The 32 Best PC Games

  • by Dan Tennant
  • September 30, 2008 00:00 AM PST
The 32 Best PC Games

#20: Fallout 2
Why It's Great: Where the original Fallout created a post-apocalyptic world that practically bled style, Fallout 2 opened that world up into an extravagant, non-linear RPG. Packed to bursting with Easter eggs, pop culture references, and plain old great gameplay, it proved what a developer could do with humor, mature content, and a universe of conspiracy and mayhem to draw from. In a little less than a month, Bethesda is bringing us back to the world of the Vaults with Fallout 3, and we can't wait to see how it shapes up. Until that time comes, though, Fallout 2 will stay on our playlists. This is one damn fine game.



The 32 Best PC Games

#19: Supreme Commander
Why It's Great: The biggest maps in the genre. And the biggest units. And the biggest explosions. And that fact that, when you get right down to it, it's basically a really big version of Total Annihilation. Supreme Commander is just plain big, and that size extends to everything, from the monitors you'll want to buy to play it (big) to the graphics card you'll need to make it shine (also big). Not that we mind, of course. We're computer gamers, after all, and we like to think big. That's probably why we like Supreme Commander so darned much.



The 32 Best PC Games

#18: TIE Fighter
Why It's Great: As the recent release of The Force Unleashed can attest, Star Wars is freaking amazing. To be more precise, Star Wars' Expanded Universe is, in British terms, the dog's bollocks. And the Empire, being Imperial, is patently uber. So when you combine the Star Wars Expanded Universe with the Empire, and then add in Grand Admiral Thrawn, TIE Defenders, and a massive, seven-act campaign, you get a game that has, unsurprisingly, topped best-of charts for years. It wasn't the original space combat simulator, and it wasn't the last, but it ranks among the best of the best.



The 32 Best PC Games

#17: Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War
Why It's Great: It started out as a great game, but its expansions have turned it into a phenomenal one. Dawn of War took one of the best sci-fi universes in geekdom and transplanted it from the tabletop to the desktop, rendering the tumultuous battles of Warhammer 40K in all their imagined brilliance, right on your monitor. Relic didn't stop at that, though; they introduced new gameplay features like squad reinforcements and the control point system, let you paint your own armies, and even gave melee infantry fatalities, letting them execute downed opponents with flair. Feel free to let the hammer fall: This is what war is all about.



The 32 Best PC Games

#16: Battlefield 2
Why It's Great: It is the exquisite entr�e to Battlefield 1942's appetizer, a game that takes everything that was superb about the first game, just to blow it apart with modern warfare. Classes, control points, and vehicles are great, but then DICE went ahead and gave us helicopters and the M1A2 Abrams to play with, not to mention the Commander system: a top-down strategy interface that's perfect for seeing the whole chessboard and sending your pawns in to take down their queens. The result? One of 2005's games of the year is still a blast to play today.



The 32 Best PC Games

#15: The Longest Journey
Why It's Great: We dubbed it "one of the greatest PC adventure games ever made," and we weren't lying. The Longest Journey tells the story of April Ryan, a young girl of the techno-world of Stark, and how she learns to shift between her world and a parallel dimension of magic and light: Arcadia. It was one of the first adventure games to deal with mature themes like poverty, homosexuality, and disability, and damn if it didn't do one hell of a good job. Few games since have created tales as stirring or characters as gripping as those in The Longest Journey. It is, plain a simple, a must-play experience.



The 32 Best PC Games

#14: Psychonauts
Why It's Great: There can never be too much laughter in the world, and if we're ever hungry for more, we can always pull out Psychonauts. Tim Schafer's ingenious adventure/platformer has wit, charm, and the ability to take any possible combination of ideas and make something hilarious out of them. Godzilla, fish, doors in your forehead, and the voice of Invader Zim? Check. It'll play on just about any system that's out there, so there's really no reason not to scoot over to GameTap and grab it. Like, right now. You can finish reading while it's downloading.



The 32 Best PC Games

#13: Half-Life 2
Why It's Great: It's rare to see it happen, but as good as Half-Life was, its sequel is better. Faceless scientists have been replaced with Eli Vance and Isaac Kleiner, and jump puzzles have been ousted in favor of the almighty gravity gun. You break into a prison and out of a city, befriend a mechanical monstrosity by playing fetch with it, and fall in love with a girl without ever speaking to her. All that, and no Xen to boot! Half-Life 2 was branded a classic before gamers had played a minute of it. Once again, Valve had given us something we'd never seen before.



The 32 Best PC Games

#12: Sins of a Solar Empire
Why It's Great: Who would have thought that a company like Stardock, the folks who got their start making Windows skinning programs, would go on to develop a game like Sins of a Solar Empire? Part 3D RTS, part 4X (eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate) game, Sins came from the skies to reinvigorate space-based strategy. It has no campaign to speak of; instead, Sins presents various scenarios, most of which boil down to handing you a planet, a credit line, and a galaxy to conquer, and saying "go." And don't forget: Stardock doesn't use DRM or copy protection in their games. Thank you, Stardock. You are not evil.



The 32 Best PC Games

#11: Diablo II
Why It's Great: From Marius's first weary words narrating his tale of demons and angels, through to his bitter end at the hands of the Lord of Destruction, Diablo II is an unforgettable adventure. The game fine-tuned the hack-and-slash RPG with a superb narrative and Blizzard's trademark polish, and spawned a legion of wannabe clones that struggled to match its brooding, bloody style. Even as great as the single-player game was, though, it is Diablo II's Blizz.Net-powered co-op multiplayer that still has us hacking away. This isometric gem did just about everything right.

Comments [75]

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MikeTheGreat

Of course WOW is Number one. Guess you can't blame it for being the number one online game. I would have actually liked to see another game besides WOW get the number one spot, like Half life 2, but that got 13 instead.

iamkid

i knew tf2/the orange box would be in here somewhere. such a great thing that is. valve is one amazing company...

Foaster

Hm... I'd say too much "new" games... there are lots of games from DOS and Win 3.11-95 times that are missing...
But Q3 at 2 is a good choice, there'll never be a better shooter, except another pure Deathmatch-Quake gets released

greensabre

Maestro wrote:

Did I miss Doom?

I didn't even think of that one. I'm also a little surprised that Starcraft isn't #2 right behind WoW, since people still play that 10 years later. Same with Diablo II.

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