is the sort of phrase that people stated.

Which reveals the nature of the PC Gamer Top 100. It’s a mirror of what the magazine thinks the PC is this year, where we are and what we’re going. The list is, essentially, this is what everyone’s playing and this is what everyone’s thinking about. Last year, KOTOR appeared at #3. While a great game, I think it more reflected the tone of last year, where multiformated console games were increasingly part of our idea-space. Genres which were PC only were being bastardised to go on a joypad too, and it was important we recognise while this is happening, it’s better that it happens *well*. This year’s list seems to do a similar reflection of where we are and what we want, but in the considerably altered world of the last twelve months.

Or that’s the justification I’m sticking to for now.

What the Top 100 really does is actually sell a dream. If you really love games, the idea that people can actually sit around for a day and argue intensively about their merits is a seductive fantasy. What most amazes new writers who turn up for their first time is that this idea isn’t just an image sold through the text. It actually happens. The dream’s real. And that, more than anything, is the Top 100’s greatest triumph. That it happens.

*****

Well, it didn’t happen this year, but we totally had a very angry google-doc full of people being mean to one another.

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207 Comments »

  1. Lewis says:

    Its having been a straight vote seems to render it conceptually flawed, to be honest. I can’t get my head around publishing a list that says “this is what we think,” when it’s highly unlikely anyone on the “panel” would have picked that exact top 100. In effect, by doing it as a straight vote, you’re publishing a list that nobody involved actually agrees with.

    Then again, I don’t think I can think of a better way of doing it. How long did you tend to stay in the pub arguing for, ex-PCG folks? I can’t imaging picking and ranking a hundred games taking any less than a lifetime, when doing it as a group.

  2. Weylund says:

    I believe that Looking Glass games should have their own special “top” list to avoid knocking anyone else out of position. That said, I’m dismayed that no one has mentioned Terra Nova: Strike Force Centauri, probably the best of the power-armor-based emo-movie-cutscene tactical shooters ever to grace this part of the solar system. I’ll assume that it is *not* in its rightful place at number 8, then.

    I need to find my Terra Nova discs.

    • Taillefer says:

      They have a special list in our hearts.

    • sebmojo says:

      I always found it odd that the noisiest weapon in Terra Nova was the Stealth Grenades.

      Mind you ‘Stealth Grenade’ is kind of intrinsically wacky, so maybe they were just working with that.

    • Weylund says:

      I really loved the way the weapons all worked together – you had weapons that weakened armor, weapons that were designed to be used against weaker armor, weapons with decent spread and splash damage for nailing clumps, some interesting one-offs that came in handy when missions switched gears unexpectedly. And the movement speed and wide open spaces – amazing. It was truly a revolutionary game. And long, too, with some cool RPG elements.

      It was basically TiE Fighter, but on the ground and with better graphics.

      Of course, then there’s SEAL Team, which no one seems to have played, which was the same, only stretched across an RPG-ish career in Vietnam.

      Wow, remember when first-person games *weren’t* all generic foozle-shooters or action RPGs? Shit, EA modeled six *years* worth of operations in Vietnam, forty-odd differentiated SEAL characters, and realistic tactical maneuvers and firefights into a 3D game in 1994.

  3. Butler` says:

    I’d love to know how they go about sorting it, what metric etc.

    It doesn’t seem to be popularity / % score / wider acclaim (metacritic) / longeivity or any sensible mix of any of them

    • Lewis says:

      Butler: It’s always been “Which games do we feel an absolute burning love for, right now?” No specific guidelines for selection other than the panel loving it, I believe.

  4. Premium User Badge

    Johnny Law says:

    Were you only including one game from any given series? Otherwise it seems _really_ odd to have a PC top 100 list that lacks Quake, Doom, and Thief.
    Edit: No, I see both Half-Life and HL2 there. OK I’m baffled.
    BTW I don’t buy the argument for disregarding mods. To make your analogy more apt IMO, it’s like having a “top operating systems” list and not giving Windows XP credit for being able to run more games (and other apps). I suppose it depends on your intentions for the list — whether you’re focussed on the player experience or trying to “reward” developer achievement. But even in the latter case, the mod-ability of a game and the assets & systems used in the vast majority of mods are provided by the game’s developers.

    • Lewis says:

      Last year they “broke the one-game-from-a-series rule” to include both Half Lives. I suspect it’s the same this time out.

    • Tom Camfield says:

      @ Johnny Law

      But why would anyone want to play single player Doom or Quake now? I played Doom recently, and personally do not think it’s a great game any more. Not compared to the many alternatives on offer.

      Quake 3 I can understand for multiplayer, natch.

    • Premium User Badge

      Johnny Law says:

      @Tom:

      If “what would we like to play right now” is the only criterion, yeah, but it’s not clear to me that that’s the case. There are certainly many other games on this list that you could say that about — just looking at the first page, titles like Ultima Underworld 2 and Sim City 2000 jump out.

      (And personally I actually do still play Doom (2) and Quake, much more than for at least 95% of the games on the list, although I don’t expect that to be the case for anyone who wasn’t a big fan of those games when they were first released.)

    • D says:

      I agree with point nr.2: Of course Kieron should include “modability” in the considerations. Mount&Blade for instance, is a great game mostly because of it’s ability to be modded, and the mods resulting from that. It’s not just about rewarding developers, it’s about crediting the game for its ability to potentially provide near endless replayability/content.

      And yeah, Windows is the best game platform (see what I did), but developing a game for it is not “modding”, because you’re defining functionality in a way that is outside of content creation. Ie. the modding ability of a game is defined strictly within the game, but the code you write for Windows is only limited by Turing-complete computability.

    • Tom Camfield says:

      @ Johnny Law

      I agree that Ultima Underworld should not be there, it’s unplayable, but I think Sim City 2000 is still playable, and possibly even better than the later games (this is from memory, I don’t have a PC in front of me to test the theory right now).

      This isn’t really the case for Doom and Quake which have been superseded by a number of titles (in the case of Doom, perhaps only by Doom 2 as a pure FPS, I was personally never a fan of Serious Sam).

      Quake on the other hand is blatantly rubbish in single player: I recall playing it at the time and running along corridors backwards because enemies would inevitably spawn “behind” me. I may have misjudged the game given the number of plaudits it received at the time, and you clearly like it so I’m happy to say I’m wrong, but I think any game that clueless about enemy placement /must/ have been superseded by something.

    • TeeJay says:

      Quake games
      ’06 Q3A #16
      ’07 Q3A #17
      ’08 Q3A #34
      ’09 Q3A #22
      ’08 public vote: Q3A #58, Quake #98

      Doom games
      ’06 Doom II #37
      ’07 Doom II #53
      ’08 Doom II #53
      ’09 Doom II #27
      ’08 public vote Doom #52, Doom II #83

      Thief games
      ’06 Thief 3 #8
      ’07 Thief 3 #11
      ’08 Thief 2 #14
      ’09 Thief 2 #9
      ’08 public vote Thief 2 #78

      SimCity games
      ’06 SimCity2000 #71
      ’07 SimCity2000 #38
      ’08 SimCity2000 #38
      ’09 SimCity2000 #81
      ’08 public vote: none listed

  5. Langman says:

    I love all the people who don’t ‘get’ Oblivion squealing about its position. The rest of us who understand its brilliance can just sit back and light up a cigar, with smug looks on our faces..

    • Derf says:

      Then perhaps you could explain from a functional perspective, how it is superior to Morrowind.

    • Pidesco says:

      Or Daggerfall, for that matter.

      Oblivion is an open world game where the world is hopelessly empty and repetitive. Not only is it a not very good game, but it actually fails to achieve what it sets out to do: create a world for the player faff about in varied ways.

  6. zzzzzzz says:

    Oblivion has better Combat…

  7. Wooly says:

    One of the many things that enrages me is that GTAIV is not only on the list, which in of its self is disgusting, but that it’s in 15th PLACE!!!! WHAT!? Are you saying that wretched, wretched porting catastrophe is better than System Shock 2, Portal, World of Goo, Baldur’s Gate 2, Mass Effect, KotOR, Quake III,mafia,dayofthetentaclegrimfandangoc&cl4ddottstalker- *collapses into foaming heap of nerdrage*

  8. disperse says:

    A few thoughts while voting for my Top 5:

    It’s really hard to limit yourself to merely 5 choices.

    I think I’ll vote for the more obscure titles that I’d like to see in the top 100 like Spelunky and Dwarf Fortress even though they probably aren’t actually in my top 5.

    No Nethack?!?

    • zzzzzzz says:

      Surely u meant : “No Stonesoup?!?”

    • disperse says:

      The trouble with rogue-likes is there are too many and nobody wants to learn a new system.

      I’m a Nethack player and can’t be bothered to learn how to play Angband. I’m sure Angband players feel the same way about Nethhack.

    • Clovis says:

      Nethack isn’t on the list? I wish I could see this stupid list. Stupid filter that filters “games” on sites where you can’t PLAY games. I shouldn’t complain though, I can access RPS somehow.

      Anyway, someone mentioned that AngbankTK is on there, but how can nethack not be? Nethack has to be one of the most important PC games ever.

    • disperse says:

      I sent an email the the powers that be requesting they add Nethack to the list. I’m holding off on submitting my vote until it gets added.

  9. Premium User Badge

    BaconAndWaffles says:

    No Trackmania?!? I am a ball of fake internet rage and indignation!

  10. KilgoreTrout XL says:

    Is this where I get mad and say that Shadows of Amn is ever-so-slightly better than Oblivion a/k/a the RPG where you run 2 dungeons 400 times in a row?

  11. Tom Camfield says:

    It really (“Rude words” – Ed) when mags run a top 100 with unplayable games in them. If anyone actually went and played Ultima Underworld II all the way through in the last year and didn’t log out after five minutes then I tilt my hat at them, but grr, why not just put games that are mechanically adequate to current generation gamers. Same with Ultima 7, genuinely, I played these last christmas and the laboriousness of it all – it’s senseless to have them in a top 100. SWOS, Fallout, SS2, Planescape Torment, all fine last year, but not the Ultimas. I pity anyone who spends time and money trying to track them down and is left weeping by their inadequacies. Also :)

    • disperse says:

      Ultima VII is perfectly playable on modern systems using Exult:

      http://exult.sourceforge.net/

    • Tom Camfield says:

      @ disperse

      Last time I played it, by which I mean, I played Ultima about a year ago, it was terrible. It worked, but it played like someone had taken a game and then decided to put about eight layers of input between me and any functional control over Lord Britannia et al. I know it functions on modern systems, but is it actually playable? I shall take your word for it and attempt Exult again, which I imagine I did a year ago.

      (I would genuinely like to enjoy these games.)

    • jsutcliffe says:

      @Tom Camfield

      That would be the top 100 games you can play now. Possibly a useful list, but different from the top 100 games of all time.

    • Thirith says:

      “Mechanically inadequate to current generation gamers”? Personally I think that the mechanics of Ultima VII are much less frustrating than those of, say, Neverwinter Nights 2.

    • disperse says:

      OK, I have to admit that Ultima VII’s mouse-centric interface wasn’t the greatest. For example:

      I want to use a potion of healing so I double-left click on Dupre who is carrying a backpack full of yellow potions. Whoops, I’ve initiated a dialog with Dupre. I say goodbye and then double-click on the avatar to open my paper doll and then double-click on Dupre to open his paper doll. Then I double-click on the 5 pixel by 5 pixel portion of his backpack that is showing over his right shoulder. Whoops, I accidentally clicked and dragged and am now holding his backpack. I try and put the backpack back by clicking on Dupre but he has a free hand and ends up holding the backpack. No big deal, I can still double-click the backpack to get to the healing potions. The backpack opens up and I need to rummage through it to find the yellow potions by literally clicking and dragging the icons of various equipment around. Whoops, I double-clicked the map by mistake and am now looking at the map. Etc.

      Makes you long for Diablo’s press 1 to drink a healing potion system.

      Exult improves on all this by adding hot keys for pretty much everything. You can feed your players, open the spellbook, view the map, use the abacus, use the lockpick, and open any character’s inventory without using the mouse.

    • Tom Camfield says:

      @ disperse

      Ah! Thank you, I might try it now, it’s quite exciting that this game will finally be playable! :)

      @ jsutcliffe

      I don’t think it would be different, if it’s a top 100 where the game doesn’t have to be playable, then things like Elite and Doom and the Dune 2 should be up there. That they aren’t seems to imply that these games have been succeeded by newer versions. In the case of a first person dungeon crawler for UU2, there are plenty that are mechanically more satisfying for the modern gamer.

      @ Thirith

      I hated the original NWN, so if NWN2 is as formally dull as the original, I’m quite happy to agree and throw stones at whoever put it on the list. (By formally dull I mean: Clear dungeon 1! Congratulations, now clear dungeon 2! And then I returned the game. Tellingly, no-one ever seems to reference the game compared to Planescape or KOTOR or even BG, so I assume I’ve missed nothing.)

    • TeeJay says:

      @ Tom Camfield

      Re. Elite:

      PCG did list Elite (1983) in their 2006 top 100 (#65), but from ’07 to ’09 they have listed “Frontier: Elite II” (1993) on the grounds that it is more easily playable today (’07 = #63, ’08 = #74, ’09 = #31).

      Re. Doom
      From ’06 to ’09 PCG have always listed “Doom II” (1994) rather than Doom (1993) (’06 = #37, ’07 = #53, ’08 = #53, ’09 = #27).

      Re. Dune
      No games listed ’06 to ’09

      Re. NWN
      Neither NWN (2002) or NWN2 (2006) have been listed this year or last although:
      ’07 NWN2 = #90
      ’06 NWN = #72

      Even NWN fans don’t rate the games ‘original campaigns’ that highly – they are/were popular because of the content creation tools, active communities / tons of free contenta and allowing customised multiplayer servers and games run by Dungeon Masters. The most popular official/paid-for NWN2 expansion/add-ons seem to be Mask of the Betrayer (2007) and Mysteries of Westgate (2009).

  12. TeeJay says:

    I’ve just used a spread-sheet to compare this years Top 100 with the last one or two years, and here are the *changes* from previous years grouped into: new releases “INSTALL”, older/classic games appearing for the first time “REINSTALL”, variations in the choice from a series “UPGRADE” and finally those games which have been kicked out of the top 100 “DELETE”. The numbers don’t exactly add up because I looked at 06/07 as well as 08/09.

    INSTALL

    fallout 3, gta 4, world of goo, l4d, dragon age, spelunky, space giraffe, street fighter 4, braid, burnout paradise, king’s bounty, far cry 2, dawn of war 2, mirror’s edge

    RE-INSTALL

    star control 2, planetside, carmageddon, colonisation, mech commander, tribes, enemy territory,
    wings of victory, cave story, star trek final unity, tetris, another world, gothic 2, solitaire
    bubble bobble, jagged alliance 2

    UPGRADE

    medieval 2 >> rome
    arma 1 >> 2
    champ.man. etc.>> football man 2008
    sims 2 >> sims 3
    dungeon keeper 1 >> 2
    dawn of war 1 >> 2
    tomb raider anniversary >> 2
    ut 3 >> 2004
    Combat Mission: afrika corps >> beyond overlord
    gta:sa & gta:vc >> gta 4
    monkey island 1 >> 2
    nolf 2 >> nolf 1

    DELETE

    world in conflict, city of heroes, rollercoaster tycoon 2, psychonauts, fear, trackmania united, guild wars, masq, defcon, day of defeat source, warcraft 3, gears of war, C&C3, pop: sands of time, ground control, far cry, syndicate, Race driver GRID, SWAT 4, Brothers in Arms, Silent Hunter 3, Desktop Tower defence, LOTR online, N, Enemy Territory Quake Wars, Sam & Max, Crimson Skies, Rise of Nations, Alpha Centauri, Full Throttle, Fable, Just Cause, Armageddon, Empires, Sins of a Solar Empire

    +++++++++++

    I think it’s a shame that Psychonauts, Sands of Time, Far Cry and Alpha Centauri got axed.

  13. passingtramp says:

    88?!

  14. SuperNashwan says:

    No way is x better than y! And why no mention of z! For shame.

  15. thaine says:

    I’m gleeful that Deus Ex is finally getting a number one spot somewhere. Best. Game. Ever.

  16. MagazineLawl says:

    No X-COM in the top 10 (Fallout 3 and Oblivion instead ?!?).

    Also Audiosurf but not SMAC?

    Are they doing this on purpose to drive up website hits from nerdrage?

    • Premium User Badge

      Johnny Law says:

      What? Audiosurf is _clearly_ superior to SMAC. :-)

      Seriously though this is what you get when you average votes. Titles that at-least-kinda-appeal to everyone get a boost.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Johnny Law: Nah, it’swhat happens when you get to pick 15 games which collate into the list. I could name 15 awesome strategy games that should be in it… but I’m not going to pick all 15 for it. Occasionally, you get a classic which no-one just included. When you’re getting to Audiosurf, you’re getting to stuff which only a couple of people picked at the bottom part of their list.

      KG

    • Bret says:

      Hey, 11′s perfectly respectable.

      I mean, X-Com’s great, but I can understand position 11.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Kieron Gillen

      “I could name 15 awesome strategy games that should be in it… ”

      Would you, please? I’d be interested in seeing that. :)

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Viniarth: Okay, let’s take that one. Including ones which are in it already – which is what I said – or only ones which aren’t included?

      KG

    • Vinraith says:

      @Kieron Gillen: I was thinking in terms of the way you meant it. That is, including games already in this list.

    • BooleanBob says:

      It’s a trap, KG! Vinraith is going to spin dramatically in his chair, slam his bagel on the desk and inform you that each and every one of the games you name is ACTUALLY A REAL TIME TACTICAL.

    • Vinraith says:

      @BooleanBob

      I’m willing to accept a broad definition of “strategy game,” here. My problem is with people that use the word “strategy” as though RTS games were the only strategy games that exist. RTT’s and RTS’s are a lot of fun, but there’s a wide world of strategy out there and hopefully Kieron’s list will pull from across the spectrum.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Vinarith: Well, Rainbow Islands to start with…

      Okay, more seriously and equally off the top of my head, while trying to avoid any duplicates (i.e. World in Conflict = No Ground Control) and trying to select things which are still highly playable. And which I would actually play (i.e. No Starcraft).

      Civ 4
      Alpha Centauri
      World in Conflict
      Sacrifice
      Age of Wonders 2: Shadow Magic (Always my choice for This Sort of Thing over HoMM, etc)
      Sims 3
      X-Com
      Plants Vs Zombies
      Dwarf Fortress
      Rome: Total War.
      Company of Heroes
      Dawn of War: The One With The Necron If I Had To Pick
      Armageddon Empires
      Galactic Civilizations 2: The Full Thing
      Laser Squad Nemesis

      I’d probably lob a few more borderline stuff in there – stuff of the status of Weird Worlds, Battle for Wesnoth, etc. I’d work out a way to sneak Chaos and Deutros in there too. Of course, that way leads to Lord of Midnight, which gets the C64 people talking about 7 Cities of Gold, etc. So better to not go that way, for madness lies.

      All off the top of my head, etc, etc.

      (Oh shit! Megalomania!)

      KG

    • BooleanBob says:

      @KG

      Yeah, pretty nice list. What strikes me about it is that when, as Vinraith says, the word ‘strategy’ comes up I really do tend to think BZZT***C&C**Starcraft** and quietly tune out my brain. And yet I’ve at least had a go at pretty much all the games you mention there, and fallen in swoony love with several. “Damnit, Klaus, can’t you make zis thing go any faster?!”

      Still, no love for game X, or Y*?

      * Where game X is Giants: Citizen Kabuto, and game Y is also Giants: Citizen Kabuto.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Kieron Gillen

      Dear god that’s a fantastic list, by which I mean I agree with virtually all of it. I think I’d substitute Close Combat (4, if I had to pick) for Company of Heroes, I’d have to include a Europa Universalis game in there somewhere (or Crusader Kings) and I think it’s intriguing that you included The Sims (which is not to say I inherently disagree, it just wouldn’t have occurred to me to consider that a strategy game) but by and large I agree with everything on there that I’ve actually played.

      Which, of course, means I’m off the grab copies of the ones I haven’t played (Armageddon Empires, Dwarf Fortress, and Laser Squad Nemesis, if you’re curious). Similarly, I’ll suggest that you should find some time to play the complete version of Sword of the Stars if you haven’t. With taste in strategy games so similar to mine I can’t believe you wouldn’t enjoy it.

  17. [21CW] 2000AD says:

    At last some recognition for Football Manager and Mechcommander (Suck on it Mechwarrior!) in these lists, now all we need is X-com: Apocalypse to start creeping in.

    Where the flying feck is Alpha Centauri, the pinnacle of Sid Meier’s civ style games? Man I hope the’re doing an update for it like they did with Colonisation.

    And Peggle at 41?! Fecking PEGGLE!?!?
    How Peggle beats out all the other games people have mentioned is beyond me, even if there had to be a pop cap game in tehre it should have been Plants Vs Zombies.

  18. Viperion says:

    No Total Annihilation? But we do have ST:Final Unity and Darwinia? C’mon!

  19. jason138 says:

    Good point on BG1 vs BG2. I also loved the focus on levels 1-5 (was the level cap 5?). That’s where it’s at for me in PnP or crpg. I prefer a trademan-like adventurer to a demigod savior of the world.

    • Vinraith says:

      The level cap was, IIRC, around 15. It certainly wasn’t 5. The lowest level cap in a D&D crpg that I can recall it Temple of Elemental Evil’s 10. Personally, I hate low levels in D&D, as for spellcasters they’re just something you have to wait through before you can do anything cool or useful. When I ran PnP campaigns I invariably started my PC’s at 3rd, just so I could throw a combat encounter at them without fear of a random die roll killing the entire party.

    • disperse says:

      I agree with Vinraith. Low level AD&D combat is frustrating. A small number of hitpoints means you’ll be restarting often due to YAAD, spellcasters are almost useless, and you limited skill set makes for less interesting choices.

      Baldur’s Gate II had a better interface too (although the Tutu mod allows you to play Baldur’s Gate I using the Baldur’s Gate II engine)

      That said, I’ve often fantasized about having a free week with a few good friends to co-op through BG1 and BG2 in one sitting.

    • Jeremy says:

      I agree with Jason, my most enjoyable / memorable moments in most games are in those beginning “survival” stages when you’re barely scraping by each fight, situation, scenario, etc. This is true of most any type of game dealing with a curve I guess; strategy games along the lines of the Total War series, Romance of the 3 Kingdom sagas rather than a Starcraft or something, and some RPGs. Fallout 3, in my mind, would have been infinitely better if they had continued the scavenging mentality for ammo, guns, health, etc. For me, the game sort of lost its intrigue once I became a headshot machine with 800 extra health packs. I don’t even remember what the story was, just that it was basic, but the real magic was the survival mentality in the first 10 – 12 levels.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Jeremy

      With a game system well designed for the “survival stage” I tend to agree that it can be the best part of the game, but in the case of D&D games in particular it’s simply not designed for it. The hit points are too low, there are virtually no skills or abilities in play to make things interesting, spellcasters are completely screwed, there’s really just nothing good about low levels in D&D IMO. The worst part, speaking as a former DM, is that the peaks and valleys of randomization are large enough to simply engulf lower level characters. In one bad die roll a first level character can go from alive to dead. That’s simply not fun for anyone, I don’t think. It certainly isn’t for me.

    • Adam Whitehead says:

      The level cap in BG1 is Level 8 in the vanilla game and Level 9 with Tales of the Sword Coast installed.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Adam Whitehead

      Wow, I remembered THAT wrong. Thanks for the correction.

    • Adam Whitehead says:

      Having said that, I think most people playing BG1 and TotSC today would use the Tutu or similar mod which runs them in the BG2 engine (allowing the use of higher resolutions, custom map markers, journals and all the other BG2 goodness), and I think that also removes the level restrictions, allowing you to go as high as BG2/ToB allow you (Level 45 or something insane) in BG1 if you really wanted to. I’m not sure if that ballses up your character’s transition to BG2 or not, but I don’t think it does.

      I do plan to do the BG1/SotTC/BG2/ToB full replay at some point, and if I’d know I was going to be unemployed for as long as I have been, I would have done it this year. It is a vast undertaking.

  20. Droniac says:

    These ‘Top Games’ list are great for showing how everyone thinks of their favourite games differently than anyone else. No one will agree with it anyway.

    But I have to admit, this one stuns even me. It’s not just that I disagree with many of the games that made the list, and their placings, which is logical. Rather it’s a very odd oversight in this top 100 (surely it must be an oversight). I spot its utterly inferior sequel at place #18, yet where is Unreal Tournament!?

    And there’s naught to do but laugh at #69 (Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory). Oh, it is a good game and I might even have ranked it a little higher. It’s just that Return to Castle Wolfenstein isn’t placed above it. That’s just… wrong. It’s not just that RtCW is a vastly superior multiplayer shooter, but also that most of the W:ET community actually agrees with that assessment. You see, most ET players play with ETPro mod enabled, which turns W:ET into… oh, that’s right… RtCW-light. (ETPro plays much more like RtCW than W:ET vanilla).

    Otherwise it’s just the usual switches and additions.

    I’d rate the #88 in the PCGamer top 100 higher than most of its top 10 for example (yup, Outcast).

    Likewise I wouldn’t let Team Fortress 2 anywhere near the top 10, because there are many multiplayer shooters that I would consider completely superior (UT, Quake 3, RtCW and Tribes to name just a few).

    Nor would Fallout 3 ever rank higher than the likes of a Baldur’s Gate 2, Dragon Age, PlaneScape Torment or The Witcher. And Rome: Total War would have a hard time even showing up in a top 50 strategy games of all-time list (StarCraft, WarCraft 3, Dawn of War, Ground Control, Supreme Commander, Heroes of Might & Magic, Civilization, Alpha Centauri, King’s Bounty, Homeworld, Red Alert, etc, etc, etc, etc.).

  21. Flint says:

    Outcast is the #1 game ever, obviously.

  22. Shadrach says:

    Wot, no Red Orchestra?? :( I’ll rectifiy that.

  23. Alastayr says:

    Meh, it’s a list full of BS that’s what it is. You’d think that most of the PCG staff voting on this got into gaming yesteryear. I used to get angry at those lists but not any more. It’s just reaffirming the fact that most people in the world (even those you’re friends with) have unspeakably bad taste. ;)

  24. Wizlah says:

    Surprised to see The Void or Zeno Clash didn’t make the list, in some way acknowledging that this year we’ve had some distinctly weird, strange (dare I say fantastic?), fictional settings. I hope this trend continues to go from strength to strength and that developers start to work on more unique worlds again.

  25. dspair says:

    There are three games made by Looking Glass (counting System Shock 2) and two more made by ex-Looking Glass people in Looking Glass’ design tradition (counting BioShock despite anything). 2 games out of these 5 have landed in the Top-10, and one of them topped the list.

    There is justice in the world, and (no matter that some people think that justice is actually a lady) his name is Kieron Gillen.

  26. Snuffy (the Evil) says:

    I noticed Battlefield 1942 wasn’t present and was about to go stark raving mad, but I saw Battlefield 2 was there so I calmed down a little.

  27. Misnomer says:

    Yeah I meant 1943…darn numbers.

    • Misnomer says:

      1942….did it again and didn’t reply to my orignal quote. Editing would be nice as well.

  28. Severian says:

    Peggle > Dungeon Keeper 2 ?

    HORNY ABOUT TO GO ON RAMPAGE, YOU F***ING UNICORNS!

  29. TeeJay says:

    I think the next time someone does a “big list” like this I hope they separate it out genre-by-genre because it would bring out the ‘debate’ and ‘critique’ side of the process more clearly and also trace the evolution of genres.

    It would also remove the understandable ‘we need to include a token casual/puzzle/text/naval sim/ adventure’ list balancing that the sees some arguably more deserving popular classics dropped off the bottom to make room.

    Of course you’d probably get a different kind of “list balancing” where there would be a token “modern” adventure or where unconventional/oddball games would get places to add diversity, but IMO this would still refocus the debate on the ciritical narrative – “what makes a good RTS?”, “where do we want our FPS to go next?”, “what makes a good MMORPG?” and so forth. It would also allow the ‘terms of reference’ to be a bit more transparent – genres age differently

    You’d also run headlong into the longstanding debate about how to define genres, but this wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing either IMO because hopefully as game design evolves, genres definitions – both current and retrospective – will evolve as well, what better way than via a high profile ‘best of’ list.

    Different people enjoy ‘Top 100s’ in different ways – maybe it’s seeing which of the “big names” came number 1, seeing how many classic obscure oldies you recognise, catching sight of an unfamiliar game that you decide to investigate, helping you decide which part of your backlog of unplayed games to take on next or maybe just helping to illuminate where you stand in relation to a certain group of reviewers/critics, which will steer you towards more recommendations from the same people. On the “public vote” type ones it’s interesting to see what people are playing and heartening when great indie or niche games appear amongst the AAAs. A more ‘conventional’ Top 100 would be excellent for people new to PC gaming, whereas a more quirky approach to curating the list might be of more interest to people who have already seen the same names appear year-after-year, are keener to explore a bit more off the beaten track and who will enjoy a bit of fun ‘received-wisedom-baiting’.

    Not saying that this applies to PCG but – the worse of all worlds would be trying to be everything to everyone, being obaque about the mechanics, methodology and criteria and then trying to retrospectively justify the ranking, inclusions and exclusions ex-post-facto as representing a finely tuned and coherent viewpoint as opposed to list-balancing, rounding errors, toss-ups and year-on-year inertia. IMO it’s better to spell out very strong and clear fresh criteria each year and explain who is being kicked out and promoted as a consequence, mention the main controversy/arguments etc – all of which makes more sense in a genre-focussed context IMO.

    • Tom Camfield says:

      @ TeeJay

      Edge did this, what, 5 years ago, longer? They had a Top 10 of 10 genres, multi format. Platformers, shooter, strategy, puzzle, etc. For every genre they had a little list at the bottom for additional games that were nominated, so the list was maybe closer to 200 titles, which gave you tons of titles to explore. It was one of the best lists I’ve read.

      Naturally, being Edge, being controversial, Deus Ex was nowhere to be found. (I think I read that Ste had forgotten about it, but even if he hadn’t, he wouldn’t have given it a place on the list, bless him.)

      (Can’t find it on the internet or I’d paste a link up.)

  30. somnolentsurfer says:

    Another year when The Longest Jouney’s not at number one. What’s with the massive drop? That’s what happens when you don’t give Walker enough say.

  31. Adam Whitehead says:

    An interesting list. These lists always have to be checked for a few signature games which, if missing, immediately cast its viablity in doubt. Once it is confirmed that FREESPACE 2, ANACHRONOX, PLANESCAPE TORMENT, MAFIA, HOMEWORLD and MONKEY ISLAND 2 are all present and correct, serious discussion can begin ;-)

    The absence of FAR CRY and the presence of the painfully inferior FAR CRY 2 is bizarre. FC2 is mindlessly repetitive and astonishingly dull. Respawning enemies, something we did away with in the 1990s and seem to be making an ugly reappearance thanks to FC2, CoD4 and BIOSHOCK (although BIOSHOCK at least sort of hides it with the open levels generally accessible from multiple directions), make the game almost comically unplayable. FC1 is still pretty good throughout, in contrast (although the mutants are still annoying).

    The absence of GROUND CONTROL and HOSTILE WATERS is unfortunate. Both are very fine ‘different approach’ RTS games, and certainly GC is a stronger game than WORLD IN CONFLICT (fine as that game is, but it is a dumbed-down, mainstream-acceptable version of GC’s more unforgiving and hardcore nature). HOSTILE WATERS I might put down to being forgotten by the non RPS-journalists contributing to the list. Playing it again recently I was struck by how fricking awesome it is compared to any recent game I’ve played.

    GTA4 is a really crappy, unoptimised conversion of a console game. What it’s doing on the list I’m not sure.

    After one of these lists a few years ago generated controversy, one of the forums I’m on decided to create our own list with some 200 people voting. The list we came up with in early 2007 (before FALLOUT 3, TF2 or PORTAL came out) was:

    1. StarCraft
    2. Planescape: Torment
    3. Baldur’s Gate II
    4. Civilization IV
    5. Half-Life
    6. Half-Life 2
    7. Deus Ex
    8. TIE Fighter
    9. Medieval: Total War
    10. X-COM/UFO

    In addition, ROME: TOTAL WAR was at #11 and FALLOUT at #14, so there are some similarities.

    A few notable things about our list was MORROWIND at #25, the total absence of OBLIVION (which didn’t even get ONE vote a year after release, which I still think is bemusing), WORLD OF WARCRAFT at #30 (which shocked me, given how many people I know play WoW regularly) and, in a fit of old-schoolness, THE OREGON TRAIL at joint #45 (alongside MAX PAYNE 2 and MEDIEVAL II: TOTAL WAR, for maximum oddness).

  32. whitebrice says:

    Ok I love Deus Ex as much as the next guy, but seriously people, Cave Story is and forever will be #1.

    That said, just seeing Cave Story in their list warmed my heart like hot chocolate on a rainy night.

  33. Ozzie says:

    This list is weird. I mean, some stuff in it is good, but is it good enough for a Top 100? Don’t think so.
    Is Star Trek: A Final Unity really that good to be included? I guess I have to finally play it to find out…what’s doing the bore of Oblivion up there? And Anachronox, aka “Yeah, nice story, but where’s the gameplay?”??? Seriously? Come on, it’s such a drag to play. Ugh…I played it so long, because everyone cheered at it, and I had the hope that it would become interesting. Oh, and the depressing music at the beginning…in such a comedy game…so misplaced! I had the feeling they wanted me to kill myself!! One of the few occasions where I had to turn the music off in a game because it was so unbearing, and so out of tone with the rest of the game.
    Okay, enough ranting about Anachronox!
    The Longest Journey then…good game, but so full of flaws, and so formulaic, uninnovative…I don’t know what it’s doing there.
    Rome: Total War isn’t my kind of game, so I dunno.
    About the rest, can’t say, haven’t played much of it.

    What do I miss? Adventurewise, Death Gate. And Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis. Both so perfect and fun like only few adventures are!

  34. Ozzie says:

    Okay, regarding the top spots: Deus Ex is a great game, especially for its time, but I still have to laugh when I see the convienently placed explosive barrels. Or the notes that conveniently mention passwords, for example. Challenged my suspension of disbelief a bit.
    And Half Life 2….the action can get tedious sometimes, and the boat sections weren’t very fun. Not that great for the second spot.

  35. Spacewalk says:

    A top xx list without Hexen is a list I care not for.

  36. Grape Flavor says:

    What’s the point of these features, anyway? All it does is incite massive nerd rage, and much of it is justified. (except for all those people who couldn’t appreciate Oblivion, sorry, you’re just defective)

    Team Fortress 2 is the 3rd greatest PC game of all time? Higher than Half-Life? Higher than every great RPG ever created? Really? Hitman: Blood Money is 77 places higher than than Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory? What? Far Cry 1 totally missing? Hmm? World of Goo higher than Starcraft?

    I’ll get over it but many of these rankings are mind-bogglingly odd.

    • Tom Camfield says:

      @ Grape Flavor

      I imagine the PC Gamer gets a lot of hits for this kind of thing, which all helps ad revenue :)

  37. Ozzie says:

    How could you like Oblivion!?
    “Stop! Thief!” Gah…well, some love dung, apparently. ;P
    But then, I also can’t appreciate Daggerfall….and the writing in Morrorwind put me to sleep, so I didn’t continue playing, though I think the rest might have been better.

    • Grape Flavor says:

      Oblivion is not for those who only desire constant adrenaline-rush special-effects spectaculars like Call of Duty. It creates a vast, well crafted fantasy sandbox in which players can immerse themselves and build a character. It requires the player to use their senses of wonder and imagination. If you were playing it always waiting for the next flashy set-piece I could see how you’d hate it. But for anyone who likes an slower-paced RPG sandbox game it’s a stellar achievement.

      Some games certain people just don’t “get”, even when overall they get enormous critical acclaim. Oblivion is one example. Crytek’s games are another. It doesn’t mean the games are “dung”, it means that your particular tastes as a gamer happen to be incompatible with the design. I was just joking about “defective”, but really, it’s not a failure on the developer’s part, it’s your preferences as a gamer.

    • Ozzie says:

      Well, I see failures in Oblivion, but anyway, I’m not sure I even played it enough. But, I remember I didn’t like it.
      I like my adventures and RPGs, though. :)

    • Vinraith says:

      Some people want to be told a story, and some people want to create their own. Oblivion (and Bethesda RPG’s in general) is definitely for the second group.

    • TCM says:

      I would consider myself an oddity, as I like pretty much all genres of gaming, as long as they are not overly simplistic and easy. JRPGs, WRPGs, FPS, RTS, it doesn’t matter to me, as long as it’s fun and not a cakewalk.

    • Grape Flavor says:

      @Vinraith

      Excellent way of putting it.

    • Adam Whitehead says:

      OBLIVION is very popular because it is a very lightweight and non-challenging RPG. It has no real depth, the writing is utterly atrocious, the dialogue risible, the main storyline mind-numbingly predictable, the art design astonishingly ordinary and the absence of variety in sound and graphical design giving rise to immersion-breaking situations where you have several characters who look the same and have the same voice getting into conversations, which is frankly weird as hell. The levelling system in the game is also completely broken, to the point where levelling is completely pointless (you may as well never bother, as it makes the game harder in the mid-level period and they trivially easy by the time you hit Level 20) or if you know how it works (or have access to the Internet) you can take advantage of it to push up your skill points without levelling, thus becoming an invincible superwarrior at Level 1 fairly easily.

      Where the game is successful are the occasional hilarious bug, the Dark Brotherhood quests and a few other well-designed and imaginative side-quests (the floating boat and the painting ones are great), not to mention some vastly entertaining mods. It also gave me the biggest laugh I’ve ever had in a game, when I discovered that after attacking Umbra in her dungeon near the Imperial City at the start of the game and running away when she caned me, she had remained on the warpath for the next 50-odd hours whilst I completed the entire rest of the game and left a vast pile of corpses halfway around the lake, then me and Sean Bean bumped into her on the way back to the city for the final showdown and had to despatch her. For that alone, I certainly wouldn’t rate OBLIVION as crap.

      Compared to its more imaginative (if slightly more boring) predecessor, MORROWIND, OBLIVION is a rather conservative game aimed at a lower-common-denominator audience. Compared to many, many other RPGs, it simply isn’t that great, and certainly shouldn’t be rated in a Top 10 list when BALDUR’S GATE 1+2 are ranked much lower, and definitely if its mods – without which the game is almost functionally broken – are not included.

      If nothing else, how can you have an RPG in the Top 10 that does not even feature ONE three-dimensional, well-characterised, well-motivated memorable NPC? That is just insane.

    • Trubka says:

      That’s the thing with Oblivion or Morrowind, I wanted to love those games, played them a lot but there’s something wrong with them, I lost interest in both them every time I started playing them and invested some time in them… I couldn’t figure out what it was, because basically, they both should be exactly what I want from RPG… then my cousin mentioned the word “sterile” and I think that’s it…

    • Baboonanza says:

      I absolutely loved Morrowind when I played it. It has a very unique, weird style and gives you absolute freedom to discover the world as you see fit. I even like the fact that you can break the world in interesting ways, the ability to fly being the best example. And it got away with a lot because it didn’t try to be ‘real’ or generic fantasy so you can rationalise the faults more easily

      The writing is almost irrelevant to me. The number of games I’ve played that have actually had a story and writing good enough to stand-up on it’s own is miniscule (System Shock 1&2, Grim Fandango etc) and I don’t think a single one of them is a classical RPG, though they sometimes get it right in the odd side-quest. I am constantly amazed that people play games for the story since IMO they are almost uniformly tripe. Bioware games are a prime example here, I just don’t get the love.

      So in my eyes the problem with Oblivion wasn’t the writing – it was the blandness of the world. There are some really good, creative quests in there but they are overwhelmed by the uninterestingness of everything, particularly the identikit dungeons (something that was equally prevalent in Morrowind but stands out more here I think). Fallout 3 was a much better game because it fixed a lot of what was wrong with Oblivion – it had a unique world, filled with interesting things to discover and little poignant notes about the passing of the world which are more subtle and moving than any RPG storyline I’ve yet encountered.

      So devs: Give me a game, and fuck the story unless you can actually do one good enough to warrant the effort. And play to the strengths of the medium goddammit, I can already get great linear stories in books and film.

      Hmm, first thing in the morning. Think I got a bit ranty :)

  38. Premium User Badge

    Lambchops says:

    I love that this article is tagged with capital letters mentioning the wonderful Outcast.

    Also if anyone knows how to get it running on a nice modern day computer could they please tell me because i really want to play the damn thing again as it is easily one of my favourite games ever.

  39. Muzman says:

    Thief 1 is better than both Half-Lives THERE I SAID IT

    (Fallout 3 way up there. I wonder what that’s going for these days)

  40. SiUnit says:

    I am constantly astounded by the epic journalism of the site’s writers. Not only do they take the piss at every possible opportunity, they simultaneously present well balanced opinions. Long live RPS, the only site who won’t automatically give a game 10/10 just because it has a publisher. You are the unicorn of game journalism.

  41. The Sombrero Kid says:

    simularca is to imitate life, the word you were looking for is simulation.

  42. Frank says:

    wrongs to be righted: oblivion and total war don’t belong within a mile of the top 10.

  43. TooNu says:

    I just saw this and WOOHOO! JUSTICE!!!!! VIDICATION!!! DEUS EX GO ON MY SON!! :)

    It’s like all my Christmas’s rolled into one, beautiful choice guys and I applaud you /clap/clap/clap

  44. Lizard Dude says:

    Um, is voliciferous really a word or did KG make that up Shakespeare-style? Because I can’t seem to find any dictionary entries for it.

  45. Jeffthewonderbadger says:

    @ Lizard Dude.

    It’s a typo, I guess. Try vociferous.