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. lasting damage says:

    Urban Chaos, hell yeah! Stern is fantastic, but also loved the levels loping about as Mako – what being a hoodie is properly about.

    Can’t believe I remember the names even after all this time.

    edit: aaaand, beaten by loads of people.

  2. Latterman says:

    Urban Chaos is one of the few games i love but have never been able to finish. The later missions were insanely difficult, mostly due to the lack of savegames and checkpoints (if i remember it right).

  3. Henke says:

    I tried getting UC to run on XP some years back but had no success.

    Urban Chaos is defenitely the game that brought out the loudest “Hell Yes!” fist-pump from me when I spotted it on this 5-part list. Of course there are games here which I love even more(Thief, DX, GTA4), but UC was just so overlooked and underrated. And when they already listed Startopia earlier on I wasn’t expecting it to show up. Yet, here it is.

    *hi-5 to the RPS team* :)

    • Latterman says:

      rumor has it, that it runs fine with Windows 7.

    • DrGonzo says:

      Does that also apply to Vista?

    • Latterman says:

      i only found some vavous list on a german message board titled “old games that run fine with Windows Vista/7″ according to which Urban chaos runs on 7, 64bit. Vista could be worth a try?

      But maybe getting your hands on some sort of miracle device that let’s you emulate other systems could be an option?

    • Latterman says:

      *vacous

      where’s the edit?

    • Latterman says:

      i’m tired, i’m hungover and i’m at work and there is still no edit function.

      and it’s vacuous.

  4. cpeninja says:

    Woohoo! Freespace 2! Clearly Kieron is a person of esteemed taste and intelligence to mention the *greatest* game of all time in his list of important games.

    • Sarlix says:

      Indeed. It’s good to see KG punching the keyboard again for RPS, even if it is in a limited capacity. The new bloke Quintin-whats-his-face scares me.

  5. GHudston says:

    There’s a game that is always sadly overlooked, not just by these articles but by basically everyone. Am I the only person here who has incredibly fond memories of “Creatures”?
    That being said, I really enjoyed this series. I agreed with every game on this list that I have played and intend to actually play a lot which I haven’t. I’m downloading GalCiv2 as we speak!

  6. outoffeelinsobad says:

    I love you for putting Urban Chaos on the list.

  7. Bahumat says:

    There’s one mission above all that will live on in my memory, courtesy of Freespace 2. And it all begins with three horrible, frantic words:

    “DIVE DIVE DIVE!”

  8. Moonracer says:

    Urban Chaos was a great game. The hopping bits at the end were a bit annoying but it was essentially a 3d platformer.

    I hate to be another “Why isn’t X in one of these lists” and perhaps because it doesn’t belong, but I always thought the 1994 game Quarantine was an often missed game that set a lot of things in motion. Violent driving missions in an open world city with a CD soundtrack of Australian musicians.

    • Jake says:

      How strange, I thought of Quarantine on the other page. I think maybe it was closer to Doom than a driving game, but it did seem to put things in motion. It’s possible though that the car fighting genre never really caught on enough for it to be considered influential.

  9. BobsLawnService says:

    I have to say that there are far too few Microprose games in these lists.

  10. I_have_no_nose_but_I_must_sneeze says:

    Myst is the gentle, contemplative elephant in the room. I’m well aware of the fact that John has already ordered a hit on every person mentioning the game, but I can’t help it. For good or ill, the first Myst’s importancenesstitude is undeniable. Personally, I found it atmospheric but slightly boring, with Myst IV being my favourite in the series. I also felt that Alone in the Dark could have been up there as well, both for being the eldritch, tentacled grandaddy of survival horror games, and for being one of the few games that manages to make good use of a Lovecraftian setting.

    • djbriandamage says:

      My friend, your username belongs on this list.

    • Arathain says:

      The best thing about the username in this circumstance is how well his avatar matches it. Doesn’t it look like it wants nothing more than a good sneeze?

  11. Jezebeau says:

    I quite enjoyed this series. I would have thought Loom to be mentionable, but perhaps it wasn’t as important as it I feel it should have been.

  12. fuggles says:

    Terra Nova – Thank you! Totally loved that game in every way from the ‘realistic’ graphics to the weight of the jetpacks, to the amazing FMV cutscenes all the way to it keeping track of how many trees you burned and giving you recipes for made up drinks.

    Admittedly I was younger then, but I found the AI of the squadmates to be convincing and I liked how they called out what you were fighting, so you would know there was 3 or 4 enemies. Also that mission where you have to find the convoy and they aren’t there….legend.

  13. sinister agent says:

    How have I never head of In Memoriam? That’s an utterly bonkers, euagenious idea. Shame about the FAQs – typical nerdling response – but still. And yay, Gal Civ 2! Such a marvellous game that frankly, I’m reluctant to play it sometimes, because I know that’ll be the whole week devoured.

  14. Lambchops says:

    Another great list, though now as I fully expected, I can say i hate you for not including little Big Adventure 2.

    Sure it may not be important in the grand scheme of things but it’s a personal favourite and how dare you not includ it!

    Actually, frivolous denouncements aside I’m quite suprised by the lack of older platformers (ie the likes of Commander Keen and so on) and am very suprised by the omission of the Worms series (presumably Armageddon as it was when they perfected the formula) considering as it has been an ever preseent and for the most part very fun part of the PC gaming landscape for over a decade.

    Anyway, really enjoyed the entire feature. Good stuff guys.

    • Shazbut says:

      LBA2! My God, you’re right.

      Perhaps the RPS chaps restricted themselves to only a few brilliant games that didn’t change the market. Their personal favourites, I guess. Like Terra Nova.

  15. helf says:

    WRT Dwarf Fortress…
    It actually isn’t ASCII OR ANSI. It’s Code Page 437 –http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Code_page_437
    :p

  16. disperse says:

    Ahh, Dwarf Fortress rounds out my top 10 all-time games nicely.
    No complaints from me Hivemind, you did good.
    I guess I’d like to have seen Mount and Blade up there but I understand why it isn’t.

  17. Angryinternetman says:

    Weeny Wikki Beeki Birdi didnt sit on a cold stone for this! :(

  18. Pseudonym says:

    Let me start by saying that I have no criticism of this list.
    Many of the games mentioned here are important to my gaming “career”. I am going to mention some games that I feel are important, and that were not included in the list, but these games are important to me. I never expected them to be included in anyone else’s list.
    Here are my important games that were not included in the hivemind’s list, in the order in which they come to my mind:
    Wing Commander: The first game I ever HAD to upgrade my computer for. From the moment I saw it on a friend’s computer to the moment I managed to convince my parents to upgrade my computer to a 386, I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

    Gabriel Knight (the series, but especially 1): My favorite adventure games of all time. Yes, I love The Longest Journey, and most of the LucasGames/Arts games, but this GK left the most lasting impression on me.
    And just one more thing, while GK3 had some, well, unfortunate puzzles, it also had one of my favorite puzzles even in an adventure game in ‘Le Serpent Rouge’.

    Space Quest and Police Quest: Those series were my first exposure to adventure games, and defined a large part of my early PC game playing life.

    Gateway 2: A game I don’t expect anyone else to actually know, and the reason it’s important to me is extremely subjective. This game had one of my most memorable gameplay experiences. I still remember being hopelessly stuck in one particular puzzle. Going to sleep, and waking up with the solution. An experience I will never have again in these days of readily available internet and FAQs, and my complete lack of patience and ability to avoid those FAQs.

    Freedom Force: My favorite superhero game of all time. Also, at around the same time I played it, I also bought the complete Amazing Spider-Man CDs, and seeing how closely and lovingly the writing of the game imitated those early Stan Lee scripts just made me love it more.

    Pandora Directive: My favorite Tex Murphy game, and probably the best use of FMV I ever encountered.

    Alone in the Dark: Was mentioned a couple of times already in the comments, guess it’s self explanatory.

    Star Control 2: The biggest change between two installments of a single series. And I wish I still had the meticulous notes I kept, with the coordinates of every important world, and where every quasi-space portal opened. Again, notes that I would never take these days.

    Buck Rogers – Countdown to Doomsday: I spent a long time playing various SSI gold box games, so they were all important to me, but the one I played the most was this. I was always more into sci-fi than fantasy.

    Thief 2: I know it was mentioned in passing in the list, but I had to mention it here because, while I appreciate the Cradle from thief 3, if I had to choose my one favorite level in a computer game, I would pick Life of the Party. Turning a corner and seeing the mechanist building for the first time, after going over the rooftops of the City and then realizing that the level was not yet over and that I was going to explore this building within the same mission is one of my most memorable gaming experiences.

    So, again, great list RPS. Thanks for inspiring me to think about some important gaming moments of my own.

  19. bascule42 says:

    I bought Freespace 2 from GoG last week after reading about Freespace Open. Not only is it a brilliant nostagia trip, but with those crcaking mods, in particualr, Blue Planet, it’s much more than that. It feels like a new(ish) game in it’s own right. Am having tons of fun. Would recommend for just under seven poundlings.

  20. Xanadu says:

    Now all 5(6?) articles are out, I think it’s a rather decent list – most of the things you’d expect are on there, and a few choice gems I’ve not come across but will try that little bit harder to hunt out now (and will endeavor again to find a copy of Planescape that works on my PC)
    As someone pointed out earlier it’s a bit little lacking in the 80′s era, particularly if using the PC=Personal computer definition. Elite, Chuckie Egg, Knight Lore, any text adventures – the original Adventure probably ought to make the list, Doomdark’s Revenge, Populous… And Tetris of course. (though it did mention in passing the Speccie football manager, which was a gem my nine year old self loved, so I shouldn’t argue. Maybe you can do a retro list at some point to keep us old timers happy.)
    My only real complaint was often recommending prettier sequels rather than groundbreaking originals (Civ, Tomb Raider, Elite in particular) – there seemed a lack of consistency between quoting series (C&C), original games over improved sequels (The Sims) or best in a series (GTA4) which seemed in some cases down to personal preference rather than importance or impact. Still, I rate The Godfather and Alien above their sequels, whilst others would diagree (though obviously anyone who doesn’t rate The Empire Strikes Back above its prequel is just plain wrong). I think I’ve just disproved my own argument now so I’ll shut up.

  21. Navagon says:

    Terra Nova! Now there’s a game I wouldn’t object to an HD remake of*.

    *Not that I’m in the habit of objecting to HD remakes, but still.

  22. The Army of None says:

    Loved this series of articles, and of course, everyone will have slightly different games. Some things I woulda included if I were to write my own list:

    Populus!

    Arcanum: Of steamworks and magic obscura!

    Star Control!

    Alpha Centauri!

    Cave Story!

    Heroes of Might and Magic!

    Incredible Machine!

    Worms!

    • Jake says:

      I always think of Populus as an Amiga game. Another one I think of in that way is The Settlers II, fond memories of playing that split screen on my crappy wee tv.

  23. mmmrrrr says:

    Good list. For importance I personally would have found it hard not to squeeze in a MUD or two in the list, and perhaps, but less urgently, a text adventure game. Also, not much turnbased strategy – perhaps a shout for Warlords? And I would suggest an artillery game – Gorillas?

  24. BrokenSymmetry says:

    Glad to see Guild Wars in this list. One of the most innovative games of the past decade. Also, the art design (Daniel Dociu) and music (Jeremy Soule) of the game should be mentioned, making it the most beautiful game I’ve played.

  25. veerus says:

    Kieron, this place just isn’t the same without you…

    As for this list, having seen all 5 parts, it can officially be declared a failed experiment. What started out as a great idea to compose a list of some of the greatest games in PC history turned into an incomplete list with advertisements for many of the current games taking up the spots that should’ve gone to true classics.

    This is the first time since this website’s inception that I’ve questioned its writers’ credibility and integrity. It is a sad day.

  26. F33bs says:

    God I wish a developer would pick Dwarf Fortress up and make something presentable out of it. It’s such an awesome ass game, but ASCII is a deal-breaker for me. It’s such a deep and rich experience that it deserves a classy treatment and a little more exposure. Never going to happen though.

    • Jezebeau says:

      If you’ve ever listened to Tarn talk of it, you’d know it’s not necessarily that no developer would want the project, but that Tarn wants it to be his project, which is how it has to be. It continues to develop in depth and detail beyond any other sim in existence. A 3d, gussied up, publisher-controlled version would be a flash in the pan, and then we’d lose the dream.

  27. Thermal Ions says:

    So many hours put into Age of Empires I / II. I remember several of us lugging our PC’s over to friends houses every weekend to set up lan games.

    It’s interesting that my son has been playing quite a bit of AoE I with his friends recently – a game release in the same year he was born. They’d rather be playing number 2 but been having no end of trouble with connecting online with it.

  28. phenom_x8 says:

    Urban chaos, quite love it on Playstation, I’ m always thinking who needs PS2 if there is GTA 3 look alike in my old PS1 when playing this game back in 2001. And I didnt even know there is PC version of this game until I read it here! Is there anyone knows where to buy this game??

  29. thebigJ_A says:

    You said Rossignol aroused you in the bedroom. Lol, I’m twelve.

  30. RegisteredUser says:

    Terra Nova and Urban Chaos.

    God bless you, Kieron Gillen.

  31. JackShandy says:

    I’ve had a think about it, and I realised what’s missing from the full list:
    Cave Story. It’s certainly a PC game, and about as important for indie games as it gets. I can’t help feel like I must have somehow missed it. In fact, doing a quick search-o-tron, it doesn’t seem like you’ve ever mentioned it on this site. Explain yourselves!

  32. AimHere says:

    Okay, I call shenanigans. I mean, I enjoy Terra Nova and all, but nobody bought it other than me and four other guys, and nobody in the industry copied it. In a list of important games, it beats out Starcraft 1? A list of important games is surely not the same thing as a list of games the reviewer happens to like.

    You have every contemporaneous RTS game EXCEPT Starcraft, plus its sequel, yet Starcraft is the game which is a televised national sport in South Korea (not one, but two cable TV channels are devoted to it), where players of the game are international celebrities with fanclubs numbering in the millions, who are mobbed for photographs whenever they appear near any quorum of nerds.

    Then there’s Myst, which, while it’s (maybe justifiably) well-hated, it was the first game that made use of a CD-ROM drive and did spawn it’s own little genre of tedious abstract puzzle games.

    And umm, World of Warcraft, which has a zillion subscribers and makes a squillion dollars every month – the money Blizzard made from WoW is what caused every big name game developer to sit up and take note and try to copy the business model, no matter how inappropriately. The heinous always-on DRM of Assassins Creed II was probably inspired by the lack of useful piracy of WoW.

    Falcon 3.0, the grand-daddy of realistic flight sims, and Microsoft Flight-Simulator, which was probably the first really popular one?

    In other words, you guys missed a few.

    • AimHere says:

      Oops, I missed WoW, you at least managed that one. Apologies! I’ll need to check my eyesight ;)

  33. vodka and cookies says:

    I remember reading some PC gaming magazine review of Urban Chaos when it original came out and not giving it a chance as they gave it 60% or something like that, I should have checked it out more not sure if it holds up to well these days but I’m tempted to try it out now or find an LP of it.

    It’s a pity space combat games are indeed dead even big name studios like Bungie only dared to include a single level in Halo Reach, publishers will outright refuse to fund any AAA space combat title. So that leaves only those who can self fund and the amateurs.

    Violition did recently express an interest in Freespace 3 but they dont own the rights those former a-holes from Titus who now run Interplay do and they’d never let Freespace go cheap.

  34. CrazyBaldhead says:

    Gieron Killem. I knew we’d meet again.

  35. gummybearsliveonthemoon says:

    Are you kidding me? Urban Chaos? God. Good God. After a few levels it becomes “fall to your death between buildings 8 minutes in and restart level over and over” garbage. Sod that noise.

  36. lumenadducere says:

    Ooh, so glad you put In Memoriam on there (or “Missing: Since January” as it’s known here in the States). Such a fantastic game, one that absolutely threw me for a spin and first gave me a taste of the potential I now see in the medium. I played it a few years after its release and wound up finding a guide that someone put up with the important parts of each website saved, just in case the real ones were taken down. The actual walkthrough was behind spoiler tags and on a different page, so any newcomers could actually try the game as close to the intended way as possible. Would highly recommend it to anyone considering giving it a shot.