Top 64 PC Games: Final Thoughts

By Shamus Posted Thursday Nov 13, 2014

Filed under: Video Games 72 comments

The most important lesson I gleaned from this project is that while the lists are shallow, they’re actually a ton of work. Just compiling and sorting a list of 64 takes a long time, and writing a couple of paragraphs about each one takes even longer. The final product is about 10 or 12k words, but the work involved felt more like 50k. It’s one thing to write 10k words on one topic, but quite another to keep changing topics. Every couple of paragraphs you have to stop, do a fresh round of Google searches to get the history and context right, then scrounge up some kind of screenshot, then write the words. Then spend hours endlessly fussing with the orderingHey! This game is a big deal. It should be near the top of the list. Actually, I have less than 100 words to say about it. Maybe it should be further down the list..

Having done all this, I’m surprised these “Top X” lists get done at all. Not only is this kind of labor intensive in a hours-worked-to-words-written sense, but it’s actually really tedious work.

But the other thing I learned from all this is that these lists really don’t mean anything. My list isn’t really meaningful except as “List of Top 64 PC Games Played By Shamus Young that He Felt Like Talking About.” There’s a bit of value in that from the standpoint of trivia and curiosity, but it tells you more about me than it tells you about videogames.

Sorting the list into “order” was the most ridiculous and arbitrary part of the process. I’d make a bunch of seemingly-sensible decisions: Hm, Famous Game A should be above Fun Game B. But that puts Famous Game A above Landmark Game C, and that can’t be right. I’ll move Landmark Game C up by trading places with Popular Game D. Oh, but fankids will bitch at me if I put D that low.This sort of re-ordering is probably how I ended up screwing up the numbering on the final entry. You can literally do this forever. At some point you just have to stop shuffling and live with what you’ve got, which is how I ended up with good-but-not-remarkable Tomb Raider in my top 8 and the (personally) annoying BioShock several slots above personal-favorite Saints Row. People whined about the positioning of items in the list, but I couldn’t bring myself to care because I wasn’t happy with it either. The premise inherently silly.

If you locked me in a room and asked me to make another list of 64 without letting me refer to this one to refresh my memory, I’m sure I’d come up with a different list. Sure, a lot of the same titles would appear in both lists, but you’d end up with a different ordering and different rationale for their inclusion and position.

I think the problem is with the concept of “Top Games”. The framing is wrong. It pretends to be something definitive, which is impossible and puts reader expectations on all the wrong things. I couldn’t even come up with a useful ordering when I’m the only contributor. The problem would be even worse if this was the work of a staff of writers.

Having said that, I don’t think lists are useless. This was actually a lot of fun. We got to look at games that don’t get a lot of attention these days, and we got to contrast games that rarely end up under the microscope at the same time. I’d actually like to do something like this again in the future, but I wouldn’t want to call it a “Top Games” list.

Probably the best approach is to just call the listI think a numbered list is a really useful way to limit the scope of an article. ANY limit is going to be arbitrary, so “ten” or “fifty” is just as good a limit as any other. “N games of category X that I want to talk about.” If I ever do this again, I probably won’t waste time with the “top” idea but will choose entries based on some other criteria. (Shooters, BioWare games, platformers, pre-2000 games, etc.) Too many videogame conversations are focused on the hot new releases, and retrospective lists are a good vehicle for looking back. This hobby is changing so ridiculously fast, and the constant focus on new and upcoming releases is good for publishers and bad for our understanding of the medium.

As promised, below is a list of the games featured in the header images. Games are listed left-to-right.


  1. System Shock.
  2. Lurking Horror.
  3. Adventure for the Atari 2600.
  4. Don’t Starve.
  5. Adventures of Willy Bemish.
  6. Deus Ex 2.
  7. Prey.
  8. Catacomb 3d.
  9. Doom 3.
  10. Bejeweled 3
  11. Leisure Suit Larry and the Land of the Lounge Lizards.
  12. RAGE.


  1. World of Warcraft.
  2. Secret of Monkey Island.
  3. Thief. (2014.)
  4. Dishonored.
  5. DOTA 2.
  6. Myst.
  7. The Path.
  8. Witcher 2. Actually, that’s the first Witcher. Huh.
  9. Thief 2.
  10. Diablo 2
  11. Braid.


  1. The Old Republic.
  2. Fallout 3.
  3. Daikatana.
  4. Lord of the Rings Online.
  5. Starflight 2.
  6. Champions Online
  7. Skyrim. (That’s Mercer Frey in the screenshot.)
  8. Starcraft.
  9. Silent Hill Origins.
  10. Chime.
  11. Starbound.
  12. X-Com


  1. DOOM. (Title screen.)
  2. Champions Online.
  3. World of Warcraft.
  4. Jedi Outcast.
  5. Left 4 Dead.
  6. Metro: Last Light.
  7. Kerbal Space Program.
  8. BioShock.
  9. Saints Row 4.
  10. Borderlands 2. (From “too Close for Missiles”, the sidequest that makes fun of Top Gun.)
  11. Bulletstorm.
  12. Minecraft.


  1. Space Quest III. (Monolith Burger.)
  2. Dishonored.
  3. Star Wars: The Force Unleashed.
  4. Mass Effect. (That’s the first appearance of Ashley Williams.)
  5. This one is a trick. Yes, that looks like Agent 47, but it’s actually Saints Row The Third.
  6. Rage. (Loading screen entering the Wasteland Garage.)
  7. BioShock Infinite.
  8. Strong Bad’s Cool Game for Attractive People. (I’m pretty sure this screenshot is from the Homsar Reservation in Strong Badia the Free.)
  9. Champions Online.
  10. Deus Ex: Human Revolution.
  11. Allan Wake.
  12. BioShock Infinite. (Yes, again.)


  1. Thief.
  2. Batman: Arkham City.
  3. I don’t know. Probably Call of Duty.
  4. ET for Atari 2600.
  5. Desert Bus.
  6. Tom Braider.
  7. Descent.
  8. City of Heroes.
  9. World of Warcraft.
  10. Saints Row: The Third.
  11. Guild Wars 2.
  12. Crysis 2.


  1. Dungeon Keeper 2
  2. Nethack.
  3. Master of Orion 2.
  4. Haberdashery Fortress 2.
  5. Civilization V.
  6. Prince of Persia: Sands of Time.
  7. Thomas Braider, Adventurer Extraordinaire!
  8. Duke Nukem 3D.
  9. Deus Ex: It Gave Me Orange. I Wanted Lemon-Lime.
  10. Star TIE FIGHTER Wars.
  11. Pac-Man Super Championship Turbo Edition Remastered Ex++. Something like that.
  12. Diablo 2.


  1. Riven
  2. Burnout Paradise.
  3. Wolfenstein 3D.
  4. Outcast.
  5. Fallout.
  6. Quake 3 Arena.
  7. The Secret of Monkey Island: The Remake: The Title Screen.
  8. GTA: San Andreas.
  9. No One Lives Forever 2.
  10. Silent Hill 2.
  11. System Shock 2.
  12. Sim City 4.


  1. Sim City.
  2. Grim Fandango.
  3. Overlord.
  4. Lemmings.
  5. Spec Ops: The Line.
  6. Guild Wars 2.
  7. Quake 4.
  8. Alan Wake.
  9. Max Payne 3.
  10. Terraria.
  11. Dead Space 2.
  12. Dark Forces.


[1] Hey! This game is a big deal. It should be near the top of the list. Actually, I have less than 100 words to say about it. Maybe it should be further down the list.

[2] This sort of re-ordering is probably how I ended up screwing up the numbering on the final entry.

[3] I think a numbered list is a really useful way to limit the scope of an article. ANY limit is going to be arbitrary, so “ten” or “fifty” is just as good a limit as any other.

From The Archives:

72 thoughts on “Top 64 PC Games: Final Thoughts

  1. Daemian Lucifer says:

    “The most important lesson I gleaned from this project is that while the lists are shallow, they're actually a ton of work.”

    Well of course they are when you put some actual effort in them.Which I doubt about the one that sparked this project of yours.

    1. MichaelGC says:

      I CTRL-Ced the exact same sentence in order to come down here to make exactly the same point. Now I’ve got this superfluous sentence clogging up my office clipboard, never to be CTRL-Ved.

      1. evileeyore says:

        If you CNTRL-ALT-DLT 3 times it’ll clear it. Maybe ALT-F4?

        Or at least it used to on older Windoze machines.

        1. MichaelGC says:

          Dumped the laptop into a bucket of industrial-strength bleach and then threw the bucket into a live volcano. Thought it best to be sure, although I’ve now got an interesting conversation in prospect with IT Procurement tomorrow morning.

          1. syal says:

            Throwing computers into live volcanoes is really hard on the cooling fans. I wouldn’t be surprised if it stopped working sometime in the next month.

          2. Doug Sundseth says:

            I trust you filled out the correct EIS documents first and wore safety glasses.

  2. Daemian Lucifer says:

    “My list isn't really meaningful except as “List of Top 64 PC Games Played By Shamus Young that He Felt Like Talking About.” ”

    Im all for a yearly List Of Top 64 PC Games Played By Shamus Young That He Felt Like Talking About But Didn’t Do So In His Previous Lists.Anyone else?

    1. MichaelGC says:

      Oh definitely! Although … I guess it needn’t be quite so specific.

      It’d be fine if he re-used a game, for example. And it wouldn’t have to be 64. (Not that it was this time … :D) Also, Shamus has played games on console, and may have things to say about games he hasn’t played. Then, as he says, “Top Games” isn’t a very helpful concept, and thinking about it, I guess it doesn’t have to be presented as a list. So, after these few very small amendments (plus a tweak to the tense and level of formality) we’re left with:

      Games Shamus Feels Like Talking About

      which would get 64(±1) votes from me!

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        “(Not that it was this time … :D)”

        But it was.Since it was in bytes,that 0 was a simple parroty error.

    2. Wolf says:

      I would prefer a top 10.
      Not only are the many small topics hard to write, but also less interesting to read compared to longer posts on a single topic.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        It has to be in bytes.So top 8(9),top 16(17) or top 32(33)

  3. SteveDJ says:

    Psst… there is no “Continue Reading…” for this post on the main page … instead the whole story is there. Oops. :)

  4. Daemian Lucifer says:

    “but will choose entries based on some other criteria. (Shooters, BioWare games, platformers, pre-2000 games, etc.) ”

    Top 64 EA / Ubisoft published games.Your we’lcome.

    1. evileeyore says:

      I dunno, maybe a Top 64 Unpublished Games of All Time would work.

  5. Thomas says:

    I love the idea of your lists, would appreciate seeing them pop up regularly

  6. Daemian Lucifer says:


    Technically,its UFO HURK Enemy unknown,or if you prefer X-COM HURK UFO Defense.See,even the games of yore couldnt resist the call of the colon.

    A missed opportunity there for populating one of those pictures with just the sequels.So ABC 2,IJK 2,MNK 2,XYZ 2,etc 2…

  7. Ranneko says:

    Honestly I actually find the idea of multiple iterations of crowd sourced lists more interesting than any single list.

    The way you can use it to check the pulse of the community and track changes in tastes and the influence of new releases on the overall structure of the list. Seems like it could be a fairly interesting exercise.

    Of course there are a bunch of other effects than can work their way in, the pool of selectable games and how they are presented for example. It would be interesting to see how dominant the network effect would be.

  8. Eric says:

    I hate to be That Guy, but your “Witcher 2” screenshot is actually from Witcher 1.

    Yeah, they actually had some pretty good character models back when it came out…

  9. Felblood says:

    “… it tells you more about me than it tells you about videogames.”

    –um.. yeah?

    Top X lists are in the same category of BS internet cruft as selfies. They look really easy, but few people can actually do them well, so there are millions of bad ones from people who said, “That looks easy, I bet I could do that.” Even if you do it well, only people who are already invested in you and your life/brand will really care, because the market for these is completely saturated. Additionally, they are more useful as a conversation piece than an item of intrinsic artistic or intellectual value. They are clickbait for your facebook wall, designed to lure people in, and hope they have a more interesting conversation while they are there.

    TL:DR Toplists are slefies for your brain.

  10. overpoweredginger says:

    One of the reasons I consider the late videogame reviewer antisocialfatman to be one of the best reviewers/formal analysts games have had was because of how he approached “Top N Games of X” lists. He later took this down, but for a while he had a video called “Best Games of the Decade”, where he listed the Best Video Games Released Between 2001-2010. He didn’t compare them to each other or rank them in any way; his criteria for a game making that list was that it had to be a game he would have given a 5/5, or “Excellent” score* to. I suppose the reason I liked this method so much was because it listed the highlight games of the decade instead of arbitrarily ranking games by which were more higherlighter than others.

    *- “Exellent” for him generally means a game that truly excels in various areas and with either minor, irrelevant, or inherent flaws.

  11. Patrick the Agnostic Monk says:

    Now it’s time to really let loose. Get Jiggy with it. Fly your swag flag.

    Make a List of WORST games. Bitching and moaning is infinitely more liberating and satisfying. And really, it’s what the internet was invented for in the first place.

    I want to see how many games wind up on both lists…..

    1. evileeyore says:

      The intrawebs were not invented for “bitching and moaning”*. They were invented for pr0n.

      * Though they all awfully convenient for this.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        But what if your preferred porn involves lots of bitching and moaning?

        Also,this song needs to be linked.

      2. Dreadjaws says:

        Well, isn’t bitching and moaning regular part of “pr0n”?

    2. Joe Informatico says:

      As Shamus implies above, the trick with “best of” lists is working out your personal exchange rate for a lot of different values of “good”. E.g., is “popular” or “successful” more important than “influential” or “critically acclaimed”? Is “went for some really interesting and original ideas but the end result is a mess” better than “not very original or deep but flawlessly executed”? Is “I think it’s a fun game and I love to play it and might be tempered by nostalgia” more important than “but if I’m honest with myself it has a lot of problems”?

      So with a “worst of” list, I’d be interested to see the process from the opposite side. Like, the Razzies are purportedly awarded to the “worst” movies of the year, but their recipients are always products of the major Hollywood studios feature releases. That means, at bare minimum, they’re made with a professional competence far superior to the vast numbers of independent productions made each year. But if you give too much weight to technical competence, you end up with a list of cheap titles 99% of your audience probably never heard of.

      Often, “worst of” lists, in any medium, tend to be more like “biggest disappointment” lists: “Because of the talent or material involved, this should have been better.” “The previous entry in the franchise was so much better.” “I liked the game, but its bugs made it unplayable.” Etc.

      1. Patrick the Agnostic Monk says:

        Moreover, games that would frequently make the “worst list” would probably be the game preceding or following something from the “best of” list. Like KOTOR II, Fallout 3, Thief III (II?), Oblivion or GTAIV.

        No research would be needed to write a few paragraphs about Di Katana. No google searches needed to describe Resident Evil: European vacation.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Thief 3 is definitely not the worst game material,even if its only because of the cradle.And,thanks to thiaf,its no longer the worst thief game.

      2. Retsam says:

        Yeah “worst” is a really tricky thing to define in this context. Like if it really just meant “quality of the final product”, the Razzies would go to some random family video shot by a 6 year old using a cheap camera*. “Worst” usually carries the connotation of “lowest quality, proportionate to how equipped to succeed it was” (which is not one subjective measurement, but two, for bonus disagreement).

        Hence why sequels tend to get criticized more, because being a sequel to a successful game is viewed as something that should enable the sequel to succeed.

        * Though come to think of it, an event with serious movie industry people criticizing a child’s home video like it was a normal Hollywood production would probably be hilarious.

        1. I find the most insightful “worst” lists take expectation into account.

          Is Phantom Menace the worst sci-fi-fantasy movie ever? By itself, no. Given what preceded it and what the fans expected, it’s got a shot at the prize.

    3. MichaelGC says:

      If Shamus were up for the work involved and the potential vitriol which might result, I’d absolutely love to see the ‘Bottom x‘ list.

      If! If.

  12. Noah says:

    Willy Bemish -> Willy Beamish

    1. syal says:

      Wily Blemish

  13. Purple Library Guy says:

    Well, if nothing else it caused me to put System Shock 2 and Portal 2 on my Steam wishlist, and thus someday I will very likely buy them.

  14. Jokerman says:

    “This one is a trick. Yes, that looks like Agent 47, but it's actually Saints Row The Third”

    Tricked my dumb ass :D It not only looks like 47, but it also looks like one of the disguises he can use in Blood Money.

    1. Esteban Navarrete says:

      I actually deduced it at first glance. It was the Handgun.
      That is your main (by main i mean you start with it) Handgun in SR3 fully upgraded.
      So while it looks like Agent 47, with clothing definitely suited to a bald, mute assssin… i feel like Agent 47 wouldn’t use… you know… a handgun worthy of the name “Lexington Steele”

      1. Jokerman says:

        There are a few things that give it away, i think the fact i have played BM so many times blinded me from looking at it for more than half a second.

  15. Jakob says:

    Who is Tom Braider?

    1. MichaelGC says:

      Take the space before the ‘B’ and move it one character over so it’s after the ‘B’. Then, if like me you’re a little bit obsessive over such things, uncapitalise the ‘B’ and capitalise the first ‘R’.

      1. Jokerman says:

        That was an explanation.

        1. It’s really bad when a Jokerman explains the joke being explained.

    2. RTBones says:

      Keyser Soze

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        No,its his sled.

    3. syal says:

      And then we find out, and he goes on a 17 page rant about chauvinism.

  16. Smejki says:

    I hope you’ll continue with lists of biggest dissapointments, most underappreciated/underdeveloped games and whatnot (best stories?). And yes I would also appreciate list of great games of ceratin genre.
    It might throw tips on interesting games our way and that’s always welcome.

  17. droid says:

    How is it that sorting a list of 64 takes a long time, but sorting a list of length N takes O (N log(N))?

    1. Svick says:

      Simple, the multiplicative constant is just too high.

      Or maybe Shamus used an average-case O(N log N) algorithm, but in this case, it was worse than that.

      1. Just because math stole letters from words doesn’t mean words want math to give them back after mutilating them, m’kay? :)

  18. Daimbert says:

    There's a bit of value in that from the standpoint of trivia and curiosity, but it tells you more about me than it tells you about videogames.

    Your list has inspired me to do my own list, and the two biggest motivations for my doing it were:

    1) I started thinking about it, and the whole purpose of my blog is to force me to write things down so I’ll stop thinking about them.

    2) I’ve started trying to get more content out on my blog, and I do write a fair bit about video games, and get some comments about games I’ve tried or played or might be interested in, and this was a good way to get out a general idea of what I, personally, like and dislike about games.

    So, mostly, this is indeed here to say stuff about me, and not about the games themselves. So it’s not really a “Best games ever” list, but really a “Games I like the best” list, making it completely and unabashedly subjective (despite my desire to say objective things about games [grin]). As such it was relatively easy to select the games; all I had to do was scour my memory for the games that stood out, and then skim the games I have out and see what I thought about them at first glance. Sorting was easy as well because I didn’t have any issues with prominence or standing in the gaming community, just what I personally thought of it. All I have to do now is write the blurbs and schedule/post them, and I’m done.

    (Surprisingly, or not, I don’t think there’s a lot of overlap between your list and mine, and mine is 50 with roughly 6 left over as honourable mentions, so it’s not like it’s shorter or anything. But it does contain a number of console titles.).

    1. MichaelGC says:

      Do you have a link to your list? I tried the one in your username, and I’m only getting fascinating stuff about free will & determinism & wotnot.

      PS I reckon true objectivity is impossible for consciousnesses (and that that’s a good thing, else consciousnesses wouldn’t themselves actually be possible), even at the level of “2+2=4” not being a strictly objective proposition. So, I’d suggest trying to come up with an “objective” list is similar to trying to draw a square circle.

      This doesn’t invalidate subjective lists, of course! For some people it might initially seem to, but the true upshot is that subjectivity is the only game in town. It’s the maximum we can rationally ask for!

      (Although, true rationality is impossible for human consciousness!… I’ll shut up now.)

      1. Daimbert says:

        I’m writing it almost as we speak. It’s scheduled to start around November 19th (so this might be a bit of a tease, I guess) and will run for a week. The main reason for this is that I’ve been trying to get in a post a day, and have been scheduling things ahead to ensure that happens instead of dumping posts as soon as I write them and then having to write posts every day.

        I’d say that that’s probably an overly restrictive definition of objective. I think that, for example, it can be a totally objective fact that you, say, like a particular game or not. That wouldn’t mean that that game is objectively good, of course. So if you can have objective facts about subjective experiences, then it seems that you could have an objective fact about overall quality, as long as we can determine the right criteria.

        I just have no interest in TRYING for that with this list, however [grin].

        1. MichaelGC says:

          Alrighty, then, I’ll keep an eye out (you big tease! :D). Indeed, I suspect my opinion of “objectivity” is about as restrictive to the concept as could possibly be conceived – but anyway!: my cranky views on objectivity aren’t important (they are entirely correct, just not important! :D). Shamus’ list was loads of fun, and I look forward to reading yours.

  19. RCN says:

    Thing’s I’d put in a “List of games I have a lot to talk about”

    Deus Ex: Human Revolution – I actually tried the original Deus Ex several times, but I always end giving up at some point or another. Half the time it is because I figure I spent all my points in skills that are ultimately useless, the other half I just take too long in a break and can’t find myself again. In Deus Ex: Human Revolution I found myself much more engaged with in the Transhuman debate and felt my gameplay choices more impactful.

    Jagged Alliance 2 – There are actually 2 squad-shooters/economic management sims out there. X-Com is the better known, but Jagged Alliance is also staggering. You have to juggle the outrageous fees of your hired mercenaries (who demand ever higher wages if they feel their skills are improving) with the income you get from pretty much pillaging the country-side of fictional third-world Banana Republic Arulco, claiming it’s silver mines as your own (side note, apparently the wage of a single veteran Russian mercenary is the same as the entire output of a silver mine). Meanwhile you have to lead them into battle, hire the discount (and hilariously incompetent) MERC cannon fodder (MERC standing for More Economic Recruiting Center), and deal with surprisingly deep ballistics mechanics. Your mercenaries take a long time to recover after being wounded, they can get debilitating injuries impacting their performances, they can equip a variety of gear and use several types of ammunition, and so on. I often think of the game as the love-child of Fallout with X-COM.

    Might & Magic/Heroes of Might & Magic – I will always have something to talk about any of the games of the Might & Magic franchise and the Heroes spin-off. If I start here, I’ll be here forever.

    Total Annihilation/Supreme Commander – The only RTS games to come close of trying to revolutionize the genre. Fortunately, they did leave an impact and influenced some of the better (and only) RTS titles to surface in the last few years, like RUSE and Sins of a Solar Empire. It’s worth noting that Homeworld is also one of the games to follow the legacy of Total Annihilation as opposed to Starcraft.

    Tachyon: The Fringe – Of all space sims, this is the one that left the biggest impression on me. Though it probably has a lot more to do with Bruce Campbell voicing the protagonist than real merit over it’s competitors. But I think it’s the only Space Sim out there to incorporate momentum into it’s gameplay.

    Sins of a Solar Empire – The most successful and well-implemented real-time 4X game out there and the greatest argument against “RTS games can’t turn a profit unless they’re Starcraft”. Also, it has spaceship-carriers. Any other argument is invalid.

    Telltale’s Sam & Max/Monkey Island – The originals practically taught me how to speak english (along with X-COM), and it is remarkable how well Telltale both revived the humor of these games while updating the hopelessly dated adventurer gameplay. Also, the soundtrack of their first Season of Sam & Max is both hilarious and glorious.

    King’s Bounty: The Legend and expansions – PC Gaming at one of it’s most glorious. Some level of Disgaia levels insanity and customization without sinking into a bottomless hole of a timesink. Though it still comes close.

    Command & Conquer: Red Alert – while the decision of making infantry utterly useless still hurt the series all the way to Command & Conquer 3, it’s probably the series that popularized the RTS genre before Starcraft killed it.

    KKnD (Krush, Kill n Destroy) – Another RTS that tried to set it’s own trend, but with a theme that wen’t from the Satyrical overtones of C&C into full-blown comedy. One of the few moments of glory from the FMV era, probably because it wasn’t FMV gameplay.

    Z – Yet another comedic RTS of note. This time it heavily criticizes the principles of war. If you pay attention, you’ll notice that one of the main themes of the game is that you’re fighting a completely arbitrary war.

    Hexen – I wonder why the idea of an First Person Shooter where you can pick one of several characters (classes) never took off. It’s very interesting,

    Blood – A lot like Duke Nuken or Shadow Warrior, but actually self aware that it’s main character is a horrible, horrible person despite being awesome.

    Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magicks Obscura – an RPG where one of the game’s backdrops is the struggle between Magic and Technology, ritual vs change, tradition vs rationality. It actually makes a strong case for both sides.

    Sacrifice – An older entry in the argument of aesthetics vs graphical fidelity. For a game with crude 3D graphics, it’s alien aesthetics made it hold up much better than many, many contemporaries. Still, it also proved that an RTS is very impractical to play in 3rd person, but at least it tailored it’s gameplay as best as it could to be played on this perspective.

    Heroes of Annihilated Empire – This game is a mess, but a really interesting mess to look at. It heavily blurred the line between RTS and RPG, more to it’s detriment than anything else. It asked if you’d rather control one powerful hero or one gigantic army. And it failed so hard, but it was a glorious failure.

    Mechwarrior – When I played Machwarrior way back in the day I thought it was a game that showed the future of shooters, a future where aiming at your enemies feet was as valid as aiming at their head. Yet, to this day mooks in shooters have invulnerable legs and arms that only count as “flesh wounds”. Yes, this is a black knight’s reference.

    Fallout – You can actually finish both Fallout and it’s sequel without firing a shot. And people say games are violent… and yes, they are. But violence is a choice.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      “Might & Magic/Heroes of Might & Magic ““ I will always have something to talk about any of the games of the Might & Magic franchise and the Heroes spin-off. If I start here, I'll be here forever.”

      Then why dont you start here.Or,you know,continue where we left off.

      “Sins of a Solar Empire ““ The most successful and well-implemented real-time 4X game out there and the greatest argument against “RTS games can't turn a profit unless they're Starcraft”. Also, it has spaceship-carriers. Any other argument is invalid.”

      Homeworld will disagree with you on that,because homeworld is awesome.Also nexus:jupiter incident(a bit obscure,but great game).

      1. RCN says:

        I’m partially aware of the existence of a Twenty Sided forum, but never really bothered checking it. I’ve witnessed way too many flame wars.

        On the other hand, if there’s an online community with the slightest chance of not descending into a paradoxal dystopian anarchy, it’s this one. Maybe I’ll take a look.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Hey now,I wasnt the one that burned the tower down!I mean ok,I was a crazy vampire chick into bringing righteous fire from the heavens upon the world,but I never got the chance to set even a single human on fire,let alone a non existent tower.

          And ok,I did create that race of sapient flame balls,but thats a completely different thing.They were artists eager to express themselves!Its not their fault that the bugs are flammable.

          1. RCN says:

            There. I made a post. I’m so proud of myself.

            Anyway, just starting with some easier stuff. No one mentioned Elven Legacy or Kingdom Rush, so I talked a bit of both games. I’ll have to stretch my legs and warm my fingers before I start on the Might & Magic talk.

            1. MichaelGC says:

              I was planning on asking people what they think of Minesweeper. I’ve set myself a deadline of “late 2017 or perhaps a bit after that; don’t want to rush into it willy-nilly.”

              Anyway, don’t deprive us non-forumites of foot-long website posts if you feel the need to expatiate! (And there’s no shame in cutting & pasting if needs be.)

          2. krellen says:

            My poor children. :(

    2. “Blood ““ A lot like Duke Nuken or Shadow Warrior, but actually self aware that it's main character is a horrible, horrible person despite being awesome.”

      I really like Blood, but I wouldn’t put it as being more self-aware. I’d put it as being in the same mental space as DN and SW, where they knew their main character was awful, but didn’t care. Which I think of as mostly a 90’s thing. Blood had the advantage that it leant more towards the horror/slasher side of things, so that sort of character would be more expected, either at release or in the present.

      1. RCN says:

        The thing about Blood is that it does give you the impression that Caleb is a huge asshole and doesn’t exactly glorify him, but the violence around him. It makes you revel in the destruction while also showcasing how disturbing (and disturbed) Caleb is.

        Meanwhile, Lo Wang (aka, the physical manifestation of Racism) is showcased as a badass ninja/samurai who’s a bad enough dude to… take on Zilla? Gods, Shadow Warrior really has no plot whatsoever does it?

        And in Duke Nukem, Duke is supposed to be the guy you wish you were. He is the textbook wish-fulfillment character, that says more about the developers and what they think of their consumers than anything else.

        Bottom line, in Duke Nukem I was supposed to want to be the protagonist, in Shadow Warrior I felt I was supposed to laugh at Lo Wang for being (the developer’s idea of) asian, while in Blood I felt like I was supposed to not get too close or comfortable with Caleb.

  20. Kian says:

    “If you locked me in a room and asked me to make another list of 64 without letting me refer to this one to refresh my memory, I'm sure I'd come up with a different list. Sure, a lot of the same titles would appear in both lists, but you'd end up with a different ordering and different rationale for their inclusion and position.”

    This sounds like a problem for statistics! Just do, say, ten lists (without referring to the previous ones, the more the better), average the positions, and you get your result :D Games you list more often and in higher positions will rise in the ranking, while games you sometimes leave out will sink.

    It will then be a “list of 64 games Shamus more reliably remembers and values”.

  21. purf says:

    re: Header Images. I didn’t play along when you posted these but on hindsight it’s interesting to spot the ones I could have been able to guess. And, the ones I should have.
    Anyways, kudos. That was interesting – I’d be waaay to lazy to do something like this.

  22. MichaelG says:

    So take this list and turn it into “10 games you should buy on Steam next time they are cheap.”

  23. thark says:

    “Top X games I feel like talking briefly about” seems like a top list category as valid as any.

  24. Narkis says:

    “Civilization V”

    It’s Civ IV, actually. The forests and the dye plantations are distinctive. For shame Shamus, it was supposed to be your favourite! :P

    1. Bubble181 says:

      the square-vs-heaxgon-tiles helps, too.

  25. Zekiel says:

    Well thanks for doing all the work Shamus! It was a very interesting read (several, actually) and provides lots of fun fodder for discussion. Plus I really enjoy it when you talk about what you like in games. (Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy reading you gripe about games too. The Fable 2 series is still a standout in that department.)

  26. Ringwraith says:

    This is why I like lists which aren’t really numbered, they’re just “here are a bunch of games I think are really good/interesting/ropey/people should(n’t) play.
    It’s like how I pay little attention to review scores, and instead get people’s opinions on things (a decent review shouldn’t need a review score to tell you how they felt about it).

  27. Torolf says:

    We need to encourage/beg/bribe/coerce the spoiler warning team into doing Baldur’s Gate 2 for their next game so that Shamus no longer has the excuse of not playing Baldur’s Gate 2 the next time he does one of these.

  28. Dragmire says:

    “It's one thing to write 10k words on one topic, but quite another to keep changing topics.”

    That sounds like a decent writing exercise or at least a personal test of writing skill.

  29. Zak McKracken says:

    Makes me think that probably the “cleanest” way of finding a good order is “how much do I like them”, which is of course extremely subjective but at least theres no claim to objectiveness either.

    Also, topical lists are probably easier than putting all games into the same list. On what basis could you compare the stanley parable to … Call of Duty? or Pac-Man?

  30. Former Gamer says:

    While looking for Mass Effect reviews, I’ve just discovered this excellent blog and, while randomly reading a few papers, this very note. Just in order to add my 2 French centimes a few years after the battle, here are the games I consider among the best for what I’d call their “fun factor”, whatever their age, their flaws or their technical qualities — I can, as every gamer, play the hypercritical game about games, but here, I don’t take into account bugs, design annoyances, flashes of brillance or of darkness in level design, user interface, soundtrack or game mechanics, patches requirements, etc. To me, the following games are good enough they can be replayed, in full or in part, as one can do for very good books or movies. In fact, they’re good to very good gaming memories. I see no point ranking them, for it’s like trying to rate, for exemple, Mencken, Twain, Bierce, Saki and Wodehouse — we must be glad all of them existed, and each one is alone on its own summit. Note I’ve bought and played several *hundreds* of games of various genres in the past years (in fact, back from my good old Apple ][ days), though I’ve almost stopped checking the “gaming scene” circa 2008 (the Steam Era of Darkness killed my gaming addiction : I know I miss a few good moments, but I prefer standalone gaming with good old discs). All these titles, listed in no particular order, run on PC from DOS to WinXP : we are not amused by consoles. ;-)
    Aces over Europe
    Crimson Skies
    European Air War 1943
    IL-2 Sturmovik
    Rowan’s Battle of Britain
    Comanche 4
    Jane’s F-15
    Total Air War
    Falcon 4.0
    Descent 2
    FreeSpace 2
    I-War 2 : Edge of Chaos
    Star Wars : Episode 1 Racer
    Wing Commander III
    Wing Commander IV
    Flight Unlimited II
    M$ Flight Simulator 2004
    Midnight Club II
    Midtown Madness 2
    Need for Speed : Carbon
    Need for Speed Porsche 2000
    Test Drive Unlimited
    FlatOut 2
    Need for Speed : Most Wanted
    Test Drive Unlimited 2
    Moto GP 2
    Moto GP : Ultimate Racing Technology
    688(i) Hunter-Killer
    Sub Command
    Silent Hunter IV
    Subwar 2050
    Aquanox 2
    Dangerous Waters
    Gabriel Knight II : the Beast Within
    Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis
    Lost files of Sherlock Holmes : the Case of the Rose Tattoo
    Tex Murphy : Overseer
    Tex Murphy : Under A Killing Moon
    Zork : Grand Inquisitor
    Gabriel Knight 3
    Gabriel Knight 1
    Balls of Steel
    Virtual Pool 3
    Aliens versus Predator
    Aliens versus Predator 2
    Doom 3
    Duke Nukem 3D
    Heretic : Shadow of the Serpent Riders
    Hexen 2
    King Kong
    No One Lives Forever
    Quake III Arena
    Realms of the Haunting
    Shadow Warrior
    Soldier of Fortune II : Double Helix
    Thief : Dark Project
    Thief II : Metal Age
    Tron 2.0
    Unreal Tournament 2003
    Unreal Tournament 2004
    Unreal Tournament GOTY edition
    Battlefield 1942
    Bioshock 2
    Clive Barker’s Undying
    Delta Force Black Hawk Down
    Deus Ex
    No One Lives Forever 2
    Return to Castle Wolfenstein
    Soldier of Fortune
    Stalker Call of Pripyat
    Star Trek : Elite Force
    Star Trek : Elite Force II
    The Void
    Thief III : Deadly Shadows
    Tribes Vengeance
    Unreal II : the Awakening
    Call of Cthulhu
    Star Wars : Republic Commando
    Batman Arkham Asylum
    Batman Arkham City GOTY
    Giants Citizen Kabuto
    Grand Theft Auto : San Andreas
    Grand Theft Auto : Vice City
    Grand Theft Auto III
    Max Payne
    Heavy Metal FAKK 2
    MDK 2
    Max Payne 2
    Metal Gear Solid 2
    Severance Blade of Darkness
    Silent Hill 3
    The Chronicles of Riddick : Escape from Butcher Bay
    Tomb Raider
    Tomb Raider IV Last Revelation
    True Crime Streets of L.A.
    Advent Rising
    Freedom Fighters
    Star Trek Deep Space 9 : The Fallen
    Dungeon Keeper 2
    Dungeon Keeper Gold
    Evil Genius
    Freedom Force
    Homeworld 2
    Homeworld : Cataclysm
    Worms 2
    Worms Armageddon
    Freedom Force vs The Third Reich
    Overlord II
    Duke Nukem : Manhattan Project
    Divine Divinity
    Mass Effect 2
    Mass Effect 3
    Planescape Torment
    The Elder Scrolls IV : Oblivion
    The Witcher 2
    Vampire The Masquerade : Bloodlines
    Dungeon Siege
    Jade Empire
    Mass Effect
    Neverwinter Nights
    The Witcher Enhanced Edition
    Vampire The Masquerade : Redemption
    Baldur’s Gate II
    The Bard’s Tale
    The Elder Scrolls III : Morrowind
    // EOF

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