The Very Important List Of PC Games, Part 3/5

By Quintin Smith on February 16th, 2011 at 12:18 pm.

Our assembly of the definitive list of the most important PC games of the last 150 years continues! On Monday Dr Rossignol talked us through his first instalment, with an eye for first-personly shoot-games. Yesterday saw a guest lecture from Professor John Walker detailing another fifth of our unambiguous inventory. What classics will we cover today? Ah! We must remember our manners. First, let us all thank Intel’s AppUp developer program for their generous sponsorship. Now, to business.

Hello there, ladies and gents. Phew, it’s hot in here, isn’t it? Let me take this jacket and tie off. Sarah, is it? Sarah, would you mind hanging on to all that? Great.

Much better. Now, I’m here because you lot want to learn more about PC games. My name is Quintin Smith, which you might also recognise as the author such scholastic blockbusters as “Giving Headcrab: Valve’s Gift to Gaming”, and “Cry Havok! And Let Slip the Dogs of Innovation”. We’ve got a lot of ground to cover and I’ve not much time, so let’s begin. I know concentrating under mad central heating like this can be like trying to pee into a keyhole if you’ll pardon the expression, so feel free to pop your collars and get a little more comfortable.

Note that I’ve ordered these games by descending quality of graphics, because if there’s another way to do it I can’t think of it. Let us begin.

Far Cry 2
RELEASE DATE: 2008
IMPORTANCENESS: Strong

Far Cry 2 was characterised by a school of development that didn’t seem to think anything was good enough, with the game randomising, enlarging and detailing absolutely everything it could, from the way you took damage, to relationships with NPCs, to its level design and story and so much more. You’d be hard-pressed to find somebody more disenfranchised with the single-player FPS than me, but playing Far Cry 2 on its hardest difficult setting, getting sucked into its world, then being forced to mercy-kill my AI buddy was my gaming moment of 2008. I still remember his name, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget it. Rest in peace, Paul Ferenc. You were a friend.

GTA IV
RELEASE DATE: 2008
IMPORTANCENESS: Unstoppable

Like many others I’ve talked to, the first few missions where GTA4 finally starts forcing you to commit terrible crimes settled on me like a heavy, itchy blanket. For a moment this game offered a glimpse of a simple immigration simulator, and it was beautiful. A thousand jacked cars and two thousand murders later I’d long since shrugged off said blanket. How could I keep it on, staring at all the time and sweat that Rockstar had sunk into this game. Whatever about GTAIV’s plot and its message- Liberty City is as impressive a feat of workmanship as gaming has ever seen, lovingly crafted from the very tips of its helicopter blades to the coffee cup dropped by the man you just ran over. This series is growing up, but it’s doing so on its own terms.

StarCraft II
RELEASE DATE: 2010
IMPORTANCENESS: Colossal

Yeah, you can put it down for being disappointingly similar to the original StarCraft. You can argue that it’s done irreparable harm to the RTS genre by achieving massive sales through turning its back on innovation. But what you can’t say is that what Blizzard did here was easy. This is a game with the attention to detail of high-end jewellery, the attention to depth of an OCD archaeologist excavating his own mother. But what really impresses me is that you slap a good commentator on it, and it’s a brilliant, watchable sport like no other game I can think of. But then, I’ve been drinking since lunch.

Red Orchestra
RELEASE DATE: 2004 (mod), 2006 (commercial game)
IMPORTANCENESS: Unforgettable

God bless the employed dreamers who decided to put this game together in their spare time, and bless them twice for deciding to give up those employments to make this game full-time. Red Orchestra is a multiplayer FPS covering the Eastern front of World War 2, and it’s cold and tense like nothing else out there. No, wait- let me try that description again. Red Orchestra is: staring out of a window in a ruined house, watching a distant figure go sprinting from one alley to another, unsure whether he’s an enemy or a friend, unsure of whether to shoot, feeling the pathos rolling around your stomach like a mouthful of copper, and then being stabbed in the neck by a man who was creeping up behind you the whole time. That’s Red Orchestra.

Braid
RELEASE DATE: 2009
IMPORTANCENESS: Mighty

If I were pressed for time, if my house were on fire or a bad man had broken in and was stealing my baby right out of its little baby house (I don’t have a baby) and somebody asked me what Braid was, I wouldn’t be able to just tell them it was a “puzzle platformer”. I’d have to take the time to say something else, something cryptic, like “The guy who made it, Joanthon Blow, argued with Microsoft for it to not have a main menu screen”. The idea behind it is just too strong and too interesting for me to pass this game of as the member of a genre, even if it is a great puzzle platformer. Braid is first and foremost an incredible story, it’s a piece of art, it’s just a fantastic achievement with the most perfect beginning and end I’ve ever seen in a videogame. It’s a vision. That’s what it is. A brilliant, startling vision.

SWAT 4
RELEASE DATE: 2005
IMPORTANCENESS: Probably

Why haven’t we had a sequel to this game yet? It’s a question you could ask about any number of games in this list, but with Swat 4 it feels that much more applicable because surely this is a game with mass-market appeal. Surely everybody would love the chance to represent the long arm of justice; to lace up some heavy boots, load up with thousands of dollars worth of protective equipment and lead a brave team into a building to protect the civilians within and incapacitate the criminals by firing a beanbag into their beanbag. But you know what, that doesn’t even cover half of SWAT 4′s appeal. It’s also in the briefing where every word, every scrap of information could doom you or save a life. It’s in the ungodly stretches of silence where you’re meticulously picking your way through an empty building, knowing deadly gunfire could erupt at any moment. It’s in the minuscule gasps of action where you go dashing into a room after throwing in a flashbang. The whole game feels like you’re disarming an emotional bomb that could go off at any instant, and the serial killer level in particular is as perfect a gaming experience as has ever been put together.

Startopia
RELEASE DATE: 2001
IMPORTANCENESS: Disappointing

Good sim games know that if you’re going to get the player to build something, it helps if that something is worth looking at. Startopia went one further, and gave us something worth falling in love with. From the beeping sensors and clattering hospitals of your space station’s workmanlike engineering deck, to the warbling and giggling aliens of the candy-coloured recreation deck, to the serene beauty of the glass-roofed bio deck, Startopia was a seductively playful vision of the future that warmed you like a mug of hot chocolate. It had a deliciously dark side too, of course, with your AI assistant VAL and disreputable alien trader Arona Daal sharing all kinds of disgusting trivia about all the aliens, not to mention the terrifying beasts that would hatch in dirty stations. First came the litter, then the cute little cats, and finally you’d double-take at the sight of a towering nightmare monster ripping up your DINE-O-MAT, or somewhere. Ah, everyone remembers the first time. Course, while Startopia’s abundance of heart will be remembered by all, what gets forgotten is all the clever mechanics the game had outside of the biodeck, like fighting to take over the segments of your neighbours’ stations or being able to tangle up all your funds in risky trading. That developers Mucky Foot were forced to close their doors two years after making this is a tidy tragedy.

Homeworld
RELEASE DATE: 1999
IMPORTANCENESS: Inter-dimensional

This was a wonderful first. I don’t mean a space RTS with elegant 3D combat and a wonderful camera – though Homeworld had that in its jumpsuit pocket too, of course – I mean an RTS that managed to make you feel that what you were doing and the decisions you were making were important beyond the strategic level. Achieved through a delicate combination of excellent writing, beautiful music and well-directed cutscenes, the terrible feeling of gravity around Homeworld’s campaign gave you a whole other level to be tense and excited on during any battles. If I’m honest, I found the plot of the similarly excellent Homeworld: Cataclysm to be even more affecting (crew of an enormous space-mining barge accidentally release galaxy-devouring virus, spend entire single-player campaign transforming themselves into a warship to defeat it), but Homeworld was the crucible of creativity from which fiery little Cacaclysm would be forged. I’m wondering now if what allowed Homeworld to be so affecting was that it never had to portray humanity on an individual scale, instead having you simply gaze at the outside of spaceships and let you imagination do all the heavy lifting. If that’s the case, it’s a trick I’d love to see other strategy games try in the future.

Max Payne 2
RELEASE DATE: 2003
IMPORTANCENESS: Firm

Look at him up there! The picture of nonchalance. Remedy’s sequel to their hard-boiled noir shooter would be an unlikely choice for anybody’s favourite game, but it does represent a certain peaking of confidence within the action genre. This was a game unabashedly trying to offer love and a style of immersive realism with one hand, while offering a near-endless series of polished gunfights with the other, with your constant killing never excused in some way or acknowledged as being ridiculous, as if that was simply what videogames were. The nearest we’ve come since then is almost certainly Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days, though even that game felt the need to express how exhausted its characters were by the end. Max Payne 2? It was the last cocksure bullet fired by a punk who didn’t know he was dead yet, the gun making a noise like a door slamming shut on an entire school of thought. Or something. Where did I put that bloody mary?

Rome: Total War
RELEASE DATE: 2004
IMPORTANCENESS: Heavyweight

The Total War series was most succinctly summed up by Kieron in his Medieval: Total War review. “I am King of Spain!” it began and ended. In fact I think it might have appeared quite a lot in the middle, too. The point is that at its best, this series’ trademark breadth and its giant battles give you a sense of not quite power, but that you’re wielding an entire nation like a weapon, parrying invasions and beheading states. Course, if we step back a bit, what the Total War series provides is the appeal of hardcore, detailed, tabletop wargames distilled into a dramatic and accessible framework. Rather than reading a rulebook the width of your arm and then nudging cardboard tokens around, the game itself gently teaches you how to play it and then shows you thousands of men clashing with one another. Technology, baby! And nobody elevates this particular hobby better than Total War. Not that many people have tried recently, but still.

Ground Control
RELEASE DATE: 2000
IMPORTANCENESS: Fierce

The question poised by Ground Control was a simple one- “What if we made an RTS with no base building?” (It’s also a very nerdy one, and should probably be spoken aloud while pinching your nose closed.) Yes, Massive Entertainment’s sci-fi strategy title was a bit of a trailblazer, forcing you to carefully shunt your precious forces through levels with all the pitfalls and tension of a platformer viewed from above. You were so terrified to lose anybody, such was the game’s interest in experience carried from battle to battle and the steely charisma of the little guys. Anyone who played Ground Control will remember the theatre of your artillery, the villainy of planes shredding ground troops with no air support, the dozens of brutal special weapons unleashed with the lightest of mouseclicks. Which is to say nothing of the writing, which provided a backdrop of passion and deception to the warfare between cold-hearted religious institution and cold-hearted corporation. The entire game was simply a rock-solid package.

Giants: Citizen Kabuto
RELEASE DATE: 2000
IMPORTANCENESS: Optimistically so

Giants, really, is important for its attitude. “Can we make a 3rd person sci-fi base building squad shooter?” it asks. “Could we face that side off against an entirely asymmetrical race of sea nymphs? Could we throw in a THIRD side, which is some kind of massive Godzilla creature? And maybe the Godzilla thing starts small, then gets bigger and also has babies? Would that work?” In short, the answer was “No, not really,” but dammit these guys tried.

Amnesia: The Dark Descent
RELEASE DATE: 2010
IMPORTANCENESS: Hopeful

I like Amnesia for the ethos behind it as much as anything else. The horror genre’s always been diluted by attempts to lever standard game frameworks on top of it, whether that makes a game a horror puzzler, a horror shooter, a horror adventure game and so on. Amnesia? Amnesia’s just interested in horror. You can’t imagine Amnesia without the horror. It’d just be a bender wandering around an empty house. And yet that horror is spread so tangibly and thickly across the surface of the game that it fills it entirely, making for as thoroughly satisfying and engaging an experience as a game that might need, say, a tutorial or a rulebook. You understand? I’m talking about the horror. The horror.

System Shock 2
RELEASE DATE: 1999
IMPORTANCENESS: Moderate

In the wake of slippery BioShock, it’s perhaps worth looking back at System Shock 2 to see why the release Irrational’s watery opus was tinged with disappointment. BioShock was a broad, spectacular action game, but SS2 was an immersive sim and simply had more to offer. Inventory management, a more real sense of weakness and horror, heftier puzzles, environment mapping- it all builds into a sense of trust in the player that was absent in Bioshock. SS2 trusted that you’d figure out what happened onboard this ship, or the way into that room, or the way to survive against these creatures, which made for a more rewarding experience overall. It was simply a crystallisation of the first System Shock, providing something harder, sharper and larger, sacrificing nothing.

Anachronox
RELEASE DATE: 2001
IMPORTANCENESS: Blip

It’s always fascinating when Western or Eastern developers take a stab at a genre considered to belong to the other. A good example of this is Namco’s mad-as-boots FPS Breakdown, and another is Ion Storm’s surrealist noir JRPG Anachronox, which managed all the epic scale of the form while achieving a barrage of successes unusual for the genre, like naturalistic patter between characters, a fairy generous attitude to content and a nice studding of minigames. The finished product also wandered into tedious territory at times, but its music, imagery and dialogue had a habit of sticking around in your head. Also, one of the characters in your party was an entire planet populated by billions of people that had shrunk itself to travel alongside you. And the mouse cursor was a flying robot that existed in-game. And the planet of Anachronox itself is made up of countless plates that shift endlessly, as if some unseen hand were trying to solve the place like a Rubix cube. And. And!

MechWarrior 2
RELEASE DATE: 1996
IMPORTANCENESS: Seven out of ten

FASA’s MechWarrior universe is an absolutely killer license for a videogame, and as much as I love Mech Commander I’d happily admit that MechWarrior 2 did it best. “Weight” and “feel” are nebulous concepts and as such are tricky to get right in a game, but when an action title does nail them so it’s satisfying to simply walk around, take a hit or fire your gun, it’s a thing of beauty. But when a game about piloting 120 ton bipedal battle robots gets them right… that’s a whole other level. Tell you what- I’ve never been into any hardcore sims, but if somebody announced a MechWarrior game with the complexity and attention to detail of, say, IL-2 Sturmovik, I’d be out there building a cockpit in my shed within the hour, and I don’t even have a shed. Or a garden. I’d have to buy a shed and put it up in my living room. But I’d do it. That’s how serious I am.

Baldur’s Gate 1 & 2
RELEASE DATE: 1998
IMPORTANCENESS: Maybe

It wasn’t Baldur’s Gate 1 & 2′s unwieldly, mutant size that made them landmark games. No, it was what they did with the content. Bioware did something far more impressive these Advanced Dungeons & Dragons-driven games than simply making them long- they brought them to life with incidental details, with side quests that could have comfortably been the plots of lesser RPGs, with more party relationships than you’d expect from Prince after a gig. They added and added to these worlds of theirs, until they had a game where as rigid as the central plot was, it still felt like your story. As much as I adore Mass Effect 2, that’s not something I feel Bioware has repeated since.

Jagged Alliance 2
RELEASE DATE: 1999
IMPORTANCENESS: Yes

As game plots go, Jagged Alliance 2′s is a favourite of mine. A 3rd world dictator needs toppling, here are some funds to hire some bad dudes to lead, the lot of you will be inserted into the country by helicopter, go! It’s to the point, the scale of your mission is immediately engaging and the freedom it hints at is massively seductive. To start playing the game and discover that it’s every bit as freeform, every inch as badass as you could have hoped? That’s a marvel. This game had it all. It was cinematic yet believable, serious business capable of kidding around, huge yet human. You fought battle after battle, but the pain of losing a merc was horrific. You were the best of the best, but you weren’t above repurposing an ice-cream truck to get around (or teaching one another different skills). You fought tanks, but you were scared of the bloody things. And if you finally toppled that bitch Deidranna, when you finally freed the country, streaked with blood and sweat and stories, it felt like an achievement. I’m just going to flick the obvious question into the middle of the room like a cigarette butt, now: What was the last AAA, boxed game you played recently, in these times of unlockable achievements, where beating the game felt like an achievement?

Master of Orion 2: Battle at Antares
RELEASE DATE: 1996
IMPORTANCENESS: TBC

Everyone talks about Alpha Centauri (as well they should), but Master of Orion 2 not only pre-dated it by three years, the sci-fi grand strategy it offered included Death Stars, wiping out whole planets with biological bombs and the Darloks, an entire species of creepy guys in hoods who specialise in spying. I could go on. It was simply a more fun, colourful interpretation of the future than Alpha Centauri, utilising every scrap of sci-fi it could think of and smoothly slotting it into the tech tree. It was Galactic Civilizations before Galactic Civilizations, for sure.

Uplink: Hacker Elite
RELEASE DATE: 2001
IMPORTANCENESS: 010010101101010

I was young enough when I loaded Uplink for the first time to experience a pang of fear at its immersive intro sequence. Was I really connecting to an international community of hackers, bouncing my signal through computers worldwide to thieve electronic reserves of money and data remotely? The fact that it looked like the lovechild of a Tron still and a spreadsheet did nothing to bring me back down to Earth. My dad was gonna be soo cross. Fortunately I wasn’t actually committing cyber-crimes, but my youth made it easy for me to pretend I was for the entire duration of my time with Uplink. Not that that plausibility was what made Uplink a great game. That was just one aspect of it. What made Uplink a great game was that it was exactly that- a great game. No plot, no set-pieces, no fluff. Like some giddy future-solitaire, it laid out its rules and then you played the game within the confines of those rules. You had fun, riding waves of tension, elation and disappointment, edging your way up towards your high scores and maybe past them, until the final mistake came that ended the game. There aren’t many games as brash as that on this list.

Sid Meier’s Civilization II
RELEASE DATE: 1996
IMPORTANCENESS: Planet-spanning

This epic, history-straddling strategy series has an unreal knack for gluing PC owners to their mice and monitors. Part of that was always down to it being a great strategy game that dropped an intriguing decision at your feet every minute, but I’d argue that the real appeal was in watching something grow. Unlike most base-building strategy games where you put something together, win or lose, wipe the slate clean and start again within 30 minutes, Civilization had you growing your nation for dozens of hours, right up to its endgame. The reason those intriguing decisions were so intriguing is that they affected the shape of your holdings for thousands of years. If you conquered somewhere it would sit there, the ultimate trophy, for every future turn. Likewise, if you built a road or discovered a technology, you were laying the foundation for future development. It’s exactly like how unlockables have revolutionised the online FPS in recent years. It’s hopelessly addicting to load up a game and be playing off the back of all your past experiences.

Nethack / Angband / ZangbandTK
RELEASE DATE: Various
IMPORTANCENESS: Keystone-like

Here’s something else that’s hopelessly addicting. Playing a game that offers you something to lose. These classic roguelikes (ZangbandTK being a fan-made freeware variant) work off a very simple formula. You create a hero and explore a big, randomly-generated world, gradually mapping your land out and encountering progressively nastier creatures, until eventually some hateful combination of bad luck, bad calls and fate gets the better of you (a particularly nasty monster, a particularly optimistic prayer to a vengeful God for help, you get the idea). At that point everything you’ve gathered, all the experience, your character’s story- it’s over. Move on. I can be pragmatic about it here, but the truth is that losing a prized character in a roguelike is a monstrously distressing twist of the knife and impresses a sense of grandeur and nobility on the entire game. With the exception of Spelunky, that virtually nobody has picked up on the permadeath + randomised world teachings of roguelikes is bizarre.

Pathologic
RELEASE DATE: 2005
IMPORTANCENESS: Subversively so

Built on ailing technology and released outside of Russia a year late with a miserable translation and no hype or marketing whatsoever, Pathologic was doomed to commercial failure over here before it had so much as touched a shop shelf. That wasn’t bad luck for the developers; I don’t see a way that could have shook down differently, but it was bad luck for gaming in general. Pathologic is one of the most fascinating and adventurous games ever made. Described by developers Ice Pick Lodge as belonging to the barren genre of “experiment in decision making”, Pathologic let you play as one of three healers (a modern doctor, a shaman and a messianical faith healer) arriving in an isolated town in the Russian steppes in about 1910. The moment you arrived an apocalyptic plague broke out, and the game saw your healer combating the plague over 14 days, attempting to enlist the aid of various members of the town, researching the disease, solving problems and trying to keep yourself alive. Interesting elements of Pathologic included its magical realist plot, its morally ambiguous tone that saw you making all sorts of horrible decisions, how it made you as a player start thinking similarly to the healer you chose, its moments of horror and its uniquely cruel and unrelenting atmosphere. Playing Pathologic felt like having a noose slowly tighten around your neck, both mechanically and narratively, and that more gamers didn’t get the most out of it at release is to be lamented. All together now: What a shame.

Please note that this post is but one fragment of a larger list, which in total covers over 100 of what RPS feels is the PC’s most important games (but not all of them). You can find the other parts to date here. More is yet to come.

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305 Comments »

  1. Nameless1 says:

    It would be a great list, if not for the first title :
    I played almost all of them :)
    I’d suggest Rome with the awesome Europa Barbarorum, and oc JA2 with the 1.13.

    PS: also, I’ve been hugely disappointed by the Starcraft 2 single player campaign. Thanks God there’s an awesomely competitive multiplayer, but I’ll not buy the expansions for sure.

    • KingMudkip says:

      You’re clearly not playing SC2 because you like the storyline, then. Speaking as someone who was raised with StarCraft, it was freakin’ GREAT to get to see Raynor and Zeratul again in all their Blizzard-cinematic glory. I’m about as likely not not buy the expansions as I am to not buy Portal 2. Which I already did.

    • zergrush says:

      I found the SC2 campaign to be absolutely uninteresting, didn’t even go past the lava mission. The writing and voice acting were too cheesy and the missions too boring for me to go on.

      But I’ll buy the expansions in a heartbeat ’cause they’ll add multiplayer content (:

    • Gap Gen says:

      I thought SC2 largely missed the point when it came to the storyline and, as someone pointed out, was just a little misogynistic to boot when it came to reversing the role of Kerrigan from strong female antagonist to damsel in distress. That’s not to say that a lot of the exposition in SC1 wasn’t dull conversations between uptight Protoss.

    • CryingTheAnnualKingo says:

      The first title makes it a great list.

    • Nameless1 says:

      What Gap said.
      In fact I was absolutely in love with the sc1 storyline-narration-lore, that despite being “soft” was in no way near that…thing they wrote for sc2. Seriously, 10 years to come out with THAT script? A kid 10 yo could have come with a much better – more intellingent-interesting work than what they’ve done.
      Not to mention what they did with Kerrigan is the most idiotic thing I’ve ever seen.

    • Kdansky says:

      People protest so much about how horrible SC2′s plot is, and then do something silly like adding “unlike Mass Effect 2″ to the sentence. SC2 has a very standard boring plot without any surprises, some camp and cheese, but at least it does not start out with killing Raynor so he can be ressurected by Kerrigan and then Kerrigan tries to save the world from the Xel’Naga by sending Raynor into obvious traps and not telling him. SC1 was way better, but SC2′s plot is still better than 90% of all AAA game plots.
      Everyone, go and watch Spoiler Warning now.

    • Nameless1 says:

      @Kdansky: I’m not protesting. I’m stating.
      Also, ME2 plot can be as simple as you want, but it is in no way near the stupidity-boredom of sc2. And the narration? ME2 narration in superior in every way.
      PS: note that I’m not a bioware fanboy at all

    • Trayder says:

      The story, characters, setting and all that isn’t too notable outside of starcraft fandom but the missions themselves have got to make up the best rts campaign ever in variety and quality.
      That said, rts campaigns generally suck so I’m hoping for some truly amazing games to expand in sc2′s directions in the future.
      So important fits at the least.

    • Gap Gen says:

      ME2 may have a dull sub-Star Trek universe to wallow in, but it is well-written and well-acted.

    • Jeremy says:

      Misogynistic seems a bit strong.

    • Kdansky says:

      I seem to have misplaced my point. Ah, there it is:

      I am bothered by the fact that the same people who hate the SC2 plot because it is shallow offer praise to ME2 despite it being completely insane and devoid of logic. There are more plot holes in ME2 than there are cheesy lines in SC2 (which is pretty much every single line).

      I’d rather have a cheesy plot without holes (hah!) than an interesting one that does not make sense.

    • sneetch says:

      Misogynistic is definitely the wrong word. Misogynistic denotes hatred of women. At worst you could say it was sexist but even that seems a bit strong. Maybe clichéd.

      ** Spoilers **

      I don’t really think she was a damsel in distress as such. Raynor may have wanted to “save” her (understandable given their history) but she was the Queen of Blades, a very strong and very real threat and everyone else would have been more than happy to see her dead.

      It essentially took “magic” to defeat her after all.

    • Pantsman says:

      I really enjoyed SC2′s single player. The core gameplay is rock-solid and the mission design was consistently excellent. The only things “wrong” with it were the story and the writing, but the story wasn’t really any worse than most AAA games that come out (which is still pretty bad), and the writing was exactly bad enough to make it one of the funniest games I’ve played in a while.

    • drewski says:

      I found the Starcraft campaign to be utterly boring, and happily completed the SC2 campaign. And haven’t touched the multiplayer.

      So, y’know. Swings. Roundabouts.

    • Sunjammer says:

      If you play SC2 for the lore you’re really missing the point of that game. It wasn’t particularly clever to begin with, and SC2 continues that tradition. Those characters are the worst. And the most interesting one of them has been turned into a princess to be saved. I enjoyed the single player for its variety and mission design, but if I have to try and sympathize with any of the jackasses on Jim Raynor’s ship ever again it’ll be to soon. Those guys are junk.

    • wrath says:

      It also doesn’t help that the game pretends to offer you choices. No matter which one you make you’re right, and the consequences are negligable. Not even Bioshock was that lame, and its choice system was pretty simple.

      TBH I couldn’t stand the single player campaign in SC2 nor the story. I miss old Kerrigan, and I miss a Zerg faction that isn’t a complete push over. In fact its not only cheesy, but I find the entire story hard to believe. Also I love how they “snuck” a protoss campaign into an apparently Terran campaign.

  2. Kevin says:

    You were the only one to have made a real list so far, Quinns, if only because you put Homeworld on it.

    • triple omega says:

      I tried playing Homeworld 2, I really did, but failed. “How am I supposed to work with this?” my brain said to me, “You give me empty space as reference and expect to see depth?” it complained. In the end it gave up trying and I was left with a game uncontrollable in the 3rd dimension. Oh that rotten 3rd dimension, how you mock me!

  3. Hentzau says:

    “It’s hopelessly addicting to load up a game and be playing off the back of all your past experiences.”

    Addictive. Addictive. ADDICTIVE. ADDICTIVE. ADDICTIVE. ADDICTIVE.

    • godgoo says:

      For some reason the word ‘addicting’ grates for me too but it is a word recognised by many dictionaries, aside from the fact that it is so commonplace now that it has definitely entered into the English Language.

      eg:

      ‘Addicting is the participle adjective of the verb to addict, just as annoying is the participle adjective of the verb to annoy. I don’t think anyone would say that you can’t describe [something] as annoying, and similarly it is OK to describe [something] as addicting.’

      So there you go, not one I’ll ever use but apparently in use.

    • Hentzau says:

      It’s technically correct, but every time I see somebody use it I get this overwhelming urge to stuff them into a big box alongside all the people who call the little plastic building bricks “Legos” and then fire it into space. While on fire.

    • adonf says:

      I don’t find it too annoyant.

    • Kryopsis says:

      ‘Addicting’ is an Americanism. ‘Addictive’ is the proper usage of the word.

    • blind_boy_grunt says:

      really is legos a problem for anyone?
      and while we’re totally offtopic: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J7E-aoXLZGY
      (after staring for a good two minutes at the allowed code i give up and have to admit i have not the faintest idea how to link)
      edit: ah automatically is the answer

    • Shadram says:

      It truly is the end of days. I thought I’d never see one of the actual paid writers on this site use such a broken word, but there it is. Twice. I kind of want to cry. Next thing you know, it’ll be all “I could care less…” and “irregardless” and then I’ll have no choice but to cancel my subscription, give up on the world, and seal myself in my basement in the hope of surviving the apocalypse. A sad day indeed.

      EDIT: “Addicting” is NOT an acceptable word in same way as “annoying”, since “addict” is not a verb. You cannot “addict” anyone to anything, but something can be addictive. “Addict” is a noun to describe someone who is addicted.

      EDIT 2: “Legos” is absolutely a problem. It’s “Lego bricks” and when the Lego company puts out statements to clarify that you should absolutely never call them “Legos”, that should be respected. I mean, everyone hates when someone pronounces their name wrong, right? It’s just rude.

    • blind_boy_grunt says:

      yes but i’m not saying it to their face, i’m sure you have some nicknames for people around you you wouldn’t call them directly, irregardlessly i think “legos” has more to do with lego trying not to loose their copyright(if it becomes a common word everyone could call their plastic bricks legos,or something), if it weren’t for that they could care less what people are calling it.

    • Shadram says:

      If you’re trying to rile me up, sir, you’re doing a damn good job. Well played.

    • Matt says:

      ‘Addicting’ isn’t an Americanism, it’s a Moronism.

      Sorry Quinns.

    • Shadram says:

      Nit-picking grammar is so much more fun than UI testing, so I’m going to keep banging on about it until people stop. (Feel free to nit-pick that sentence’s grammar.)

      Addict: noun. Person who is addicted to something.
      Addictive: adjective. Used to describe something a person can become addicted to.
      Addicted: adjective. What the addict is to the thing that is addictive.
      Addiction: noun. The act of being addicted to something.

      None of these is a verb, so the “-ing” suffix is not applicable, however you look at it. Also, defining these words in a non-cyclical manner is very hard; I failed. Hats off to dictionary authors, I never realised how hard your job could be.

    • kupocake says:

      ‘Addicting’ is a perfectly cromulent word.

    • godgoo says:

      ‘EDIT: “Addicting” is NOT an acceptable word in same way as “annoying”, since “addict” is not a verb. You cannot “addict” anyone to anything, but something can be addictive. “Addict” is a noun to describe someone who is addicted’

      Actually Addict is both a noun and a verb:

      http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/addict

      I’m also not convinced that addicting is an Americanism, although this is all sort of irrelevant as language changes all the time, that’s how etymology works!

  4. Theory says:

    Finally, some love for Ground Control’s superb writing (and voice acting, I’d add). Whatever happened in the sequel?

    • Mr_Day says:

      Despite everyone claiming that Force Commander was shit, GC2 decided to take the reinforcement and building* mechanic from it and make a game that was about sending waves of soldiers against waves of soldiers until one of you ran out of points.

      But you got points from killing enemies. so guess how long that took.

      It was very pretty, though.

      * Although you didn’t build bases, you upgraded your drop ship.

      EDIT: Oh, you meant writing. Sadly, I don’t remember what happened, thus making this comment useless to you. I can only apologise.

    • Nick says:

      ALMOST everyone.

      *glares at John, then at his copy of Force Commander, then back*

    • vodka and cookies says:

      Yes Ground Control was great with an interesting story and female characters who were soldiers and leaders & not the typical pair of big tits in games unfortunately the sequel fell victim to this remember the women in red latex with her chest popping out of her top.

      Sierra screwed Massive not only on expansion pack but the sequel too interfering trying to make the game more appealing.

      GC remains one of my favorite RTS games, the camera controls were great and was the sense of scale and tactics. Even the manual had a back story for all the units in the game.

      Pity Massive seem to have gotten submerged into Ubisoft.

    • FriendlyFire says:

      Better than to be left in the hands of Activision, I’d say.

    • Mr_Day says:

      Well, at least the Force Commander theme music was good. Can’t go wrong with some Star Wars music, eh?

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ha8jbZkHWfQ

      Oh. Oh god. I suppose that happened, then. Jesus. I am so sorry.

    • EC- says:

      Was anyone aware that this game is available, legally, for free, as a promo for GC2′s multiplayer?
      http://www.fileplanet.com/142438/140000/fileinfo/Ground-Control-Full-Game-w/-GC2-Multiplayer-Demo

    • Man Raised by Puffins says:

      @ Mr Day: JOHN WILLIAMS SHREDS

  5. Brumisator says:

    I’m pretty sure I can find a dozen people who think far cry 2 should be nowhere near this list just by clicking my fingers.

    It had some neat ideas, sure…but it was just plain badly executed. It was a corridor shooter without the corridor. The world was empty, not believable and just boring.

    *click*

    • JohnnyMaverik says:

      Here’s one *raises hand*

    • AndrewC says:

      Incorrect! Fail! Wrong! And so on! Don’t like it all you want but don’t dismiss it. Prefer a different style of FPS, but don’t suggest FC2 doesn’t have one all its own. And for God’s sake, if you thought it was a corridor shooter, it’s because you played it like a corridor shooter.

      If you want to fight about this, we can fight. Fighty fighty fight fight.

      Fighting.

    • Coren says:

      One more here!
      I thought Far Cry 2 was a horrible game. It tried to do interesting things, but it failed to make things interesting.

      Slapping “Far Cry” on a game that has absolutely nothing to do with the original Far Cry also didn’t really help…

    • Zogtee says:

      Far Cry 2? You best be joking, Quintin. The title is only noteworthy for killing the Far Cry franchise stone dead.

    • VelvetFistIronGlove says:

      All Far Cry 2 had in common with Far Cry was that each isolated encounter could be approached from numerous directions with varying tactics.

      It was a highly polished open world shooter with pretty terrible mission structure and an ambitious plot. But it was flawed, just like the blood diamond you used to pay for your flamethrower.

      It also has the best fire in any game ever.

    • Subject 706 says:

      Fourthed, no dammit too slow. Seventhed. Uninstalled it in disgust. Much potential squandered.

    • AndrewC says:

      I will allow you your opinions.

    • StingingVelvet says:

      The fact that every gaming journalist seems to love Farcry 2 while the majority of gamers seem to hate it is a very interesting thing.

    • Monchberter says:

      I came to love it on my first play through. But returning to it 6 months later all I could ask myself was “why did i like this?”

      I do admit the roaming aspect was fun and the world gorgeous, but it was underpopulated, empty and lifeless and trying VERY VERY HARD to be something meaningful.

      A noble failure.

    • Oak says:

      An ambitious game with flaws. I can hardly stomach the idea.

    • Hodag says:

      The second section was a far cry better than the first (see what I did there), but the game was boring to its core. I never felt that I was actually accomplishing anything except looping around and doing the same missions while destroying the same road blocks over and over again.

      It is terrifyingly pretty though.

      Also, fuck the Malaria mechanic….

    • MikoSquiz says:

      Narrowly avoided the “generic shooter with a gimmick” pile by having several gimmicks. None of which were very good, or worked very well. Pretty environments and all, but it really was a very impressive tech demo and a very poor game.

    • Kryopsis says:

      “A noble failure.”
      That’s an excellent way to put it. I always saw Far Cry 2 as a game that could’ve been perfect but wasn’t. It’s very enjoyable to play for short periods but unfortunately lacked purpose. With a good plot, the technology and the design behind Far Cry 2 would’ve resulted in an unforgettable experience.

    • Man Raised by Puffins says:

      Far Cry 2 always fascinates me. Near enough every strength (gorgeous environments with excellent sound design…) is marred by a crippling flaw (which have been seemingly sterilised of their human inhabitants and repopulated with psychotic South African automatons) and yet somehow the compulsive quest for an ever larger arsenal through bloody acquisition of diamonds is enough to hang things together into a pretty damn enjoyable game.

      Not so sure about its inclusion on the important games list, but it has enough interesting mechanics for its placement here to be not too glaring.

    • Evernight says:

      Also raises hand. I thought FC2 was great on my first playthrough…. then I played it again…. and OMG where did the fun go… I remember – the terrible voice acting, the constant checkpoint combat, the fact that every mission is the same shit just with a diff. desert background.

      FC2 is good for one playthrough.

  6. saturnine says:

    Amnesia: The Dark Descent
    RELEASE DATE: 2000

    This should be 2010, shouldn’t it?

    • juandemarco says:

      Yeah, Amnesia was definitely released last year, and it has definitely better graphics than Max Payne 2.

    • Marar Patrunjica says:

      I agree, Amnesia should be way higher on the list if it comes to the quality of the graphics, these lists are serious business after all, we should have a meeting of sorts to determine the optimal order of the games, maybe a different sorting method? I propose to sort them by the number of boxes they have in them.

      (but really, Amnesia had a lot of moments filled with visual splendor)

    • saturnine says:

      Won’t lie, I was rather amused to see it dated “2000″ immediately before System Shock 2′s “1999″

  7. Oak says:

    You had me at Far Cry 2.

  8. Colthor says:

    Far Cry 2? You’re going to get some stick for that.

    It is also CLEAR EVIDENCE OF CORRUPTION, as I got the game free with an Intel CPU a few years ago. COINCIDENCE? I THINK NOT.

    It was quite good, but after a while you could see the mechanics ticking away under the hood, at which point I lost interest.

    • godgoo says:

      Gotta say I was overjoyed by FC2′s inclusion, the description perfectly mirrors why it was also my GOTY in 2008, I still go back to it now and then, despite all of it’s horrible flaws it just did immersion so well which is the key to good gaming for me. Buy hey, it’s all subjective!

  9. airtekh says:

    Yay! SWAT 4.

    Although I’ll see your serial killer level and raise you the cult level in the apartment block.

    My discovery of what the cult had done still ranks as one of the most horrific experiences I’ve had in a game.

    • sqrrl101 says:

      Oh god that was freaky. Not knowing who to shoot made the game so tense, and that level was probably the worst (well, best) for it.

    • canman says:

      Yes! Loved SWAT4! the music and environments were the scariest part, an amazing game. hopefully one day we get a sequel.

    • Gap Gen says:

      On balance, I think I prefer Rainbow Six 3: Raven Shield. It’s like SWAT 4, but with state-sanctioned killing.

  10. Inigo says:

    My favourite part of Far Cry 2 was when you get sent on a mission to shoot someone, but your buddy calls to give you an optional objective to shoot someone on the other side of the map before you shoot the person you were originally sent to shoot to begin with, and if you shoot the person your buddy asks you to shoot and then shoot the person your original employers asked you to shoot you get a call from your buddy who has somehow got himself into trouble while you were shooting the person your buddy asked you to shoot so you have to go and save him and then when you return to your original employers you get sent on a mission to shoot someone, but your buddy calls to give you an optional objective to shoot someone on the other side of the map before you shoot the person you were originally sent to shoot to begin with, and if you shoot the person your buddy asks you to shoot and then shoot the person your original employers asked you to shoot you get a call from your buddy who has somehow got himself into trouble while you were shooting the person your buddy asked you to shoot so you have to go and save him and then when you return to your original employers you get sent on a mission to shoot someone, but your buddy calls to give you an optional objective to shoot someone on the other side of the map before you shoot the person you were originally sent to shoot to begin with, and if you shoot the person your buddy asks you to shoot and then shoot the person your original employers asked you to shoot you get a call from your buddy who has somehow got himself into trouble while you were shooting the person your buddy asked you to shoot so you have to go and save him and then when you return to your original employers you get sent on a mission to shoot someone, but your buddy calls to give you an optional objective to shoot someone on the other side of the map before you shoot the person you were originally sent to shoot to begin with, and if you shoot the person your buddy asks you to shoot and then shoot the person your original employers asked you to shoot you get a call from your buddy who has somehow got himself into trouble while you were shooting the person your buddy asked you to shoot so you have to go and save him and at some point the game ends.

  11. President Weasel says:

    I loved Master of Onion 2 (don’t blame a typo, blame the font on the disk). Moving house the other day I found the disk, hadn’t seen it in years.
    What a Shame Master of Orion 3 was an unwieldy mess. It showed signs of vaulting ambition, but also strong signs of “we can’t make this work the way we planned and we’ve run out of time and money. Release it!”
    (also the enemy AI was rubbish. What a shame.)

  12. Hunam says:

    SS2 is a fairly important game in that a lot of the talking in your ear and reading logs mechanics it perfected have made their way into almost every other game. If you updated the graphics and removed the weapon degradation the modern gamer wouldn’t bat an eyelid at any of the mechanics in the game.

    • Kdansky says:

      Except for the console chimpanzees who cannot be bothered my inventory management, skills and maps. And it needs QTEs and double jumps.

  13. Lambchops says:

    What a shame (the improved English translation of Pathalogic has still not been completed)!

    What a shame (that Giants Citizen Kabuto was so inventive and had some fun bits but just didn’t quite work, partly because it wasn’t as funny as it thought it was. We need more games with such everything but the kitchen sink approaches and inventive worlds)!

    What a shame (that there hasn’t been a sequel to SWAT 4. One of the few games I’ve actually played multiplayer. It was on a LAN with my old flatmates and it was immense fun. Coming up with plans, taking down terrorists and zapping each other with tasers when we fucked up. Brilliantly tense, immensley satisfying and all round badass)!

    What a shame (that I forgot the basics and didn’t erase my logs in time when hacking that bank. I was oh so rich anyway and yet I was foiled doing a job I didn’t need to do, just because I could. And affter giving myself all those fake qualifications as well. not that it helped in the game at al it was just because I could. Ah, Uplink played in the dark, scribbling IP notes, then getting too tired and making mistakes and having to start again. How I love you)!

    What a shame (that somebody is about to comment that game X wasn’t on the list despite it being only part 3)!

    In conclusion: What a shame!

  14. sqrrl101 says:

    Some great choices on there. For all its short-comings, Far Cry 2 is one of the most immersive games I’ve ever played, and offers heart-pounding moments that few have matched; scrambling to dig a bullet out of my leg with my leatherman before the enemy troops flank me, praying that I can get just one more burst out of my busted old assault rifle before it falls apart in my hands. I loved the variety in the weapons, too – your loadout could alter how you faced a situation so radically. Few games can match the pure joy of setting fire to a swathe of dry grassland and seeing your foes burn to a crisp as they become trapped behind the wall of advancing flame.

    SWAT 4 was great fun, too. It’s unusual to see a game encourage non-lethal weaponry so strongly and make it work. In addition to the superb single-player, I had a lot of fun on the multiplayer – something I don’t usually enjoy much with First Person Shooters. Admittedly some of this involved saturating own team with pepper-balls and taser shots, which was certainly a bit dickish, but utterly hilarious.

    • Urthman says:

      I think the reason Far Cry 2 is so divisive is that the game provides all the pieces to generate some really fantastic action/combat scenarios that develop organically from a combination of the player’s actions, the local level design, the unscripted AI of the NPCs, and random events like how fire happens to spread.

      But! Nothing guarantees that every player will experience these awesome scenarios. The player can choose to play the game in a boring, repetitive fashion. Or the player can just have bad luck and very seldom get into situations where the AI and the terrain and the chaos of fire and explosions come together in an exciting way.

      I loved Far Cry 2 and found myself regularly in chaotic, exciting situations that were completely unscripted and un-designed. I also thought the shooting and other combat was very solid and fun. And I liked the vehicles. And of course the landscape is still one of the most beautiful environments in any game ever (including the “ugly” parts — the level of detail in all the shabby little shacks and settlements is fantastic). I also liked the diamond-hunting exploration side of the game.

      I’ll get grief for this, but the game that reminds me the most of Far Cry 2 is the survival-mode combat in Minecraft. Like Far Cry 2, you have this sandbox of elements — enemies, weapons, environmental hazards — thrown together in a random, unscripted fashion, and you get into all kinds of unique, exciting scenarios that emerge.

      The willingness to allow a game to be driven by emergent gameplay is why Far Cry 2 is important and deserves to be more influential.

  15. ZIGS says:

    *insert post of disgust due to Far Cry 2 entry here*

    • jaheira says:

      * insert spirited and entirely convincing defence of Far Cry 2 entry here*

  16. McDan says:

    Drinking since lunch, the englishman’s way forward in life.

    • squareking says:

      We yanks have adapted this pastime as well. At least I have. When I can.

  17. zergrush says:

    Wow, I thought Quintin’s list would resonate more with my taste and I was right. All of my favourite games are on this list, from SC2 to Nethack, passing through Jagged Alliance, SS2 Ground Control, Baldur’s Gate, Homeworld, Civ2, etc. Startopia is the only one that I haven’t played.

    Also, this: “But what really impresses me is that you slap a good commentator on it, and it’s a brilliant, watchable sport like no other game I can think of.”

    The recent GSTL was absurdly awesome. Anyone with a passing interest in Starcraft should watch it.

  18. Dominic White says:

    I have actually gotten furious hate-mail for saying that I liked Far Cry 2. No joke. People hate it just THAT much, and will shout you down if you so much as try to recommend it.

    So I’ll say it again: I like Far Cry 2. It’s a true open-plan shooter. You’re given an objective, a country full of dudes that want to shoot you, whatever guns you want to carry with you, and no plan but your own. There’s not much to worry about beyond your route, your tactics and the enemies you’ll be fighting, but that’s fine.
    I still dust it off for a play every now and then. And no, I never minded the fact that enemy camps respawned. It’s a shooter – if there wasn’t shooting every couple of minutes, I’d be driving across the African plains for 10-20 minutes doing nothing every mission, instead of having a fight (you know, what you do in shooters?) every minute or two of travel.

    • airtekh says:

      Far Cry 2 is awesome and is one of my favourite shooters ever.

      Some of the best firefights in a shooter I have had in Far Cry 2; and all of them have been totally unscripted, dynamic warzones. The map/GPS you get is brilliant as well.

    • Monchberter says:

      I do agree. But I don’t think there was really a gap for a game realised as halfway between the infinitely more satisfying Crysis and Fallout 3

    • bill says:

      So it’s like Stalker?

    • Monchberter says:

      Stalker’s more Fallout 3 for CS players. An anachronism I know.

    • Dominic White says:

      Yeah, Far Cry 2 may look like a quest-driven, open-world game like STALKER, and what’s why I think a lot of people hated it – they expected it to be far more than what it was, which is a freeform shooter. You shoot people. You are a guy with a gun, and there are other guys with guns, and you go places and shoot people. That’s it. That’s the gameplay, all of it.
      And that’s fine, because it has really good, really varied gunfights. It reminds me of the combat in FEAR, but much more open. You’re given a battlefield, a target, and can approach from any direction with any plan and with any equipment. And once you’re done shooting people, you get another mission and go shoot more people.

      There’s no trading, no loot, no factions, no metagame. It’s just you, Africa, guns, dudes, fighting.

    • Collic says:

      My only real problem with far cry 2 was the grind created by the instantly re-spawning guard posts. It’s a complaint practically everyone had, and did detract from it being an almost perfect game. Unfortunately, they never fixed this, presumably because of limitations with the engine (or how it streamed the levels), or it was just too difficult a fix.

      If they make a sequel in the same vein (and I hope they do), addressing this one thing would make a far better game experience for me, and (I suspect) a lot of other people. The lack of real factions and safe areas also felt like a lost opportunity, but it didnt get in the way of my enjoyment like the above.

      I still wouldn’t dispute it’s inclusion in the list.

    • Dominic White says:

      I’d bet good money that if they disabled the camps respawning, people would complain about there being nobody to fight, and how there was just miles of pointless driving between locations.

      Anyone here played Infamous? Once you cleared an area of the city of enemies, there was just no reason to ever go near it again, because you were done. It was vaguely nice to look at, but there’s suddenly no gameplay in that region anymore.

    • Collic says:

      Dominic, I’m not advocating that they don’t respawn, and I honestly don’t think anyone else ever has. I’m saying the world would have been a far more enjoyable thing to blaze through if an area ‘reset’ a reasonable period of time after you had left it.

      What actually happens in far cry 2 is, as soon as you put enough distance between you and the fight, everything is instantly back to how it was; vehicles, enemies and destructible buildings. And the distance isn’t particularly far, just enough for that section of terrain, level, or whatever its termed, to be loaded in and out of memory.

      Other games manage a more convincing permanence, Far Cry 2 just didn’t. That’s why I said I suspected it was down to the technology the game was built on.

    • Man Raised by Puffins says:

      My only real problem with far cry 2 was the grind created by the instantly re-spawning guard posts.

      This became a bit of a meta-game for me, to stop checkpoint battles becoming too rote I’d haphazardly plan different routes too and from the mission zones, including routine use and abuse of the bus service. And of course it’s perfectly possible to steam through the majority of checkpoints and then mop up any chasing vehicles with a mounted MG.

    • Oak says:

      @Collic:
      That’s fair. The respawning drove me nuts when I was new to the game, and I nearly quit altogether. However – and this is where I’ll sound like a zealot – at some point something clicked and infinite enemies just became another way the game keeps its promise: it will never, ever go easy on you.

  19. Phinor says:

    Angband mentioned! Angband mentioned! Someone needs to yell loudly!

    Oh how many hours I wasted.. spent with that game. I remember one summer around ’96-97 when we (me+two friends) put three computers in a room, started playing Angband and two and a half months later we had to go to school. Worst best summer ever.

    • Kaira- says:

      I never liked Angband, I don’t know why. ADoM, on the other hand, is maybe the game I’ve played the most in my life. And never have I even come close to complete it. But that doesn’t really matter, as it’s just so fun to try different types of characters (Trollish Healer, anyone?).

    • Harlander says:

      What’s this?

      (ZangbandTK being a fan-made freeware variant)

      All three of the games you’ve mentioned have been free software since their creation, and all three are open-source of various flavours. “Fan-made” is a weird distinction to make given the largely hobbyist creation of these games.

      Good to see roguelikes in the list, though.

    • Quirk says:

      Spelunky’s been mentioned as a modern game that’s run with the roguelike ideas; I’d also like to mention here Transcendence:
      http://www.neurohack.com/transcendence/
      which is really rather good.

    • Brumisator says:

      I’m confused.
      I just lost nerd points for not knowing what Angband (the video game) is.
      I just won nerd points for knowing what Angband is in Tolkienian mythology.

    • Nick says:

      <3 ADOM so much. It was my first roguelike and has yet to be dethroned as my favourite to play.

    • Dolphan says:

      ADOM is very, very good. Not as sharp and focused as Nethack, but by God that time I got as far as the arena is forever enthroned as one of my great gaming moments. Although I can’t remember how I died. I won all of the arena fights, but definitely didn’t get much beyond that. Possibly an overly optimistic prayer.

  20. mlaskus says:

    Uplink had a plot! And a bloody good one at that. Though admittedly, it was rather easy to miss.

    • xrabohrok says:

      Yeah, one had to survive long enough, and then get the right job offer, and then you got on the world/internet ending bandwagon.

    • Dolphan says:

      The first (and only) time I played Uplink I got as far as getting into the plot stuff, and then realised you could steal money from the banks. And then found out what a bad idea that could be.

  21. Mr_Day says:

    I have remarkably fond memories of Mech 2: Mercenaries. It was always a shame that the Mech 4 version was so dull and rigid.

    • frymaster says:

      mechwarrior 3 had the most immersiveness and single-player plotting imo, but they managed to make the loadout screen totally dire, despite mw2 doing it well. It was also far too unforgiving with the heat mechanic – you could blow yourself up firing your ballistic weapons, for god’s sake – and didn’t do beam vs pulse lasers very well at all. I suspect it was maybe trying to blindly copy the original game rules without adapting them enough to first-person realtime.

      By contrast, MW4 had a superb loadout system that captured the distinction about omnimechs being flexible, yet was simple enough to use. And then replaced the brilliant briefing videos of MW3 with a map, a small portrait in the corner of your screen, and a few voice-only lines. And the graphics engine was slightly too… day-glo

      Some sort of synthesis of mw3 and mw4 would be ideal

    • Mr_Day says:

      I also prefer the look of MW3 engine to MW4 – one was a fairly chunky, realistic look and MW4 could have been made out of Lego bricks.

      But I agree, 4 had the better loadout screen. Setting up different combinations based on what you had available was a game in itself. It’s just a shame that Mech 4 Mercenaries just had you going to different planets and working through missions until you moved on – the missions linked by a story were good, but too few to be enjoyable. Also, I never understood the differences between Steiner and whoever the hell else was fighting with Steiner – the game seemed to think the relationship was important, but I never remember it having much impact on any decisions I made, and when the time to choose a side came it didn’t matter what choices you had made, they both welcome you with open arms.

      If I remember that incorrectly, just say.

      Having said all that, I have now reinstalled M4 Mercs. I am weak. I have MW 2 but I have given up trying to get it to work – I had the version that came with a 3d card, so it is enhanced for voodoo and thus spits on you if you try to run it on something modern, wrappers be damned.

    • dirtyallen says:

      Look on the bright side kid, you get to keep all the money.

      MW2 Mercenaries was unforgiving, but I did enjoy the heat mechanic. I can remember having enough weaponry on my Atlas that if I fired everything at once my mech would have to shut down for an extensive cool down… good times!

    • Rob Maguire says:

      A thousand times yes on MechWarrior 2. It was one of the first real PC games I played, and the Titanium Edition is still in my top 5 favorite games of all time. I have so many memories of that game…

      The ridiculous overpowered Arrow IV warhead and its many-times-the-draw-distance range. Watching through the Missile Cam as it (excruciatingly) slowly approached a target you know doesn’t have anti-missile systems, followed by the beloved ‘enemy destroyed’ sound; that’s one of the defining moments in gaming history for me.

      Fighting a desperate battle against a statistically weaker but vastly numerically superior force in the middle of a civilian city, trying not to cause any more collateral damage than necessary.

      The mission where you’re on a hollowed-out ice comet that’s being towed to a desert colony, and raiders attack it to redirect it into a sun.

      The only good arena missions I’ve seen in any game, ever. Excellent vertical level design, where if you didn’t have jump-jets you’re pretty much screwed. I still have fond memories of fighting inside the giant machinery of what appears to be a hellish forge world, desperately trying to hunt down the last combatants through what amounts to a three dimensional maze. MW4′s arenas were a massive letdown after this.

      That @*#%#-ing assault against an enemy commander. I can’t remember any details about that particular plot, but it was a ludicrously difficult and unbelievably epic nighttime raid against several bases with heavy defenses, trying to find which base the commander is hiding in, all while those annoying-as-hell enemy patrols keep assaulting your flanks.

      And above all, that mission in the crystalline desert, where every crystal showed up as an enemy, so you had to stop your mech every once in a while and frantically check the radar to see which of the hundreds of enemy contacts are moving, dreading the laser batteries and missile salvos you just know are coming any second. The fact that half the enemies started the mission in shutdown – and were thus invisible to radar – was just icing on the cake. Forget Amnesia, THIS should take the games-that-cause-paranoia crown. It’s just too bad the enemy locations weren’t randomized, limiting replayability.

      MechWarrior 4 might have had better gameplay, I don’t know – MW2 not working post-Windows 98 without heavy tinkering, I can’t refresh my memory – but it certainly doesn’t hold a candle to the level design and action setpieces of its predecessor.

  22. Howling Techie says:

    I would of said that Homeworld 2 was bigger, better, and more important than the original. Almost all videogame retailers have a few copies of HW2, but I have never seen them sell HW1. Also glad to see startopia on here. I’d play it but every time I try to play it I get a BSOD. Bought the game at launch, I highly recommend it. I look forward to seeing some Lionhead and/or more Bullfrog games on this list. It would be nice to see Sins of a Solar Empire or Supreme Commander, some of the best major strategy games of recent years (although I did prefer SupCom 2).

    • tikey says:

      It could be argued that Homeworld 2 is better at gameplay, but it certainly failed to do what Homeworld did with it’s story.
      Although both are amazingly well told (Relic are great storytellers). Homeworld 2 had so many cliches, plot holes and it wasn’t as engaging. It tried to be bigger with the whole gods and profecies and lost what made you connect to the tale of the Kushan fleet.
      Homeworld 2 is about defeating the bad guys.
      Homeworld is about survival, about the need to find your roots, your identity. It’s easier to connect with it.

    • Cinek says:

      Homeworld 2 was (…) more important than the original” – not really. I can’t find any reason for that. It was evolutionary improvement to HW1 but certainly not more important to PC gaming than the original.

      Homeworld 2 had so many cliches, plot holes” – it haven’t got much of plot holes, you haven’t been following the story close enough. HW1 was the one with most plot holes of all HW games series despite of common belief that it was otherwise.
      HW2 storyline was only more difficult to follow – you needed to read all the background info, play previous games, and actually listen to what they tell to you in game in order to know why some points weren’t plotholes.
      There was once a huge two-part topic going through all the plotholes in all HW games series explaining every single thing possible – the outcome was that the HW1 was worse of all while HWC had most complete plot without much you could find made wrong or against the canon.

  23. obvioustroll says:

    Re SWAT 4, completely agree, why havent we seen a sequel yet?

    We need more games with stand offs, shouting at someone to drop their gun/weapon and not knowing if they’ll do it is very intense, very immersive, and should be a very good game feature.

    • sqrrl101 says:

      Sierra shut down and Activision own the IP now it seems, and I don’t think there’s been any word on what they’re doing with it. Damn shame because a modern SWAT game would be great. I’ve been a big fan from SWAT 2 onwards and it’s unfortunate that nothing seems to be happening with it.

    • Kaira- says:

      SWAT 4 is very good game. Not only because of the game, but also because of the Spoony’s Let’s Play. Good times.

      http://spoonyexperiment.com/category/lets-play/swat-4/
      For those of you who haven’t watched the video or/and played the game.

      “You are in my spot, sir.”

    • Gap Gen says:

      There’s no reason someone can’t make another tactical police sim not called SWAT5, just as Bohemia and Gas Powered Games relaunched series by renaming them. Maybe the demand isn’t there, I dunno.

    • Nick says:

      Just call it Special Weapons and Tactics. Problem solved.

  24. Qjuad says:

    Startopia? JA2? System Shock? SWAT 4? This list is simply delicious.

  25. daphne says:

    Yes, a mention of Master of Orion 2 and Homeworld, well done!

    But remember: Before those cinematic WW2 shooters, there was Freespace. Hopefully the other two lists will deliver.

    BTW, did you actually find low-settings screenshots for some games? I don’t ever recall Citizen Kabuto and Amnesia looking that bad.

  26. bigtoeohno says:

    These lists are bringing back all the memories. I’d forgotten about jagged alliance 2. Great game, I remember leaving a guy out in the water finding out they can’t tread water forever was painful and hilarious. games hold your hand too much today. With no help to speak of figuring exactly what and how you could use the specialties of the characters was so friggen hard. Good ol’ fashioned trial and error gaming.

  27. talon03 says:

    I vaguely remember reading somewhere that Kieron Gillen reviewed Uplink for PCG back in the day. After insisting everyone else had to play it, Ross Atherton (I think) installed it, and promptly ripped the network cable out of his computer at the intro sequence.

    In short, you certainly weren’t the only one.

  28. Dominic White says:

    Oh, and on the roguelike note, Nethack has been soundly dethroned now. All hail Dungeon Crawl:

    http://www.diygamer.com/2011/01/freeware-dungeon-crawl/

    It’s seriously the best roguelike I’ve ever played, by a long shot. Far more intuitive than Nethack and its ilk. Tutorials and logical gameplay, and nothing as bizarre as having to carve ‘Elbereth’ into the floor all the tme.

    • Friend says:

      Now see, I tried Stone Soup, and really didn’t get what the fuss was about. Perhaps it’s because I started out on Nethack (and made it quite a ways without spoilers, too), but Stone Soup just felt incredibly tame and hack-and-slashy to me in comparison. Streamlined, yes, but stripped of the unpredictability and variation that makes the early stages of Nethack so exciting. Stone Soup also has much more of a focus on combat and a gentler difficulty curve, which, at least in my experience, made it feel rather bland. That statement may sound a little odd, but I believe that a good deal of the fun in roguelikes is the intensity of the danger at every point in the game, and design where mechanics other than straight ahead combat often shine through.

    • Dominic White says:

      The problem with Nethack (and I started with Rogue, and then moved up to Nethack) is that the very early game is ALL unpredictability. It is very possible to die on turn 1 – it feels less like an RPG and more like russian roulette. Once you’re past that, it’s about whether you know all the exploits, loopholes and gimmicks.

      Dungeon Crawl doesn’t let you do that. Combat is far more based on tactics, and victory is determined far more through clever, improvisational play, rather than knowing the solutions to pre-set puzzles and planning your game around getting X item on turn Y. The fact that it has a multi-segmented branching dungeon means that you get to pick and choose what kinds of places you go, once you’re in sufficiently deep.

      Nethack may have depth, but it’s at the expense of balance and coherence.

    • Eschatos says:

      Pass, because no gaming moment will be so satisfying as the moment I finally offer the Amulet of Yendor to Anhur(I always play a chaotic elf wizard). So far the farthest I have gotten without cheating is the plane of fire where I managed to drown in lava. I may have been godlike enough to be immune to burning from lava but I’ll be damned if I couldn’t drown in it.

    • Thants says:

      Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup is great. It may seem a little simple at first, coming from Nethack, but it has a much better and more detailed combat and spell system (and skills and religion). They’re both very good games, in different ways. And it is really pretty brutal, random deadly stuff does happen

  29. KingMudkip says:

    NetHack for the win! Woo! Although I will have to take a look at this Dungeon Crawl thing.
    By the by, where [i]can[/i] one find commentated SC2 matches?

    • zergrush says:

      You can watch them live or pay a fee to download the VODs on gomtv.net. I recommend getting the february GSTL, it’s only five dollars and features some of the best games ever played.

      There’s a lot of games on youtube too, look for stuff commented by Tasteless and/or Artosis.

    • daphne says:

      (sorry, it replied to the wrong comment for some reason!)

  30. rocketman71 says:

    Another great list with another black sheep.

    StarCraft 2, colossal importanceness?. Bah. Put the original StarCraft in there. It has all the important features (LAN, uncensored modding and mapping, no shitty enforced B.Net, chats, crossregion play, spawn install…) and SC2′s graphics are not that important since the original was 2D and has aged well. Widescreen support and better W7 compatibility are the only things needed.

    Plus, the original StarCraft was an incredible game at the time (still is). StarCraft 2 is inferior, both graphically and gameplay wise to games released even 4 years before it, like Company of Heroes. The only thing Blizzard has learned in 10 years, other than grouping more than 12 units, is how to get more money out of everybody.

    The only thing colossal about SC2 is Blizzard’s colossal failure meeting the fans’ demands. Ok, and the Colossi. StarCraft 2 with any other name would have 20-30 points less in Metacritic.

    • MadTinkerer says:

      When SC2 first came out, I bought it because I liked Starcraft. SC2 by itself is merely a decent sequel.
      However: SC2 after the modding community got their hands on it and went bonkers, is a whole other level of awesome. For that reason it deserves to be on the list of importanceness.

    • pkt-zer0 says:

      “The only thing colossal about SC2 is Blizzard’s colossal failure meeting the fans’ demands.”

      It’s like Starcraft, but better. That works for me, especially with other games failing to fill that void. The inventiveness of the campaign and the matchmaking actually surpassed my expectations (admittedly, I wasn’t expecting much of the single-player).
      The lack of LAN is an unfortunate necessity, but it’s not going to make a difference to the vast majority of people.

  31. MadTinkerer says:

    Dawwwwww… NO DEUS EX!!!!!!1! How DARe you leave it out!?!?!?!?!
    HOW IS THIS EVEN A COMPLETE LIST?

    (But seriously: nice to see Anachronox on there. ;) )

  32. obvioustroll says:

    I am also disappointed Fallout New Vegas didnt make this list.

    • VelvetFistIronGlove says:

      It’s almost like Quintin was phoning in his list. I’m talking long-distance, rever…

      Yeah. I still fail to understand his impression of the game. I think New Vegas was a damn good game. But I don’t think it’s an important one. Its says nothing that hasn’t been said before.

  33. Voidy says:

    Of the three lists published so far, this is the most intriguing – probably because it mentions a grand total of two games that I’ve never even heard of – let alone played – before. You know what’s even more intriguing? The identity of the person (or persons) behind the fifth part of the list! Who will it be? KG? Richard Cobbett? The entire RPS hivemind? What do you think, gentlemen?

  34. Oozo says:

    Lovely read, and a great trip back down memory lane. (A great deal of my favourite games are already covered at this point. Which doesn’t mean that there are not a lot of important ones still missing – looking forward to the rest.)

    Just one question (and sorry if it was already answered elsewhere): It’s clear why Quinns’ list would focus roughly on games from 1999 onwards (what with him being hardly old enough to drink on lunch-time) , and older games were covered in the first two posts. But here’s one thing I was still wondering:

    When exactly would the history of PC games start? Would it be with the first IBM PC? Or where do you draw the line? (1873, I guess. But, you know, seriously…)

    • bwion says:

      I suppose it depends on whether you define ‘PC” as the generic ‘personal computer’ (which could include dozens of machines such as your Commodore 64s or your Apple IIs or your Spectrum Whatevers That We Didn’t Have in My Backwards Nation or whatever) or as only the specific IBM Compatible -> Windows machines we call PCs today.

      Interestingly, if you go with the first definition, I think you have to include iPod/Phone/Pad games under the general umbrella of PC games (as they are games for a general-purpose personal computing device).

  35. CMaster says:

    I’ve been avoiding commenting much on these so far. I don’t want to debate the inclusions or otherwise, especially as the criteria seem (presumably deliberatley) so very wooly and ill defined.

    Quinn’s list has given me so many things I want to talk about however. Not about the selection, but about the fascinating things that make them notable.

    Let’s start with Homeworld – Quinn’s touches on the reasons it was so profoundly effective. The music was of course tremendously important – Return to Kharak is one of gaming’s all time most emotive moments and Agnus Dei takes a big chunk of the credit for that. It also seemingly had a big influence on the musical score for the new Battlestar Galactica – that also follows the theme of tuned percussion led pieces for action and tension and choral led pieces for the emotive or slower moments.

    The fact that the game’s plot contains a string of tragedies and yet never seems trite or rdiculous is in itself pretty impressive too. Perhaps a part of that is that you and your team are to an extent always the instigator, or sometimes even the direct cause of those tragedies. That said, the game is more moving if you read the history of Kharak in the manual, if you read about the detail of the civillization on there and the sacrafices that have already been made.

    Quinns’ “I’m wondering now if what allowed Homeworld to be so affecting was that it never had to portray humanity on an individual scale, instead having you simply gaze at the outside of spaceships and let you imagination do all the heavy lifting.”: gets somewhere close I think.
    It’s also worth noting how detached your are form individuals or specifics. Save for a couple of stills showing Karan S’jet, there’s nothing to confirm that the Kushan are even humanoid, never mind human. The only two characters you deal with are “Fleet Command” and “Fleet Intelligence”. The former of whom is Karan S’jet in computer-integrated form, carer for the fleet and the latter is a rather ruthless and hard-nosed type who plans out your goals (and often gives bad advice). These aren’t the only people you communicate with however. More important in a lot of ways are the individual pilots and commanders of your fleet. They aren’t named, yet they are the ones who link you to the battle. Their chatter informs you as much about the battle as any array of stats do. When you hear “Group 2 needing backup, urgently” “Group 5 here – all under control” “Destroyer under heavy fire” – they link you into the battle. You don’t want to let Group 2 get wiped out as you can hear it happening. The point is perhaps that you are tackling a big task – getting the fleet and the remainder of the species to survive. You don’t need to be distracted by the voices of a few named individuals. What you do need is a link to the people in aggregate – and you get that from your crews, from the cutscenes, from the sense of desperation that pervades the game.

    It also helps that the game itself and of course the music are timelessly beautiful. Even as graphics technology moves on, the sight of 50 fighters switching from X to the complex Claw formation without a hitch, then breaking into wing-pairs all at your command with trails behind them remains a brilliant visual.

    • Cinek says:

      Save for a couple of stills showing Karan S’jet, there’s nothing to confirm that the Kushan are even humanoid, never mind human” – at the end of game you got shot clearly showing Kushan as a human. Plus the Karan. Plus several concept arts.
      HWC and HW2 was notably better in the matter of showing who is human and who is not. ;)

      That said, the game is more moving if you read the history of Kharak in the manual, if you read about the detail of the civillization on there and the sacrafices that have already been made.” – oh yea…. I remember a moment reading part of this one first in a magazine review… it was like an epic book…. I already wanted to put my hands on a game just after reading through few paragraphs of text! Gash… why they can’t make such things for any modern games???

  36. varcynal says:

    I’m sure you were just joking about the importunateness of Baldur’s Gate, but don’t you ever ever say that again.

    • JackShandy says:

      I guess he did say “Maybe” under importantness. But what’s so unimportant about Baldur’s Gate?

    • Sarlix says:

      I think they mean it wasn’t that important to the industry, like it didn’t have any major impact on other games made thereafter. However you could say the same about FC2, so go figure…

      However BG/2 has importantness in other areas. How many other games have such a strong following 10+ years after release. If you go to the Bioware BG forums you will find a community still eager to help the new comer to the game, and with the enthusiasm as if it had been released just last year.

      And the fact it could well be the finest game/s ever made – and I say that with some objectivity since I’m not really an RPG fan and the fantasy setting is not my first choice. So yeah I would say it’s pretty damn important.

  37. P4p3Rc1iP says:

    Startopia! Yes! I totally forgot about that, but what a fun game it was!

    Also, talking of Ground Gontrol and Homeworld… I hope Nexus: The Jupiter Incident gets one one of the future lists as well!

  38. K. says:

    What?! Someone remembered Anachronox?!
    It was a pleasant surprise finding it on this list, thanks for caring.

    I also like how Pathologic is sorted below Nethack according to graphics.

    • DarkWeeble says:

      I loaned my Anachronox to a friend to play YEARS ago and the bastard lost it. I voted for it to come up on GoG but nothing yet. *sigh*

  39. JFS says:

    Ou, Baldur’s Gate! I was waiting for this one. And I was hoping the two parts each got their own entry and a little more accompanying text :( And more importanceness then “maybe”. Oh well.

    • Harlander says:

      Important does not have a 100% overlap with ‘very good’.

      That is all.

    • JFS says:

      I know! I was just joking around. However, Baldur’s Gate is not only one of the greatest games of all times, but it’s important as well. It resuscitated the RPG genre, which today is one of the biggest around and influences pretty much every other genre except maybe for puzzle games.

    • Jason Moyer says:

      It’s weird in retrospect how even from 1997-2002 Bioware were making the epic, story-focused mainstream RPG’s and Black Isle were making diverse, character-molding games. Since then Bioware has continued to make RPG’s with epic stories and mainstream appeal (and I’m not saying that as a snob, I love Bioware) while Troika/Obsidian continue(d) to create niche games with more focus on diverse character interactions.
      Also, BG came out a year after the game that brought RPG’s back, i.e. Fallout. Thank god for both companies/games though, because the gap between Dragon Wars/Wasteland and Fallout/BG felt like an eternity at the time.

  40. Chris Remo says:

    FAR CRY 2

    YESSSSSSSSSSSS

    • Gabbo says:

      Chris, do you have some kind of signal that alerts you to any sort of discussion of Far Cry 2 happening on the internet?

    • Urthman says:

      Far Cry 2 is totally the Chris Remo batsignal.

      Seeing him reminds me that he praised Far Cry 2 for not feeling the need to add any Sci-Fi or Fantasy or Magic or Aliens or Mutants or anything like that.

      And I would add that Far Cry 2 deserves recognition for being genuinely M for Mature rather than M for pandering to Frat Boys. It refuses to pander to frat boys. No fart jokes. No “bro” dialogue. No lame attempts to be “KICK ASS EXTREME.” Women characters who are just people, not eye candy, not potential romantic/sexual partners (not even in a chaste Alyx sort of way), not damsels in distress.

  41. Chris Remo says:

    I think it’s a real shame these lists don’t include the game’s developers alongside their year of release.

  42. Nimic says:

    The game I really can’t understand on this list is Far Cry 2. I don’t know why, but I found it practically unplayable. Sort of the same with GTA 4 (literally at first, figuratively later)

    Happy with most of the rest, though. Jagged Alliance 2 is a great addition in particular, as are Homeworld and Rome: Total War. Though perhaps Shogun would be even better for the purpose of this list (even though I liked Rome just about as much).

    Good mix of games in this list!

    • sinister agent says:

      Sadly, I have to agree. Far Cry 2 struck me as one of those excrutiatingly painful “almost amazing” games that let a few ridiculously bad design decisions drag it down to “playable and quite fun if you try very hard to ignore the massive flaws”.

      GTA4 on the other hand was a staggering technical achievement, and had impressive production values, but I ran out of reasons to play it after about an hour because it just wasn’t much fun. Having said that, it is arguably very important anyway. Far Cry 2 though, I think much less so.

      Otherwise though, I can see why everyting on this list is there. SWAT 4 is such an excellent game – I’d never think of uninstalling it. The execution is terrific, but even the concept is irresistable: tool up with armour and weapons and high-tech gadets, go after a variety of sometimes heavily armed criminals… and for god’s sake, [i]don’t kill anyone[/i]. Trying to intimidate everyone into surrendering rather than simply blowing them away turned a tactical shooter into solid gaming gold. And when you’ve had enough of that, you can simply charge in and butcher everyone anyway for sheer tension relief.

      The way that bad situations can escalate so quickly in SWAT 4 makes it one of those rare games where you can enjoy your miserable failures just as much as your successes.

    • TeeJay says:

      Personally I’d replace Far Cry 2 with Far Cry and GTA4 with GTA:Vice City.

  43. Daniel Klein says:

    Ah, yes, Zangband. How many hours, days, weeks has it taken from me? I’ve never ascended in any roguelike, but I’ve come closest in Zangband.

  44. Serenegoose says:

    So, there were a lot of words in that article. But my favourite words were when you said you actually thought Homeworld: Cataclysms campaign was more affecting than Homeworlds. Yay, I agree! But so few others seem to. I particularly thought bashing your head against the terrified Bentusi to get them to bloody well help out instead of fleeing to another galaxy was particularly good. Even if the voice acting wasn’t brilliant (and it certainly wasn’t bad) they at least put the effort in to make it sound like they cared. But I also like that it was a unique genre! Horror-RTS! That said, Homeworld had some ‘moments’ too. Mainly, you know, -that- moment, but also the first encounter with the super creepy Kadesh. And basically every cutscene. The sound was so minimalist yet well executed, that air of isolation was exquisitely cultivated throughout.

  45. rhizo says:

    Personally this has been an interesting mix of some of the most important and some of the most useless picks so far. Titles like BG and JA2 are certainly one of the games that have had most impact in the evolution of my taste in games. Then again FC2 or Starcraft not so much.

    On the subjective side, it could be more interesting to map out gamers’ critical paths in a certain genre than it is to bicker on the contents of Top 10,20,50 lists. That would provide much more context to the choices we would make in our own lists. At least I have a rather narrow experience base in some genres, having not been in the position to acquire every semi-interesting title in my youth. The choices I made early on have greatly contributed to my taste later in life.

    For example in RTS games the earliest ones I tried were Dune 2, C&C + sequels and Total Annihilation. After a while though I found Sudden Strike and really took a shine to the “baseless” RTS games. Since then, my fondest memories have almost always been associated with RTS games that require more dynamic tactics, the latest ones being the Men of War games. I can’t really stand the likes of SupCom or even Starcraft anymore.

    Similarly I can’t seem to be able to enjoy the modern “realistic” FPS games. Having gratuated from the speedier side of the genre (Quake-engine games), where the dynamics of fun were more important than head bob or “realistic” gun scatter, the unresponsiveness of the movement in modern FPS titles alone brings a lump of frustration to my throat.

    Merely arguing about one classic game being universally better that the other is not nearly as interesting as understanding some of the reasons for one’s own preferences. Btw. this should not be read as criticism for the article as such, but rather the conversation surrounding it.

    • bill says:

      I think you’ve nailed it. Paths through genres can have a huge impact on your opinions.
      Personally I loved Warcraft 2 (my first RTS) and then found every RTS i’ve tried since to be dull and repetetive (and essentially WC2 again) until i hit upon homeworld.
      And no FPSes will ever been Goldeneye, Jedi Knight and Future shock for me.

  46. John P says:

    Great to see Anachronox in there. It’s not an important game in the sense that it influenced anyone else (except simply creatively perhaps) but it is brilliant.

  47. MrMud says:

    Diablo 2 in hardcore mode is essentially a roguelike and thats pretty popular. I gather Diablo 3 will be as well.

  48. Teronfel says:

    This is the best list so far

    • whitebrice says:

      I agree, but I think we should keep that opinion to ourselves as it could hurt the other writers’ feelings.

  49. Guiscard says:

    StarCraft 2 was consolidation rather than innovation – it took StarCraft’s mission design and polished it to a tee. Though it would be nice to have a lot more sequels going the way of Half-Life to Half-Life 2, I think that’s perfectly acceptable when used with reasonable time gaps – over ten years in the case of StarCraft. Its when it gets to the Call of Duty level of feeding us a slightly more refined version Call of Duty 2 over and over again every year when it goes wrong.

    And ah, Far Cry 2. I was playing that for the first time over the last few weeks. Then it corrupted my only save game at the 54% mark. I was devestated.

  50. Mister_Inveigler says:

    If this gets anymore nostalgic, I’m going to start crying. The sheer weight of memories from some of these games are a little overwhelming.
    Haven’t played all of them, obviously, but remembering some of those moments…wow.
    Especially for Homeworld. I still remember those cutscenes and story.
    “They have found us…” *shiver*