GameSpot is pleased to bring you the first annual countdown of the Top 10 PC Games of the Year, culminating in the game that earns our single highest honor. For the sixth year in a row, we've doled out genre awards to the most deserving game in its class. But this year, in recognition of the industry's affinity toward particular genres, we present the following carefully contrived and ordered list of games. These games are not necessarily arranged in terms of the rating that they earned in our reviews--they are arranged in terms of their overall impact, their overall success, and their overall achievement. These are the top games of the year--the games we will remember years from now. Now, without further ado, let's begin the countdown:
Publisher: Sirtech Canada
Developer: Sirtech Canada
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2001 wasn't an exceptional year for single-player RPGs; there were several very decent, solid games that were worthwhile but not especially remarkable. In addition, there were a few RPGs that ended up being rather disappointing for various reasons. However, Wizardry 8 proved to be a great single-player game through and through.
The Wizardry series has existed in one form or another for about 20 years. Since the original game, Sirtech has released a series of great first-person RPGs, as well as the outstanding Jagged Alliance strategy series. But considering how difficult it was for the Canadian developer to bring Wizardry 8 to market, it seems likely that Wizardry 8 will be the last in the series.
If Wizardry 8 is indeed the last of its line, it's a great finale. More importantly, it's a great RPG on its own terms. Though the game has features such as 3D environments, lighting effects, and full speech--technical features that were unheard of back in the '80s--Wizardry 8 features the same core gameplay that has made the series so popular over the years. Wizardry 8 lets you explore a fully 3D world with a party of up to eight characters and offers a great variety of character races and professions to choose from--enough to justify playing through the game more than once, just to see how different characters will develop. The game also features enough of a storyline to give its exploration and combat elements plausible context, and its environments, music, and voice acting collectively lend Wizardry 8 a lot of personality. It's this combination of enjoyable features that make Wizardry 8 better than decent and more than solid. Wizardry 8 is an excellent role-playing game in and of itself, which is why it deserves GameSpot's Best Single-Player RPG of the Year award and why it has earned a place in the Top 10 PC Games of the Year.
Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis
Developer: Bohemia Interactive
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Codemasters' Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis certainly isn't the only tactical squad-based shooter on the market. 2001 alone saw close to half a dozen games in this increasingly popular category. However, Operation Flashpoint easily distinguishes itself not only from its direct competitors but also from countless other action games to earn a place in GameSpot's Top 10 PC Games of the Year.
The game takes place on a fictional island chain during the Cold War. However, the setting is perhaps the only unrealistic thing about the game. When you're in the game, you'll find that war is indeed hell--there's no glory when you're trying to tell if that camouflaged soldier in the distance is a friend or a foe. Such on-the-fly decision-making keeps you alert because neither you nor your opponents can take much damage out on the battlefield, so you need to think on your feet and keep moving to stay alive. Throughout the game, you'll find a whole assortment of modern-day weaponry at your disposal, such as M-16 and AK-74 rifles, heavy machine guns, and a variety of explosive devices. You can even pilot a huge assortment of vehicles, ranging from simple jeeps to helicopters and fighter planes. The simplified simulation of vehicular control helps keep the gameplay accessible, even though Flashpoint's harshly realistic damage modeling makes the game decidedly difficult.
The artificial intelligence in the game is also done well. Your computer-controlled squad members do a good job of finding cover when under fire and pointing out enemy locations. And of course, Operation Flashpoint features a robust multiplayer mode in which you can play deathmatch and team-based games against other players around the world. All told, Operation Flashpoint is a feature-rich, original, and exciting shooter.