Top 64 Games: 8 to 1

By Shamus
on Nov 11, 2014
Filed under:
Video Games

And so we come to the end. Try not to stress out too much if your game didn’t make the list, or if it wound up lower than you’d hoped. This list was just PC games, limited to the ones I’ve played and I thought were worth discussing. Just use this as an excuse to talk about / praise / eviscerate games we might not get to discuss very often. Read the intro to learn why we did this.

EDIT: Due to mis-numbering, I have nine games here. I didn’t notice until after the post went up. So the list ends on zero instead of one. Meh. Close enough.

8. Tomb Raider

Lara Croft: TOMB BROWSER

Obviously Tomb Raider makes the list, but which entry? Is it the first one, which gave us the character, the gameplay, and a gunfight with a T-Rex? Or do we use one of the later entries, which more firmly established the look and personality of the character that would eventually grace the big screen? Or do we go with the one game that’s completely unlike all the others in tone and gameplay, but which is actually good? I say we go with the good one. No offense to 90’s Lara, but… actually there is no way to finish that sentence without insulting 90’s Lara. She was a narcissistic pinup girl, and her stilted platforming gameplay could never hold a candle to the graceful and satisfying feel of the Prince of Persia.

But I do thank 90’s Lara, because if not for her then we never would have gotten Reboot Lara. And Reboot Lara is an interesting lady in a mechanically solid game. The platforming here holds up when compared to your Uncharteds and Prince of Persias. The tomb puzzles are great, and their only flaws are that they’re too short and too scarce.

I’m a little uncomfortable having a game this new so close to the top of the list. I was crazy about the game when it came out, but I don’t know if it will stand the test of time. Will I still be playing this game next year? Will I still regard it as noteworthy? I dunno. Furthermore, my opinion of this game may shift based on how well this rebooted series evolves. If the series falls apart, the things this game did right will look like an accident. If the new series thrives, then this game will get credit as the start of something great. It’s almost as if these “Top X Games” lists are perilously arbitrary.

7. System Shock 2

L-l-l-look at you, hacker. Oh, I guess you can’t. You’re a 90’s first-person protagonist so you don’t have a body or reflection.

A unique blend of everything I love: It has a cyberpunk setting. It has a focus on item scarcity and survival rather than empowerment. There’s an RPG leveling system that offers many ways to play that – while perhaps not really all that balanced – offers lots of replay. It offers a lot of open-world exploration where you can re-visit previous areas. It’s not quite a Metroidvania game but it does kind of scratch that same itch for me. There’s lots of environmental storytelling. It has a techno-horror aesthetic that can provide some genuine scaresOh god the monkeys! The monkeys!.

Sadly, it’s not without some really annoying flaws. The entire last section of the game feels really unwelcome, awkward, and poorly justified. The game features a biological enemy that the engine simply was not designed to portray. The PSI powers were expensive and only a few of them were useful. And the ending is clumsy attempt to set up a sequel that never happened. Still, we could use more like this. And no, BioShock doesn’t count. Don’t get me started.

6. Diablo II

I preferred Sorceress, but Necromancers were pretty cool once they patched it so you could walk through your minions.

Often imitated, never replicated. Not even by its own sequel. Like God of War, this is one of those games that looks easy to copy, but is actually very difficult to match. The world is filled with “Diablo clones”Which are really “Diablo 2 clones”. that came and went, while Diablo II continued to make money and devour lives.

People still claim that Diablo never had a story, or that the story didn’t matter. But in my view the story offered exactly what I want from this kind of game: Context and tone. The story was told in vignettes between chapters, not sprinkled throughout the gameplay like flow-breaking landmines. The story of Marius was brief, tragic, and powerful. The game itself was tense and dark.

Yes, the Diablo III Real Money Auction House hamstrung the core gameplay of D3, but it was the shift in tone that ruined the game for me. It wasn’t sinister. It wasn’t mysterious. It mistook the simple Diablo 2 story for a cheesy one, and the sequel felt like a Diablo clone instead of a Diablo successor.

5. Starcraft

BOOP-BOOP. Additional supply depots required.

Warcraft begat Warcraft II, and Warcraft II begat Starcraft, which was (at the time) the ultimate realization of everything that had gone into the Real Time Strategy genre so far. Three radically different races, all wonderfully balanced against each other.

It wasn’t the first e-sports game, but it was the first e-sports game to be a national sensation, to the point of getting television coverageIn South Korea.. All this, and it also gave us an imaginative pulpy new sci-fi universe to tell stories in.

4. Portal 2

The cake is a meme!

Okay, yes – the memes from this game got really annoying after a while. But I don’t think we should hold that against Portal 2.

It took the innovative and interesting gameplay mechanic of the original, added to it, broadened the story, gave us some great characters, provided genuine laughs, gave us a deliciously varied visual palette, and ended before it wore out its welcome. If there are any sins in the game, it’s that it has nothing in the way of replay value. Puzzles and jokes do not hold up well to repetition. And I suppose the puzzles felt a little on the easy side.

I’ll take a short brilliant game over a long, mediocre one any day. Although “long and brilliant” would be nice. Speaking of which…

3. Deus Ex

Old men, running the world.

See? This is why we can’t have nice things.

Deus Ex was a wonderful, sprawling game in a way that we just can’t have now that graphics have made gamespace so expensive to produce. It presented a fresh new world, which will never feel fresh or new again because publishers insist on continuing an existing storyline – no matter how final and complete the previous ending was – rather than wiping the slate clean and telling a new story. The characters were interesting to meet and the places were interesting to explore, because they weren’t treated as fan-service-y shout-outs and cameos for existing fans, but instead arose naturally from the needs of the story. It offered choice and consequence not as a gameplay gimmickLOOK PLAYER, YOU ARE MAKING A CHOICE NOW. YOU MAY CHOOSE RED OR BLUE. ISN’T THIS LIBERATING? REVEL IN YOUR FREEDOM! but as an organic thing that emerges naturally from your goals and the mechanics. And it offered tons of replay value because the gameworld and the mechanics were so broad and diverse that it was literally impossible to see it all in one play through, which runs against today’s trend that the player isn’t allowed to miss anything.

Human Revolution was a good game, and it’s probably as free and as deep as we can hope for in today’s world. But it can never match Deus Ex in scope or scale.

2. Half Life 2

Welcome. Welcome to City 17. You have chosen, or been chosen, to relocate to one of our finest remaining urban centers. I thought so much of City 17 that I elected to establish my administration here, in the Citadel so thoughtfully provided by our benefactors. I’ve been proud to call City 17 my home. And so, whether you are here to stay, or passing through on your way to parts unknown – welcome to City 17. It’s safer here.

As popular as it is, Half-Life 2 doesn’t have a legacy in the sense of numerous copycat games. In fact, even in 2004 it represented something of a throwback. More games were heading for voiced protagonists, camera-grab cutscenes, growling military-flavored machismo, and continuous action. But Half Life 2 has an empty vessel of a protagonist, allowing you to decide for yourself what you think of the world. The game is full of quiet time. In the first three minutes of the game it’s able to build a more convincing and palpable authoritarian dystopia than a dozen other games manage in twenty minutes of overbearing exposition.

But the real legacy of Half-Life is the boost it gave to Valve software. Half-Life made the company a fortune, and Half-Life 2 was the acorn that grew into the industry-enveloping oak called Steam.

1. World of Warcraft

WoW has the BEST pointless time-sink travel system in the business. Nobody wastes your time with non-gameplay as well as WoW.

The MMO that changed the course of an industry. Hundreds of millions of dollars – perhaps even billions – were pissed away by by arrogant nincompoops who thought they could just copy the “WoW formula” and make “WoW money”. The fact that they didn’t seem to understand WoW beyond the most superficial attributes only made their failures more painful. And perhaps we could forgive the first two or three, but at some point it got to be kind of disturbing, like watching the members of a suicide cult kill themselves one at a time. Fortunes were lost, jobs were obliterated, franchises were tarnished, and studios were closed. Innovative, successful, and interesting MMOs were forced to re-tool their mechanics to be more “WoW-like”, in hopes that some of those amazing WoWbux might land in their laps. (Spoiler: They didn’t. They just pissed off their existing fans.)

And WoW endured. At best, the new MMO of the month might siphon off some tiny sliver of the WoW userbase, but they always came back.

WoW ruined a lot of companies. Not by making a bad game, but by making a popular game that looked easy to copy and made so much money that greedy idiots couldn’t help but change the direction of their entire company in the hopes of striking gold. It was like a brilliant surgeon who saw America’s Got Talent and thought it would be great to be an international pop star. So he sold his practice, took singing and dancing lessons, and went on national television and made a complete fool of himself. Two years later he’s penniless. His wife has left him. His kids won’t return his phone calls. He tried to start up his practice again, but nobody wants to be operated on by the guy who made an ass of himself in front of the world. And he doesn’t have anyone to blame but himself. What a loser.

World of Warcraft didn’t ruin the industry. The industry ruined itself.

0. Minecraft

YOU CAN’T USE A BED DURING THE DAY THIS IMAGE IS COMPLETELY UNREALISTIC.

TWO. POINT. FIVE. BILLION. DOLLARS.

2.5×109 dollars. For an indie studio with less than a dozen employees and one released game.

But what a game. Minecraft is often compared to Legos because both have you building with blocks, but I think the similarities go deeper. Both can stand in as the universal symbol for their medium. Just as Lego is a ubiquitous toy with endless possibilities and an appeal that spans all social, cultural, and age demographics, Minecraft is the ubiquitous game with endless possibilities and an appeal that spans all social, cultural, and age demographics. If you somehow run out of things to do in the base game, there’s always the ever-permutating collection of mods that can turn Minecraft into a survival game, a shooter, an adventure game, an engineering game, an RPG, or any other of a thousand other things. If you run out of mods, then jump on a server and build with friends.

Minecraft has sold over fifty million copies to date. That’s more than every iteration of The Sims (The Sims to The Sims 4) combined. More than double the sales of Battlefield 3 and Grand Theft Auto IV combined. The only games to outsell it are Tetris (which has been selling for decades) and Wii Sports (which was the pack-in game on the Wii).

Wrapping up…

So those are 64 games I thought were worth talking about, arranged in some kind of order that probably doesn’t mean much. I have a final wrap-up post coming sometime in the next week. I hope you enjoyed reading this, even if you disagreed.

Enjoyed this post? Please share!

Footnotes:

[1] Oh god the monkeys! The monkeys!

[2] Which are really “Diablo 2 clones”.

[3] In South Korea.

[4] LOOK PLAYER, YOU ARE MAKING A CHOICE NOW. YOU MAY CHOOSE RED OR BLUE. ISN’T THIS LIBERATING? REVEL IN YOUR FREEDOM!


A Hundred!A Hundred!203223 COMMENTS? What are you people talking about?!?

From the Archives:

  1. MichaelGC says:

    Well, this has all been great fun. We must do it again sometime!

    PS I think number 1 is FFX. And 8 is GTA:SA.

  2. Gravebound says:

    You got the numbering in the title ‘backwards’ again. :p

    Also: “Or do we go with the one game that’s completely unlike all the others in tone and gameplay, but which is actually good?”

    Boo, I say. Boooooo. Anniversary was a better Tomb Raider game, you know, with the whole raiding tombs-and-puzzles game play. The reboot is a better Uncharted game, for what that’s worth (almost nothing, to me). Just a dragged-out ‘manshoot’ as you guys would say.

    And here’s my top 64 games, that nobody cares about. But I took the time to make it, so somebody ought to see it. Though, I didn’t limit myself to a single platform. No real order other than the stuff near #1 I like better than near #64. :/
    64 Frogger (arcade)
    63 Outfoxies (arcade)
    62 Mario vs Donkey Kong (GB)
    61 Wave Race 64 (N64)
    60 Steambot Chronicles (PS2)
    59 Silverball (PC)
    58 Einhander (PSX)
    57 1080* Avalanche (GC)
    56 Tomb Raider Anniversary (PC)
    55 Vampire: The Masquerade: Bloodlines (PC)
    54 Lemmings (PC)
    53 Shadowrun (Gen)
    52 Contra: Hard Corps (Gen)
    51 Mischief Makers (N64)
    50 Etrian Odyssey III (DS)
    49 Dungeons & Dragons: Shadow Over Mystara (arcade)
    48 Ice Hockey (NES)
    47 Soul Calibur (DC)
    46 Metal Gear Solid (PSX)
    45 Advance Wars 2 (GBA)
    44 Armored Core 2 (PS2)
    43 Knights of the Old Republic (PC)
    42 Mars Matrix (DC)
    41 Yar’s Revenge (2600)
    40 Scorched Earth (PC)
    39 Dragon’s Dogma (PS3)
    38 Shantae: Risky’s Revenge (DSi)
    37 U.N. Squadron (SNES)
    36 Saint’s Row the Third (PS3)
    35 Fire ‘n Ice (NES)
    34 Blast Corps (N64)
    33 Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit (PSX)
    32 Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo (PSX)
    31 Shadow of the Colossus (PS2)
    30 San Fransisco Rush (N64)
    29 TOCA Race Driver 3 (PC)
    28 Master of Orion II (PC)
    27 TMNT IV: Turtles in Time (SNES)
    26 Disgaea: Hour of Darkness (PS2)
    25 Gran Turismo 3 (PS2)
    24 Civilization 2 (PC)
    23 King of Fighters 2001 (Neo Geo)
    22 Portal (PC)
    21 Street Fighter III: Third Strike (DC)
    20 Demon’s Crest (SNES)
    19 Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia (DS)
    18 Picross DS (DS)
    17 Lunar: The Silver Star Story Complete (PSX)
    16 Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 (DC)
    15 Mega Man X2 (SNES)
    14 Baldur’s Gate (PC)
    13 Final Fantasy Tactics (PSX)
    12 Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out! (NES)
    11 Perfect Dark (N64)
    10 Samurai Showdown II (arcade)
    09 Wing Commander (PC)
    08 Star Fox 64 (N64)
    07 DOOM (PC)
    06 Bionic Commando (NES)
    05 Super Mario World (SNES)
    04 IL-2 Sturmovik (PC)
    03 Morrowind (PC)
    02 Super Metroid (SNES)
    01 The Legend of Zelda (NES)

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      You dont have tetris on your list,therefore it is disqualified by default.

    • lethal_guitar says:

      Alright, here’s mine. Also not really any particular order, and only 26 games.

      1. Quake 3 Arena
      2. Half-Life 2 Ep. 2
      3. Prey (still one of my all-time favorite “classic” FPSs)
      4. Unreal
      5. Deus Ex: Human Revolution (I missed the original during its time, and without the nostalgia factor, it just doesn’t work for me nowadays. But I loooved HR)
      6. Dead Space
      7. Serious Sam
      8. Tomb Raider (Yes, the reboot. Same as with DX)
      9. Quake 4 (Best story-based Quake. Not easy to decide between 4 and 2, 2 is also great but didn’t age too well)
      10. Bionic Commando (2009)
      12. Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee
      13. Starcraft
      14. No One Lives Forever 2
      15. Portal
      16. Borderlands 2
      17. Assassins Creed 2
      18. Doom
      19. Monkey Island (the original 1st one – I don’t like the remastered art)
      20. Bioshock (not sure which one, tending to 2)
      21. Duke Nukem 2 (Yep, the 2D side scroller)
      22. Raptor
      23. Abuse
      24. Commander Keen
      25. Broken Sword
      26. Flashback

      Why is Bioshock so low, you might ask? Well, I don’t know. I enjoyed all three Bioshocks, and they are good games, but none of them really blew me away that much.

    • Felblood says:

      1080º Avalanche is noteworthy in hat it killed snowboarding games, not by being bad, but by being such a perfect expression of what it was, that there was no reason to ever make another one. This didn’t prevent Sonic Riders.

      Scorched Earth! Yes! Asynchronous competitive multiplayer has never been better. I would argue that it is superiour to even more modern re-makes like Gunbound.

      Order of Ecclasia…. No. Just. Ugh. There are so many better Castlevania games available on just that platform. It’s not terrible; it’s just mildly inadequate, which might actually be worse.

  3. WILL says:

    The Tomb Raider reboot was Uncharted 2 without the charm, interesting characters, solid gunplay or actual puzzles (go in tomb, solve one real simple puzzle, get shotgun parts- wait, what the fuck?). It tries to make you think you’re in danger by spamming Quick Time Events and big explosions that don’t actually do damage at nearly every single point in the campaign. Leaving a ship? It starts crumbling. Leaving a tower? It better be on fire and falling down. Remember that 4 hours you spent in a shit-coloured shanty town? That was fun, right?

    Uncharted 2 has these moments, but at least it’s not telling you to press X to not die. It also compensates by having legitimate “holy crap this is not a stable situation” moments not by spamming fire to your right and left and desperately trying to fit the character models into a premade animation – but instead by putting you in a really dire situation. See that one point you’re hanging on a flimsy ad billboard in Istanbul and using it as cover for your body from the gunfire all around you. It’s actually fun – that’s right, it’s exciting!

    The upgrade system is just there for a skinner box effect – it has almost no effect on how you play – the equipment you find naturally through the game already do this (some well, some not).

    For some reason the new Lara is considered a good character when all she really is is a punching bag for the cutscenes. Who else was interesting in that story? The big fat guy? The hunter? The maybe they’re russian maybe they’re not bad guys?

    How this qualifies as a decent reboot boggles my mind. It tries to be an Uncharted type AAA game and turns into a dull, repetitive, depressing mess of awkward models, gameplay and phony escape sequences.

  4. Count me in as a TR reboot naysayer. It was fine as a standard uncharted clone, but it never reached the scope or ambition of the original and its puzzles were pedestrian in comparison.

    Respect to da OG!

    • Groboclown says:

      I wholeheartedly agree. I also think that the originals shine brightest when viewed as a skill based game. Indeed, most of the complaints about not wanting to kill endangered species are invalid, because you don’t have to kill them – with the right level of skill, you can just run/jump past them.

  5. Nathaniel says:

    It’s crazy how seeing that link to Star Wars Galaxies in the context still brings on pangs of sadness and nostalgia. What a loss. I’m a bit biased because it was my first MMO and I was pretty young when I played it but that game was seriously something fantastic. It definitely would have made it into my top 8.

    • Andy_Panthro says:

      I would have gone for Ultima Online, for similarly nostalgic reasoning. I feel it’s a shame that there isn’t a modern equivalent.

    • Supahewok says:

      I dislike WoW-clones. (Although, I’ve never played WoW, so maybe it does its own schtick better. I’m not interested in finding out)

      Galaxies always sounded like the perfect MMO, but I was too young in its heyday for my parents to be comfortable with me playing online with strangers. And now that I can support myself it is long gone.

      I feel your pain. Probably not as much, but I do feel it.

  6. ian says:

    Mount & Blade Warband.

    That is all.

    Oh, well if you insist …

    *crickets chirp*

    Downloaded the demo for Minecraft a few years ago. Wandered around, ran out of ammo, fell down a dark hole, couldn’t get out, quit, uninstalled. Score out of 10: Meh.

    Anyway, in no particular order, and mainly because these are the games I keep coming back to:

    Mount & Blade Warband (the rumble of horses hooves, crashing into the spear wall, the lance in my enemy’s face, the screams of pain, and of victory)

    KotOR 2 (with the restored content mod)

    Morrowind (have you tried this with the Sound & Graphics Overhaul mod(s)? wow)

    Rome: Total War (because it was the edition that focused most on “fun”)

    Tomb Raider 2 (The only platforming game I have ever enjoyed – which is probably because it wasn’t really a platforming game, “platforming game” being synonymous with “oh for f-sake not AGAIN! did you not SEE that edge?”)

    • Sleeping Dragon says:

      “Downloaded the demo for Minecraft a few years ago. Wandered around, ran out of ammo, fell down a dark hole, couldn’t get out, quit, uninstalled. Score out of 10: Meh.”

      While I don’t plan to dispute the score, because no game appeals to everyone, and the “fell down a hole, couldn’t get out” sounds about right for my early games the “ran out of ammo” thing has me baffled…

      • ian says:

        I may be mis-remembering this (it was a good while ago now), but I distinctly recall finding what seemed to be a “fire” button – at least it looked like something was fired. Didn’t seem to do anything much.

        Probably could have done with some sort of “help” feature – but that’s a whole discussion in itself, I hear.

        • PeteTimesSix says:

          Dont quote me on this, but I think the demo version of minecraft is some half-a-decade out of date alpha version. As in, so old that the bow was actually hardcoded in at the time.

          Not at all representative of the final product, is what Im saying. Normally I wouldnt bother, but I personally did the same thing until a friend convinced me to give the actual game a try.

          • Sleeping Dragon says:

            Oh, that would explain it. I actually never tried the demo because I had the full game by the time that became available but I guess it would make sense if they provided you with some items at the start.

            • Humanoid says:

              I played the demo within the last year, and didn’t feel that was the case. As far as I can tell the demo now is more or less up to date, a time-limited version of the full game. I ended up buying the game afterwards and the gameplay experience was more or less the same – and I have to admit I got bored after about a week and haven’t touched it since.

    • Falling says:

      Yikes, Mount & Blade was such a time sink for me. The game was too fun! Now I try to limit myself to the Napoleonic Wars multiplayer so I don’t eat up entire days playing, but I really enjoyed the game.

      • Andy_Panthro says:

        I’ve never completed M&B warband (nor any module), and yet I have sunk ~80 hours into it.

        I love the early game the best though, it can get a little tedious when you are in constant siege mode.

        • Falling says:

          I’ve gotten pretty good at clearing sieges- Huscarls are amazing at cracking defences, and then I run in with my two-handed axe.

          I have beaten the entire game on Vanilla, including rebelling against my King in favour of the claimant. What does get irritating towards the end is that conquered kingdoms divide up their nobles on all sides, so there are still tons of armies running around. I tried locking up tons of them just so I could ignore field battles and capture city after city.

          However, while they capture you 100% of the time, you capture them maybe 30% of the time? It gets very irritating trying to recapture those slippery bastards again and again. I finally downloaded a mod so if I ever play again, the capture rate will be at the very least 50%, but probably 75%.

          • syal says:

            I can only play the original M&B (my graphics card is pretty out of date), but I usually ended sieges by putting my army as far out of range as they’d go, shooting the enemy archers, then standing on the ramp and shooting dudes in the face as I baited melee attacks by juking forward and backward. Did Warband deal with that tactic?

            • Humanoid says:

              For the sieges that used ladders instead of siege towers, the most expedient strategy I found was to put the Rhodok Sharpshooters at the top of the army list and just tell your army to hold their ground at the outset. Then go make yourself a cuppa or something. When your men run out of ammo, abandon the siege and repeat. But yes, the juking still works reasonably well, just need to watch out when a wave of enemy reinforcements might appear.

              • Falling says:

                I never had patience for pure archer tactics. To win by melee you just need to knock out the lords, and establish a beach head, and after that, things get a lot easier. Huscarls and Knights can take a good beating. I typically take potshots with a bow until I can get on the all, and then clean out the archers before swinging back to the main fight.

                Always frontload your elite troops, and you’re golden.

    • modus0 says:

      So you were trying to play it like an FPS? Did you do any mining or crafting?

      Because if not, then you only experienced a fraction of the game; like only previewing the Pip Boy screens in Fallout: New Vegas and deciding you didn’t like the game.

    • Felblood says:

      If you fell in a hole and couldn’t get out, in a game about mining and building, I think it’s fair to say that the game probably isn’t for you.

    • Blackbird71 says:

      I sunk a LOT of time into the original Mount & Blade, especially playing around with all of the player-made content. I never played Warband though, because I objected to the DRM of requiring Steam.

      This past week, Warband went up on GOG.com…

      I seem to be missing a weekend; has anyone seen it?

  7. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Ok,I usually dont like to split my comments,but screw it.Each of these deserves a separate discussion,so separate comments for all.If I double post,so be it.

    Actually,the tom braider reboot isnt the only good game in the series.The spin off,guardian of light,is also a good game.Which is weird,seeing how its an isometric shooter.

  8. Daemian Lucifer says:

    “7. System Shock 2”

    You didnt put your favorite at the top?What kind of unbiased sellout are you?Dont you know that the meat of these lists is to put whatever you subjectively think over everything else?0 stars!

    Oh right,the game.Ive played it late,and it holds out pretty well.Its a good game,and everyone should definitely try it.And unlike some other games from the time(thief)it wont assault you with how crappy it looks today.

  9. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Actually,diablo 3 does hold up as a sequel to 2.The big,huge,enormous problem with the game is the pacing though.Literally the whole first run through the game is tutorial.You get your skills one by one,you cant customize them,enemies are a joke,and companions are not needed.It actually does get good 40 hours in,when you finally get the ability to customize your skills(and boy is the customization good),the enemies finally give you a challenge,and you have to do team play to defeat them.Though bosses still remain easy.

    It also offers some other nice things,like every character being unique,playing in a completely different way from the others,not just in what role they serve on the dps/tank/support scale,but actually different in how they use their skills and gear.And it also gives unique loot to everyone involved,so you wont have someone grabbing stuff right in front of you.What drops for you is yours alone.You can trade it if you wish,but no one will be able to take it against your wishes.

    The auction….it was a nice experiment.It failed,but I still appreciate that theyve tried it.

    • Wolf says:

      Can’t you toggle skill customization from level one? I am pretty sure this is an option in the UI.

      They should have advertised it better it seems, weird that Blizzard of all people should make such an intuitive user interface mistake.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        “Can’t you toggle skill customization from level one? I am pretty sure this is an option in the UI.”

        Maybe it was added in later,but on launch nope.You had to fill out the skill bar before you got to mix and match.

        • Bubble181 says:

          No, you didn’t. You never did – I bought it launch day. It was like that in the beta, and it was set up that way when beginning, but there was always an option to enable elective skills. You did only open up the skill slots as you levelled, so you didn’t have all 4 bar slots and the passives open until level 30ish.

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            If you are talking about being able to use one out of the three offered passives,then yes.But thats not what Im talking about.Im talking about binding any of the skills to any of the slots,like binding the big mana guzzler to your primary attack.You dont get that option before you unlock them all.

            • Bubble181 says:

              I am 100% absolutely sure that you do. You can (or could – I guess it’s possible it was changed back, but I now i did it with my launch ay character) set elective mode at level 1. You don’t *have* any available slots other than left and right mouse button at that level, but you can still go and activate elective mode. You get the first skill bar slot at level 2 or so, and the third…I dunno, level 10 or 12? Either way, even at level 1, you could switch around your left and right mouse button skills, for example. The option wasn’t very clear and was hidden in a submenu, but it was patently possible.

              • Ivan says:

                It is definitely hidden pretty well, I don’t know how I discovered it in the first place (maybe they moved it since the first time I played the game), but the only reason I found it when I booted up the game more recently is because I knew I had done it before. It still took me some time and a google search was not helpful.

              • Daemian Lucifer says:

                Well Ill be damned.You know,if that was the default,it would increase the popularity of the game immensely,because playing like that is the cool way to play it.

                • Bubble181 says:

                  I do agree. It’s bad enough all of Normal is basically a tutorial, this adds the insult of assuming we really are so stupid we can’t handle distributing our own skills.
                  I hardly understand why they included it at all – even my mother could understand she isn’t supposed to throw long-cooldown tskills on the left mouse button, for example.

    • Peter H. Coffin says:

      The big,huge,enormous problem with the game is the pacing though.Literally the whole first run through the game is tutorial.You get your skills one by one,you cant customize them,enemies are a joke,and companions are not needed.

      And that stuff is precisely why I don’t consider Diable III to be a sequel to Diablo II at all. The lethality and playstyle are so different between the two it’s like pretending Portal is Half-Life’s sequel.

    • Muspel says:

      Diablo 3 is a game that is filled with brilliant ideas and refinements to the original game. It fixed the speccing problem of Diablo 2, where you could pick the wrong skills or stats and end up with a useless character that you had to delete and restart. It got rid of the potion-spam issue by adding health orbs and putting a cooldown on potions. It fixed the godawful UI that only let you have two skills at once.

      But for every part of Diablo 2’s legacy that it fixed or improved upon, it kept something that was even worse, and in at least one case, it even intensified the original problem.

      Diablo 2, for instance, had the bullshit longevity mechanic where you had to play through the game three times on three increasing difficulty settings, which was incredibly tedious. Diablo 3 kept that, and added a FOURTH difficulty setting, which suffered from godawful tuning.

      I chalk it up to a lack of testing. They stated in interviews that when designing Inferno difficulty, they found the level of challenge at which the designers could clear it, then doubled the difficulty on the assumption that the players would be better at the game. And then, when the game went into beta testing, they limited the beta to the first act, which meant that they weren’t able to get any actual feedback on the state of the game.

      It’s incredibly frustrating, because it’s clear that they missed the forest for the trees. Diablo 3 did so many things right, but it ultimately failed to improve on the things that really mattered, and instead tried to focus on an end-game gear chase that almost no one ever took part in back in D2.

      • Lanthanide says:

        The expansion got rid of Inferno. Now there are different difficulty levels you can play in right from level 1.

        • Evilmrhenry says:

          Which meant that once you’ve completed the first run-through of the game, the only progression you can do is watch numbers get bigger. There’s no “I want to beat this boss to get to the next area”, and all enemies match your level precisely.

          I basically played through once, then put the game down.

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            Well not exactly.Enemies get a lot tougher the higher the difficulty goes,radically changing the tactics needed to beat them.Especially the special ones,that get more abilities at the same time.Playing the game solo on higher difficulties becomes immensely tougher,while playing it with a group makes them much more enjoyable.

      • Bubble181 says:

        As Lanthanide says, this is one of the many, many bad things about DIII they fixed with the exapnsion.
        Honestly, DIII was an incredible let down. DIII with expansion was pretty much everything I wanted (the base story still sucks but that of the expansion is workable.

    • ngthagg says:

      I think Diablo 3 beats 2 in terms of gameplay, at least in the most recent patches. Creating builds is a wonderful, open ended experience. It could be that a Legendary item with an interesting unique ability drops. Or perhaps I’ll be browsing through the skills of a particular class and notice one I’ve never tried. Or maybe I’ll be wondering “can I make this crappy attribute (ie thorns) useful?” And then I’ll come up with a build, slap on some equipment, and start playtesting and refining. The addition of Greater Rifts has provided a way to measure progress, so I can identify if a change is having the impact I want. And if I get bored, I’ve got five other classes just waiting to be experimented with.

      Compared to D2, where respeccing meant starting a whole new character, the whole process is easy, fun, and not punishing in the least.

  10. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Ok,Ive lied.I dont have anything new or interesting to say about starcraft or portal 2.One is my perfect game that I still think is the best rts of them all.Even though there were some worthy ones afterwards,like company of heroes(a shame this one didnt make the list).And portal 2 is just so funny.I mean it did press F to pay respects as a joke before advanced warfare did it in a serious fashion.Also SPAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Sleeping Dragon says:

      Even Starcraft’s narrative, both vanilla and Brood Wars, left in an interesting, dark place. And to be honest an interesting storyline is not something that I’ve come to expect of the RTS genre.

    • Alex says:

      I’m not a fan of Starcraft. The RTS I played the most was Command and Conquer: Generals, but I’d love to see a new one that steals from half a dozen of my favourites.

      From Warcraft 3, I’d take the personality. And I don’t just mean the joke command responses. I like the RPG elements in this game, where you have a hero or heroes who level up, gain new powers and use equipment, and with a bit of modding even the mooks can use a couple of magic items if you’ve got them to spare.

      From Earth 2150 and Warzone 2100 I’d take the metagame. I [i]love[/i] that the campaign for both games gives you a persistent base and a rotating forward base and the ability to transfer units and resources between them. The campaign for Earth 2150 revolves around this feature: the objective of the campaign is to ship enough resources back to the main base to fund a Civilisation-esque Wonder victory condition: a spaceship to escape the dying Earth. Both games also let you assemble units to spec. If you want a heavy hover tank with a mortar on it, you can build it. If you want a cheap repair truck to take care of your damaged units while you’re busy elsewhere, you can build it. On top of that, both games have their own unique perks. Earth 2150 gives you three different layers per map: a surface level, an orbit level and an underground level. It also lets you deform terrain with engineer vehicles, digging trenches and things like that. Combine the two, and it’s possible to dig an elevator to bring a squadron of tanks into the underground, dig a tunnel under the enemy base, and break into their tunnels and wreak havoc there. Warzone 2100 makes great use of groups, allowing a single command unit or radar unit to be assisted by a squadron of friendlies and share their veterancy bonuses with them. It even has counterbattery radars, which automatically directs your artillery to fire at their artillery whenever they rear their heads.

      Supreme Commander has sheer size. Like Warzone 2100 it has some good tools to automate micromanagement, like the ability to set up transports to automatically ferry troops from your factories to the front lines. And it does have some cool features that might be lost in the brawl – one of my first experiences with a game was playing as Cybran and building a fleet to attack my neighbour. They had submarines defending their base, so I simply walked my fleet out of the water and continued blasting it to pieces.

      And finally, Command and Conquer: Generals is one of my favourite games for kiting. I love that the game lets you fill a squadron of humvees with infantry, add a few support humvees, and go racing around the place with the garrisoned infantry and turrets keeping up fire without needing to just sit there with your vehicle pointed at the enemy like in Blizzard’s games. Combat Chinooks, Humvees, Helixes and Overlords, Battle Busses, Bunkers and Palaces all let you have fun with infantry as more than cannon fodder.

      • Bubble181 says:

        Try the Warlords Battlecry series? It combines WCIII-style humor, setting and RPG-ishness (before WCIII did it, btw), doesn’t have a persistent base as such but does allow taking levelled units along to next levels, interesting metagame (in some games), some interesting summoning/upgrade/kiting tactical options, and more. The…3rd? I think? one has a fairly open world where you can choose which levels to take on with what army in what order, and the like, as well.

        The first one has a fixed storyline, but is still interesting in that choices actually have a (small) effect; some secondary heroes can die or betray you, etc – I think there’s 4 different forks for the story and 2 options in each fork. The second one was crappy and the third one great again, I think, though I might be misremembering slightly.

        • acronix says:

          Oh, Battlecry 3’s campaign. The idea of picking the missions you wanted to do and move your army around was neat, but it was kind of lost because most battles were glorified skirmishes. It’s probably the best in that it has the greatest ammount of faction variety, though.

        • Felblood says:

          I don’t think I give Battlecry a fair shake becasue I love actual Warlords too much. Multi-player is a lot more immediate, but Darklords Rising would take the Warlords slot on my list.

  11. Daemian Lucifer says:

    “It presented a fresh new world, which will never feel fresh or new again because publishers insist on continuing an existing storyline – no matter how final and complete the previous ending was – rather than wiping the slate clean and telling a new story.”

    That always bugged me about sequels,not just in video games.Yes,we like the main guys,but their story is sometimes truly over.Do a story about something else in the same universe,be creative.Heck,do a final fantasy thing and completely reboot everything in the sequel.Dont just repeat the same formula,because everything becomes stale if repeated constantly.Even crack cocaine.

    Heck,even the xcom first person shooter,while a train wreck,still was more interesting than 90% of the sequels out there simply because it tried to do something new.They did it poorly,yes,but at least they tried.(technically not true,since the game failed because it tried to copy mass effect.So they decided not to copy one game(good),and do it by copying another game(bad)).

    • overpoweredginger says:

      I would argue that Invisible War actually handled continuing the story of Deus Ex very well, which is why I hold that game leagues above DX:HR (yes you heard that right and no, I’m not trolling).

  12. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Welcome.Welcome to city 17…also known as…HELL!HELL!YOURE ALL GONNA DIE!YOURE ALL DEAD!!

    Ill always maintain that half life 1 is better than 2.Yes 2 had alyx,yes 2 had the gravity gun,but I always prefer going through 1.The weapons are more satisfying,the enemies more diverse and unique,and theres just more charm to it.And the overall story of 1 is something I like more than 2.

    • swenson says:

      Ah, Concerned. One of the two contributing factors to me becoming an unrepentant Valve fangirl. (the other was Still Alive, which was such a brilliant song, it got me to want Portal purely to see what sort of game could spawn such a thing of beauty)

    • Lanthanide says:

      HL1 was much more interesting and varied. I also actually liked Xen. I think HL2 actually suffers in the story department – because nothing is fucking explained. The linearity of HL2 is also much more evident than HL1’s, where you were running around Black Mesa as a single site. In HL2 all the contrived blocked roads and dead ends feel cheap. HL1 also had many more, and more interesting, weapons.

  13. Someone says:

    My picture guesses:

    3rd is Wolf 3d
    5th is Fallout
    6th – Serious Sam
    7th – Mokey Island
    8th – GTA:SA
    9th – NOLF2
    10th – Silent Hill 2
    11th – System Shock 2
    12th – Sim City4

    Number 1 is… Myst?? I think that weird water is from Myst

  14. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Ah,wow.I was one of the few that managed to avoid the craze.First,because I dont like the art style they went for,second because Im not a people person.MMOs were never my thing,and the few online games Ive liked were all pvp shooters.

    Minecraft I did at least try.But its just not my thing.Though if it had the angels from the start…

  15. Mersadeon says:

    I would protest that Portal 1 is WAY more worthy of a spot than Portal 2. Sure, the sequel had a lot of good jokes and great writing, but gameplay suffered a lot from its narrowness. Often, it just became “find the one place you can put a portal in the room”.

    • Tizzy says:

      I just prefered the original because it is tighter in all directions: gameplay, story, environmental storytelling… It is a short, intense experience, with a very small set of mechanics, but that pushes them to their limit, and then delivers a great payoff, both narratively and in gameplay.

      In particular, some of the later puzzles are actually quite tricky to pull off, even if you’ve figured out what you are supposed to do.

      The sequel throws a longer game with lots of story, humor, characters, and interactions with those characters. More variety in the environments, which may not have been a good thing. Tons of mechanics that are not explored to their fullest. Now, I don’t mind jokes and levity, but in this particular case, it felt like the game was trying too hard, and it contributed to the looser feel of the experience.

      My closest comparison point would be the change beetween Fallout 1 and 2. In both cases, the sequel has much more to offer. In both cases, it dilutes the overall experience.

      And while we are on the subject of the extra offerings, I regret to admit that I didn’t play the cooperative part, which may have been a very interesting twist and a tighter experience.

      • Mersadeon says:

        The cooperative part is exactly what you think it is – it is a lot tighter. It also has some great writing, returning to the twisted sarcasm of the first game. Don’t get me wrong, I like Cave Johnson, but in the end I am a sucker for implied threats and cynicism.

        I would also recommend playing some player-created rooms, since it actually has a kind of weird way of having a… story.

        • Alex says:

          The cooperative part has a pretty major weakness, in my experience. It’s a coop puzzle game, which means you are either the guy standing around until your partner finally figures out what they’re meant to do, or you’re the guy getting annoyed because your partner keeps telling you the answers.

      • Felblood says:

        Portal 2 suffered for the sake of fostering the Steam Workshop.

        All those underutilized mechanics were there to be turned into public test chambers by fans, as the great unpaid level design team. In this paradigm,the actual game is just a glorified tutorial.

        Observe that this same attitude is why Starcraft and Warcraft 3 conversion mods took off so well, and so many Starcraft knockoffs failed to take off when E-Sports first hit the big time.

        Is there space on a list like this for a total Conversion like SWAT: Aftermath? It’s not exactly SWAT, Resident Evil or Warcraft III, but if you liked any of those things, you really ought to find some people to play this game with.

    • Someone says:

      Agreed. I also hated the gel puzzles, especially the white gel (spread it all over the place for 2 minutes and that’s your puzzle)

  16. Sleeping Dragon says:

    The only one that surprises me somewhat in this set is Tom Braider, if not the presence than how high on the list it is. I was never really interested in the game and the SW season convinced me that I was right… maybe gameplay makes up for the storytelling because that seemed really meh.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      It does actually.Its really fun to play through.

    • Someone says:

      It’s odd to see this game next to games like Minecraft and Deus Ex. It doesn’t strike me as something noteworthy in any particular way, just a big, polished blockbuster game that noone will remember in 5 years. Well, I suppose it also had all the gory deaths and the quasi-rape sequence in it, but that still doesn’t seem like enough to leave a real mark on the industry and culture.

      • Merlin says:

        Exactly this. I enjoyed it well enough, but I was completely mystified at how much praise was heaped upon it. It’s an AAA action game that’s polished enough to avoid the industry’s most egregious problems but doesn’t really do anything interesting or unique in its own right. If it’s remembered in 5 years (or 2, for that matter), it’ll be more because of how bad AAA is than because of how good Tomb Raider was.

        • Someone says:

          Well, I think it’s gotten a lot of attention and praise because of the whole big debate about feminism in games and the lack of female protagonists. It’s proof against the notion that games with female protagonists don’t sell (though apparently it still didn’t sell well enough, but that’s a whole different matter), plus it turns the series predicated on sex appeal of the main character into grownup character drama type stuff, which can be held up as a good example.
          It is kind of ironic that it wouldn’t even exist without the strength of the franchise that led up to it, but that’s beside the point.

          I should mention that I haven’t actually played the game though, for all I know it could be the most mindblowing experience ever.

          • Merlin says:

            plus it turns the series predicated on sex appeal of the main character into grownup character drama type stuff, which can be held up as a good example.

            Eh… The writing in the reboot is largely goodish (except for Sam, please hurl her into a volcano and call it a day) but it’s a kind of blandly safe story as far as Women In Games go. Briefly consider addressing sexual assault then move right along, briefly address first kill then move right along, something something determination, and down the checklist we go. I could very easily see this being a version of Crash or American Beauty: critical darlings for a spell, then quickly turned on for their triteness. In other words, is this actual improvement, or just sloppy (but timely!) pandering to a different demographic that we’ll all regret having liked in a few years? Adding a sad origin story does not automatically make a better, deeper character.

            New Tomb Raider succeeded in not going full retard, but I’m not sure it succeeded at much else in terms of the the greater discussion of women in games.

            • Alex says:

              “(except for Sam, please hurl her into a volcano and call it a day)”

              I like Sam. She might not have minored in asskicking like most of the crew, but I don’t hate her just for being a civilian caught up in something way out of her league. It’s not like she chews you out for taking so long to rescue her or anything, she’s just a nice person not cut out for dealing with marauding hordes of raiders. I’d like to see her return in the sequel, not as the damsel in distress this time but just as Lara’s friend.

            • Someone says:

              I wouldn’t know either way, I didn’t play the game and didn’t pay attention to the story while watching it on Spoiler Warning. I was just talking about the way the game comes across: even if it doesn’t actually have a really deep story, it has the appearance of one. And, as usual, even if it wouldn’t make for a great movie it’s still very good by videogame standards. So I guess it must have been doing something right.

              On a related note: Rhianna Pratchett recently came on Total Biscuit’s podcast to discuss the representation of women in games. While talking about her work on Tomb Raider she mentioned getting a bunch of emails from fans, including male fans who praised the game for making them see certain things from the female perspective, or something along those lines.

  17. Abnaxis says:

    Did FFX make it to the list? I don’t remember it, which is weird for how many blog posts there were about it.

    I mean, I guess this is a PC-gaming list, but there are other titles that were ported from consoles on it…was FFX ever ported?

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      It was ported recently on steam.

      • Thomas says:

        Dude! You got my hopes up. XIII was the one recently ported. FFX had a rerelease for the PS3 recently but it’s not on Steam as far as I can see

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          Ah,my bad.I know one of them was ported,but was not interested enough about which one to check.

          Dont get me wrong,Ill praise final fantasy for what its doing(well technically what it used to do)with every sequel being unique,and Im sure some of them are good games(in fact,I did enjoy the final fantasy like gameplay of some of the other jrpgs),but Im simply not interested in the franchise.At all.

  18. Ross Smith says:

    Um, Shamus? You’ve got 9 games there, not 8. You skipped 6 and then used 5 and 4 twice.

  19. karln says:

    Never really knew what to do in Minecraft :(

    And WoW to me is just ‘that mediocre, super-grindy, level-bound MMO that my group keeps dragging me back to after trying much better MMOs for a month’. Much sadface.

    • For me, it was the following:

      1. Find and build up a village.
      2. Build a kick-butt house with all the amenities.
      3. Hit the Nether for blaze rods and quartz (columns are cool).
      4. Find a stronghold, both for the End portal and “free” books.
      5. After getting enough magic stuff, go find and disassemble an ocean monument so I can make blue-green buildings in my village.
      6. Craft/trade for even more magic, go and kill the ender dragon.

      I’ve never gotten to take on the Wither, mostly because I’ve never gotten more than one skull drop from the nether skeletons.

      Also, without mods, the villager NPCs are often suicidal morons. I also don’t think they ever fixed the zombie horde not appearing in your village no matter how well-lit it is. This was annoying if one of your primary resource mines was close to your village, meaning if you got lost in resource gathering, your village could be wiped out while you hunted for diamonds.

      If you want a shortcut to finding a world with lots of neat stuff and knowing where it is, you can always use a program called “Amidst” on the Minecraft wiki. It tells you where villages, strongholds, etc. are.

    • Ivan says:

      This is both the greatest flaw and feature of minecraft. There really is no goal in the game, nothing you are trying to accomplish. It is a sandbox and it gives you a great deal of freedom to do whatever you want. Personally I need a little more context though. I would love if the game had a challenge centered around the building mechanics and said “here is your goal, here are your tools, get to work”.

      Personally I think it would be great if there was a system where waves and waves of monsters would assault you and your house. It would need a lot of work to fine-tune the spawning and pathing, as well as some mechanics to allow the mobs to break down the player’s defenses (like flying monsters that carry others onto your walls, and digging monsters and creepers exploding at strategic locations) but creating a fortress that could withstand the onslaught would be a fun challenge.

      • purf says:

        I adore Minecraft and it needed to top off this list but I will agree here: I quite often found myself wishing for some thing or the other which made elaborate defenses a neccessity and not just “for fun”.

  20. Tizzy says:

    Quiet moments in HL2 remain some of my fondest gaming memories. Going from one encounter to the next, wondering what the game has in store for me… fun!

  21. Thomas says:

    This part felt back on familiar territory, although I only played 2/9 of these games.

    In my defence, I have _tried_ to play Diablo II, Minecraft and Deus Ex, I just can’t get further than the first 10 minutes.

  22. Jokerman says:

    This was the least surprising part of the list, maybe bar Tomb Raider… i knew it would be there, but not as high. Everything else i could of wrote for you and got it more or less right :D

  23. Zekiel says:

    Well done Shamus and thanks for giving us lots of fodder to talk about! I must say I am excited that this is the first section of the list where I’ve actually played a majority of the games! My only gripe is that I’m surprised you selected Portal 2 over Portal. It certainly a fuller game with a more fleshed-out plot, but I felt it was a bit bloated compared with the very simple charm of the original. Its still jolly good though. And Cave Johnson is awesome.

  24. DaMage says:

    I would like to point out I have only played 3 of the games in your top 8, Diablo 2, Portal 2 and of course Minecraft…..and I loved the crap out of all of them.

  25. Michael says:

    I’m one of the few people who liked Diablo 3, it seems. Then again, I also prefer it on console, so maybe I’m just a weirdo :)

    • Jake Taylor says:

      Diablo 3 is legitimately better on console, even according to the reviewers on PC Gamer. The camera angle and controls make the combat feel so much better, and it’s hard to describe why. Maybe because it’s a lot easier when you have a move assigned to each button of the thing in your hands.

      • Michael says:

        Yes! Every time I try to explain how Diablo was practically made for console controls, my friends give me a weird look ( or claim that the console port was “dumbed down” somehow).

  26. Zekiel says:

    I never “got” Deus Ex. I can never work out why really. I played it a bit late (2004 I think) so perhaps the graphics put me off a bit? I can’t recall. I managed to play through all the way to end and then never felt any inclination to pick it up again, in spite of the fact that it is (by all accounts) one of the most replayable games going. I think I was slightly annoyed by its approach of “all conspiracy theories are true”. Its a game (like Thief) that I really want to love, but I just respect it instead.

    I significantly preferred Human Revolution, probably because both the stealth and shooting elements were better. (I’m just playing through the DLC at the moment for the first time.)

    So – to any who loved Deus Ex (the first) what was it that made it so great?

    • Esteban Navarrete says:

      I haven’t completed the game once (i’m at the “Apartment Showdown”), i started playing game and taking them seriously (aka thinking, discussing, arguing, evaluating, etc.) at around 2010 (me being 18), i played Deus Ex: HR first (i started playing the original 3 weeks ago) and i generally shut my ears down whenever i smell anything relate-able to the “conspiracy” scent… and i love Deus Ex (and Thief).
      It’s hard to put into words what made those particular games click for me, but if we take our differences as a sign, maybe it just doesn’t do the trick for certain people…

    • lurkey says:

      Never got it either, and it’s not because I only finished it this year or it being abysmally ugly, because I liked plenty of old and/or ugly games. Maybe because I never was a fan of shooters (last one I played was Duke Nukem, then discovered other genres and never looked back until Mass Effect 2 sneaked upon me), so could not appreciate the game’s replay value, multiple solutions to quests, smart story and other things possibly unusual for a shooter, because all these are staples of a RPG rather than something new and bold. In short – Fallout 2 did it better.

      Now I am kind of wary to try System Shock 2. :|

  27. Abnaxis says:

    While I’m thinking of games I’m surprised didn’t make it, I’m surprised Guild Wars 2 isn’t anywhere on the list

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Thats in the Joshs list of top 69 games.

    • Abnaxis says:

      I thought some more, and now I’m genuinely curious why GW2 didn’t make the list. Not in an accusatory sort of way, but more out of curiosity. The art direction was highly praised, the MMO formula changes were highly praised, and the dungeons spawned a series of posts that crossed blogs. I bought the game after I saw it here, and I still go back and play it every once in a while. In the randomly subjective terms of this particular Top X list, that would seem to put it on even footing with Tomb Raider, I would think.

      Is it because the game was kind of a fast-burn-out sort of deal? It seems like the usual pattern for people was to play it for a couple months, get bored, and leave and never come back. Did that make it too forgettable for the list?

  28. Eric says:

    Thanks for writing this, Shamus. I enjoyed reading and anticipating what you’d include next.

    I don’t agree with a lot of your choices, but I think this also reveals just how arbitrary and subjective this sort of thing really is. If you don’t pick the “right” games or put them in the “right” order (by what criteria? who knows), your list is “wrong” somehow and needs to be “fixed”. Of course, none of us can agree on how it should be fixed or why, which shows that the entire premise of it being “wrong” was extremely dubious to begin with.

    I know my top games, outside of a very few, and their ordering, would probably change on any given day for any given reason, or no reason. If anything this might read better if one ignores the numbers entirely.

  29. Patrick the off-put says:

    I find it droll that your main reason for Minecraft being #1 are unit sales. Not that the unit sales are an inappropriate measuring stick, just that I would have thought you would have given other reasons for making it #1. I don’t really recall you mentioning unit sales for any other game on the list.

    And you forgot to include ‘Oregon Trail’ on your list. And the ‘Lurking horror’. Either would have been better than “papers, please”.

    You fail. You suck. May the shame and embarrassment of your incompetence follow your house for, like, the next 20 minutes or something…..

  30. Great list! I do agree on WoW, damn thing keeps sucking me back in. Blizz managed to get me to stay awake all night playing more than once, go to a midnight opening, and make two separate trips to meet and stay with two different groups of people I’d never met in person before (and I’m still friends with ’em).
    On the plus side, their password change thingy screwed up, so I can’t get sucked back in cause I can’t get into my account. WAHAHAHAH! New expansion, you have no power over me! I’ll be running around Bree as a bear instead! (PS, Shamus, lotro has a new class, in case you didn’t know and they fixed most of the incredibly annoying quests in the early game)

    • Ivan says:

      I too want get sucked into WoW again. For all it’s faults it definitely had it’s high points. I’ve heard that some of my complaints have been addressed but some are so fundamental to the game that there’s no way they’re not still there.

      I want to give it another try but I know the endless gear grind will drive me away again. The gear treadmill is just simply set to a faster speed than I’m willing to run and so long as that’s true, I can never truly test myself in PvP. I’ll never be able to guarantee that my loss wasn’t due to simply being under-geared and that my wins didn’t come from the opposite circumstances.

      I also like to do PvE for a change of pace and a bit of exploration, but no groups need rogues(which are by far the most fun for PvP), they don’t need DPS, DPS is a dime a dozen, besides, healing is much more fun than wailing on a punching bag until it finally falls over. So I try to use a Druid in dungeons and raids, but if maintaining one character was hard, then two is impossible! Not only that but now I have the problem where I might be in the mood for a dungeon, but I want to gear up my Rogue. “Tough luck” says Blizzard, everything that is remotely valuable is soul-bound.

      The dungeon loot system is just generally a grindy mess. You have to commit to an hour long dungeon and succeed just for a chance to roll for the loot you need, and sometimes no-one gets what they want. No one in the party can use that dagger that would be so great for my rogue? Well I guess we have to shard it because it is completely useless otherwise. Nope, you can’t trade it, it belongs to whoever picks it up, regardless of weather or not their class can even use it.

      There’s just system after system in place that make a convoluted mess and pile up on-top of each other to produce maximum grinding (of content). World of Warcraft would be much more fun if it didn’t waste so much of my time.

      And yet it still calls to me…

      • Humanoid says:

        Not a defense of the mechanics as such, which are indeed silly, but dungeons take about 20min last I was active (which was over a couple years ago now), and they’ve gotten easier still since then I’ve heard.

        Maybe with the queue time of the LFD tool you’d get close to an hour overall as DPS, granted. Not sure since I never used it much, I played WoW to raid and raid only.

        • Ivan says:

          I wouldn’t be surprised if you could manage 20 min in most dungeons due to the creative and non-intuitive/non-intended methods of circumventing trash mobs that people always come up with. (Which is another thing, why is there trash at all? why isn’t each encounter designed to be engaging and rewarding?) But while speed running a dungeon is fun for a challenge, it is both hard on newbies and not as fun as doing it properly, because then it just becomes all about the loot with no opportunity for exploration. Honestly, there’s no reason why you should have to do the dungeon/raid 5 times to get the gear you need to advance to Heroic (aka the same dungeons but with higher numbers) before you can finally grind those long enough to get raid quality gear. Well no reason except to waste time.

          I understand that WoW has this hardcore crowd that will still blaze through all this content in a week, but asking everyone to do that amount of grinding is insane. They really need some other solution to encourage people to play and replay dungeons because they have a horrible habit of gating off content with gear checks.

          • Humanoid says:

            For the most part, “creative” paths through dungeons were a vanilla thing only, and one of the things about it I missed the most in subsequent years. I’m no traditionalist, I was strongly in favour of most of the development changes they made during that time, but having each dungeon not necessarily be a barely disguised linear corridor was one of the few things that disappointed me.

            No, 20 minutes these days is, as far as I know, fully the intended way of clearing the current dungeons, without any fancy tricks. There is one way and only one way through, and it generally involves killing everything and skipping nothing, and it takes 20 minutes. I suppose one point though is that for the most part, the Heroic versions are doable without really grinding the normal version anymore, I recall doing just fine in quest-quality gear.

            N.B. As stated earlier, experience is from Cataclysm, I haven’t played Pandas, though reports from guildmates is that it was even easier.

            • Ivan says:

              Oh, well then. That’s nice at least. I still have no idea exactly what they changed but grinding 20 min dungeons sounds much less painful than I’m used to. My experience is only from the start of BC to the start of Cata where I stopped before hitting the new level cap. Up until that point hour long dungeons were fairly normal for me at least. Of course, it wasn’t until half way through WotLK that they added the dungeon finder and before that it took a much larger time investment to organize a group, usually at the expense of doing anything else.

              • Yeah, the dungeon running times have significantly improved from the beginning of Cat (oh god, that was a cluster-fuck trying to get heroic dungeon gear for tier 11). I raided seriously from Naxx through all of Cat, hit Mists and hated the first zone and realized I was so far beyond “been here, done that, got way too many obsolete t-shirts” that it wasn’t even funny. I have at least one of every class except monk, rogue, and warrior at at least 80, and yet only one 90. Bunch of 85s (I think I’ve memorized all the Cat zones) and I just couldn’t face it again even if my guildes are awesome and all my friends play.
                Getting into raiding with the raid finder (which I tried later on) is also quite easy, and they realized that the rep grind overload in Mists was not the best idea ever. But they’ve fallen in love with phased questing and long quest chains, so I’m guessing the new expansion content is going to be nightmarishly insane on Thurs with bottlenecks (according to a former guildie it isn’t possible to do what I did first night of Cat and jump ahead in the zone and pick up quests in a later hub).
                On the other hand, I can run around Evendim helping the Rangers retake their former homeland, it costs me nothing (I bought the quest pack at some point I’m thinking, since I’m no longer subbed), and the world chat’s crazier than I’ve ever seen it (this might not be a selling point). If you wander into lotro, I hang out on Gladden as Nathyrra, a hunter currently cursing the stupid Lothlorien elves and eternally grateful she’s not lost in Moria’s 3D world on a 2D map anymore. Feel free to hit me up for a port or two (yes hunters port, they’re more wow mage than wow hunter) or a bit of gold or gear or a good kinship (guild).

          • poiumty says:

            “why is there trash at all? why isn’t each encounter designed to be engaging and rewarding?”

            Highs and lows, dude. If everything is special, nothing is special. Also, build-up. Also, contrast. Basically the same thing.

            “Honestly, there’s no reason why you should have to do the dungeon/raid 5 times to get the gear you need to advance to Heroic (aka the same dungeons but with higher numbers) before you can finally grind those long enough to get raid quality gear.”

            Things have changed since Wrath. I logged in for my free 7 days and it’s almost… well, let’s just say all those “it’s going to be casualized to SMITHEREENS!” slippery slope fallacies weren’t fallacies at all. There’s flexible raids now that adjust themselves based on the number of people in them, and they also seem to be the least difficult raids. I’d be surprised if you still needed heroic blues/purples to raid (add to that the fact that they removed all of the stats that were a headache to acquire, such as +hit…)

            And dungeons are kind of a joke now. The automated dungeon finder groups you automatically with people across all servers and teleports you into the dungeon no matter where you are, then brings you back to the same point once you leave the group. No human interaction required. They’ve chopped the dungeons up into sometimes multiple parts (Dire Maul has like 3 separate dungeons now, Maraudon has ~4) to reduce the time spent in them, and with heirlooms, people blow through them at breakneck speed (5-10 minutes most of the time). Except they didn’t nerf the xp from dungeons, which means the de facto way to speed-level your alts is just to group up for dungeons over and over (which also fills you up with blues as you get a guarranteed class-specific blue for every random dungeon you complete). I managed to get a healer panda alt to level ~50 just from playing ~2 hours per day in my 7 day free return trial.

            • Ivan says:

              Idk, a lot of that sounds like improvements to me. Smaller dungeons means more people can play the game because it no longer demands such a large time investment. The exp/heirloom thing sounds like a feature, after all, after playing a max lvl toon, starting a new one is mindnumbingly easy. I get that they didn’t want the leveling zones to become completely empty but lvling alts took so long when all you wanted was a change of pace. It’s a shame though that all dungeons are easy though. I don’t know why they threw out difficulty completely in the process of making everything else more accessible.

              • poiumty says:

                From your perspective they might as well be improvements, which is why I mentioned them. I know I’m kinda thankful I didn’t have to do 90 levels worth of quests, though I’m also pretty freaked out by how fast it is. I mean, it’s great for us veterans, but imagine a new player – they’d be driven to take the easy route to max level and miss out on a whole buttload of content. Most of which is filler, but… still a lot of good content too.

                Low-level dungeons are easy, and they haven’t started being really serious at level 60 either (though that won’t stop some people from wiping over and over…). But level 80 dungeons, at least, feel like they’re in a good spot difficulty-wise.

                • Ivan says:

                  Well on one hand, the newbies will have to slow down to gear up because they won’t have access to heirloom gear (unless of-course they use their free “lvl to 90 instantly card”) but this is also a problem that blizzard brought on themselves with their never ending power creep. Even if the newbies slowed down there is still plenty of content they’ll never see, especially raids. No one is going to be queuing up for those old raids because they’d be too hard to waste much time when you’re at an appropriate level, and their rewards wouldn’t even last you to the next level of the next expansion. Power creep has made all this content irrelevant and is really the core problem at the heart of all my complaints about world of warcraft.

                  • poiumty says:

                    One thing to clarify: my alt didn’t have any heirlooms and I’ve never had problems with gear, in fact I routinely upgrade it. So there’s no need to quest to get gear, dungeons take care of everything.

  31. Esteban Navarrete says:

    I would like to name 1 game that wasn’t on the list nor in any of the comments (i think): Devil May Cry 3… (andyeahsuredmc4too.jpg)
    While the PC version came 1 year later, it’s to this day (with 3 days worth of work in order to get the damn thing to work properly) one of, if not, the Best Spectacle Fighter of all time.
    The only real rival is one of the Bayonetta games and that’s about it…
    Putting the quality of a game with such cavernous amounts of depth into is words feels like a Sisyphaan Task… to this day is hard to find people who have mastered all of it’s possibilities (and with the recent Style Switching mod the one thing holding the title back has been lifted)

    • IFS says:

      I don’t think Shamus has played the DMC games, so they can’t make the list (just like BG2) that said were I making a list of top games they’d be on it somewhere. In regards to the Bayonetta games being their only rival I’m inclined to submit a few other platinum titles into the running, Revengeance is a personal favorite of mine and Wonderful 101 (while I haven’t played it) looks pretty fantastic.

      • Esteban Navarrete says:

        Well.. this is a highly personal opinion but on a general basis i score Platinum Games a bit lower simply because of their heavy reliance on QTEs.
        Now Platinum DEFINITELY have a strong grip on QTEs and avoid the “Press F to feel the feels”, but regardless it could be done in a better way: DMC4 did this. DMC4 had a specific mechanic dedicated for grabs which could be implemented by the player in combos and strings along with puzzles and more notably: Enemy Projectiles. The game is heavily reliant on you learning to handle projectiles with grabs (some bosses being particularly hard to handle without them) along with the “Finishers” changing depending if whether you activate them with Devil Trigger (basically Rage of the Gods from GoW)or not, or during the “Finisher”… all of these thing put them well above QTEs, and while Platinum implementation is one of the best ones out there, they are still QTEs: “To press F to win, or not press F to win, That is the question”. Little to no skill involved and Platinum relies heavily (all MGR:the revengening bosses are killed with QTEs) on these as in: you can damage the boss however YOU see fit, with the combos YOU wish to string together while countering the Boss attacks as YOU see fit based on YOUR own skill… until a certain criteria is met, now press F, then Q, then Mash X and you win. If you failed at any of the previous 3: DIAS (Do It Again Stupid).
        So while Platinum Games are the best Spectacle Fighter devs (by virtue of not being any other dev focused on it in the market) at least in my opinion, they still could have huge improvements, while DMC 3 and 4 didn’t really needed huge improvements, they needed un-cappers and dev time.

  32. tmtvl says:

    And in a few years’ time the list will probably change again as tastes are ever wont to do.

    Still, all I have to say is “you value Half Life 2 over Deus Ex!?” and lose all faith in humanity.

  33. Bloodsquirrel says:

    ALL HAIL OUR MINECRAFTIAN OVERLORDS.

    Shamus needs to stop by my server sometime and witness the industrial might of The Underhall.

  34. swenson says:

    Minecraft is such a funny game for me. I totally agree with it being #1, and yet I haven’t played in months. Haven’t played seriously in at least a couple of years. But there was awhile there where it was literally all I did.

    I think I simply got to the point where I’d done everything I wanted to. I’d built huge things, I’d gone to the Nether, I’d gone to the End, I’d built a giant pixel art Fluttershy from scratch, what was there left to do?

    But I am still incredibly fond of the game, and someday I will probably pick it up again. I have a half-finished full-scale model of Buckingham Palace to complete, after all.

  35. Falling says:

    Aw yeah, Starcraft is top 8! I had faith that it was still coming, but I was getting a little nervous. Definitely my all time favourite game and I still play it as much as I can. I keep trying out new RTS’s (Battle for ME II, Age III, SupCom 2, Empire at War, DoW II, SC2/HoTS) , but I keep coming back to this one, and it wasn’t even my favourite at the beginning. I was Warcraft II and Age of Empires II until 2007. But then I converted and never looked back.

    I have yet to find a game that so perfectly matched macro and strategy with the twitch control of a fighting game. Vulture micro, Shuttle-Reaver micro, Mutalisk micro and the rest has never felt more satisfying :)

  36. ChristopherT says:

    The Tomb Raider reboot is one of those games that I do not understand what people like so much about it. A list of things Shamus was just complaining about in one of the last the Last of Us episodes can be applied to Tomb Raider as well. Where do all these mooks get enough food to support them? They can’t leave the island right? There’s a few deer around, but not enough to support the numbers on that island, there was somewhere around one hundred or so guys. There can’t possibly be enough ship wrecks to sustain them through raiding. But I can understand having enough fun with the game that that does not matter as much, where as if you’re not having fun you tend to forgive less.

    I find some of the game’s praises to be folly, she’s Finally wearing pants (already happened in previous Tomb Raider games.), we get to see her kill her first man and the emotional impact it has on her (already happened, and while I have not played or even watched a lets play of the first game, the remake of Anniversary brings a nice game where we have Lara kill a man for the first time, and then, if memory serves, she doesn’t kill another person for the rest of the game. Unlike the reboot where her first kill left her frightened, sacred, hurt, and then she woman-ed up and killed an entire island of people.), the character model interacts with the environment – puts her hands up to fire – presses her hands against walls, ect (in thee few previous games before the reboot, Lara would interact with the environment to the extent of pushing brush out of her way, foliage that you can just walk through, she would push out of her way.).

    I didn’t like the gun play, didn’t like the mook spawn rooms, the run of the mill enemies, the lack of enemy animals (a few dogs sprinkled about the first half of the game, the deer couldn’t even fight back?), the slightly long length of the brutal death scenes, past the first hour of the game the joy of playing faded for me, and never returned.

    Having not been a fan of the series, just getting into it with Underworld and liking the cheese factor, to then have that all disappear just kind of sucks. But it’s not for me, I get it. But I would really like to at least be able to see what IS interesting about it to people. I hope it’s not another Resident Evil situation, at least for y’all. “The good one” “The only one worth playing” “The best in the serious” of Resident Evil 4followed by the reception of Resident Evil 5. Good luck with the next Tomb Raider =P

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      It is the gameplay and lara herself.You didnt like it,and thats fine,but for us it clicked,thats why we are so forgiving for the rest of the crap.Its not that we dont see the problems it has,its that we dont mind them.

      That said,I doubt many would put it as high as Shamoose did.I know I certainly wouldnt.

      Oh,and you should give a go to the guardian of light spinoff.Its a much better game(to me at least)than any other tom braiders.

  37. arron says:

    Great list of games. I can’t disagree with any of them.

    Wish someone would do a decent cyberpunk game like Deus Ex again which didn’t have nerfed built-for-console mechanics. And another System Shock which fixes everything that SS2 got wrong. And adds even more good stuff they couldn’t do back then due to limitations with the hardware.

    And make it moddable. I know that SS2 has mods, but they’re built around a broken editor and trying to extend a game engine that was never really designed for it. And I’ve see Deus Ex mods but they’re an arcane art now. It’s something that you want to release an editor and API for with the game so people can get right into building content and a community. Cyberpunk is modding basically.

    Once I get free time back again, I may just do it myself.

  38. Taellosse says:

    I have no idea if this will mean anything for the rebooted franchise in the long run, but it’s worth noting that at the time it was new, the original Tomb Raider was seen as having really strong gameplay – the puzzles were solid, the combat was tense and interesting without being overdone, the platforming was pretty great for an early 3D title, and it starred a woman who not only didn’t need rescuing, but kicked ass (and also featured a female villain who was just as strong). It has aged poorly, but it was popular in its day for good reason.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      There are games that even today are more popular than their reboots.Xcom being one of them.Yes,it has a high learning curve,but numerous people have tried it for the first time recently,and said here that they love it.Same can be said for deus ex.Fallout and tom braider,not so much.

      • Taellosse says:

        From a strictly numerical perspective, it’s quite likely that any even moderately successful new installment will be more popular than a prior version from 20+ years ago. The sheer volume of people that play games (and the much higher cost of producing them, which necessitates a higher volume of sales to be considered a success).

        I’d frankly be quite surprised if there weren’t far more people who are fans of Fallout 3 and New Vegas than ever played the original 2 titles, even accounting for people who have gone and bought them off of GOG or similar and played them recently. Same for Tomb Raider.

  39. Jamas Enright says:

    Er… 64 down to 1 and 0… isn’t that 65 games?

  40. lethal_guitar says:

    Out of Half-Life 2 and the episodes, I like episode 2 the most personally. Most emotionally gripping Alyx getting stabbed and nearly dying, best atmosphere, epic “cinematic physics”, a lot of great moments and good ideas, and this incredibly tense final fight that is not at all a classic boss fight.. It’s just the most refined experience of all three games in my eyes. Ahhh, that pleasant wave of nostalgia..

    Of course, it only really makes sense to play Ep2 if you’ve gone through HL2 and Ep1 before, so for the purpose of a list like this, putting HL2 on there is probably the only choice that makes sense.

    • Supahewok says:

      And yet for me, Ep2 is the low point of the entire franchise.

      Mainly because of the vehicle. I liked the vehicles section(s?) in Half-Life 2. But in Ep2, I couldn’t help but feel that they changed how the vehicle handled, and I could NEVER get a grip on it. Made all the worse because up to that point there had never been a game where I couldn’t eventually get a handle on all the different systems of movement. But I simply could not get the vehicle in Ep2 to work for me. The turning just always felt off. And most of the Episode, I think, was a vehicle section.

      Did they change the vehicle for Ep2? Or was it all in my head? I’ve always wondered.

      • It’s hard for me to praise/poo-poo the car in HL2 because the last time I played, I was more concerned with keeping that effing gnome in the car so I could launch it into space.

      • lethal_guitar says:

        Hmm, good question.. I don’t remember noticing anything strange about the handling, but I played Ep2 a long time after playing Hl2, so hard to tell..

      • krellen says:

        My problem with Episode 2 is the ending. Not the cliffhanger, but the ending gameplay sequence. I just really dislike the “tag and strike” mechanics, and find the whole “kill the walkers” sequence there to be horribly horribly unfun.

        If using the Magnusson devices was optional and you could do it with rockets instead, I’d like it (make the rocket crates be spread out to keep the challenge). Otherwise, I really dread replaying episode 2 because I really do not want to replay that sequence.

      • Felblood says:

        I think the car is lighter weight and has a higher center of gravity.

        This makes it handle more like a “real” buggy, but opens up a danger of bouncy castle Mako shenanigans. I doubt they had the confidence for that when HL2 was coming out as the tech demo for their new engine and the poster child for the infant Steam. It needed to be difficult to flip or glitch that car. By the time Ep2 came out, the training wheels were off.

  41. I actually liked the story in Diablo III, because it did what the last game in the series is supposed to do: wrap up the series. The overarching story was a true trilogy–evil is introduced and held back in Diablo, but it’s pretty obvious that this is temporary at best. Then in Diablo II, evil is released and fought back, but good suffers a major setback (the destruction of the Worldstone). Then In Diablo III evil is finally defeated and humanity comes into its own with the revival of the Nephalem.

    But that story doesn’t mesh with the gameplay, which is all about fighting (literally) endless hordes of monsters.

  42. kdansky says:

    Tomb Raider is one of the few games in this list which I would completely disagree with. The original was very novel, but that is where the high points end. None of the games have stood the test of time, and the newest iteration is just a tribute to how much polish you can pack into a single title if you throw hundreds of millions at it, but it isn’t really a good game.

    It’s interesting that Blizzard holds a spot in the top 10 with one iteration of every type of game they ever made. The freshly announced Overwatch might revitalize the competitive FPS genre (I’m so glad it isn’t shoulder-cam garbage), even if the trailer was tasteless violence glorification to the max.

    • Felblood says:

      Okay, serious question that I can’t figure out how to phrase without sounding snide:

      How do you advertise an FPS, without glorifying violence?

      I mean, it’s a game about committing and observing acts of violence, from an up-close-and-personal angle. How are you going to showcase that?

      Bear in mind that I haven’t seen the trailer, on account of not caring about this game, so it might be that i am just misunderstanding your point. Nevertheless, I am more interested in hearing everyone’s answer to the question. It’s a tricky puzzle, and I’m not sure it can be entirely solved.

      • Lanthanide says:

        Assuming he’s talking about the trailer and not the gameplay video, it was actually kinda weird.

        It focusses on two kids who are all excited to see their ‘heroes’ shoot at each other, trying to kill each other. They get caught in the crossfire and don’t seem that upset by it.

        Actually the stupidest thing about that trailer is they keep firing ‘bullets’ at each other that either never hit their target, or can be brushed away like insects when they do. Which doesn’t really make sense.

      • Humanoid says:

        Well, Nintendo are making what’s basically a paintball shooter, so that’s one angle I guess. Not an FPS as such, but could easily be.

      • kdansky says:

        I’m going to be snide too: Don’t conclude something based on a trailer which you haven’t even seen.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FqnKB22pOC0

        But to explain the issue for people who have seen it: I agree, FPS are violence glorification. But it’s not a binary switch, it’s a gradual thing. In the trailer, we have two young kids, who say tasteless things like “So cool, he could level a skyscraper!” (Twin Towers was cool?), get into the middle of a firefight, are not afraid at all, and all the bullets shot can’t hurt anyone, and don’t even damage the surroundings.

        Compare to this trailer for LoL, and note how much more sensible the character react to the impending pain and death:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cXZqfuJ9Zps

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          “(Twin Towers was cool?)”

          Twin towers were not the only skyscrapers in the world.

          And please,have you ever seen any of the comercials for laser tag,nerf gun,gi joe,or anything targeted at young boys ever.Its young boys doing fake violence all the way.Nothing different from that trailer.

    • Chris Robertson says:

      It’s interesting that Blizzard holds a spot in the top 10 with one iteration of every type of game they ever made.

      As a registered pedant and old fart, I disagree with that statement. You whipper snapper.

  43. RCN says:

    While I saw Starcraft in the top 8 slot from a mile away, I still dreaded to know it would be here.

    For me the original Starcraft is a lot like WoW. They took their genres and did such an ultimate iteration on it that they forever broke the genre and driven everyone else out of business either for failing to copy it or failing to TRY to copy it.

    For me in 1998 there was one other RTS that also gave a valiant step in the RTS genre. While Starcraft “merely” polished it and introduced asymmetrical sides, there was one that tried to start something new. Tried to make the genre something less “Gamey”.

    Yeah, anyone with passing familiarity with me will know the game I’m talking about is Total Annihilation. Unfortunately, it had very few followers (Warlords Battlecry? The series that killed Warlords and then killed itself? Eh…) but when I played it at the time I was marveled by many of its introductions to the genre.

    Easing unit command instead of artificially making it more convoluted, so strategy can have a greater impact than twitchy über APM mastery more akin to machines than people? THOSE HERETICS! Real time flowing economy instead of tightly timed resource management where you’re doing good by balancing your production with your input instead of personally ordering the barracks to train a new marine the moment you have 50 crystals? MADNESS! Physic’s mandated simulation instead of a rigid hard-counter system? MONSTERS!

    The path that RTS could have taken if it had chosen (or rather, forced) to forever keep copying Starcraft…

    • Felblood says:

      I would play the counter argument that Total Annihilation died, not because it didn’t ape Starcraft, but because Blizzard learned lessons in interface design, that Totla Annialation: Kingdoms blatantly ignored, and the game was made less for it.

      Frankly, the interface was terrible, and the tech trees were badly documented. It was a hard game to get into, and overcoming that learning curve rewarded you with a game whose interface felt old, clunky and inconvenient. I desperately wanted to love kingdoms, but there just was not a good game under all that lore and stunning visuals.

      • Humanoid says:

        It also required a $5000 PC or thereabouts to run, probably involving at least one of those Obsidian 3Dfx cards (a card with multiple 3Dfx Voodoo chips on it).

        All said, I have to say the RTS genre is probably my most disliked video game genre of all (unless we count horror as a genre – I’m the squeamish sort), but I did learn to appreciate the elegance of Total Annihilation in how it played relative to any of its competitors that I tried. Things like seamless queuing, unified build/repair mechanics and proper flight/projectile modelling were both revolutionary at the time yet also were never matched in the years that followed. I have no such appreciation for the likes of *craft, C&C, AoE, etc, which feel clunky and incredibly limited in comparison – the feeling is kind of like comparing a jet plane to a propeller plane.

        • RCN says:

          Have you tried Supreme Commander? While it also needed a 5000$ PC at the time (2007), I believe a mid-range PCs from nowadays can run it quite well.

          Those glorious 81×81 km maps… I still swoon.

          Interestingly, Total Annihilation had a revolutionary engine that made the game age really well, since you could pick it up nowdays exactly as it was and play it on the huge resolution of modern computers, without modding.

          On the other hand, some maps are smaller than the higher resolution and crash the game if you try to play them…

          • Humanoid says:

            Own it,probably from a Humble Bundle or something like that, but never really had any urge to play it. As I said, it’s not that I actually enjoyed TA – I don’t really – but that I appreciate its systems as being clever and elegant.

            In the same vein, for example, is Portal, a game I’ve never played (I have motion sickness issues with the Source engine) but do admire in terms of its design, as opposed to Half-life which to me is just-another-shooter which I don’t give a stuff about.

      • RCN says:

        For me the interesting part of Kingdoms was that it is simply one of the symptoms of the Starcraft dominance I talked about. Many of the changes done in Kingdoms were there to try and comply with some demands to make the game more like Starcraft.

        Want Asymmetric Sides? Here’s a side that has no buildings and a side that’s literally useless if there’s no water, but invincible with it! Want more micro? Here are creatures with special skills you either activate on demand for game-breaking effects or leave on auto-cast to wreck your own base! Simplified economy? There’s only mana now! Hard counters? You’re the boss, now some units are literally useless unless used for countering this other unit!

        At least it kept the veterancy system it had introduced on Vanilla Sup Com but never told anyone it was even there.

    • Ivan says:

      Well there is now Planetary Annihilation which is the spiritual successor to that. There are so many tools to limit the need for micro. The flowing economy is there, just build a factory, que up a few units (even before completing the factory) and set it to auto-build. Give the factory a rally point, or an attack or patrol command and each unit produced will be given that command. Global commands allow you to order a fabricator to build metal extractors on every extraction point on the map (they’ll plan an efficient route to accomplish this task) and giving a global patrol to your scouts will ensure that the entire planet is searched until new orders are given.

      Micro is still important but it is not the all-powerful dominating force that it is in starcraft or warcraft.

      I highly recommend you check it out, it was put together by 30som dudes, and I believe some of them worked on Total Annihilation. The game has it’s flaws (that they continue to work on in order to make it the game they wanted it to be) but it is a lot of fun.

      • RCN says:

        I am well aware of Planetary Annihilation (I was one of the Kickstarter backers).

        While I did like it, I still prefer Supreme Commander, which I consider to be the one game that truly tried to advance what Total Annihilation started, while Planetary Annihilation looks more like a throwback to it (with more automatization options, planets and orbital mechanics, which are all very cool, but still seems like a step back compared to the enormity and beauty of SupCom).

        Still mourning the death of Forged Alliance Forever… :(

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      I dont really see how sending wave after wave of my men until the enemy killbots hit their preset kill limit is strategic in any way.Im talking just bout the original TA here,havent played any since because,well wave after wave of my men thing.

      • RCN says:

        Well, sending waves after waves of units is the most brute-force way to solve a problem in Total Annihilation. It requires both a hopelessly better economy than your opponent and a lack of care to do something more interesting the the tons of options the game provide. Not to mention I could say the same about Starcraft.

        “But Siege tanks will obliterate mindless waves of marines/zealots/zerglings!”

        Just like a couple Plasma Cannons will forever keep you safe from mindless T1 spam. You need to know how to use artillery to break sieges, bombers to take assets and economy, tough bots like the Sumo to eat the point defense blasts, jammers to protect your assets and forward troops, fighters to keep the skies clear, etc…

        There’s a lot of game convention contrivances that always bugged me but Starcraft made the norm and I’ll always treasure TA, SupCom and even PA for doing away with them.

        And the Strategic Zoom from Sup Com. GODS if there was one thing RTS games needed, it was that. Finally I feel like an actual general in a RTS game. Yet only RUSE and Sins of a Solar Empire bothered to also copy the concept.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          Yeah,but the ai in starcraft at least offered a challenge,and the unit cap limits your options,so going brute force wasnt the most efficient option.In total annihilation,it was,because trying to outsmart it was wasteful,since having a huge economic advantage over the ai is practically a given in any rts,and once you remove the unit cap,theres really no need to not just transfer that economy into brazillion units and blindly charge.

          • Humanoid says:

            TA didn’t really have an AI, so I tend to assume everyone’s positive experiences with it would be multiplayer. Playing against AI, it’s not unreasonable to call it an objectively bad game.

            The “AI” of TA is actually programmed thus:
            1) Build random item from build list of each unit/building capable of building stuff.
            2) Send each military unit as it is built towards nearest attackable target, ignoring any rules such as fog of war or whether target is even reachable.
            3) That’s it, actually.

          • RCN says:

            It was certainly a problem, but my counter argument is: Starcraft’s AI is both cheap and still underwhelming. If you can’t hold TA accountable for a flaw that didn’t matter for Starcraft, because both games were played primarily and mainly for their multiplayer.

            Really, Starcraft AI cheat’s gleefully and still doesn’t even begin to offer a challenge. Even in Starcraft 2, the AI is at best a speed bump, and this coming from a guy who thinks MICRO is an expletive.

            In Supreme Commander, however, they partially fixed the AI problem with an AI capable of planning and timing attacks. It’s still no match to a real player who can react properly to the threats you pose (the AI will always have a hard time adapting from a set strategy), but in the Expansion they built even more on it. With Soren’s mod, the AI can even give you a run for your money. Though ultimately it is still vulnerable to cheesy tactics because it can’t properly react most of them.

            In the end, though, I find everything about it much more liberating than the shackles artificially imposed by the Starcraft model. I’ve come to really despise the mentality around Starcraft that dictates “oh no! I’ve been siting on 50 crystal for twenty seconds now! THAT’S twenty seconds I haven’t been building a marine! I’ll never recover from that! GG Surrender”

  44. C0Mmander says:

    Wait didn’t Mojang(the minecraft creators) make a card game called Scrolls? I don’t blame you for not remembering it because Heartstone.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Nope,that was bethesda.They own the word,after all.

      • poiumty says:

        I would like to inform you that Bethesda did not in fact win (or even participate in) a fair Quake 3 tournament to decide if they own the word or not. They therefore cannot own the word.

        • Galad says:

          They did, Mojang that is. I tried getting into it but it was a frustrating experience -the AI kept one-upping me at nearly every point of every game. Maybe I just sucked at it, but it was still more frustrating than I’d bear to try for a prolonged amount of time.

  45. Sall Manser says:

    Starcraft: “All this, and it also gave us an imaginative pulpy new sci-fi universe to tell stories in.” Well, no. It is an abysmally cheap rip-off of the Warhammer 40k universe. Blizzard makes horrible kitsch games but apparently employs some experts in psychological manipulation which turn their products into black holes of gaming addiction. This and the games being targeted at kids (their visuals have lego-like standards as a rule) = mountains of dirty cash flowing to their coffers. I cant think of a single blizzard game I would like to put into the list of my 100 best games. Or 200. The more I think about it the more I am convinced that people who play computer games are divided into two disjoint groups: 1) the ones who think that every blizzard game ever made should make it into the first 10 of best games 2) the ones who would not touch blizzard games with a 10 mile stick. What is interesting is that group 1) will also think that half life games were actually good while the other group will find them dumb linear shooters with piss-poor graphics having no place (other than sentimental) in any list of best games.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Translation:
      I dont like it,therefore it has no merit.

      • MichaelGC says:

        Also, as a great philosopher (I forget which one it was) once said:

        Trying to cram all people into just a few distinctly separate categories ends up as one of the two results:
        1.You can screw up,and miscount.

    • kdansky says:

      Can we please stop with the retarded arguments about who stole what from whom for WH40k and Starcraft? It’s clear the influenced each other heavily over the years, and that’s really not relevant. Art direction is not subject to patent laws, and that’s a good thing!

    • poiumty says:

      Um. Pretty sure Starcraft was SUPPOSED to be a WH40k game before Games Workshop got scared and pulled the plug, leaving them with a bunch of assets that they used for a new IP anyway.

      And no matter how you slice it, it’s a fact that Blizzard games are incredibly well-polished due to their lack of deadlines and commitment to their game as a brand. Whether you like their strategies and design philosophies is a subjective deal.

    • ChristopherT says:

      I could be wrong but I could’ve sworn both WH40K and StarCraft were heavily influenced by Starship Troopers.

  46. DaveMc says:

    I enjoy the list ending at zero, even if it was an accident. Tres programmer.

  47. poiumty says:

    -1: Baldur’s Gate 2

    I have no idea how awesome this game is because I haven’t played it, but I sure like to talk about how it’s not a relevant Bioware game. I’ll probably never play it anyway despite it being a perfect fit for my RPG sensibilities, making all my opinions on all games forever invalid.

    There, now the list is 100% accurate.

    Seriously though, I’m content with the last 7. They are all games I have personally identified as good, therefore the list is correct. And not incorrect.

    • Shamus says:

      I NEVER said Baldur’s Gate wasn’t relevant. I even clarified my position in the comments, specifically to head off this sort of business.

      I will say the temper tantrum over this very mild slight has pretty much soured me on the game forever. Fans have made it pretty clear that they can barely tolerate the fact that I haven’t played the game. If I DID play it and failed to reflect the proper degree of gushing adulation, or if I actually CRITICIZED the game, then I’d get the usual litany of blame and attempted opinion-invalidation:

      “You never gave it a chance, you just want a game to hold your hand, you don’t like it because the graphics aren’t pretty, you want instant gratification, you didn’t bother to learn all the mechanics, you didn’t bother to learn the lore, you missed the best part, you picked the wrong class, you’re playing it wrong.”

      I don’t need that in my life.

      • Rick says:

        Huh, I can understand your sentiment, which is kind of a shame, because I too believe BG2 is one of, if not the best game yet. And I say this as a person who played it after Dragon Age, so it isn’t just nostalgia.

        My advice: wait till this dies down a bit, and then play the game in secret. Then, if you feel the need to, anonymously voice your complaints on your own forums, under the alias “Shamonu”.

      • poiumty says:

        For the record, I wasn’t being serious in any of my previous comments about it. It doesn’t matter to me whether you like it or not, it just strikes me as the perfect game for your type and it’s a giant whatashame.jpg that you haven’t played it yet. Hell, it’s not even MY number one game, but there’s some value in what you might have to say about it.

        Critically acclaimed darlings are inevitably going to get that sort of passionate response. You’re doing yourself a disservice if you refuse to play it based on that alone.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        Shamus,please,lighten up.I know that a bunch of us have hammered the joke to the core of the earth(and I admit that it was obnoxious),but it was never in bad humor.I mean temper tantrum is what The Site That Wont Be Named did when you mentioned them about the new fallout.This thing with bg2,not even on the same plane.What we did,was basically the same thing you guys do about Chris and his half life 2 thing,only there are much more of us,so you got buried by the sheer quantity.

      • Humanoid says:

        I’ll say it then. Baldur’s Gate isn’t relevant. It’s credited with some sort of RPG renaissance, but it only takes a quick check with Wikipedia to see that it was released more than a year after the original Fallout. *drink* In more than a few ways I’d say it was an outright regression, and all in all, I would not call it a good game.

        Baldur’s Gate 2 is a good game. I don’t think that’s contestable. But I don’t think it’s anywhere near the genre-defining achievement that it’s sometimes made out to be. In terms of polish and playability it’s up there, but in terms of influence to the industry …eh, it advances the genre about as much as a product of its time should, no more.

        If I were making a list, would it make the top 64? Sure. Top 16? Nah.

        • DVL says:

          And yet KOTOR 1 made the list even though it’s basically a shallower console version of the BG series? Every Bioware RPG after that point just became paler and paler shadows of the same formula until we finally have Mass Effect 3. If you want to talk about relevance, that’s where the Bioware formula started, not with KOTOR. Fallout 1/2 might have been better (debatable) but the turn-based isometric RPG never quite caught on afterwards.

          BG had more linear on-the-rails story with its main quest and an RTS party management game, but that’s still miles better than any triple-A RPG I can currently think of. Dragon Age 1 just felt like a clunkier emulation of that formula using XBox controllers. Positioning your party and timing your skills mattered in that game, only you were doing it with a joystick instead of RTS mouse controls.

          But hey, Skyrim made the list. So okay. The concept of a “sandbox” nowadays sounds like a laughable excuse to have just pointless vapidity in your game when you compare them them with the sheer number of sidequests you could explore in BG2. And it’s an isometric map, so it’s not as if it’s expensive to have a game world.

      • RCN says:

        Oh, trust me, you’ll find lots to hate about Baldur’s Gate. You know how Neverwinter just assumes you know how to play 3E from the get go and does a piss-poor job explaining anything rules-wise? Baldur’s Gate, in turn, revels in being cryptic and throwing jargon on your head. Gameplay wise, Baldur’s Gate is both antagonistic and obtuse.

        I say this because I played both Baldur’s Gate and Baldur’s Gate 2 before I had ever played D&D… or knew how to read english for that matter. Still, the manual was in Portuguese and I would later confirm that the manual is a direct translation of the original English one, so the fault isn’t on the translation.

        That said, even though I didn’t finish either game at the time, and understood very little of what was said, I still had a blast with them, even if I didn’t have the slightest clue of why anything was happening at any time.

  48. Galad says:

    I don’t agree with WOW being spot no.1, thinking this was a personal top 64 list not a most influential list of games, but whatever – I AM after all biased against WOW, having heard a few too many addiction stories concerning it. It does speak to blizzard’s credit that just about every iteration of their games makes the top 10 list, as does, for me personally, the too-many-hours I’ve sunk into the card crack that is Hearthstone, not just playing, but listening to its streams.

    It’s also comforting to know for me I have plenty of good memories from at least two of the games on the list – D2 and HL2. Tom Braider was just what people had already mentioned – an Avatar in games, a golf clap, a game played once or twice, enjoyed for 2-3 months and then just remembered fondly. I guess its fate differs from GW2’s fate because it’s better distilled as a single-player game as opposed to an MMO. Not many games from the last <7 years though. Oh well. Cheers and to the next 10 years of gaming :)

    PS Looking at the previous entry in the sequence I Should probably try out MOO2. 4x games are something I’ve barely poked my nose at, yet it’s vaguely interesting to me with its scale and sense of freedom.

  49. Phantos says:

    As silly and sometimes pathetic as TOP X lists can look, when they’re done right they always give you a big insight into the person writing them. I think that’s true of this experiment, Shamus.

  50. PPX14 says:

    Have to concur with the Tomb Raider disagreement.

    For me it was a horrendous B-movie of dull stupid characters (I’ll accept that this is par for the course, but) equipped with dialogue so bad and so serious about itself that I ended up very annoyed by all cutscenes and whenever Lara opened her mouth. I found myself laughing with incredulity at just how bad it was, much like Jurassic World.

    When I realised she also did Mirror’s Edge, things made a little more sense, that story and dialogue was pretty amazingly bad too.

    Yet unlike Mirror’s Edge where I enjoyed the game world, the game had none of the fantasy, wonder, and intriguing nonsensical archaeological puzzles for which I enjoyed the previous reboot trilogy.

    The shooting mechanics were quite fun, and the camera was probably the best I’ve seen (not once did it end up at the wrong angle obscuring my view of what I was doing, even if I do hate the splatter onto the ‘lens’ as if I’m a camera following the player character around). But that’s all it became, a shooter with a bit of jumping. Playing the Last of Us recently felt very similar to it indeed, mechanically.

    Not sure what the point in taking an arcadey fantastical colourful power fantasy adventure series (Prince of Persia with guns and grass) and turning it into a character-development soap-opera brown survival shooter (The Last of Us with bad dialogue) was. Just call it something else if you want to make something so different.

    “I don’t think I’m that sort of Croft… You ARE Lara… You just don’t know it yet.”

  51. The newest Tomb Raider reboot doesn’t even qualify as a Tomb Raider game. It’s more of an Uncharted clone with a much improved combat and cover system. Just watch this video if you don’t know what I’m talking about:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lQRr3pXxsGo

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