The 25 Best Simulation Games Ever Made

Ready to discover once-and-for-all whether X-Plane is better than FSX? Whether Falcon 4.0 is better than Milk Float Simulator 2012? Ready to read the word ‘realism’ 46 times in a single hour, and spit feathers on discovering that the sim that caused got you through your divorce has been cruelly cold-shouldered by an idiot with a bus fetish and a sci-fi blindspot the size of the Crab Nebula? You are? Splendid. You’re in the right place.

What is a simulation? According to the imaginary dictionary I keep on my desk next to my imaginary bust of R. J. Mitchell, it’s a game that offers users the chance to operate “a digital facsimile of a real-life vehicle” or participate, from a first-person perspective “in painstakingly recreated historical events”. For me a sim isn’t defined by the length of its controls list or the complexity of its HUD, it’s a diversion inspired by something, usually a machine, that’s tangible, researchable, and incontrovertibly Real.

Some cynics will doubtless claim that I’m peddling this pedantic line – provocatively claiming that the likes of Star Citizen and MechWarrior are simulation pastiches rather than ‘true’ simulations – because I…

a) Haven’t played the latest batch of space ‘sims’ and am therefore not very well-equipped to assess them.
b) Am concerned that allowing fiction-based sims into the top 25 will mean many fine and relatively obscure plane and car sims have to be excluded.
and c) Can’t decide where in the top 5 to place Crimson Skies.

To those individuals I would say this: Gosh, you’re looking well. Been on holiday this year? We’re just back from a week in South Devon. The weather was marvellous. Barely saw a cloud the whole time we were down there. If you’re ever in that neck-of-the-woods I strongly recommend a trip on the Dartmouth Steam Railway. All GWR locos of course, though they do have a rather nice Class 25. Lovely route too. It runs close to Greenway, Agatha Christie’s old house. That’s worth a…

The following five pages would look very different If I hadn’t factored in mods when making my selection. Fan skill and sweat has turned some of the titles in this list from basket cases into masterpieces. Even if I don’t mention mods specifically, you can safely assume anything over a couple of years old in the line-up, shouldn’t be played in its original form.

25-21

20-16

15-11

10-6

5-2

Number One

Postscript

From this site

88 Comments

  1. acheron says:

    Speaking of train simulators. My son is 4 and likes trains (of course). I dug out Sid Meier’s Railroads and play it with him, and he likes watching it. I was looking for one of those train simulators to try out, and after reading reviews on Steam and such I added “Train Fever” to my wishlist and have been waiting for a sale. Is Train Simulator 2015 a better way to go? Though really I’m guessing my son won’t care much either way as long as it has things that look like trains.

    • JustAPigeon says:

      Train Fever is a good game, but its title is perhaps deceiving. You set up transport networks and, yes, lay down railway lines and can watch the trains go up and down the lines, but you’ll be spending a lot of time (maybe most of it) with roads.

      Train Simulator is excellent for looking at trains going along. Turns out they are fun to drive too. Recommended.

    • maeschba says:

      Train Fever is on sale at GOG.com the weekend. Just in case…

    • neotribe says:

      Regarding train sims for tykes, if you have an iPad, kids tend to love Toca Train (the Toca games are all pretty good, really.)

    • SketchyGalore says:

      There’s a lot of ways you could go with that one. I haven’t played Train Fever, but my understanding is that it’s a transport management game sort of similar to Railroads!, but is a bit slow paced and content lacking, so there might be better options.

      If puzzle games are an interest, I’ve had my eye on Train Valley. The trains in this one are very “toylike” in appearance, and it looks to be quite fast moving with everything on one screen. Mini Metro is another one that I’ve definitely enjoyed, though the trains are represented like a line map, so they move like trains but don’t look like trains (also, it doesn’t have sound last time I checked).

      There are the first-person simulators, like Train Simulator and A-Train, though they tend to be of questionable value for most. For something a bit different you could try something like the London Underground Simulator.. though if I saw that when I was four, it would have terrified me! I never did like basements…

      If 3D viewing isn’t a must, you can get some of the most fun from older games when the sim/management genre was more popular. Railroad Tycoon is an obvious choice if you’re interested in Railroads!, as they’re quite similar. There’s also OpenTTD which is a completely free project worked on by people who loved the old Transport Tycoon. There’s also Locomotion… though that just makes me think of the vastly superior Roller Coaster Tycoon, which I played when I was little. That has trains in addition to all sorts of theme park rides that are extremely entertaining to watch. In fact, now that I say that, I’d highly suggest that if your son is like I was, interested in machines that move fast, go underground, pop up again, etc.

      The only other three I can think of would be the new Cities Skylines (which is a city builder that has trains), or its transport-focused predecessor, Cities in Motion. And finally, if you’re actually looking to play a game with him that he might be able to learn with some guidance, pick up the PC or Tablet version of Ticket to Ride. It’s an excellent board game, maybe a little complicated for a four year old to figure out on his own, but I’d think playing it on a screen with someone would help.

      Hope all that is helpful!

      • acheron says:

        Hey, thanks for all the advice! Railroad Tycoon was an old favorite of mine of course. Rollercoaster Tycoon as well, which I didn’t think about but might be fun for him too. I’m pretty sure I bought Rollercoaster Tycoon I and II on GOG awhile ago so I probably even have them installed already.

        Skylines is on my to-play list and I agree might be fun for him to watch.

        I’ve played the board game of Ticket to Ride but never checked out the electronic versions. He might be a bit young for that still but it’s definitely a fun one for when he’s older.

  2. acheron says:

    Also, not many older games on here. One sim from the 80s I still love is Red Storm Rising. Though it’s not much in the way of realism, but I always found it super fun. Keep hoping that next time Firaxis raids the Microprose vault that they find that one, though the audience clamoring for it probably numbers in the mid- to low-single digits.

    • Lanfranc says:

      I’d love a RSR remake as well, but the rights situation is probably complicated considering it’s based on Tom Clancy’s book.

  3. Cederic says:

    Nothing by Geoff Crammond? Sacrilege.

    Also: Railroad Tycoon 2. It’s a business sim of the highest order.
    Also: CM01/02 (or any game on that long series)

    At least there was one Microprose game in there.

    • AUS_Doug says:

      >Nothing by Geoff Crammond? Sacrilege.

      Especially considering that Grand Prix 4 wouldn’t deign to wipe it’s arse with the AI of any racing Sim since.
      (Though I have heard one person say that rFactor 2 beats GP4 in the AI department.)

  4. MistaJah says:

    There’s one game that seems to crop up again and again… Next up: Best RTS games? ARMA 3. Best RPG games? ARMA 3. Best Wargame? ALL ARMA 3

  5. P.Funk says:

    For starters to mix all sims together is asking a bit too much since it creates a massive bias in favour of the author’s interests and leaves it open to huge gaps where the author may not tread so often. Much fairer to do a racing sims, flight sims, combat sims, type of list. Forces one to not have to include everything that matters and instead actually measure the goal and intent. So many great sims that are missing.

    Anyway, in general good list but honestly I think to cite rFactor2 and not mention rFactor 1 at all is getting things backwards. Yes rFactor2 is arguably the better sim but its not yet there yet. Its like talking about Arma3 during its beta. rFactor2 isn’t here yet, its not ready and its lacking in content. Meanwhile rFactor1 is mature, has such a massive backlog of great mods that its more important, more influencial, and when you hear Niels Heusinkfeld discuss it the ease with which one can manipulate the physics of rFactor 1 actually makes it a somehwat superior model for using whereas rFactor 2 is so damned complicated that you can’t actually manipulate it as easily and so that somewhat limits the ability to make mods or even for other products to spawn from it unlike with how Stock Car Extreme came from rFactor 1.

    Lots of great 90s sims missing too. A-10 Cuba! is so remarkable in its achievements for the time its surprising indeed to see it missing. Nothing by Jane’s either. Ah well, these lists will always provoke.

    • Smoky_the_Bear says:

      I’m guessing though, that a writer on a general PC games website plays more than just sims. These things take up a LOT of time to learn. It’s impossible for one person to have played every sim out there so making a list will probably always be swayed by what the person put their time into.

  6. Matt_W says:

    ORBITER!

  7. Faldrath says:

    Aw. It isn’t surprising since RPS has never covered it, but not seeing Stock Car Extreme in that list breaks my heart (especially when, as a racing game, it’s much better than Assetto Corsa and rFactor 1 – which might be better *driving* games, but even that is debatable).

    • Prolar Bear says:

      RPS racing subforum represent! Aye, GSCE is way more functional and complete. I do think that AC fares better in terms of pure driving, but only by a slight margin.

  8. HerpicleOmnicron5 says:

    I’m glad Silent Hunter 3 is on here. I do a real-time lets play of it on the Something Awful forums. That’s resulted in two bouts of interrupted sleep so far.

  9. Zenicetus says:

    First, thanks for keeping simulations up there with the rest of the notable games in the RPS “Best” lists.

    Second, I think the title — “The 25 Best Simulation Games Ever Made” — is misleading. It’s more like the 25 best simulation games that will run on current hardware, and might be enjoyed by today’s gamers who want to dip into the genre.

    There are too many classics left out because they would look primitive by today’s graphic standards, but were still landmarks at the time. Like the original Gunship… the first semi-realistic attack helicopter sim. Falcon 3.0 was more of a landmark than Falcon 4.0, with its dynamic campaign and invention of padlock view. Version 4.0 is a better sim, but 3.0 set the standard. Red Baron? Red Storm Rising? (sigh). I could go on.

    Call it the “Best 25 of the last 20 years” and it makes sense. “Best ever made” does not (IMO).

    • apa says:

      Classics and landmarks of their time are important. They should be visited by one wishing to understand how the newer ones are better. However some of the aged classics are not necessarily better experiences. For example, Enemy Engaged beats all Gunship games – especially when modded. This is why I think that the title of the list is correct.

      • apa says:

        (where’s the edit function?) I do agree that the list represents the status today, with today’s hardware!

  10. rexx.sabotage says:

    it either goes vroom-vroom or bang-bang or any combination of the two.

  11. neotribe says:

    Falcon4.0 is the best simulator, and the best video game, ever.

    Thanks for this article, there are a few here I missed and will have to check out.

    Shout out to everyone who used to be on Frugalsword. Those were the days…

  12. neotribe says:

    Kerbal should probably be on the list, though. And maybe SimCity4.

    • Deadly Habit says:

      I’d put Cities Skyline above Sim City 4, also Space Engine would be a nice mention as well.

      • Canadave says:

        I think that SC4 still tops C:S, though I fully anticipate it will be passed at some point in the future. The depth of SC4’s mod scene is just incredible.

    • Cinek says:

      We have orbiter. That’s miles ahead of KSP. :)

    • bptrav says:

      Yep no Kerbal = list invalidated.

      Not that these lists have ever meant much anyway. It’s interesting to see what other people think, but the most important list is your own. :)

      I actually don’t disagree with FSX being #1 though. It really is an amazing flight sim, once you install a bazillion add-ons/mods for it. It’s the Skyrim of simulators.

  13. thekelvingreen says:

    No Advanced Lawnmower Simulator? Tsk.

  14. JackMultiple says:

    “To those individuals I would say this: Gosh, you’re looking well. Been on holiday this year? ”

    Ah, yes, it brings me back to something my grandmother always used to say:

    “pass the potatoes”

  15. Pantalaimon says:

    Lovely words on some brilliant games. I’m sure the collective hours that we’ve invested in these things would be staggering. I think my introduction to the vast majority of them, many of them not mentioned, and in fact, probably sim gaming in general was by its author, by way of articles in magazines way back when. Most notably the one at the top of the list. I’d be so much poorer off without these kind of experiences. So cheers for that Tim.

    If there’s one game I really wish featured at all, it’d be Football Manager, partly because it’s just a thoroughbred sim/game combination that deserves to feature on any list, but mostly because talk of experiences in that game flows in much the same energetic, euphoric patter as describing tree skimming bush flights or dilligently plotted pan-Atlantic routes in FSX. At a certain point it’s not really about telling people how to kick a ball around, or entering into holding patterns, it’s about living something different. No immediate or preceeding love of football or planes required, but you might just end up loving those things nonetheless!

  16. Spider Jerusalem says:

    I expected SimAnt to be number one.

  17. one2fwee says:

    Do the Euro Truck Simulator and those OMSI and other games actually have any form of realistic physics or anything like that? Because i’ve always been highly sceptical in that regard so never tried.

    Same with farming simulator – seemed extremely shallow and not a simulator at all.
    Amusingly, from the videos i’ve seen, it’s less known competitor, Agricultural Simulator seemed to have a lot more depth to it. I dunno if it’s realistic or not but it actually seemed like they’d put some effort into trying to make it have some interest (well as much as you can in farming – hey you can actually churn up your land properly that’s something hahaha).

    In terms of standard road driving simulators, it shocks me how bad all the ones i have tried are.
    The physics in City Car Driving are bad basically non-existent and i imagine those “pass plus simulator” ones are even worse.
    It’s sad really as this is an area that could do with something that’s actually good.

    The best i’ve seen are videos of one Kunos made for an Italian driving school – search youtube for ACI Ready2go to see.

    Btw, not mentioned in this article but if anyone wants to see good wet weather implementation, Kunos’ previous simulator, Netkar Pro has some of the best. In fact compared to Assetto Corsa, in some ways i prefer the FFB in that sim (that said i’ve only tried the tech demo as my home pc is too old to handle the new one).

    I’ve even worked with commercial driving simulators for work and all of them felt really disappointing with what they provide. The stock physics, content and environments are all really bad.

    I guess the best someone could do at the moment is somehow mod RFactor 2 into a learning to drive simulator – however then you have the problems of not necessarily having enough access to change the AI to support multiple routes and obey the rules of the road etc.

    Does anyone in this area know of any commercial simulators that are actually decent? They all seem to go on the basis of buying an additional third party plugin for physics and then importing your own vehicle models. However if you don’t do this – you’re not a vehicle manufacturer for example – then you’re kind of screwed as the stuff they come with by default is kind of bad. Even though they claim they are based on real vehicle data, it certainly doesn’t feel like it.
    A large part of it is also the virtual world modelling, which is atrocious on these commercial driving simulators. The roads are all flat and soulless and you can’t even go off road effectively – get on the dirt and you can’t even tell, it just feels like you’re floating. Hit a curb and the whole thing will normally crash. I’ve even tried supposedly laser scanned data and it was just as bad. I just don’t have much faith in the software.

    Normal, consumer racing simulators feel a lot better to me to be honest.

    Anyone with any experience in this, your thoughts would be cool

    • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

      Nah, euro truck is rather random with physics, not like it’s necessarily unrealistic to any greater extent, which is something i wouldn’t have the experience to comment on, but simply because it doesn’t employ any high end model.

      I remember tinkering with devs-only apps for Assetto Corsa that were unlocked via .ini ( or .cfg ) tampering and all kind of monitor stuff popped up, even including the counter for sprung and unsprung mass.

      Even without going that far a proper driving game spends a lot of CPU cycles on tyre modeling, suspensions with their different types ( double wishbone etc. ), camber changes, weight transfer, aerodinamic drag and so on and so forth, Euro truck instead is mostly a very cool and relaxing game about being a trucker and dealing with your business/empire.

      Simulator is a term often used broadly, but i don’t mind. I think what’s happening there is that the genre, or rather the genre’s enthusiast, is trying to expand it’s grasp into the realm of lifestyle/jobs game, creating an expanded niche for those who sometimes enjoy the idea of not being the dragon born for a day, and it that case the strict requirement for a deep simulative behaviour takes a second seat.

      It’s a difficult genre afterall, the sim space is a very small niche but it’s fans are probably the most devote ever, it’s good that there are other not so stringent games to incorporate and keep the culture going.

      • Cinek says:

        I would argue that in terms of fan devotion Flight Sims are miles ahead of space sims. First of all – it’s one of few groups that was active and invested enough to create whole market for numerous controllers, gaming seats, consoles, MFDs, etc. Secondly the modding scene for flight sims is just jaw-dropping, look up what people do with MS flight simulator games – there are entire companies dedicated solely to producing and selling mods – that’s something completly unknown in other genres. And thirdly – meet up with the gaming community itself. The amount of role-playing they do and various events is comparable with MMORPGs even though games they play were never created for that. There are whole groups of flight controllers and people flying under control of these people, communities roleplaying entire airlines, speaking pilots lingo and building entire cockpits at homes.

        Communities focused around flight sims are simply amazing, only you rarely hear about them on gaming forums, as they are much more closed groups with far far steeper learning curves and more difficult entry than vast majority of space flight sims (if anything: Orbiter is closest to them) or other genres.

    • carewolf says:

      Looking at the negative steam reviews, euro truck seems to at least make parking with a trailer sufficiently frustrating.. That must count for something :D

  18. Moth Bones says:

    Tim Stone’s joyous, playful approach to writing is such a great counterpoint to the games he writes about, which can sometimes seem a little stolid and in need of stardust. It’s not just style either, there is plenty of experience and perception of play behind his thoughts. A serial highlight of RPS.

    • Zenicetus says:

      Agreed. I criticized the format, but there is nothing to criticize in the enthusiasm for this kind of thing in his writing. It’s not for everyone, and Tim gets it.

    • Jac says:

      Also agreed. I haven’t much interest in playing sim games but always enjoy reading about them here.

    • slerbal says:

      Totally agree. I think Tim adds a lot to RPS and I am always happy to read his articles even if I read some more for voyeurism, though I did discover Door Kickers because of him. More of this kind of thing!

      Also and totally unrelated: I logged in to reply and it took me back to the page I was on and the comment I was on. Huzzah!

  19. Gap Gen says:

    Vol de Nuit by St Exupery is a great book. Currently working through the Derek Robinson books and it captures a lot of the resignation to the danger of flight and the atmosphere in general of being alone in the air without even the combat aspect.

    • Zenicetus says:

      I haven’t read the Robinson books, thanks for the recommendation.

      On the civilian flight sim side, I just re-read Ernest Gann’s “Fate is the Hunter” for the third time. An amazing memoir of the early days of airlines pre-WW2 and military transport in WW2. Required reading if you like flying DC-3’s in a flight sim.

      • Premium User Badge

        Schmouddle says:

        Both are truly ecellent read.

        From my book shelf I would add “The Big Show” from Pierre Clostermann, I still remember a worn copy my father gave me to read as a precious gift back in 80’s, at the silliest and most dumb time of communist Czechoslovakia. Today we know there are some factual errors, but these are memoirs like no other, with thrill, fear, sadness, exhaustion – the daily life of a fighter pilot without the usual glamour.
        It gave me two major gifts for my life – my attraction for English language and my love for aviation.
        It also gave my parents some troubles – like having to go to school for a little interrogation what for a contra-revolution we have at home, as little boy Schmouddle found a Mk.IX Spitfire with LO-D markings more appealing than some dumb and all samelike red-starred MiG jets expected to be drawn in a class of drawing.
        And despite my after-injury vision issues it also brought me to have a flying licence…..meeting Stephen Seads Spitfire (marked as DU-N of 312th Sq) in flight June 2014 over Kbely AFB. Before I take a flight in Spitfire one day, this could be called a full circle.

        Another aviation book I would highly reccomend would be Robert Mason’s “Chickenhawk” . If you are into helicopters and Vietnam, it is must read.

  20. Ejia says:

    Richard Burns the Sunday Roast (2005) was pretty good, too.

    Maybe I’ll pick up Euro Truck Simulator 2. I can’t wait to make those 78-point turns.

  21. MadMinstrel says:

    What? Not a single dating sim? Your list is invalid!

    • slerbal says:

      Arma 3 is in there ;)

      In all seriousness my wife and I have spent many a happy hour touring flying helos together.

      • Mambozambo says:

        I know a love story that Arma made possible. In short girl moved far away from his boyfriend to get together with the other one that she met when we played together some OFP and Arma missions. After that things got obiviously bit heated :D

  22. Premium User Badge

    heretic says:

    Oh my god

    Command Aces of the Deep… what a game!!!!

    The graphics were so crude yet it was SO GOOD.

    10 year old me was completely taken over by that game. I remember a convoy hunt, sinking tones of merchants before the escorts managed to hit me with depth charges, sinking to the bottom, HITTING the bottom, somehow my heroic crew managed to fix the ballast system and I was able to make it to the surface and abandon ship.

    Surely one of my most memorable gaming moments ever.

  23. Continuity says:

    I would argue that ARMA isn’t a simulator, it does lots of things but none of them to simulation standard.

    • CookPassBabtridge says:

      Difficult. The FPS shooting is excellent I think, and the amount of work that has gone into, er, simulating a soldier (sounds odd lol) and ballistics is hard to find the equal of. I can see your point about individual vehicles etc. To me its a military scenario simulator, as opposed to being a faithful recreation of a warthog or an Abrams and so on. In that respect I think it does deserve the title of “sim”.

    • klops says:

      Even more so with Rising Storm. But the arguments why the game is listed are good though and in that sense it fits with the rest of the games in the list well.

  24. CookPassBabtridge says:

    Hi Tim, I think FSX absolutely deserves that top spot.

    Simming has completely supplanted my normal PC gaming these days, and I can’t feel anything like the passion for even the best new AAA’s that I used to. With FSX / P3D I feel like I learn something new every time I fire it up, that there is just no way I can ever learn it all, and the sim is deep enough that it never runs out of challenges or interesting experiences. Yes, I AM becoming an aircraft nerd, and have to stifle the urge to tell people which aircraft is flying overhead right now, but then again sometimes the amount to learn is so overwhelming I have to just stop. I don’t think MS knew what they had created back then.

    Re: that thing I promised, apologies for the lack of communication BTW. PPL has been on hold for a number of reasons and I really wanted to get some decent footage / shots and experiences together. Summer coming up, just to let you know if you’re still keen I haven’t forgotten!

    • CookPassBabtridge says:

      Oh and regarding X-Plane’s AI, specifically the psychotic NASA Research aircraft, every time I load up Innsbruck its there. Waiting for me. Sometimes it only wants to off itself:
      link to i.imgur.com
      Other times it will literally burn the rubber from every tyre in order to get from its gate and charge me on the runway:
      link to i.imgur.com . Its like a massive angry whale.

    • joshg says:

      Just started getting into FSX myself and loving it.

      Where do people recommend I start looking for mods / addons? (Preferably free)

      • CookPassBabtridge says:

        The recommended paid addons are usually
        -REX4 (clouds, environment, runways, taxiways),
        -ORBX (Full scenery overhaul with various packages available. May be worth trying out the free Iceland region first to see if you like it. ORBX BASE and Vector don’t improve it that much but underpin things like OpenLC, which is great).
        -Active Sky Next weather engine, which will let you simulate the actual or histoical weather. It is very good at painting “weather landscapes” with the available textures.
        -Whichever aircraft you want. A2A make the very best small GA aircraft, PMDG are considered the cream of the liners.

        For freeware, check out the Flightsim reddit and have a look at the sidebar. There are so many resources out there I haven’t a clue, I use only payware. Also, if you haven’t already, think about overclocking that CPU :)

  25. phelix says:

    What I’m sorely missing in this list (apart from the backhand reference in the Silent Hunter paragraph) is theHunter.

    Apart from being a breathtaking hiking simulator, it also manages – for me at least- to completely capture the feeling of stalking.

    That is, slowly crawling for an hour after a deer that may or may not have already seen me, and then, when I spot it, I take out my rifle, hold my breath, shoot the poor animal in a non-vital area, curse as it runs away. Trailing the blood splatters, I find the creature lying wounded ten minutes later and give it a mercy shot in the neck.
    It feels novel every time.

    Then, of course, I fling the corpse around in the camera poser.

    • Hydrogene says:

      The Hunter is on the “After 25” list (on page 8) after all. Better than nothing I guess!

  26. Clippit says:

    I’m very surprised that there’s no mention of Live For Speed in this article – not in the top 50 list nor even in the comments (so far). Assetto Corsa, Rfactor, RBR and iRacing get a nod; what’s going on?

    I’d have thought a game like LFS would be squarely up RPS’s alley: It’s a UK based, independently released PC-only sim, one of whose major accomplishments is highly successful online multiplayer. It’s built on some of the best physics around with a particularly sophisticated tyre model. It’s been around since about 2003 yet RPS seems to have a curious blind-spot for it.

    I’ve been following this site since the beginning and am loathe to criticise, but I think a single, very brief article from 2009 does LFS a bit of a disservice – implying that it’s overly serious and not fun, when in fact LFS’s open, casual, community-based approach to online racing is precisely the opposite of the much-criticised rigid structure of iRacing.

    For some people it’s Quake, Team Fortress, EVE or WoW; I’ve had some of my most tense, exciting and rewarding online gaming through LFS and the real, tight-knit online community around it.

    • Jason Moyer says:

      I suspect LFS would get more coverage here if its last release hadn’t come out 10 years ago.

      • Clippit says:

        I’m not sure where you get either of those ideas, let alone how you connect them.

        The 3rd of April was when the last LFS update was released. On April the 2nd, RPS published a HL2 retrospective with the opening sentence “It’s over ten years since Half-Life 2 was released.”

        I’m not criticising RPS for paying more attention to one game than another – that would be silly. It just seems a little strange to not see even the barest mention of this particular one, even in the context of a Best Of list or a retrospective (e.g. “Have you played?”). Whether you agree or not would depend on whether you think the game is significant or relevant enough to warrant inclusion.

  27. Malleus says:

    I have a Falcon 4 CD from god knows where, and I actually tried to get into it around 2006-2007. There were, however, so many fucking mods, versions, patches and addons that I genuinely couldn’t navigate that mess. Seriously, just check the chart around 2007. In the end I decided that I don’t have the time (or rather, life) for this. It seems now the situation is a bit more simple with only BMS remaining, but now I have even less time for games, so getting into sims is out of the question.

    I have DCS A-10, but I ony played it for a few dozen hours (back when it wasn’t DCS World). It’s good though. I’m glad ED can sustain themselves with producing games like this.

  28. carewolf says:

    No Wings of Glory?? Shame on you.. Now go play it and write a retrospective to make up for it.

  29. Laurentius says:

    Tim Stone can write no wrong. Fact.

  30. _michal says:

    This list lacks Condor – The competition soaring simulator. Otherwise it’s pretty good.

  31. fish99 says:

    Not gonna debate your ordering because I’ve played hardly any of the flight sims listed, just wanted to say that no list with Grand Prix Legends, Assetto Corsa and iRacing on it can be bad :)

    Grand Prix Legends in particular took up a huge chunk of my gaming life, mostly league racing. It was a huge leap forward as a simulation and such an uncompromising design as well. It had a few minor aids (TC, ABS, shifting help) but nothing to stop you binning it at every corner if you didn’t give the car and track respect, and it had the hardest to drive selection of cars and the deadliest tracks you’re ever likely to see in a racing sim (including the first time the nordschleife was seen in a sim).

    Of course the likes of Assetto Corsa have surpassed it in physics now, but nothing else has quite matched GPLs magic.

  32. fredc says:

    I definitely recommend the upgraded version of Rowan’s Battle of Britain II to all old school flight sim fans. It genuinely doesn’t feel its age, much like an upgraded Silent Hunter.

    The roundup mentions the very clever, very natural-feeling enemy dogfight AI. What it doesn’t mention is the sheer, pretty much realistic scale of the air battles. You can drop into a Spit (or, heaven help you, an A-wing Hurricane) with only your section around you, and those dots in the distance turn into _100_+ JU87s. And then you see the 60 ME110s acting as close escort. And then you spot the top cover of 40 ME109s, waiting to pounce. The first few times you experience the two formations meeting is genuinely shocking and you get a sense of the terror a new pilot must have felt in 1940 – countless aircraft explode past you and flying straight for more than a few seconds will get you killed. You basically have to evade and hope to spot an enemy close enough that you can spend a second or two setting up a shot When the fight thins out, it’s easy to lose entire formations chasing or evading an opponent and end up on your own – again very much as per accounts of real combat.

    It’s just a pity there aren’t more aircraft types. It would be amusing to try to survive in a Defiant, Blenheim, Swordfish, Vildebeest, or to try fighting Spitfires in a CR42.

  33. wodin says:

    WOFF, esp with the Skin expansion and WOFF 2 expansion which are must haves, is my No1 (though I’m a single player only simmer, hough it would still be my No1 either way).It must win the best mod released aswell all things considered. Next for me is Silent Hunter 3\4 and third I’d go for Battle of Britain II joint with IL46.

    Still I’m happy with the list order.

  34. wonkavision says:

    Very few of the “simulator” games named deserve the term. I had hoped for solid recommendations, I am disappointed.

    • Cinek says:

      And why is that? It looks really well for me, especially considering how different types of sims they included.

  35. Jason Moyer says:

    BoB 2 instead of Mig Alley?

    • Jason Moyer says:

      Welp, I see it’s in the after-25 list. So I’ll whinge about faux-Simbin’s Race07 instead of real-Simbin’s GTR2 and GT Legends and Arma III instead of Operation Flashpoint. Also, while I prefer the subject matter of Grand Prix Legends, Nascar Racing 2003 Season was so much better, especially with the official road racing addons. Indycar Racing II should probably be in there somewhere too. Some other random long-forgotten racing sim suggestions: Mobil 1 Rally Championship, Dirt Track Racing, Viper Racing, SODA Offroad.

  36. cptgone says:

    What a treat! Not only is Tim Stone an authority on the subject, with a wonderful writing style, who spoils us with nostalgic images, he even… provides reading tips! Both my Steam and Amazon wishlists gained a few levels ;)

    And how wise of RPS to exclude Eve Online from the selection, as it getting top spot on most RPS Best lists would be so tedious ;)

  37. celticdr says:

    Tim,

    DiRT Rally should definitely be higher on the list than RBR – I’ve pumped 19hrs into it and it is already THE definitive rally sim, and they still haven’t finished it yet!

    Also a notable admission (for me at least) is SEAL Team by EA – that was one game I spent many hours playing in my youth – even got the Medal of Honor once (3 of my team got injured, managed to drag them back to the exfil point and finish the mission with my single TL).

  38. peterako1989 says:

    You sir just hit a sweet spot in my simuheart

  39. morokiane says:

    Disappointed to not see dwarf fortress

  40. rochrist says:

    No Dangerous Waters? Surely that belongs on the list!

  41. JimmyDali says:

    You guys missed Project Cars completely

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  43. Kerbal_Rocketry says:

    The rating of X-Plane is shocking for such a versatile simulation, though i am the sort of person who cares more about how the simulation works than what it looks like and would rather the flight model IS realistic rather than feels realistic.

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  45. matmilne says:

    Thanks for the awesome list Tim. “Wings Over Flanders Fields” was a joy to score, and it was fun to provide some music for “Rise of Flight”. Converting www1, seen from the pilot’s perspective, into music, twice, now that’s a challenge.

    I too love kerbal and Arma 3, also the Medal of Honour series, great games.