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

By Kieron Gillen on February 18th, 2011 at 1:00 pm.

Lessons.
As a retired don in the great university of the bedroom, I wasn’t expecting to be aroused by Professor Rossignol. Later, I was also disturbed when he woke me up, demanding that I spout some waffle on the importance of some games none of the current faculty really felt able to talk about with confidence. Of course, with my famous arrogance, I felt confident to talk confidently about anything, and damn the fellow who says otherwise.

The rest of the faculty’s chosen games may be found here. Oh, and I see those Intel chaps sponsored the whole thing! They certainly do have a sense for the purposes of ballyhoo.

These games are very important. If they weren’t very important, they wouldn’t be on a list that has been passed to me to write about it. This is how you can tell. You don’t just let any game on a list. Magic stops it.

They are arranged in an order which I thought made some kind of narrative sense after I hammered this list out.

Guild Wars
RELEASE DATE: 2005
IMPORTANCENESS: Importantitudity.


Guild Wars is the game which freed the western mainstream industry from the ludicrous subscription dogma. Since it’s release, subs games like World of Warcraft crumbled and… yeah, it wasn’t like that. But Guild Wars did manage to find their own way, challenging pretty much every single one of those aforementioned dogmas in the always conservative MMO field, from the no-fee business, to the design to the purely technical. Things like the streaming client download are still impressive now. How its Magic-inspired character design brings decisions to the fore in a way which simply aren’t there that early in any other game in its area – selecting from your available abilities to a genuinely different builds between missions in a close-to-completely-fluid way is its cornerstone, though there’s lots more. It’s a formalist masterpiece, which leads to its weaknesses – in concentrating so much on the sensible choices it sacrifices some of the magical sense of otherness of visiting another world, which involves swallowing a whole load of nonsense created by the company of idiots for the moments of transcendence.

Guild Wars has also proved important in a singular way. It allows you to swiftly identify the dumbest of the fucks by them making “Oh – you can’t jump” jokes.

Further Reading: 4 Years On: Eric Flannum on Guild Wars.

Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss
RELEASE DATE: 1992
IMPORTANCENESS: The gentleman’s definition thereof.

Ultima!
It’s easy to play alternative histories. Looking Glass Studios working under their maiden name of Blue Sky Productions started here, and laid out their manifesto. It took Ion Storm a decade later to call it “The Immersive Sim”, but back then, they were just making games the way they thought games should work. This was a simulation-lead dungeon-based game, which sits at the head of a tree which gave us at least five of the solid-gold classics in these lists. Texture mapping, multi-level dungeons – all the good stuff started herein. And it was a success. For the time, on the PC, an enormous 500K one. And then Doom came along, and changed all the rules. I often think of Doom as the Christ figure in PC Gaming. In a real way, anything before it is Old Testament and everything after it is the new one. Which leaves Ultima Underworld as the John the Baptist figure – if John the Baptist was kind of literary and chin-stroking, and Jesus was more into masturbating over his mighty chaingun. The future of games started here, and then took a sharp turn right. As such, it’s the sort of game that makes a certain sort get all sniffly. We probably classify them as “The Older RPS Readers”.

See also: Ultima Underworld II: Labyrinth of Worlds.

Further Reading: Ken Levine on Ultima Underworld.

Terra Nova
RELEASE DATE: 1996
IMPORTANCENESS: Importantitilowity.


And, yeah, sometimes an awesome developer is even better than they get generally credit for. Putting aside the groundbreaking groundtexturing Flight Unlimited games, Terra Nova is the Looking Glass classic that tends to fall out of the conversation a little. If it’s important, it’s important for that reason. As in, occasionally the simple story of a developers’ brilliance is too simple. There’s buried treasure to be unearthed. Terra Nova is a sci-fi ground-based Fantasical-simulator, sitting somewhere between the Mechwarrior games and a more traditional FPS in approach. You could even, if you squint, see its squad-based unit-set-up be a fore-runner of the Hidden & Dangerous school of soldier-sims. The primary difference is that Terra Nova’s teams had jetpacks. You will never forget the Jetpacks, which makes me think of the book version of Starship Troopers. With its freeform find-your-own-solution levels, it was proof that the Looking Glass aesthetic could be applied to more than just men creeping around dark holes.

Sensible Soccer
RELEASE DATE: 1991
IMPORTANCENESS: Depends on where you were in the 1990s.


The flip of Terra Nova, in some ways. That’s a work of relatively small critical reputation from a brilliant developer. This is the only game which has any recognition at all from a similarly brilliant developer. In RPS’ widest remit – the one which believes PC=Personal Computer, hence covers everything back to the first 10 PRINT “KIERON IS COOL” 20 GOTO 10 – Sensible would define its part of the age as surely as Looking Glass defined its. Sensible Software were everything that was good and great about the Amiga. It really is that simple. And Sensible Soccer was their pop-crossover hit.

It’s a game about Foot To Ball. I didn’t really get foot-to-ball before playing it. I did afterwards. It’s crisp and funny and perfect, and is an important game in terms of thinking how you can approach a subject matter in many different ways, to different aesthetic effects.

Further Reading: Sensible Soccer, Foot-to-ball and me.

See Also: Kick off 2. If you’re WRONG IN THE HEAD.

Football Manager (“Championship Manager” up to the end of 2004)
RELEASE DATE: 2005 (1992)
IMPORTANCENESS: Directly Proportional To Your Foot-To-Ball love.


The 90s flip of Sensible Soccer, but proving the similar lesson – as in, you can look at the same inspiration and work out however many different games from it. Where Sensible Soccer thought of the player and the pure-platonic nature of how a game flows, Sports Interactive sat on the bench, and tried to make a universe out of numbers. It’s not a game that any of RPS truly loves – I drifted away from pure football sims after the brilliance of the original 1982 FM.

But that doesn’t mean we’re not stupid enough to see the fantasies it allows you to explore. Its mass of detail creates a sense of authenticity, adding verisimilitude to the frustrated football fan’s exploring of alternative dimensions where their team doesn’t suck quite as horrifically. And that’s a simplification – yes, there’s the “I WILL MAKE MY TEAM WIN!” aspect, but when I talk to FM fans, it’s as much about the more mundane triumphs. It’s a game which embraces both the glory and the grey, drizzle-coated 0-0 matches. It understands football in a different, but equally profound way, as Sensible Soccer.

Talking personally? For a game which we make affectionately mocking spreadsheet-based jokes about, I can’t help but remember that it’s the only game that a good chunk of my quote-unquote cool friends play at all. I mean, FFS: we got Gareth Los Campesinos! to review it for us in the last edition. This game has been part of several generations of British Male’s relationships with games and the game. You have to applaud it. It’s a game that entirely embodies a certain perspective of the football-fanatic

Further Reading: Gareth Campesinos! Reviews Football Manager 2011.

Company Of Heroes
RELEASE DATE: 2006
IMPORTANCENESS: Unforgettable.

Probably not a screenshot of the first one. AS IF I CARE! I DON'T WORK HERE ANY MORE! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAA. I am so lonely :(

We were all pretty burned out on WW2 RTS games by 2006. It took about half an hour with Company of Heroes to realise the error of that – we were just tired out with tired-out RTS games. And Company of Heroes, ideas were plain rampant. Putting aside its pummelling atmosphere, its genius was in turning traditional unit interactions into something that felt absolutely real. Positioning machine-guns to cover areas, so stopping head on assaults by infantry felt, so leading them to trying to outflank you, so leading you to try and protect the flanks leading to… well, from the individual, robust pieces a RTS which felt a lot like WW2 emerged. In some ways, you could say it’s the Sensible Soccer of WW2. It’s easy to argue this as the apex of the classical RTS from Relic’s hands – after this, they went a little less classical with DoW2. It’s almost as easy to argue this as the apex of classical RTS full stop.

Galactic Civilizations II
RELEASE DATE: 2006
IMPORTANCENESS: Company defining.


Basically, if RPS had a model of what we wanted (larger) PC developers to be like in our early years, there was a couple of candidates. One was Valve. The other – and more achievable example – was Stardock. You know – Pragmatically uncaring about piracy, rejecting DRM in favour of actually improving the after-release service to the people who do actually buy your game, altering budgets to serve a demographic rather than rejecting a genre as dead so serving a still game-hungry audience. That kind of thing. While the bloom’s off their rose a little after Demigod and Elemental, Galactic Civilization II remains their truest statement of intent. A sprawling child of Master of Orion and Ascendancy, this was hyper-smart and enormous, especially when you worked in the increasingly ambitious add-on packs. Get the complete pack, and you’ll be marvelling how Twilight of the Arnor customises each of the alien’s Civ-esque tech-trees to transform this mechanism into a storytelling device.

Further Reading: The only article with the “Slavery gets a bad press but has a lot going for it” tag.

Freespace 2
RELEASE DATE: 1999
IMPORTANCENESS: High, in a tragic way.


It killed a genre. That makes it pretty important, yeah?

Okay, that’s not really fair or even true, but it feels like it. Before Freespace 2, there was a regular turn-over in space-based slower-paced faux-authentic shooter games, stretching back to the codification of the genre with Origin’s Wing Commander. Afterwards, just Starlancer and a handful of games that are more derived from Elite in their shooty/tradey/explorey-ness. Now other games have been described as enormous failures – like the above Terra Nova – but Freespace 2 turned over less than 30K in the first six months on sale in the US. The genre was stone dead. Which makes its genre somewhat unusual – it’s a genre that ended with its absolute apex. Normally you get a peak, and a slow falling away of critical and consumer interest. Freespace 2 was simply the best space-fighter game the world has ever seen. And no-one tried to follow it.

I half suspect someone will be trying in the near future. Someone akin to Stardock in philosophy will turn their attention to it, as there’s a clear need there which could be filled. The odd thing is that it is being filled by its community. Since the code was released, the game’s being kept alive by a loving fanbase. Get a copy from GoG, load in the mods and take the fight to the sky beyond the skies.

Further Reading: +11-12 Years: Starcraft 2 Versus Freespace 2

Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings
RELEASE DATE: 1999
IMPORTANCENESS: Bigger than we ever admit.


If we’re really talking about Importance, we’re really giving credit for the first game which did the majority of the heavy lifting, both in terms of the actual game and of industry impact. For a game about history, you have to put it in the context of history. Microsoft had only recently stepped into making games. Their first wave were generally regarded as laughable (Two words: Microsoft Soccer). It’s only the pure blue-chip quality of Age of Empires which actually made Microsoft into a reputable publisher of software. People talk about Halo’s impact with the Xbox – and rightly so – but Age of Empires is the first moment you really knew Microsoft were a serious player (both in terms of quality as well as the never-doubted cash). As a game, it did nothing less than take Civilization and hit it into the side of the Warcraft/C&C-esque RTS. When we live in a world where we laugh at yet another WW2 RTS, it’s worth remembering what that actually means. Age was the first really successful RTS which had a quasi-realistic take on a realistic setting. Before it, it was all fantasy and Sci-fi. In a real way, Age of Empires was the Call of Duty of its genre. Not realistic, but thematically evocative of a real time and place, and so gaining a whole different sort of appeal.

This is all the original. We’ll say the second one, as it sold enormously and was just plain better. If you’re going to go back to one of the classic Age games, this is where we’d guide you.

See also: Rise of Nations.

Urban Chaos
RELEASE DATE: 1999
IMPORTANCENESS: As a historical quirk.


You may think this is an odd one. But I think that pendulous bulb you call a nose is an odd one, but I’m too polite to bring it up. Whatever could have been going through the current faculty of RPS’ mind when selecting Mucky Foot’s not-swan-song for listosity? Well, it’s one of those games which, on the quiet, managed to be ahead of its time. While Jim saw Syndicate’s importance fade as time went by, as I’ve previously argued, I consider it the direct forefather of the modern open world game – specifically, the living city aspect (married to the often salubrious tone of the game). Urban Chaos, created by Bullfrog veterans, is the missing link between Syndicate and Grand Theft Auto 3. Urban Chaos took Tomb Raider and put the acrobatic character deep in a living urban environment – plus pretty-elaborate hand-to-hand combat, shooting and driving. The setting was there. Only the level based structure had to be jettisoned, and the Open World renaissance could have started two years (and one console-format) earlier. Even without this, and somewhat iffy controls, it’s a quiet technical tour de force.

The second reasons is just its embracing of the culture, assuming that people were cool enough to deal with this sort of stuff now. Its lead, Darci Stern… well, there’s painfully few black leads in games. Even making a female lead still raises an eyebrow in some circles. And considering putting her in clothes is always going to create uproar in the fapp-ering classes. A fully dressed professional black-woman? Fucking lunacy. They did it anyway, because it shouldn’t be a big deal. And a decade on, I’m still sad Mucky Foot were wrong.

I’ll give you one more personal thing. When you left the blaring club scenes, they dropped the pounding music to a barely audible whisper, then slowly faded it back up as you ran away. It’s something that anyone who’s fell out of a club into the cold, quiet streets would recognise. And I’m always going to raise a glass to that.

Further Reading: Footprints: The Fall Of Mucky Foot.

Dwarf Fortress
RELEASE DATE: 2006 (Initial)
IMPORTANCENESS: If You Have To ASCII, You’ll Never Know.


Talking about Bullfrog…

Dwarf Fortress sits at the furthest tip of the development brought to the gaming mainstream by Bullfrog’s Populous. The indirect-control management/construction game, with an eye on physical simulation rules. Except Dwarf Fortress is that taken to simply ludicrous degrees. I’ve been known to compare Toady’s opus to Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past, in terms of monomanical devotion to a singular vision informed pretty much entirely by your own interests. Dwarf Fortress is the designer as God, trying to create a machine which creates universes from a seed of a number at a button-press.

Dwarf Fortress is important because it’s fucking insane. It’s important because it’s against every single rule the industry makes. It’s important because it shows that a designer/coder, if they choose to stay to their passions – even their most extreme passions – it’s just about possible you can find an audience. It proves that being sensible is a small master for small minds. I still have trouble believing that Dwarf Fortress even exists.

I do know their fans exist though, which is why I make an ASCII gag in the tagline, knowing it always gets their backs up. Yes, I know the real ANSI.

Further Reading: The Song Of Onionbog: Quinns’ Dwarf Fortress Diary.

In Memoriam
RELEASE DATE: 2003
IMPORTANCENESS: ALL ENCOMPASSING, SEZ US EGOTISTICALLY.


I’m not entirely sure RPS would exist without In Memoriam, but I’ll get to that.

In Memoriam is a French adventure. It basically brings some of the pleasures of the ARG to a classical point and click adventure. The set up is that someone has gone missing, and the police’s only clue is a CD-ROM thing. It’s full of puzzles, each of which unlocks the next step. They can’t decode it, so they’ve released it in hope that someone out there will be able to do it. Enter you. Now, so far so normal – its twist is that the puzzles often require you to use the web to find out information. The developers created a mass of fake sites hiding the information. Not knowing whether you are actually at a “real” site or one that’s part of the game added to the level of oddness. And, since it has your e-mail, receiving e-mails from your fellow hunters of – er – other people is a unique opportunity for chills. And chills they are – this was a genuinely scary game, in its own way.

(Also, kinda ruined when FAQs started to appear, which turned up when you searched for clues. I’m not sure if the game’s sites are still up, but if you play it, add something to your searches so it doesn’t go to any page with the words “In Memoriam” on, which should help maintain its atmosphere.)

Anyway – brilliant little game. Its UK Publisher – Ubisoft – clearly didn’t agree. They didn’t send any review copies out to anyone. Walker only ended up playing it because I commissioned him to write it as I grabbed it from the shops when trying to fill the pages on PC Gamer. And he comes back amazed – this is actually really fucking good. Except, being John, he probably didn’t swear. This lead to us shouting how good it was to other magazines, and getting it reviewed all over the place. We’d discovered a game, and brought it to people who wouldn’t know anything about it without us shouting about it. I realised that in my time at Gamer, I’d only ever really had a chance to do that twice – once with In Memoriam, and once with Uplink. Why didn’t we get to do this more? Wouldn’t be awesome to have a venue to do this more often?

It was the final puzzle that In Memoriam presented us, but we solved it eventually.

This feature has been kindly sponsored by:

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184 Comments »

  1. Optimaximal says:

    Right, does that mean RPS officially looked over Plants Vs. Zombies?

    • Groove says:

      This.

      What a shame.

    • Kaira- says:

      And also games X, Y, Z and many more. I could say a whole lot of things about some of the games included in the list (DA:O, Far Cry 2, ME2 etc etc), but I actually can’t come up with many games that I would have included instead. Stronghold, maybe. Age of Wonders/Masters of Magic. Arcanum, Broken Sword.
      Was Myst included, because I can’t remember?
      Edit:// fixed bad engrish
      Edit:2// Myst was not included. Don’t you people have souls?

    • DavidM says:

      No Kidding. I still play PvZ pretty often.

    • Optimaximal says:

      Jokes about ‘Insert game here’ aside, PvsZ was fairly heavily hyped by RPS as probably PopCap’s best game in the world ever.

      It’s been heavily cross-platformed & has even spawned a board game (which probably happened when a zombie bit a copy of Monopoly when it invaded someone’s house looking for brains).

      It seemed an almost shoe-in for someone to add it…

    • Alec Meer says:

      It was genuinely supposed to be included in an earlier part. There was an Excel-based mishap we’ve only just caught. I will be reinstating it soon.

    • djbriandamage says:

      Game Y?! You think Game Y belongs on the list? Herp derp!

      I love PvZ as well, though. Just as I shook off my horrible addiction, now the fantastic Nintendo DS version is out for $20. So once again I’m staying up past my bedtime, but at least I can play it in bed.

    • Groove says:

      Thank you Alec, my faith is restored.

      I believe this list is pretty much perfect after that. I mean, it’s not MY list, but everything essential rather than subjective is on there.

    • Wulf says:

      These are games that are solely important to the RPS chaps, not to the evolution of games, since it’s damn near impossible to say what was a revolution and what was an evolution, since our revolutions are always so small. We work in iteration, not originality, so all one can do is speak of games that they personally felt were important; but these games don’t have to be important to all of us, and I doubt that they are. We should all be aware that the nature of this list is very personal to the RPS blokes.

      For example – I’d consider Uru: Ages Beyond Myst as a very important game to me, as it showed me how truly alien worlds could be constructed. Uru felt alien, in a way that other games have barely even begun to touch, the only other that might have come close is Ryzom, but even that doesn’t have the same soul to the world that Uru did. Uru presented me with so many memories of things I saw for the first time, and these were things of incredible wonder. And it showed how you could help bring a game to life with books, even within a game.

      As an example of something that made Uru important to me, I recall in Teledahn that there was one person from the DRC who’d spotted a massive creature that caught his imagination. So much so that he’d done art of it, trying to capture its likeness, he wrote of this creature fondly, and I had to see it. This is something in Uru that you don’t have to do, it’s entirely optional and can be skipped over entirely. But I went about repairing the systems that would allow and entice these creatures to return. It did, and I saw it, if only for a moment. And in my mind it was magnificent… it was because the writing of that man had inspired me, and I enjoyed the experience vicariously.

      How many games have done that? Can you recall a game that’s had you run around chasing another’s dreams? Even one? I don’t mean chasing the dreams of the character you’re playing, but actually being yourself, being exposed to the aspirations and passions of another, and being affected by it on such a deep level that you’ve wanted to chase after them. Can you think of an instance of that outside of Uru? I can’t. And that’s why Uru is important to me, and it wasn’t the only time that Uru had me chasing dreams. This was the passion that Cyan had for their worlds, which came through in the writing of their books – both by the DRC and from other sources.

      Mask of the Betrayer was important because it played me like an emotional fiddle, it give me characters that I could fall in love with easily, and I did, with a number of them, and they suffered, and it gave me the means with which to see them all better, to see the world better. It was dark, but much like I said about Fallout 2, there was an overriding sense of hope if you played it the more ethical way. But those characters and their plights got inside my head, I felt with them, I laughed with them, and I felt their pains with them. That was a testament to Obsidian’s writing at the time.

      This was more true of Okku and Gannyev than anyone, and whomever wrote those two deserves some kid of award, and more than anything I wanted to set their world right – for them. Again, this was an instance where I was motivated emotionally. Few games do that. They motivate you with fun, with intrigue, but rarely with awe, wonder, ethics, empathy, and compassion, they don’t compel or ensorcel in the way that Mask of the Betrayer and Uru did. So those games were incredibly important to me because of how compelled I felt by them.

      I’ve found a fair few films that have managed to make me feel, the same can be said of books, but in games this is a rare thing. You can’t expect to become emotionally invested in ‘go there and blow this up‘ can you? And that’s why I loved those games, they were poems, they were art, and if you’d let them, they’d speak to you in ways that few other games could. You could lose yourself in them for a time and care so much for this fictional world that the real one would fade away around you. You could care about the future of these places, of these people, and what might become of it/them all.

      Another game that was important to me was Drakan. Why? A simple thing – it was a dragon game with proper flight controls. This is an idea that I’m hoping some indie studio will pick up on again eventually, since I could play a game like that just for the aerial acrobatics of it. The thing is is that you can watch a film with dragons that fly in it, for example, but the things that they can do you cna’t do in similar games. To air a thought, Ego Draconis was really nice, I enjoyed it, and I think that Dominic White was 100% right about it being a sleeper hit, but again the dragon flight was watered down. As brilliant as that game was, it could’ve been better.

      Flying planes is fun, but for me, flying a giant leathery beast that couldn’t possibly exist is even more fun, and if you allow it to do the same sorts of things that one might be able to do in a plane, then you have a game that I could lose weeks to, just faffing around in the air and figuring out just how many known aerial acrobatic maneuvers I could pull off. An immelman? Can I do that as a dragon? How about a cuban eight? And so on. I realise this wouldn’t be great for many games with accessibility concerns in mind, but oh my gosh how fun it would be. I’m even a bit disappointed at CO that the range of movement in the air is locked, and if they ever provided a C-Store item to open that up (for those who wanted it), then I’d buy it in an instant. I might have to suggest that on the forums.

      And if we’re talking about recent games, then I’d even like to cite Champions Online as something that’s important to me, because it allows me to do whatever I want and to have fun with it. I can literally imagine anything and realise that fully. I’ve done homages to characters, completely original things, and I’ve even used characters as statements. In fact, one of my favourite characters was borne of some nonsense going on in the Champions Online community about how much they hate mysticism and how it should be removed from the game, how mysticism is an affront to god, how CO doesn’t portray demons as evil and all that.

      So I ended up tossing together a character for fun that was a demonspawn created by an entirely eccentric Qliphotic demonic wolf-thing that was perhaps very eccentric but also entirely ethical, so much so that he’d put the so-called divines to shame, not to mention that he was a creature that was so all-encompassing that his knowledge covered magicks and technology, giving him a mastery over both, and that some technological innovations were borne of his magicks in that world – and without his magicks powering them, they’d just disappear from that world. And I had a character sired by him that considered magicks and the physical sciences as just different schools of learning, as they are in that Universe. Not to mention that, as a spawn, he shared the ethics of his Qliphotic sire. And eventually he became one of my favourite characters.

      That was just me venting with alts, because I can do that with Champions Online – I can put together any sort of creation I can imagine, so long as it’s bipedal. No matter what it’s borne of, what era, whether it’s mythological or of science, whether it’s bestial or human, whether it’s alien or extradimensional, it doesn’t matter. The only limits are one’s own imagination, and the only reason to hate the character creator of CO would be because the person in question is unimaginative.

      (And I imagine that there are a few such people out there, despite the huge numbers of folks returning to CO from DC UO and telling us over and over on the forums how incredibly limited that game is, in just about every way. And I kept seeing that myself. Roll boring, generic tights-character with a limited cretor that apes a DC hero, then mash buttons. Great game, SOE. Sorry for the segue, I’ll get back on topic.)

      Another reason I dig Champions Online is because lately I feel that gaming has its head so far up its arse that it’s forgotten how to be joyously silly. CO is cheesy, it’s a bit of fun, sometimes it’s just ridiculous, it can be edgy but it’s that special kind of edgy that I love, as I’ve covered, where it is rather morally ambiguous, and yet it isn’t all that dark at all because there’s just a silliness running through even that. It’s a game that’ll get you to smile and laugh, whether it’s fighting the smarties-coloured COBRA rip-off of VIPER, taking on the West World parody of Snake Gulch, or battling your very own, personally created Nemesis.

      Champions Online reminds me very specifically of the silver age of comics, and as a comics fan, I have to say that that was my personal favourite. It was a time when comics had evolved from the golden age and had learned to be more than black & white, bringing in shades of grey and moral ambiguity, but at the same time, never having forgotten what it means to be fantastic, amazing, and sometimes even silly just for the sake of it. That’s CO to a tee. I think it’s important because, once again, it makes us feel. CO reminds me of old adventure games in that there’s a lot that just makes me laugh. And unlike some current day games, I’m laughing with them.

      There’s a lot of freedom of imagination in CO. It’s quite unbounded. And I think that Cryptic might have some of the best people ever working for them. (Do note that that’s a parody thread, and not at all serious.)

      And there are four of my personal favurites and why they’re important to me, they’re about as important to me as anything RPS has listed that’s important to them. That’s why these things are subjective, because we all have different values, and we’ll all see how different games could’ve taken the industry in other directions entirely. Directions that would’ve made more of the sort of games that we enjoy, evolving them over time toward the most perfect realisation of the ideals those games uphold. My games are just as important as anyone’s, because we’ll all have these games, and they’ll be some of the most important games the industry has to offer.

      Or they’ll just be special to us. Which is the real truth of things.

    • Urael says:

      Agreed.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      Plants vs. Zombies is actually in World of Warcraft, so it was sortof in already.

      http://www.wowhead.com/quest=28733

    • Turbobutts says:

      What is there even to include about Plants Vs. Zombies? It’s nicely illustrated, sure, but it’s nothing more than your average tower defense game.

  2. McDan says:

    Those first two sentences, RPS gold.

  3. Ertard says:

    I didn’t care for Guild Wars much. Playing through the story was allright I guess, even if it wasn’t excellent. I’m really, really looking forward to Guild Wars 2 however, seems to be brilliant and will quite possibly ever so casually jump miles above the bar of standard Cataclysm set. The active combat and dynamic quests, if that’s how it is throughout the game, will most assuringly shake up the traditional MMO. Which I guess the original sort of did, seeing as it’s featured, even if it might just have been the subscription part.
    And boy, wouldn’t it be just swell with an amazing Freespace 3? Miss my time with Freespace 2.

    • djbriandamage says:

      One thing about Guild Wars that is so brilliant versus similar games is that you reach the maximum level cap very early on. This means that, unlike WoW for example, 90% of the game is perfectly playable and challenging once your character is at its apex. This makes for enormous replayability, and if you played while the game was still new and active you could find oodles of other players to join you anywhere you felt like playing.

      I still argue today, even now that I am a voracious WoW player, that in WoW if you come across a quest you can’t beat you can try it again once you’ve gained a level or two, but in GW you must adjust and improve your strategy because that quest ain’t getting any easier.

    • malkav11 says:

      Something ArenaNet seems not to have noticed, as Guild Wars 2 is going to have a massive level cap.

  4. mechtroid says:

    Guild Wars doesn’t deserve to be on the list– You can’t jump!

    • mechtroid says:

      Also, patiently waiting for GalCiv 3. And hopefully another War Diary from Tom Francis to go with it.

    • Kaira- says:

      Why is it that every game must have a jump button? It just eats me that in every MMORPG ever people, they don’t walk from place A to place B, they JUMP all the way from A to B. Like rabbits. It drives me insane.

    • Nick says:

      I think it was a joke.

      I hope it was a joke.

    • Squirrelfanatic says:

      Sarcasm aside, I am happy to see GW on this last part of the list. One thing that makes it stand out from a whole lot of other MMOs and one that is often overlooked is it’s PvP part. Skill balancing adjustments are still taking place, resulting in a very lively meta game.

      Considering PvE: The story telling might be not its biggest strength, but both character and landscape design on their own can make you forget about that in an instant. GW (Prophecies) is the only game I know that has a tutorial stage so lovely that it has inspired an own fan base.

      One final thing that in my eyes made GW special is the astonishing lack of (forced) grind. The leveling pace is really well adjusted and you can get maxed out gear in very little time. And for those who feel compelled to see little bars ticking upwards, there are always those last titles to finish.

    • Ian says:

      I jump everywhere in real life, too. Except for when I see crates, I smash or crouch behind those.

    • McDan says:

      Much agreement with the guy who wrote a bunch of stuff about GW, it really did bring a new-ish flavour to MMO’s and not just with the no fee to play thing. Glad to see it’s inclusion.

    • Xercies says:

      One of the funniest things i ever saw in PC Gamer was the review of Guild Wars Nightfall and one of the negative aspects was “Its not Mario”

    • mechtroid says:

      Yes, men, calm your nerves. It was a joke. Jump buttons are no more a sign of a good game than meat is a sign of a good meal.

    • djbriandamage says:

      I whack crates in real life as well, but one time I whacked a red barrel and now my brain doesn’t hamster paprika hippodrome so good anymore.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      There was a good reason for not being able to jump in Guild Wars. Guild Wars isn’t a world, it’s a setting. The open areas are quite small and some parts are more like linear first person shooters than an MMO. Take the slum city from Factions (Kaineng, was it?). Thousands upon thousands of huts, and not one that you could actually enter. What does this have to do with jumping? Jumping allows players to move up and over things. If they’d allowed jumping, players would be exploiting, trying to find ways behind or under textures everywhere and ArenaNet would have to spend many man hours finding and fixing those exploits. Not allowing jumping is just one of the things that allowed ArenaNet to be slim and nimble and make their unique setup work.

      It symbolises both what is great about Guild Wars and what its limitations are, I think that’s why that simple little thing reverberates so much.

    • djbriandamage says:

      @Dances
      I’d argue that you can’t jump in Guild Wars because you don’t need to. You can get everywhere you need to go by either running directly or clicking on the ground to have it automatically find a path to that point. It’s not like Doom where in order to climb a 3-foot-high ledge you need to take a 3-mile detour through the zombie flats.

      And the game isn’t as linear as you remember. The story missions tend to be quite linear but between missions are enormous explorable areas each with many quests that you can do in any order. Guild Wars is honestly every bit as open as WoW but GW has loading screens whereas WoW has long curvy corridors you must surpass slowly while the level loads in the background out of sight.

      The other thing that makes GW seem small is the ability to fast travel. In WoW you’d run for 15 minutes but in GW you can just skip to the part where you club monsters with your friends. Neither is better – it’s just a design decision.

  5. Bodminzer says:

    SWIV 3D. SWIV 3D is the most important game ever made. That is the answer.

  6. ChaosSmurf says:

    StarLancer was really good though. Honest. ;_;

  7. The Sombrero Kid says:

    so glad Terra Nova got a look in, wasn’t expecting that.

  8. Hoaxfish says:

    5/5 … now we can properly complain about “where is game X/Y/Z!!!”

    The thing I really liked about Guild Wars, which is still sorely lacking from many other newer games, is the clarity and consistency of the mechanics. Like M:tG, the small set of keywords used for range, specific effects, specific groups of skills, who it effects, etc, all placed in “natural language” sentences really meant you could understand the basics of any of the 1000+ skills whether they were your own, your enemy’s, etc … and it left you free to play rather than check the associated wiki etc…

    Then they actually added an official wiki (the first instance I was aware of for a game company doing, at least one that was open to the players to both read and edit)… and built ingame support for it.

    The real question for “no jump!?” people is… how high? Unless they’ve mastered the art of a standing leap 5ft in the air, while wearing heavy armour, most people wouldn’t be jumping around in the middle of a sword fight anyway… well, except the assassin character whose moves included literally jumping on people.

  9. MrMud says:

    Freespace 2 Is clearly one of the best games ever made and with the the souped up modified source version it is still as fantastic today as it was in 1999.

  10. daphne says:

    The last, and the best. Thank you for dedicating a few words to FS2, and recognizing the unassuming energy field that is DF.

    Now waiting for an explanation of how there appears to be absolutely no overlapping of games between the five lists whatsoever. While I don’t question the authenticity of the authors’ commentary, it does seem to imply that all of these five lists were basically “engineered” rather than, I don’t know, totally naturally (I suck with words) picked.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      They said the 5 articles count as a single list… so I think it’s a bit obvious why they wouldn’t list something twice

    • DiamondDog says:

      There’s no overlapping because they made the list then divided it up between them.

    • daphne says:

      Well yes, they did say that, but there could have been differing opinions from each author (that lists the game) on what they thought rendered a certain game particularly important. Would have been interesting from a comparative perspective.

  11. Wizardry says:

    No Wizardry makes me sad. No room for a single turn-based RPG where you control more than a single guy (Fallout).

    At least Ultima Underworld gets a mention, which is a fantastic game. But then again that’s real-time and single character.

  12. Om says:

    Champ got a mention! I can now die a happy death. Possibly due to a heart attack when my Huddersfield Town take Barcelona to penalties in a Champion’s League final

    • mrjackspade says:

      If that ever happens I think I’ll get a stroke and a heart attack at the same time while my intestines slowly digest my liver and my testicles self destruct.

  13. mrjackspade says:

    I’m intrigued – was this list given to RPS by the sponsors, or did the sponsors say to RPS ‘make us a list’!

    • SimonHawthorne says:

      Hold on…all of these games can be played on a PC with an Intel processor!
      COINCIDENCE?! I THINK NOT!!!

    • Groove says:

      We’re looking through the looking glass here, people.

      Specifically, looking through the looking glass at the history of Looking Glass.

      Coincidence!? I think NOT!

  14. Colthor says:

    It would be interesting if Tim Stone did a part 6/5 about simulations. They’re a pretty important part of PC gaming, but also quite a different animal to “normal games”, which I guess is why they’ve not really been represented in the list so far.

    Oh, and I’d completely forgotten about the jetpacks in Terra Nova.

  15. StingingVelvet says:

    Ah, I miss KG’s writing.

  16. afarrell says:

    Wot no Tachyon: The Fringe? :)

  17. Teronfel says:

    Football Manager yeaaaaaaaaaaah!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  18. derella says:

    I can’t believe I forgot about StarTopia — I loved that game!

  19. Mazzwar says:

    I think so. I played it last year and the sites where still up. Note that you have to get the 1.2 patch as ubi changed servers at some point and so the 1.0 game can’t log in.

  20. MadTinkerer says:

    So no Deu- Nevermind, I’m not going to do that gag again.

    Rather: ULTIMA UNDERWORLD!!!! YES!!!

    I do indeed get sniffy over this, though I vastly prefer Ultima Underworld II… Mostly because I didn’t get to play 1 until years after I had played 2.

    • djbriandamage says:

      Are you my blueprints?

      Ultima Underworld absolutely rules. I think this is my #1 game-needing-a-remake wish of all time. I replay my old DOS favourites frequently but the control scheme in these games is just prohibitively painful in a post-WASD world.

      The action, the dialogue, the physics, the textures and design.. it’s all gold. These are not games; they’re worlds.

    • Urthman says:

      Minecraft gives me Ultima Underworld flashbacks more than any other game has. That’s a significant part of why I love it so.

  21. JackShandy says:

    So if I play all of these games RPS hires me, yeah?

  22. Mr Pink says:

    Wow, it’s really interesting that In Memoriam was so formative for RPS. I remember at the time it came out that I met John a few times, as he was friends with some of my housemates in Bristol. Since I was the only PC gamer in the house we’d chat about what he’d been reviewing, and I recall him raving to me about In Memoriam. He was right, it’s a gem of a game. So yeah, thanks for that John :)

  23. AbyssUK says:

    Did the RPS engine decide on a early 90′s/ 80′s addendum or not ? Because your list feels empty to me without the greats of Alley Cat , microsoft flight sim , Berlin:1948 and Links Golf (World Class leader board). “I think it hit the tree Jim”
    Yes we had a PC in the late 80′s… yes I know all the cool people had amstrads and C64′s…screw you.
    Edit: We also had a colour plotter! for pie charts.. awesome

  24. Ankheg says:

    Kieron FTW!!! :D
    Thank you all RPS guys for this 5-part list. It was really nostalgic and felt quite good to read about all this games of past :)

  25. westyfield says:

    Medal of Honour: Allied Assault?

  26. Jake says:

    I wonder if Company of Heroes is not included because Dawn of War is, or if it is not important enough in the grand scheme of things. It just seems conspicuous by it’s absence to me, although of course that’s just my opinion. If I ever make my own list I’ll also include Carmageddon (I am not going to make my own list).

    Did Cannon Fodder not get Sensible any recognition? I was too busy playing Sensible Soccer to notice, but I thought it might have been a success.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Check back in an hour for CoH.

      KG

    • Ginger Yellow says:

      Yeah, I was going to mention Cannon Fodder. Outside the UK, it’s probably what Sensible is most famous for. And it’s probably in most people’s top 10 Amiga/ST games. Megalomania was pretty awesome too.

    • Shazbut says:

      I haven’t played the original but Carmageddon 2 was surely a work of art. I played the demo almost every day for more than a year when it first came out. Best sandbox game that I know of.

    • Jake says:

      Yeah Carmageddon 2 was a lot better. I was trying to think what game invented the 3D sandbox driving/fighting genre (I love that genre!) and I guess it wasn’t Carmageddon – maybe Quarantine? It was basically Doom meets GTA. I suppose this led to Destruction Derby, the Twisted Metal series, and possibly the Burnouts. Well, Carmageddon 2 was a favourite of mine at least even if it wasn’t especially important.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      And CoH added!

      (Cannon Fodder I love, but is less of a screaming oversight in a PC-centric list)

      KG

  27. bill says:

    There are of course many games i’d have included that aren’t on the list, and many i haven’t played that are. But that’s the nature of such things.

    Overall, it was an interesting and nostalgic look over some great games… a few of which i must now set out to try!

    As someone said, the thing about games is that it’s not just your personal taste that comes into play, but the point at which you first intersected with a genre and how that impacted you. Many gamers took totally different routes through gaming and genres, and so came out with different impressions. It’s even more noticeable now that there’s several generations of gamers.

    Sometimes going back doesn’t work. I loved system shock, but i can’t go back to ultima underworld as i missed it at the time. Yet i encountered RTS early at Dune 2 and Warcraft 2, and then felt no need to play any other RTS until homeworld as they were all the same.

    Few missed gems:
    - Prince of persia (original 2d one)
    - Fate of Atlantis (that wasn’t on here right?)
    - Scorched Earth (spent to long on this. actually, spent most of my youth on shareware games..)
    - Terminator: Future shock & skynet. (first proper 3d FPS games)
    - Xenon 2 (came from amiga, but first decent scrolling on the pc)
    - Interstate 76 (because it’s 70s mad max and awesome!)
    - Alone in the dark (first survival horror!)
    - Jedi Knight, Tomb Raider 1&2 (because they should be on here too)
    - Bioforge (first properly cinematic game)

    and also, why do people keep saying Freespace 2 is better than Tie Fighter? This is not only clearly impossible, it’s also blasphemy!

    • juandemarco says:

      I do indeed miss Alone in the Dark (the original), Prince of Persia (the original), Gabriel Knight, Myst (even though I’m not a fan, the game has overwhelming importance), Fate of Atlantis and King’s Quest. They could have been listed in place of some games than, in my opinion, didn’t really leave a trace. There are a lot of very recent games in this list, but those are games that no one will remember in a couple of years. I don’t remember, was The Witcher in here? Was The Lost Vikings important? I’m getting dizzy.

    • bill says:

      Those games will be remembered by the people who they made an impression on. Which probably means the people who encountered something for the first time via that game.
      (for example the story about the guy who played only FPS console games and thought Fallout3 was the best game ever because it was the first time he’d encountered RPG elements.) (or conversely, the way i never got the fuss about Worms, as i’d played scorched earth).

      It’s hard to say what’s important and what will still be remembered in years to come. It comes down to luck, fate, fame and what people do next. And personal taste.

  28. Kdansky says:

    Missing from the list (or I have missed them?):
    - Myst. I am not the greatest fan, but it is a game with importancedness.
    - Ultima Online: Founded the MM in MMORPG. Was pretty bad-ass to boot.
    - Alone in the Dark? Prince of Persia? Hearts?

    On the list but actually not really defining:
    - Mass Effect (What will we remember? “Sci-Fi RPG by the guys who made Baldur’s Gate”)
    - Dragon Age (What will we remember? “Fantasy RPG by the guys who made Baldur’s Gate/ME”)
    - Bioshock. It’s like SS2, except a lot worse.
    - Spelunky. I love it, but really?
    - Darwinia. Again, I loved it, but really?
    - Stalker. I know RPS loves it to death, and I bought it during a Steam sale and am playing it now. I have yet to see what’s good about it.
    Not bad, RPS, not bad at all.

    • Stevostin says:

      Agreed on UO and AITD. About S.T.A.L.K.E.R, well you see it or don’t see it, but there are plenty of people who see it and not only on RPS. I think we don’t need to have a huge love for every game on this list to agree they’re landmark. I never really digged Syndicate for instance but there’s no question in my mind about its place in the list.

    • Kdansky says:

      With Stalker, I’m just not sure. I don’t see the greatness, but I do not even dislike it. Perhaps it will elude me, perhaps I will understand when I’ve played it through.

      But yeah, UO + Myst.

    • Kaira- says:

      I feel really sad that Myst wasn’t included. I guess I must go read a book or something to chase this feeling away.

    • bill says:

      Bioshock deserves to be on the list. Darwinia too.
      Bioware RPGs all seem a little too similar to me… so i’d stick with Kotor 1.

    • Urael says:

      I agree Spelunky was nothing special to anyone but I’ll defend Darwinia with testicle-shredding intensity.

      *pops claws*

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      Agreed that Darwinia deserves to be there. It’s the first ‘big’ indie game. It proved that you could create a AAA look with no-budget graphics. It… well, everything that the list said.

  29. Berto says:

    Oh… where is The Last Express and Gabriel Knight? I’m sad :(

    • Shazbut says:

      I find the absence of Last Express sad, not because I think it should have been included, but because it’s absence is pretty justifiable considering the state of the software market.

  30. Dave says:

    “Dwarf Fortress is important because it’s fucking insane.”

  31. Artist says:

    Regarding Dwarf Fortess Ive missed that you mention the outstanding unique business model of releasing a game as freeware and make a fulltime job just from the monthly donations! Go Tarn, go!

  32. Stevostin says:

    Some stuff missing (well, how could it be any other way ? it’s a list) but all in all, this is really close to “the” list.

    It’s time for some stat porn. I counted 114 game listed. On those games I have no experience at all (except ofter reading reviews) on 36 games(~32%). I played or watched someone play 78 games (~68%). Amongst those I personnally finished / played intensively 50 games (~44%).

    Mum, I am a PC gamer.

  33. Web Cole says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    Dwarf Fortress was all I wanted ; )

  34. toastmodernist says:

    Really don’t think ‘missed’/'missing’. covers things intentionally not included in a finite list of five peoples list of games.
    More like here’s a game i would have included if i made a similar list.

  35. Artist says:

    Btw, was Spore mentioned as bad example, hehe?

  36. djbriandamage says:

    I try not to complain about games missing from top-X lists, but I do find it odd that Lucasarts adventures are so fondly remembered while Sierra adventures fall by the wayside. I’m not saying Sierra is better, but they were every bit as good and their lifelong dedication to adventure games deserves posterity. I want Generation Z to be aware of Sierra games.

    I guess I should have written this under John’s post but I was hoping someone would give Sierra a little love by the list’s conclusion.

    • bill says:

      Maybe they don’t have the same nostalgia factor?
      Personally I don’t remember any Sierra adventure games being that good. But then I was never a big adventure game fan. However I found that the lucasarts games often had enough charm/style to overcome my dislike. Seirra ones not so much…

    • Shazbut says:

      I know that the remake of King’s Quest 2 was bloody tremendous. How faithful is it to the original?

    • I_have_no_nose_but_I_must_sneeze says:

      I’m with you on that one. Sierra’s games are generally less accessible than Lucas Arts’ adventures, and a lot of them suffer from terrible design issues (King’s Quest series, I’m glaring at you), but there are some wonderful games bearing the Sierra label. Gabriel Knight, in particular, is a masterpiece.

    • djbriandamage says:

      My guess is that people get turned off by adventure games where you can die. Sierra was notorious for these, and they even made some games where if you missed picking something up you’d have to restore an earlier save.

      But even amongst those games there are many gems, and the studio only got better and better at their craft.

      And as for games not being as memorable, come on! Leisure Suit Larry and Gabriel Knight come to mind most readily, and I have very fond memories of Space Quest, Police Quest, the Laura Bow mysteries, and the Quest For Glory series to name just a few.

      I really do wonder whether Lucasarts is remembered more prominently just because of the media attention. Back in the day I’d always considered Sierra synonymous with adventure gaming, and Lucasarts was a prolific games studio that did a few adventures as well.

    • bill says:

      I think some games have appeal within their genres, and some have appeal that extends outside their genres. Maybe seirra games are the first type, and accessible lucasarts games are the second type.

  37. Afro says:

    Jesus I got maudlin seeing Ultima Underworld(& 2) on this list.
    I can´t really remember another RPG giving me the same sense of immersion as when running around in that labyrinth fighting, surviving and exploring. I wonder if it was just because I was a kid back then.

  38. Feet says:

    At some point I’m going to have to go through the 5 parts of the list and where available or possible, purchase the games I’ve never played. I’ve played most of them, but there’s still a sizable chunk missing from my gaming .

  39. 8-bit says:

    Dwarf fortress is the only game I have ever played that has made me feel so ill I had to stop playing after half an hour, I think that kind of makes it important and if not that it certainly makes it unique.

  40. Berzee says:

    Urban Chaos! After seeing some of the other games, I was trying to remember the demo I played about a police lady or something…?…and you reminded me what it was!

    Also,
    Age of Kings. yes. :) The best!
    (Did I mention I wrote a tutorial scenario for that game that got over 1,000 downloads? Of course I did. It’s one of my proudest moments.)

    • DrGonzo says:

      I had completely forgotten about Urban Chaos. Anyone know if you can still pick it up and play it on a modern OS?

    • Gonefornow says:

      Urban Chaos is a gem.
      A genuinely atmospheric and stylish little game. I recommend it to everyone.

      @DrGonzo Well, I got it running on XP, if you consider that modern.
      (I skipped Vista. I might as well skip 7 too.)

    • leeder krenon says:

      urban chaos is one of those games where i felt i might be the actual only person to have enjoyed it. glad to see this was not the case.

    • Flakfizer says:

      I see Urban Chaos get a well deserved mention and think ‘time for a replay’. Open the box to discover the disk is missing and vaguley remember loaning it to someone years ago :(

    • Arathain says:

      I think this part of this thread is a reunion of the only people who have played Urban Chaos. It was lovely, wasn’t it? I thought the melee combat was really quite clever, especially at encouraging you to go for risky handcuffings.

  41. Mechorpheus says:

    The only game I can’t recall seeing on any part of the list I feel maybe should have gone on there is Crysis. I agree it was more Far Cry with a bigger budget, but rather effectively said ‘Graphics maketh not the game, but look at THESE graphics!’. The fact it was damned fun to play (at least until the aliens showed up) mean it should be included in the list.

    I feel that Mr Smith should feel shame for including bloody FarCry 2 and not including this!

  42. itsallcrap says:

    Well, having seen all five fifths of this saga, I’d say I agree with John’s choices more than anyone else’s.
    I don’t what what Quintin was on about, the only one of his games I thought was properly important (as opposed to just good) was Civ II.
    I hereby invite a fat, sweaty horde of Internet men to argue with me. Come on, it’s Friday afternoon – you’re obviously not doing any work.

    • Mechorpheus says:

      Come on, everyone knows everything on this list pales into insignificance compared to the might of Rogue Warrior! Fear the 2 hours of Mickey Rourke sweaing!

      In all seriousness, maybe a followup post is in order, ‘Games which aren’t important but jolly interesting and/or important and/or hilariously broken.’ A list tailor made for things like Boiling Point, or Soldner (unpatched naturally).

    • DrGonzo says:

      That sounds like you are suggesting the Baldur’s Gate series and System Shock 2 aren’t important?

      If that is the case, get out!

    • itsallcrap says:

      Well… yeah. I mean, even Quintin him self gives those two importanceness ratings of ‘maybe’ and ‘moderate’, respectively. Maybe gaming just hasn’t been genuinely changed enough times to fill out five articles with games that really made a difference to what everyone else was doing.

      And yeah, I loved that article about six months back where a couple of the RPS chaps waffled on about weird things that happened to them in Soldner. More of that.

      Man, I’m rubbish at arguing aren’t I? This isn’t conducive to heated debate at all.

      So anyway, UT was more fun than Quake 3.
      *Dives behind sandbag barricade*

    • Wulf says:

      Controversial as it might be, the Baldur’s Gate series wasn’t too important to me, either.

      Fallout (2 especially) was important, Planescape: Torment was important, and Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magicks Obscura was important, but that’s because I felt that they all pushed the envelope in some way. Whereas Baldur’s Gate was as fairly typical as any fantasy game that was out at the time.

      Don’t get me wrong, they were great games, I just don’t feel that from a personal perspective that they were important games. I think the others I mentioned were far more so, at the time. Baldur’s Gate (and II) were exceedingly safe games, they didn’t exactly test any boundaries or do anything particularly new and/or unusual.

      Saying Baldur’s Gate was important is a bit like saying that Super Mario World was important. In that case, it was a nice game, but it was only the tiniest of iterations over Super Mario Bros 3, and in some ways it was actually a step back. It was a good game, I just don’t classify it as something that changed my view of what that genre could accomplish.

    • Wizardry says:

      Well sure, Baldur’s Gate wasn’t that important. But if you’re going to remove it from the list then at the very least replace it with something that strengthened the fundamentals of an RPG such as Pool of Radiance (1988). Baldur’s Gate was just a typical D&D RPG translated into a real-time-with-pause engine with extra dialogue.

      Ignoring Arcanum for the fact that it didn’t do much more than Fallout, PS:T showed that a story focus in an RPG can work while Fallout showed that littering a game with consequences makes your actions seem more important. On the downside, PS:T made shitty combat excusable in an RPG, while Fallout scrapped party control. Therefore, scrapping Baldur’s Gate and not replacing it with Pool of Radiance will leave a gaping hole in the more traditional party combat focused RPG that to this day makes up the vast majority of the genre, from the Wizardry series through to the Might & Magic series, the GoldBox D&D games through to the Icewind Dales and Temple of Elemental Evil.

      But yes, I agree with you that Baldur’s Gate shouldn’t be on the list. It may have rejuvenated the party RPG for a while, but it didn’t do anything fundamentally new. It was merely a watered down GoldBox game with fantastic graphics that accidentally spawned the BioWare romance simulator genre, a genre that is very popular today.

    • Lilliput King says:

      Guess you’re right there Wulf. Baldur’s Gate 1+2 are both pretty important to me personally, but not in the general scheme of things. I’d probably say the same of Planescape, though. It’s gaming at its finest, and I wish its own peculiar genre of adventure/rpg/conversation/philosophy/art had caught on, but it hasn’t.

      I’d say the thing closest to carrying on its spirit is the Void, which really deserved a place on the list of its own.

    • Gassalasca says:

      Well… I kinda disagree. While BG 1&2 are not very important to me on a personal level, I’d argue the first one was in the great scheme of things. It brought RPGs out from the stupor and rut they were in back then, and did it in a fresh way (compared to what was out in the mid nineties). It was big, it was AD&D, it was isometric, it was polished. And it single-handedly launched a kind of an RPG reneissance that brought us, if nothing else, Torment, Icewind Dales and of course the BG sequel. It was to late 90s/early 00s what KotOR was to mid-to-late noughties.

  43. Buemba says:

    So no Solitaire?

    Sure, one could argue that it’s merely a PC port of a pre-existing game, but the same could be said of Burnout Paradise, Psychonauts or GTA IV.

    • DrGonzo says:

      Yeah, I didn’t think Burnout or GTA 4 should really have been in the list. And yes, you could argue that even Psychonauts shouldn’t be in there.

      But w/e. It’s not a list of MY most important games.

  44. John P says:

    Really interesting entry to the list. Nice explanations of their importance. I remember playing the demo of Urban Chaos and thinking there was something about it.

    While on the subject of open world games, one game that seems important in their evolution is Midtown Madness, made by what’s now Rockstar San Diego.

  45. Inconnu says:

    This is clearly the worst of the five lists, saved only by including Dwarf Fortress which just had a new release!

  46. RC-1290'Dreadnought' says:

    I miss the Gillen…

  47. Drakhoran says:

    Yay for Urban Chaos. I realy loved that game but it seems no one else even remember it existed.

  48. clem2k3 says:

    I dont know about importantness in the grand scheme of things, but uniqueness seems to have got a few games on this list so … wheres Black and White?!

    A truly unique game with a really quite expansive remit, the whole I’m a god thing and the good and the evil and incompetent and the always entertaining Miracle Wood! Added to that was the cleverness of the creature learning. Oh … and it was fun … fun is good too.

    Other than that one and a few other fun ones (Theme Park/Hospital? Transport Tycoon?) this is a wonderful list … if only i had time to play all the ones here that I’ve missed over the years!

    • Friend says:

      I was just about to post about the lack of Black & White before I saw your comment. :(

      It’s a pity, I was really rather hoping Black & White or at least Populous: The Beginning would show up on this list. Well, those, Myst, and Mount & Blade.

  49. Bureaucrat says:

    The big misses to me were the original Railroad Tycoon, and something from the Quest for Glory series.

  50. Shazbut says:

    I don’t think Star Control 2 should have been overlooked, but these have been entertaining reading.

    • The Army of None says:

      Seconded! Star Control 2 was SO ahead of its time. Admittedly, it seemed to actually have very little impact, but it should have! OH IT SHOULD HAVE

    • Shazbut says:

      I’d argue for it’s inclusion in a list of the 10 best pc games ever. It was absolutely remarkable and hasn’t aged at all.

      It’s sad if, as you say, it didn’t really have much impact. I can think of a handful of instances in history where a genius has come along, or a masterpiece has been made, and it’s basically never been imitated. Do people get scared off? Is that what happens?

      Or, I suppose, how do you follow something that just threw the rulebook out of the window!

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